Succeeding at Self Care - A How To Article
We all feel it from time to time-the overwhelming to-do list, the deadlines at work, the burn out. It seems like more than ever the pressures of daily life are having a major impact on our mental health.
Maybe it’s the ongoing, lingering of the pandemic, forcing us to take on MUCH more than we ever bargained for when it comes to work, school, and parenting. When we hit a wall or burn out, what’s the one thing we need more than ever?
And what’s the one thing that so many of us have been forced to sacrifice during these times?
You got it, self-care again.
Now, hear me out. I understand how infuriating it can be to listen to someone preach self-care when you’re up to your eyeballs in work, paying the bills, maintaining relationships, getting good grades, competing in sports or chasing down tiny humans. Many times it feels impossible to take a few precious moments to yourself during the day (especially when all you can think about is the next thing on your to-do list). But it’s also no secret that those who make even just a little time for themselves on a regular basis are happier, healthier, and better equipped to handle the daily stressors that are thrown their way.
This article isn’t here to break down every barrier you have when it comes to making time for yourself, but rather it’s intended to give you a few tips and ideas for getting in a little bit of “me” time throughout the day. As with everything on your health and fitness journey, we’re all individuals and our self-care needs are no different. Our day to day lives, responsibilities, obligations, schedules are unique and while some strategies work into your life seamlessly, others may not as easily do so.
So let’s just cut to the chase-below are a few tips for prioritizing self-care even during the times when it’s hardest to do so.
I know, this one sounds easy enough, but putting it into practice can still be difficult. When I say start small, I truly mean it. Even 5-10 minutes a day can really make a positive difference in the way you feel.
Let’s say you’re a full-time working parent. You wake up before everyone else, pack lunches for the family, get everyone fed and dressed, manage to brush your teeth, fill up your travel mug full of coffee, load up the car, and drop everyone off at daycare/school before heading off to your job…
It’s not even 8am and look at what you’ve accomplished! After working all day and through your lunch (you’ve got to get in that pickup line early), you grab the kids, help out with homework, prepare a balanced meal for the family, clean the kitchen, fold a load of laundry, give baths, tell bedtime stories, and crawl into bed. Five to ten minutes doesn’t seem so easy anymore, does it?
When you’re looking to add just a short amount of time to your daily schedule, try to focus on things that are doable. A great idea is to make a list of things you can do in 5-10 minutes that YOU would consider self-care (remember, self-care is different for everyone).
Examples, maybe instead of scrolling Facebook in the pickup line at school, you grab your Kindle and read for 5 minutes.
How about waking up 10 minutes earlier than you typically do, and instead of grabbing your phone right away, grab a cup of coffee and sit in silence before starting your morning routine?
Maybe walking your dog down the street and back is something that you would enjoy doing early in the morning. YouTube is full of short yoga and meditation videos that you could practice at the beginning or end of your day.
Whatever it is, make sure it’s attainable and something that would give you a sense of calm and satisfaction.
Don’t Be Afraid to Make Changes
Constantly overwhelmed, stressed and finding no room for self-care in your daily routine?
Then deep down you know something has to change. As daunting as it sounds, don’t be afraid to sit down with your calendar or planner and really study where your time is going.
Now here’s the hard part. What can you remove from your day?
What about the endless social media scrolling after you’ve put the kids to bed? Maybe instead of using your lunch hour to run to the nearest fast-food place, you pack yourself a healthy lunch, eat at your office and then take a walk for the rest of your break? If there are habits you notice that aren’t serving you well, then that is where you start.
Another change that can be difficult to make when trying to improve your self-care routine is delegating tasks to others.
When you look at your daily schedule, are there things you do that others could easily be helping you with? Instead of you packing everyone’s lunches AND preparing breakfast, why not ask your partner to take over one of these tasks.
Let’s be clear on this… they WILL do it differently than you, and that’s okay. Letting go of some of the control can end up giving you more freedom to care for yourself!
If you have young kids at home, take advantage of their eagerness and independence by having them help you with small tasks such as feeding the dog, or setting the table. They will most likely be thrilled and you’ll have one less task to get done.
Should vs Could
So many times during the day our minds are bombarded with thoughts like “I should fold that laundry before going to bed,” or “I should go grocery shopping instead of using this meal delivery service.” At the end of the day, a lot of these things we “should” be doing are actually just small tasks that take time away from us that we could be using to practice some self-care.
Instead of thinking “I should,” try saying “I could.” You could do these things, but what would you be sacrificing to get them done? In the examples above, you’d be sacrificing 20 extra minutes of sleep, or at least an hour of your time.
When these thoughts occur, try to take a moment and reflect on what difference it really will make if that gets done. What is the most valuable use of your time? Is it running to the grocery store on your Sunday afternoon, or spending that time going on a bike ride with your family?
The choice to prioritize and practice self-care is up to you. While it is easy to blame our busy schedules, or family and work obligations, the truth is there is always something you could be doing to make sure you get your small dose of “me time” each day. If you need help prioritizing and brainstorming ways to make this happen, that’s what we’re here for. Our coaches are ready to help you make that precious time for yourself, because without taking care of yourself, your health and wellness goals will be much more difficult to attain.