02/05/2015 03:59 pm ET Updated Apr 07, 2015

Why Your Mommy Guilt Can Be Good For You

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By Elena Lipson, Divine Business and Self-Care Mentor & Coach

The first time I left my son at home with hubby, my kiddo was just around 6 months old. The minute I walked out of the house to go for a run, I felt a pang of guilt in my chest.

The first time I left for NYC for a girls weekend, my son was just about 2 years old. I cried in the car as my friend nodded in recognition at how hard it is to leave our children.

The first time I dropped my son off at a friend's house so I could finish some important work, I felt the guilt creep up again, quickly followed by the thoughts of all the things I could be doing with my sweet boy instead.

But there was something very important on the other side of that guilt that I needed to pay attention to: ME.

Guilt can be a big neon sign pointing to inner needs that aren't being met. It can also lead you to satisfaction and joy that comes from spending your time doing things you love and things that nourish you on all levels, including in your work.

Over the years, I've developed a deep appreciation for this type of guilt as the initial reaction to doing something I've needed to do for myself. And truthfully, the guilt response has gotten much quieter over the years because I've learned to recognize it as a sign that I'm taking care of myself.

Over time, my guilt has transformed and loosened its grip on my chest, because the joy and fulfillment that I've experienced from following my intuitive nudges to take care of myself have been amazing. These benefits have spilled over into the way I show up for my family, for my clients and for the world in general.

Now, when I engage in self-care, I always come back recharged, nourished and refreshed in a profound way.

In bestselling success book, The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, author Stephen Covey talks about the importance of the 7th habit -- Sharpen the Saw. I used to think this meant that we need to keep getting better at our skills and our jobs over time, but it's truly so much more than that. In his book, Covey states:

Sharpen the Saw means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have ... you. It means having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental and spiritual.

As you renew yourself in each of the four areas, you create growth and change in your life. You increase your capacity to produce and handle the challenges around you. Without this renewal, the body becomes weak, the mind mechanical, the emotions raw, the spirit insensitive, and the person selfish. Not a pretty picture, is it?

Feeling good doesn't just happen. Living a life in balance means taking the necessary time to renew yourself. It's all up to you. You can renew yourself through relaxation. Or you can totally burn yourself out by overdoing everything. You can pamper yourself mentally and spiritually. Or you can go through life oblivious to your well-being. You can experience vibrant energy. Or you can procrastinate and miss out on the benefits of good health and exercise.

Sharpening your saw by taking the time to nourish yourself is the most profound way to make sure that you are able to show up to do the work you're here to do, and be at your best, without hitting burnout and overwhelm.

Here are five ways to engage in self-care -- and "sharpen your saw" -- this coming year:

  • Take time to connect with friends on a regular basis Meaningful connections with others are crucial for long-term health and wellness
  • Find simple ways to nourish your playful side each day Learn a new instrument, draw, doodle
  • Spend time in nature even a few minutes in a local park can help settle and ground your body and mind
  • Take time to nourish your body with healthy foods sitting down to a mindful non-distracted meal can help with digestion and overall health
  • Plan your time off and defend it fiercely put yourself on your calendar and treat this appointment as you would your top client

Through these strategies, you'll find yourself better prepared to succeed at your highest levels in all that you do.

Elena Lipson is the Divine Business & Self-Care Mentor, life coach, retreat leader and creator of the 21 Days of Self-Care Rituals online course. Through her coaching, retreats, and programs, Elena works with women all over the world to become the #1 asset in their life, business and the bedroom.

Elena has lived in Russia, NYC, California and today happily enjoys the green trees and fresh air of the Pacific Northwest with her amazing husband, zen-kiddo and sweet-soul pup Chi-Chi. You can learn more about her and her work at