We've all heard the term "self-care" and probably assume that we're already doing it or that we don't need it. I hear things like A) "I'm doing just fine with my schedule and don't need to make adjustments", B) "I'm way too busy for self-care; Who will take care of the kids? Make the money? Feed the cats if I stop what I'm doing?", C) "Self-care is just an excuse to be lazy and selfish".
Rarely do I hear anyone say "I make a priority to care for myself every day and take breaks when I need to". So how do you move from A to C into self-care haven?
First you need to reprioritize some aspects of your life. You don't need to overhaul everything, become a spiritual master, have the most balanced life, or even sacrifice much of your time to achieve this. All you need to do is ask yourself "how do I make sure I get my needs met and create a sacred space for myself on a daily basis?" The answer can be surprisingly simple.
Here are some tips to make sure that you prioritize your needs, feelings, and space.
Find at least 30 minutes each day to honor yourself. I've found that my self-care practice truly begins in the evening, when all of my chores are done, the coffee is prepped, and the computer is shut. My routine takes about 30 minutes and is super easy to implement because it came from a place of acknowledging what felt right for me (i.e. evening time allows me to unwind and reflect on the day).
It looks something like: dimming the lights to create a soft, warm glow, which inspires relaxation; putting on lavender essential oils on my neck and in a diffuser so that the soothing smell is accessible; Having a cup of tea or kombucha; Sitting on the couch with a book or a movie (the movie obviously makes self-care time longer, but it just depends on the day).
Yours could look similar or it could be vastly different! You just have to find what makes you feel nourished and how that shows up in your life. I know some people who vibe on early morning jogs where it's just them and the road, where others find sustenance in creating a meditative space during lunch at work, or having a meaningful conversation with a loved one. It really depends on what feeds your mind, body, and soul.
MAKE IT YOUR OWN
Redefine what self-care is. If you're like many who think it's greedy to take care of yourself, consider what the long-term effects are of NOT investing in self-care. Most people don't realize that their decision to avoid self-care can lead to chronic fatigue, severe burnout (which could lead to low work performance, angry outbursts, high blood pressure, getting fired, etc), depression/anxiety, and lack of emotional engagement with others. In the long term, it's far more selfish and damaging to deny your needs.
When we set boundaries, we are essentially saying no to the things that do not serve us, and yes to the things that do. For example, "No, I won't be able to work an extra hour tonight" is saying "Yes, I want to spend time with my kids and hear about their day". That, my friend, is self-care!
WHAT’S THE STORY?
Let go of your story around self-care. This kind of ties back into my last point, but ultimately we carry around ideas and stories about what it means to be a (insert blank; working professional, single mom/dad, successful lawyer, community leader), and think that if we focus on our needs, it means we're going to reduce our amount of success or become lazy and self-indulgent.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Self-care leads to better productivity, more energy throughout the day, sleeping better, and feeling more in tune with our friends, family, and relationships. Investing in yourself is like putting the oxygen mask on before assisting others: You can't do shit if you're not functioning properly. Think about what you're saying yes to each time you invest in self-care!