Do you ever feel like you’re busy doing things for everyone but yourself? If your days are a blur of work, picking up the kids from school, consoling a friend on the phone while cooking dinner, and remembering to walk the dog; you probably feel chronically depleted.
No doubt you’d love to engage in some self-care activities, but feel that you just don’t have the time. Before exploring how to make time for yourself, consider all of the reasons why you should—and not just for yourself!
The benefits of self-care
High levels of stress can lead to anxiety, depression, heart disease, insomnia, and more. When you’re well-rested mentally and physically, you stay healthier and are more resilient to stress. Self-care allows you the time and space to notice and process your emotional reactions to stress, and to implement helpful coping strategies.
Sometimes taking time out for yourself or telling people “no” can feel selfish. In reality, there is nothing selfish about self-care. As the saying goes, you cannot pour from an empty cup. If you burn yourself out by only supporting others, you won’t be able to support them at all. To be the best partner, employee, friend, or parent you can be, you must occasionally put your own needs first.
What does self-care look like?
Self-care may look completely different from person to person. Any activity that enriches and rejuvenates you physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually can be considered self-care. Lighting candles and meditating may work well for one person, while listening to heavy metal and running stairs may work better for others. If yoga class isn’t your thing, that’s okay. Self-care doesn’t need to look a certain way. It’s about investing time in doing the things that make YOU feel healthier, happier, and more centred.
How to make self-care possible
Limit your responsibilities or limit the time you will dedicate to those responsibilities. Put any people-pleasing urges aside and be realistic. If you are already feeling stretched thin, communicate that to others. Setting a boundary doesn’t have to be a big ordeal. In our tech-driven society, boundary setting can be as simple as turning off: pause notifications on your phone, limit screen time, or set up an out-of-office auto reply when you need a little time for yourself.
Can you hire someone to help you out, either at work or at home? Even if you can’t always pay someone for all the things that need doing, you may still find a creative workaround. Maybe you and a friend can take turns watching the kids on Saturday nights so that you and your partner can go on a date. Babysitting co-ops, meal swaps, and carpooling are just a few examples of mutually beneficial ways you could share your workload with others.
Make appointments with yourself
Schedule time for self-care and honour this time as you would a work meeting or an important doctor’s appointment. Use it for whatever self-care activities you need: going for a walk, working on a hobby, or even just taking a nap. By refusing to cancel on yourself, you are demonstrating your self-worth to yourself and those around you. If you can’t prioritise your own needs, how can you expect other people to?
Integrate self-care into daily activities
Some days carving out an hour of free time just isn’t possible. That doesn’t mean that self-care needs to go out the window. Instead, turn mundane, daily tasks into an opportunity for relaxation and self-enrichment. Here are some ways you can take your self-care practice on the go:
Listen to your favourite podcast while folding laundry
Try a “waterfall meditation” in the shower where you visualise the water washing all of your stress and worries down the drain
Listen to relaxing music while you walk your dog
Practice mindfulness while picking out produce at the grocery store (appreciate the colour, texture, and smell of each fruit or vegetable)
Take three deep, cleansing breaths every time you come to a stoplight or get stuck in traffic
Notice any time-wasters
At the end of an exhausting day, do you find yourself winding down by scrolling through your phone or watching a TV show you don’t particularly care about? Is there a low-energy alternative that would help to revive you or make you feel like you are moving closer to your personal goals? Take note of any time thieves and swap them out for activities that nourish you and bring you joy: take a bath, read a book, journal for 10 minutes, do some stretching or do another activity that you can feel good about.
Today’s action steps
Take 10 minutes to create a self-care plan for the week. Write down:
When you will go to bed and wake up each day.
One thing that doesn’t serve your wellbeing that you will say “no” to or set a strict time limit on (set one boundary).
One way you will make a mundane task more fulfilling (for example, listening to an audiobook while you do the dishes).
The day and time of one hour-long self-care appointment.
A few simple habit changes can go a long way in helping you to feel less stressed, more energised, and better equipped to support yourself and others.
Our world-class coaches on Hello Coach can help you better manage your time and make self-care a priority.
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