Have you ever noticed that when you are stressed or especially busy and are needing to cut corners, one of the first things to do go is your self care? We run through the drive thru and eat something that doesn’t necessarily nourish our bodies or we cut back on sleep or skip morning yoga or dump social engagements. Most of us know that as the pressure increases, the more self care we need, but yet when faced with packed calendars and daunting to do lists, we often sacrifice our “me time” in an effort to get more done.
Research clearly shows that self care is a crucial way to ward off burnout, decrease anxiety, improve moods, and more, and yet many of us, myself included, often fail to prioritize activities that care for our mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. We create goals for all sorts of facets of our lives but often struggle to work in one of the most important ones, which is filling ourselves so we can in turn pour into others.
I have found the below steps helpful in trying to get self care on (or back on) track in my own life. Maybe these steps can help you too?
Identify activities that fill you. Maybe it’s coffee with a friend, hiking, reading a good book, attending a group fitness class, praying/meditating, journaling, cooking.
Begin to create a routine with your favorites and get hardcore about it. Block time and then hold to it! Treat the appointment with yourself like you would an appointment with the CEO of your company or any other important meeting in your life. No cancellations. No reschedules. This is your MOST important meeting of the week! (Maybe start with one activity per week. For example, this week on Tuesday evening after I put the kids to bed I am going to take a 20 minute bath by candlelight.)
Write it down. Block your calendar. Place a sticky note about it on the bathroom mirror. Whatever it takes.
Tell a friend or loved one about your plan so they can help keep you accountable.
Execute your self care and then reflect on how it went.
Now if week one went well maybe you can increase your self care to two activities per week and three on week three - ultimately working up to one activity per day. (Yes, you are worth this!) If not, then evaluate what went wrong the first week and adjust for the second. No judgement. No shame. Just start again. If you can’t seem to find even 20 minutes once a week, maybe start by saying “no” to one item on your calendar so that can make space for a “yes” for you.
Happy self caring!