Self-care has become another buzzword nowadays. Yet it is something that many of us could improve. When I ask clients what they do for self-care and their eyes bug out of their head, I know we have some work to do!
Self-care? What’s that?
Many people aren’t even sure what makes them feel good, what fills their cup, what keeps their clock ticking. If you are unsure of what you like to do for self-care, I encourage you to brainstorm ideas. Think back to your childhood; maybe you enjoyed dancing, singing, or flying kites as a tyke. Make a list and stick it on your fridge (preferably on top of your to-do list!).
Why is it so difficult to stick to self-care?
Is it really practical with all of our other “to-do’s” to fit in self-care? Most people are strapped for time, but it can also be difficult to indulge in a self-care routine. Have you ever tried to just do nothing for ten minutes? It can be a painful experience for the novice nothing-doer. And nowadays with Netflix and social media, there is plenty to distract us.
Then there’s the guilt.
For some crazy reason, we feel guilty about taking time for ourselves!! We feel obligated to go to our co-worker’s baby shower even if we don’t like said co-worker. Or, the mom who gives her all to her family thinks it is selfish to take time for herself.
But we also don’t make time for it. We cut sleep short to stay up late binge watching Netflix or scroll through the Facebook news feed for hours on end, yet we won’t set aside an hour each evening to spend time in the tub or dance in our kitchen. Netflix isn’t going anywhere and neither is Facebook. But eventually, we will wear ourselves down to the point of exhaustion and illness if we don’t recover and reboot.
What happens when we don’t incorporate self-care?
Well, my friend, when we don’t make time to re-fuel, we end up running on empty with little to give. Eventually, we will become depleted as the body breaks down. We may experience anxiety, mood swings, dysregulated blood sugar, insomnia, thyroid conditions, adrenal conditions like hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysregulation, and more unpleasant conditions such as heart disease (1).
What happens when we do incorporate self-care?
Imagine sleeping well, digesting properly, feeling peaceful more often then stressed out, and having space and energy to do the things you love and give more of yourself to those you love. When we have a self-care routine in place, we rebound from stress better, maintain our health status easier, and just feel more content.
Tips for implementing self-care and sticking to it
Schedule it in and don’t negotiate. First and foremost, look at your calendar. Schedule a regular time each day to incorporate self-care. It can be a chunk of time such as an hour each night to read, or little snacks of self-care throughout the day such as 5 minute breathing breaks every few hours. Now, schedule that shit in. In pen! And don’t schedule things over the top of your self-care time – caring for yourself needs to be your priority. Period!
Find what works for you. Don’t just jump on the meditation bandwagon (even though meditation is great for stress! [2, 3]) because everyone else is doing it or says you should try it. It might not be your thang. And be ok with experimenting until you find what makes you feel really good.
Have small self-care and big self-care. Small self-care includes things you do every day, like stretching every morning. And big self-care are the things you love to do but perhaps can’t do all the time, like going on an out of town trip or booking a spa day. Try to schedule out a few big self-care items every few months.
It’s in the details. Instead of putting “walk” on your calendar, have a plan for where you will walk, what time, with who, and the duration. Then stick to your schedule. Set a reminder if you have to. Make it a part of your routine, like brushing your teeth.
Stop over-committing! Ok, I’m really talking to myself with this one. It’s OKAY to say no to your co-worker’s baby shower if you’d rather have that Sunday to get out in nature for a hike. You can blame (or thank!) your nutritionist.
Try an accountability partner. Accountability partners share their goals with each other and then hold each other to those goals. Establish your goal with your accountability partner and follow up with each other regularly. Perhaps you have a walking buddy that you meet a few times a month at a scheduled time.
Detox the distractions. Stop the scroll on the news feed. Take a Netflix binge break. But how?! Unplug the Wifi after a certain time each night. There’s an app called Offtime that will help you work or play distraction-free.
Start small. If you want to run for stress relief, don’t sign up for a 5K if you’ve never worn running shoes. Start with small, realistic goals. Go for a 5 minute walk around the block. Then gradually increase it to a jog. This will make it more bite size, more enjoyable, and more doable long-term.
Start with what you eat in the morning. Feeding yourself nutrient-dense meals is a form of self-care. Incorporating breakfast helps set the tone for the day, balancing out your blood sugar, improving energy levels, and helping your brain function.
My self-care tool kit
- Self massage tool
- Foam roller of doom (hurts so good!)
- Acupressure mat
- Epsom salt soak
- Catnip tea
- Clary sage therapeutic grade essential oil
- Castor oil packs
- Magnesium spray
You are worth it
It can be a little scary if we don’t know what we like or how to start. But once you start putting you first, it will become second nature. You will learn to sink into relaxation easier. You will become better nourished, well-rested, and more satisfied. So please spend the time filling up your own cup! And if you need support, reach out!
What is your favorite self-care indulgence? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!