We need space and time to care for ourselves, space to hear our own voices and tune into our own feelings. The world--in the form of our children, parents, colleagues, schools, volunteer organizations, etc,--will always have urgent demands on our time. If we feel that we must do everything that we are asked to do, there may be no time for the things that are truly important to us.
Cultivate the ability to say 'no.' Practice it! Think of something you said 'yes' to but wish you had said 'no.' Imagine going back to the moment you said 'yes' and try a mental do-over. What could you have said? 'No thanks, I'm not free that day.' 'I won't be able to make it.' 'I've been really busy, I need to take some time to catch up with myself.' It doesn't necessarily matter what you say, but try out some ways to say 'no' and keep them in your back pocket, ready when the need arises.
If you find yourself agreeing to do things in the moment and only realizing later that you don't want to, consider cultivating a 'wait and see' answer. 'I'll have to check my schedule and let you know.' 'Can I let you know tomorrow?' 'Things have been kind of crazy, I'm just not sure if I can.'
Every 'no' has a yes in it. When you say 'no' to the things that aren't important to you, there's space for the things that matter most, including your own self-care.
I'm a person on a messy journey--healing, learning, discovering and rediscovering. Sharing, writing, talking, and teaching help me to understand myself and the world more clearly. I hope it can help make your journey a easier, too.