Self Care and To do lists don’t seem like a natural match.  Self Care is a more “being” oriented goal while the To Do list is more of a “doing” oriented goal.  But these seemingly oppositional goals don’t have to be on such different ends of the continuum.  Find our how adding self care, in the form of rest and relaxation can help bring balance and relational harmony back into your life.

I love making lists.

Grocery lists, Christmas lists, Guest lists, and of course the most important list of all…the “to do” list.  I just love the organizational stability and feelings of accomplishment I feel as I check off or complete each item on my list.  

Over the years, however, I’ve become much less obsessive about my list habit. I’ve learned to use a list as a guide…not a mandate and I’ve learned to rewrite, and, dare I confess, throw lists away that have become especially burdensome.

After all it’s my schedule, I created it…so I can rewrite and recalculate and even discard it any time I want.

But recently, I have realized there are two “tasks,” that have never graced even one of my lists… and my guess is that many of you have also failed to add these two very important items to your lists either.

Their names?  Rest and Relaxation (otherwise known as good self care)

It just never occurred to me to actually plan time for rest and relaxation.

Now that might sound a little odd to some of you, but for those of us who received very strong, and generally overemphasized messages about productivity, performance and self sufficiency…taking time to rest and relax hardly even calculates.

So lately, I’ve been trying a new kind of list. One that includes all of those pesky little personal items that, in the past, never garnered enough value to even make it to a list.  For instance, instead of creating a daily list of an impossible number of things to be accomplished, ( I know many of you know what I’m talking about) I limit a daily list to 5 or 6 (do-able) items.

If they don’t get completed…oh well…they just get carried over to the next day.

What I have learned to add to my day, my week and my general existence is the “tasks” of rest and relaxation, err I say fun. Instead of working right up until the moment I head for bed, I have learned to end my day several hours before bedtime and allow myself the pleasure of doing something I truly enjoy. Sometimes, I read, sometimes I watch a television show, sometimes I knit, sometimes I go for a walk and sometimes I just take a nice, long, hot bath.

It’s amazing how much better I sleep.

I also have leaned to intentionally schedule days away from work and limit the times I am willing to stretch my calendar to accommodate unexpected additions.  I have added the word NO to my vocabulary and routinely set boundaries, and hold said boundaries…even at the expense of someone being upset with me.

In short, I’ve learned to treat my rest and relaxation time as legitimate and healthy aspects of my life that I am not willing to give up without good reason.

Not everyone has been happy with these changes. There are times when I get a few push-backs. But that’s ok. Everyone has their own journey and this just happens to be where I am at…at the moment.

Learning to live a more relationally, emotionally, behaviorally and spiritually balanced and whole life includes establishing a healthy balance of work and rest, togetherness and autonomy and thinking and feeling.

It is rightly aligning our dependency needs with the God of our Understanding and staying relationally connected with our sense of Self and Others.  A life lived in harmony is a life that integrates all aspects of “being” including the importance aspects of rest and relaxation.

If you have found yourself feeling less than balanced and want to find out more about living a relationally, emotionally, behaviorally and spiritually balanced life call the counseling center at:


Balanced living…that includes rest and relaxation is possible!