triage: assign degrees of urgency (typically to wounded or ill patients)
In what feels like a totally different life, I trained as a Medical First Responder with my local volunteer fire department. (I even had the gear – see!)
It was practical training that has helped me enormously over the years since I completed it, but not always in the ways you might think. Sure, I’ve cleaned up a gross wound or thirty and helped wrap injuries, but those aren’t the learnings that have dramatically changed my life.
There are two very primary lessons from my MFR course that have stuck with me over the years:
- Triage everything: Assess and treat critical incidents before non-critical incidents for the best probability of success
- Your safety comes first: You cannot provide aid if you’ve hurt yourself or put your own well-being at risk
I live these lessons daily.
Sometimes, my life honestly does feel like a car wreck and I’m constantly trying to weed through conflicting priorities: kid stuff, work stuff, my stuff, house stuff — it just never ends.
But here’s what I’ve learned:
There are critical issues in my life that need to be addressed first. I need to eat well. I need to take care of myself. Once I’ve done these things, I can take care of my son. Then I can take care of my work. Then I can take care of the house.
The laundry can wait. My mental health can’t. The dishes? We can eat our dinner out of bowls one night. Out of Tupperware, if we need to, because it gives me extra time to do what’s important.
I know I’m more productive at work when I’ve eaten breakfast. I sleep better when I’ve pushed my body physically. I feel better about myself when I’ve eaten good foods and worked up a good sweat. I’m generally nicer when I’ve burned off all that extra energy.
I can’t be everything to everybody and do everything every day. It’s not balance. It’s juggling. And that’s fine. I’m only one person.
My good friend asked me to write this post after she told me she thought I was “dedicated” to fitness. But it’s not dedication for me: it’s survival. She told me she needed guidance. WRITE THE BLOG POST, she said. And I so get that. Whether you’re a busy mom, a student, or hustling all day err’y day being you, it’s hard to find or make enough time to do everything.
So here’s my advice to you:
Stop trying to do everything. Full stop. You’re only one person. And that’s enough. It’s OK. Nobody can do it all. Not all the time. Not even half the time.
Look at your life, and triage the shit out of it. Your critical issues might not be my critical issues, but if they’re critical to you that’s all that matters.
Don’t overcomplicate. Decide what’s important and prioritize. Go to bed early. Eat a piece of fruit. Go for a walk.
Be ruthless. Set boundaries and stick to them. You deserve you-time. You need you-time. So take the you-time. Make the you-time.
Recognize that taking time for yourself doesn’t make you a bad parent/ spouse/ friend/ employee/ person. Doing shitty things to people makes you a bad person.
Give up the guilt. Kick it in the ass. Drop it, and don’t pick it up again. Unless you’re being a bad person. (If you’re being a bad person, feel guilty and then fix it.)
Understand that you don’t need an excuse to do things for yourself. Self-care is paramount. You can’t pour from an empty glass and all those corny metaphors you see on inspirational Instagram accounts. When you’re well cared for, you’re well-prepared to care for other things. This starts with you.