Give yourself permission to…

Selfie at Indie Author Day 2018Welcome to all of you who found this site from my flyer at Indie Author Day. My site has plenty of tips on writing and public speaking, but I want to give you the most important tip of all.

Take care of your health.

When we are creating, working, or dealing with our other responsibilities, health is the last thing we think about. But you can’t do any of these things when you’re sick, exhausted, or lacking in energy.

We also need to consider mental health (which isn’t separate from physical health). The “tortured artist” is a stereotype and a dangerous one at that. Depression, anxiety, and other issues hamper our productivity, not enhance it. Therapy and medication don’t take away our creativity, but it can help us exercise it. (To learn more, see this video by Jenna Moreci.)

Taking care of my health is a lesson I continue to struggle to learn. But I’ve found one phrase that helps, “give yourself permission to.” Here are some ways to use this.

Give yourself permission to rest. You may feel guilty about relaxing on the sofa when you have stacks of laundry, dirty dishes in the sink, and 1,000 words to write for your novel. Allow yourself that moment to unwind and recharge. The work can sit for 30 or 60 minutes until we’ve regained the energy to continue.

Give yourself permission to decline invitations. You don’t have to go to every dinner party, speak at every conference, or volunteer for every project. When you find yourself overbooked, prioritize your activities and do what comfortably fits in your schedule.

Give yourself permission to disengage from politics. There is too much to keep track of and much of it makes us outraged. It’s OK to decide that you’re not going to watch cable news or engage yourself in political fights on social media for a night. We have a responsibility to keep informed, speak out about issues that matter to us, and vote. But when the news gets too overwhelming or painful, you can tune out when needed.

Give yourself permission to ask for help. This is especially difficult for us men, because we see asking for help as a sign of weakness. It isn’t. Don’t be ashamed if you feel overwhelmed. Don’t see yourself as incompetent if you can’t do a certain task. It shows wisdom and strength to admit you need need help and ask for it.

Give yourself permission to walk away. Some projects are too unworkable. Some relationships are too toxic. Some situations are designed for failure. It’s OK to quit when you can’t make a situation work out.

Give yourself permission to take care of yourself. Schedule that annual physical. Go for those screenings. Get your flu vaccine. Eat right and exercise. Also set aside time for things that renew your spirit. Meditate. Get a massage. Enjoy a walk in a beautiful setting. Take vacations, even if it’s just spending time  at home with your family.

You have only one life. Give yourself permission to be healthy so you can make the most of it.