Oh, the ever-elusive “self-care.” Sounds good, right? How many of us actually have a consistent self-care routine?
The reality is that making self-care happen can be HARD. Because, let’s face it; choosing to do self-care means choosing not to do other things with that time. Sometimes we fall into the thinking trap that we don’t deserve self-care. Or that we are only allowed to care for ourselves after we’ve accomplished all of the other things we expect ourselves to accomplish. Sometimes, we’re just not sure where to start with self-care. It takes practice, and trial and error to get it “right.”
I’m here to offer some thoughts on how to identify and implement self-care practices.
The first step to creating a self-care practice is to identify your needs. When you notice that you are feeling stressed, over-committed, or burned-out, think about what might replenish you. Perhaps you notice that you need to spend more time outdoors. Maybe you realize that you are not feeling as connected to others as you would like. Maybe you need more alone time. You might need a new hobby or interest. You may also need to be honest with yourself about some unhelpful behavior patterns or choices. Self-care might mean changing some things. The key here is to just listen to yourself without judgment, and accept that your needs are what they are.
Once you have identified what you need, it’s time to get creative about ways to meet those needs. Here are some questions to help you brain-storm:
-What are the things you used to do to meet this need, but you haven’t done in a while? Maybe you notice that you used to love to go camping, but you haven’t made time for this in several years. Be intentional about reinstating this activity.
-What are some new things you could try? Could you step outside for some fresh air on your lunch break? Could you choose to read a book for an hour rather than watching TV? Can you give yourself permission to say “no” to other things in order to say “yes” to taking some time for yourself?
-Do you need to make changes to your lifestyle? This may mean stepping away from a commitment. It might also mean scheduling time in your week for self-care activities. It might also mean going out to eat less so that you have the funds to try an art class.
-Do you need to make changes to your environment? Do you need to put a candle on your desk at work to help it feel cozier? Do you need to put a comfy pillow on your bed? Do you need to surround yourself with pictures of people you love? Think about what might make your environment more inviting, relaxing, and/or inspiring.
-Consider the timing/frequency of the self-care activities you would like to try. OK, not a question. J But here’s an example: Let’s say you notice that you would like to travel more. Travel arrangements may need to be planned several weeks in advance, and you may only be able to travel a few times a year. It will be helpful to have other self-care activities that you can do more frequently to get you through the “in-between” times.
Make it happen! Give yourself permission to make YOU a priority. Create a schedule that allows you to make more time for yourself. Get an accountability buddy if you need one.
Don’t allow other things to get in the way. There will always be reasons to wait. There will always be reasons not to prioritize yourself.
Bottom line: It’s OK to make time for you. You are deserving. You matter.