If you go too long without sleeping or eating, you'll collapse.
It doesn't matter how strong you are – your body has physical limits, and when you reach them you will shut down.
Similarly, if you go too long without taking care of yourself emotionally, you will burn out or melt down. It doesn't matter if you are Mr. Rogers or Mother Teresa – even the most loving people in the world can't take care of others unless they take care of themselves, too.
The bottom line: If you want to take care of other people, you need to take care of yourself.
Therapists call this idea “self-care” but you can call it whatever you want. Just make sure you do it!
To help you figure out if you need better self-care, I've written up some questions you should ask yourself. Take some time to think through these questions now.
- Are you getting enough sleep?
- Are you eating three meals a day?
- Are you able to exercise?
- Do you have people you talk to about your problems?
- Do you spend time with people just to have fun, not so you can support them?
- Are you able to say “No” to your friends when you need to?
- Do you have time to do the things you enjoy (hobbies, etc?)
- Can you be happy even when you know your friend is still struggling?
- Are you able to take care of your personal responsibilities? (Schoolwork, your job, etc?)
- Are you able to pursue personal goals and dreams that are important to you?
If you answer “No” to any of these questions, it may be a sign that you should prioritize self-care.
If you answer “No” to a lot of these questions, you need to take better care of yourself or you will burn out.
Remember, nobody needs you to be a superhero. It's wonderful that you are supporting your friend, and sometimes it can feel like you need to burn yourself out to be a true friend.
But you can't help anyone if you burn out -- and if you don't take care of yourself, you will burn out. Remember that your life matters too, and your friend wants you to be happy even if they are not.