Life gets rather demanding and overwhelming at times, have you noticed?! Some days it feels like you’re jumping from one fire to another, and trying to put them all out takes everything you’ve got. Some days you just can’t catch a break, and sometimes those days turn into weeks. Do you ever get the feeling that it takes too much effort to just keep putting one foot in front of the other?

I’ve been talking to people lately who feel overwhelmed and frustrated and have too many expectations put on them, and they don’t know what to do to make it better. My first question is always, “What have you been doing to take care of yourself?” The answer, usually, is something about not having enough time or being too tired to do anything other than the basics. But if you don’t do something differently, you’ll end up with more of the same.

If you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will. And, honestly, not taking care of yourself isn’t actually an option. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a vacation or a spa day, but if you have the money and time, those are both great options. You simply need to set aside some time to do the things that make you feel alive. Go out dancing or play a musical instrument or take a walk in the park. Put on your favorite movie and make some popcorn and turn off the phone, go have coffee with a friend, take a nap. Do whatever makes you feel refreshed again.

I know, I know, you don’t have the time. But you do. I know you can squeeze in 15 minutes of self-care in a day. Stop looking at your social media for a few minutes – nothing changes that quickly. Actually take a lunch break and get away from your desk. Silence all your electronics for a few minutes of meditation. Get a friend to support, encourage, and downright demand that you do some good things for yourself.

We do get caught up in our daily activities, and we allow others to dictate to us what is important or unimportant. Sometimes that’s necessary, but are you taking advantage of the time you have that truly is yours? Are you making caring for yourself a priority in your life? It isn’t going to happen if you don’t make it happen. Your fairy godmother isn’t going to wave a wand and find an extra hour in the day for you to do this. (And, if you have a fairy godmother, please tell me how to get one!)

We live in a culture that values being on-the-go all the time and is highly structured and scheduled, but we don’t have to do it just because everyone else is. My challenge to you is to listen to yourself. Find out what you really need, and do it. Take a little time every day to do what makes you happy. You’ll still have plenty of time to do the rest.