How often do you truly embrace choice in your life?

As parents, we can sometimes feel we have endless responsibilities and too much to do. We get to the end of the week and feel completely drained. When we focus on getting everything done on our To-do List, and meeting everyone else’s needs without doing anything for ourselves, life can feel exhausting.

Looking back on your week, how many times did you choose to engage in an activity that truly energized you, uplifted your spirit, and brought you pleasure and enjoyment? If the answer is less than five times, you may be in need of Personal Time.

Everyone deserves to have time for themselves to spend doing activities they enjoy. This is what gives us energy to tackle the rest of our tasks. Sometimes, though, we forget that we can choose how we spend our time. We may feel pressured to do things we “should” be doing, or so we don’t disappoint someone else.

Have you filled your schedule with more than you want to take on? Have you said “yes” to events or obligations that feel drain your energy? Is there anything in your schedule that you could remove and release, or an request you can decline in order to clear space for rest, relaxation or enjoyment?

We often make decisions based on what we perceive other people’s needs to be so that we don’t disappoint, upset, anger, or sadden them. In so doing, we can make decisions that are not aligned with our true desires, our health, or our well-being. Saying ‘yes’ all the time to other people’s requests can be exhausting and stressful, and not allow us the time we need to rest, recuperate, and recharge.

Our lives are often already busy and we make them even busier by taking on too much. Yes, we all have certain obligations in our lives, and we can’t just skirt everything and go play all the time—although wouldn’t that be fun! However, we can take control of our schedules, and do less so that we can live more.

When we allow ourselves to have choices in our lives, we open up surprising possibilities. If we admit when we don’t have the energy, resources, focus, or heart to take on a request, we demonstrate true compassion and love for ourselves—and for others. When we do give of ourselves, and do so whole heartedly, we come from a place of love and can bring more than when we come from a place of depletion.

We can all make choices in our lives. We can choose how we want to react to our experiences in life, and we can choose to search for happiness and joy even when circumstances don’t turn out the way we had hoped. In choosing to respond to situations in a light-hearted way, seeking to find love and joy, even if we feel triggered or upset, we will feel calmer. This is not an easy practice, but with repetition and patience, we can learn to bring calm even to challenging situations.

Trust that there is enough time to complete what is important. Allow yourself to say “yes” to your heart’s desire, and “‘no” to bring more calm into your schedule. Choose to search for silver linings. When you are in a challenging situation, try to focus your attention on a more positive feeling. For example, ask yourself what is funny or good about the situation. The most challenging experiences are often the best stories, and also the best teachers. Be open to learning from the hilarity of life.

And trust life. If you say “no” to someone’s request, trust that there is someone else equally capable of engaging in that activity, and that it might just be the right thing they need to energize their spirit. Here’s to peace, love, and calm.

Sonja Yli-Kahila is a mom of two young girls, and a certified health coach and nutritionist at Rejuvenize Health Coaching & Nutrition. She can be contacted at Sonja@Rejuvenizehealthcoaching.com.