Self-care is all the rage these days, but I don’t think trendy articles on Buzz Feed do it justice. Self-care isn’t just taking a beautiful, Instagram-worthy bath with a glass of wine.
Self-care has different forms, and all of these forms are necessary. It’s not just about “feeling good” for a brief moment. (Though that is one form of it!) It also requires doing things that maybe don’t feel good in the moment, but will reduce your stress in the long term.
The most important part of self-care is the “self” part. When we engage in self-care we are prioritizing the SELF. So many of us tend to ourselves last, particularly those who are parents or caregivers. In reality, this is the pool of people who need to practice self-care the most.
Let’s say you’re not a caregiver? You still need self-care. Maybe you’re a workaholic? Maybe you’re a people pleaser and tend to everyone else’s needs before your own? Maybe you don’t even realize that you’re not taking care of yourself, even though you have all the time in the world? Everyone needs self-care because everyone, at some point, puts their needs last.
I’ve found that the best way to make sure you are self-caring is to make a list to have on hand. After all, when we’re overwhelmed, the last thing we want to do is think of a self-care idea. Instead, we tend to go for the quick fixes, like grabbing the wine bottle, a cigarette, a whole pizza…etc.
I’ve designated three main types of self care. Grab a pen and paper, or whip out your phone (LOL, like it’s not already in your hand). As we go through them, I want you to list AS MANY types of self-care that are UNIQUE and SPECIFIC to you under each category. At the end, I’ll tell you what to do with them.
Self-care type #1: Things that are enjoyable
- Not only are things in this category enjoyable, but they require minimal effort. For example, while going on a cruise is very enjoyable, it requires a lot of planning and effort, so this would not qualify for this type of self-care type.
- I want you to be VERY specific, and think about things that are unique to you. Don’t go with the tried and true “take a bath” or “read a book” unless you truly enjoy those things, and you will truly do them. Like, right now I’m renting an apartment where the bath tub drains one tbsp every second, so taking a bath would not make the cut on my current self- care list.
- Make sure that you have a variety of things to do. You should have available options no matter where you’re at or what you’re doing. If you’re driving, if you’re traveling, if you’re home alone, etc.
- Take a drive through the countryside.
- Call a specific friend who lifts yours spirits.
- Go for a walk.
- Window shop downtown.
Self-care type #2: Things that will reduce your stress
- These won’t be super enjoyable in the moment, but they will be helpful and practical in the long run. I think examples will explain these best:
- Do three SMALL things on your to do list.
- I’m talkin’ SMALL. Call and make an appointment somewhere. Mail that card you’ve been needing to mail. Heck, get the mail! Write them down, do them, then cross them off.
- Set boundaries.
- This can be as simple as saying “no” to a social event you really don’t want to go to, or something bigger, like telling your mom she can’t come over and walk in your house without calling first.
- Give yourself time to relax without feeling guilty about it.
- That last part is REALLY important. Dedicate time for you to just…relax. To literally do nothing. Allocate time during your day when this is possible.
- Word vomit your thoughts, stresses, to-do’s on to a piece of paper
- Clean your space
- If you’re in your car a lot commuting, clean your car. If you have an office, clean your office. If you are a stay at home mom, pick one room that you know would put you at ease if it was clean. Don’t clean the whole house! Pick one room so you don’t get overwhelmed.
- Get the idea? Write down ideas that will take a little initial effort, but in the long run will decrease your load.
Self-care type #3: Things that are good for your physical health
- These also need to be very specific to you. For example, running would have been on my self-care list a few years ago, but I’ve been struggling with an injury, so perhaps I would put yoga instead. But…then I realize I don’t belong to a yoga studio at the moment. So I probably won’t do this, so it shouldn’t go on my list. Catch my drift?
- Exercise (specify what kind, where, etc).
- Make a healthy meal or meal plan for the week
- Drink water right when you wake up, or make a goal for how
- Beyonce drinks hot water with the lemon in the morning which means SO SHOULD YOU.
- Get a massage.
- Make a wellness check appointment with your doctor.
- Incorporate one vegetable into every meal for a week.
- Taking care of your health works in two ways:
- 1. You feel physically better because you’re taking care of your health
- 2. You feel good about yourself because you’re taking care of your health.
Since you’ve been taking notes like the good little student that you are, take some time to go through them now and edit or delete as you see fit. Then make a final, pretty copy to keep with you at all times. If it’s on paper, fold it and put it in your wallet or purse. Save it to your notes in your phone. Just make it’s easily accessible!
The number one reaction I get from people when we talk about self care is “I don’t have time!” Which can be true, but the thing is you need to MAKE time. You need to BUILD this into your schedule. Block off thirty minute chunks throughout the week in your planner and leave them blank, these will be your self-care times. Put an alarm on your phone for a start and end time for self-care. You need to make it as much of a priority as a doctor’s appointment. If someone asks you to go to lunch and it’s during self-care time, you say no.
Don’t wait until you’re STRESSED to practice self care.
Practice self care so that you don’t GET stressed. Preventing stress is so much easier than trying to get rid of it!