When you have a busy life, taking the time to care for yourself may seem like a luxury you cannot afford. If you want more time to invest in cultivating your desired work-life balance, it might even seem counterintuitive to spend time on something as seemingly frivolous as self-care. For example, maybe you have decided that you would like to cultivate more family time. Since your time is precious, you might be thinking, “I can’t add self-care to my routine as it is, I barely have time outside of work for my family. If I take time to care for myself, I won’t have anything left to give to my family.”
What does self-care mean to you? What pictures come to mind when you think of the words ‘self-care’? It usually means something very different for different people. Self-care to me means simply looking after your whole self, not because you ‘must’ but because you want to, because it feels good to do so and because you like looking after your own needs as well as other people’s and it is such an important thing to do for yourself. We can only give to others when we have plenty within us to give. If you let yourself get run down, tired, dehydrated, lacking in nutrients, mentally exhausted, and tired body, you simply cannot enjoy life nor can you be there for the important people in your life.
By taking care of yourself properly, you reduce stress in your own life. You increase happiness, you create a healthier body and mind and you feel more satisfied with life in general. Self-care has also helped prevent burnout, but most importantly, self-care shows you that you are indeed an important person. That your needs matter just as much as anyone else’s needs and that it’s not selfish or self-indulgent to take time out for yourself – it’s simply showing yourself some self-respect.
There’s a difference between eating fast food just because you’re hungry and need a quick fix, compared with making yourself a delicious and nutritious meal. Fast food is taking care of the hunger part of your body, but a nutritious meal is taking care of all of yourself; your hunger, and also your body and mind. You can have a quick shower to get clean or you can prepare a warm bath with some Epsom Salts and essential oils and have a soak. Again, these both achieve the goal of getting clean, but the bath is taking care of all of you – allowing you to relax, unwind, have time out and also get clean, instead of the rush that a quick rinse off in the shower will give you.
Often ladies will tell me that the reason they don’t do much in the way of self-care is that it’s either too expensive or they don’t have time. Some self-care activities can indeed be expensive but there are plenty of other things you can do also. Facials, massages, manicures, retreats, yoga classes, etc. can all be wonderful ways of taking care of yourself, but of course, they come with a price tag. For these types of items, you may want to put a little money aside each week and treat yourself every quarter for example. Giving yourself these same types of luxuries at home though can be relatively inexpensive and yet you’ll still feel great after doing them.
And yes, sometimes self-care actions are impracticable daily – no, we don’t all have time to soak in the bath for an hour every day, but there are many self-care actions that you can introduce that can quickly become habits in your life, and other actions you may want to schedule in time for on a weekly or fortnightly basis.
Some cheap, quick, and easy ideas for self-care can include:
1. Swapping your morning coffee for a slice of lemon in hot water
2. Giving yourself a hand massage and manicure
3. Taking a nap
4. Drawing, painting, creating, etc.
5. Going for a walk on the beach (or your other fav place)
6. Investing in a foam roller and giving your aching muscles a massage
7. Preparing a healthy and nutritious meal
8. Stretch your body, or even better find a yoga workout on YouTube and treat your body to that
9. Slow down. Walk slower than you usually do, put your phone away, and try to spot 5 beautiful things in your environment
10. Keep a gratitude and accomplishments journal. Each day, write 5 things that you’re grateful for and anything you’re proud of accomplishing that day
Other aspects of self-care include things like a regular doctor, dentist, and option appointments for example. Is there some minor health issue that’s been bothering you but you seem to never get around to making that doctor’s appointment? If it was your child or family member, would you make sure they got checked out?
Self-care is often the first thing to get neglected when you become busy, tired, or stressed, and yet it’s the very thing that you should be turning to at these times. Many people treat self-care as a type of reward or treat, but if you start incorporating self-care into your daily and weekly routines, you’ll begin to notice great improvements in your life. If you’re feeling stressed or you’ve forgotten what self-care feels like, take some time today to pick out a couple of activities you can do every day that is caring just for you, and then pick out another maybe lengthier activity you can do every week.