05/31/2011 09:37 am ET Updated Jul 31, 2011

Be Kind to Yourself

In this crazy busy world, it's a rat race for many people. For women, and mothers, in particular, it can be overwhelming. And all the mothers out there know exactly what I mean. Many of us give so much of ourselves and spread ourselves very thin during any given day. But how many of us take the time to take care of ourselves?

Somehow we think that by spending time, effort or money on ourselves, we are being selfish. After all, the family needs you -- homework needs to get done, clothes need to be washed, you need to shop for groceries and get dinner on the table. And then there are the many small things that need your attention in between. How dare we sit and read a book right after dinner before the dishes have been washed and put away? What came over us when we decided to lace up our running shoes and go for a run instead of doing the yard work or cording some wood?

But it is way more than the pleasure of reading a good book, or the joy of running a 5k and feeling the sense of freedom and peace on the road. Many of us do our best thinking while we are pounding the pavement! This time taken for yourself is way more important than you think. It's the recharging-the-batteries time, the mental sanity break, the occasional solitary moments when you take yourself aside and tell yourself how important you are.

And you are important. There may be people in your life who criticize you. They will not understand why you are doing this. Perhaps you're one of the many that have been putting others -- in fact everyone -- ahead of you your whole life. But if we don't take time for ourselves, then we will never be truly there for anyone else.

Taking care of yourself can come in many ways. For some, it's the treat of a really good haircut, or a trip to the spa. For others, it's a quiet moment of meditation or reading a good novel. Sometimes it's as quick as a 10-minute time out to talk to a good friend. For all, it should be feeling as good and as healthy as can be. You need that time with yourself in order to really listen to your body. You will know, inherently, whether anything is wrong. Being kind to yourself is important not only for you but also for all those who depend on you. It also presents you the opportunity to be a really good example for those around you, especially your children.

So make those doctor appointments you may have been putting off, say no when your busy life will not permit one more activity, lace up those shoes and get on the road. You are worth it!

And to all those critics out there, words of encouragement are much more powerful. You never know -- you could be in another's shoes one day!

Andrea Paine's blog, asurvivor's look at breast cancer and running, can be found at