"There's a tremendous amount of stress and pressure put on women: being parents, being daughters, mothers, wives, professionals. All of these roles combined leave many of us not taking adequate care of ourselves -- which is what sustains us and gives us the energy to take care of all these other responsibilities that we have," says Randy Kamen Gredinger, EdD, a Wayland, Mass., psychologist and life coach specializing in women's issues.
Whether you're wrangling toddlers, sleeplessly waiting for your teen to come home, caring for your aging parents -- or all of the above -- every woman needs an occasional break for sanity's sake. This means taking time each day to do something for yourself.
But how can you make it happen?
Make Yourself a Priority
First, realize how important it is.
"I've been talking to women about this for years, and we seem to have trouble even feeling like we're worthy of being put on our own list of priorities," says Amy Tiemann, author of Mojo Mom: Nurturing Your Self While Raising a Family and founder of Mojomom.com.
"If you can't do it because you feel like you deserve it, look at it this way: You are a first responder. An emergency can come up at any time, and you should be as well rested and restored as you'd want your ER doc or EMT to be," Tiemann says. "And besides, taking care of yourself will make you a better parent and partner. You'll be more fun to be around and more responsive to your family."
OK, so you're convinced. It's time to take time for you. Now, when can you fit it in? Don't wait for the time to just magically appear. It won't.
Schedule Your "Me" Time
Make your free time as important as the pediatrician's visit, the conference call, and your meeting with the contractor. Treat it just like any other appointment.
"You have to build in battery recharge time," says Margaret Moore, co-director of the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School. "We're very good at project management in our work lives, but not so well in our personal lives. Treat it like any project: I want to recharge my batteries so I don't feel so frazzled and worn out."
Try to find at least half an hour to an hour every day for you. It doesn't have to be all at once. And before you decide what you're going to do with the time you're building into your schedule, promise yourself that you won't waste it.