Community Health Begins With Self Health

Millions of Americans, particularly women, struggle to find the time to take care of their own health. When I look around at my friends who are moms, I find myself in awe of how many of them put the needs of their families, their children, their work, their community, or school volunteer time ahead of their own.

I’ve thought about how to write this blog so it doesn’t sound like a lecture or a guilt-fest, because women who can successfully juggle schedules that would be daunting to air traffic controllers deserve that respect. I would also like to believe that they might find a way to put themselves and their health first, but I’m seeing how this isn’t always the case. I get it. There are only so many hours in the day. So how is it that their needs and health are constantly pushed to the back burner?

This leads me to believe that perhaps the issue isn’t in their ability to carve out time for themselves, but instead found somewhere in the motivation to do so.

As a life coach, I’ve noticed that women tend to be inspired and motivated by giving the best of themselves to others. We see other’s needs — particularly our children’s needs — as important and worthy of our time and attention. This is their driving force – a commitment to serving others. And this is a beautiful and honorable approach.

Servanthood is the greatest motivation and is full of grace. But we are in denial if we believe it doesn’t come with a high price tag. Servanthood is only as powerful as the servant. Forgive my boldness, but a worn-down, exhausted servant isn’t doing any good to the family she wishes to serve.

With this logic in mind, perhaps it would help serve others if you first served yourself. I’m not suggesting that you shuck everything and start over – that’s not reasonable – but what I am suggesting is that you learn to say no to the things that really are not essential. Your health needs to move to the top of your list so that you are able to better manage all of your other tasks. After all, community health is not possible without self-health. Consider that this may also demonstrate to those you serve that your health is what makes your time and talent so darn valuable.

Start small by adding in one half hour of time each day to focus on your health. You can make this your time to exercise, meditate, enjoy a healthy meal or even get a massage. As you begin to realize that you can make time for you, increase this time to 45 minutes or an hour each day.