I hear it all of the time: “Oh, yes! Self-care is important; but I don’t have time. I’ll get to it though!" But life keeps on happening, and the next thing you know, you haven’t practiced self-care in months… years even! And just when we think we’ve got it under control, BOOM! You’re hit by depression or anxiety or burnout or worse. Life is sneaky like that, and self-care is a crucial tool in your mental, emotional, and physical health’s toolbox!
So, we’ve already talked about what self-care really is, we’ve talked about the benefits of self-care, and we’ve talked about the negative impacts that a lack of self-care results in.
Now, let’s get practical and discuss how do we actually implement consistent self-care into our hectic, daily lives? To help you out as you read this blog, feel free to download the “How To Incorporate Self-Care To Maintain Your Sanity” guided worksheet. Click the title or click here.
1. DEFINE WHAT SELF-CARE LOOKS LIKE FOR YOU.
When I ask a client, “What does self-care mean to you?” – 80% of the time, I get a robotic-rinse-and-repeat response. In other words, they have no idea what it means for them specifically. How can you implement something when you don’t even know what it is? Most people default to typical media portrayals of self-care (i.e. pampering yourself all day for a “Self-care Saturday”). However, this view of self-care easily takes a backseat to the “I don’t have time” or “I don’t have money” excuses. (Also, being pampered at a spa is not everyone’s idea of a relaxing time.)
Sit down and think about the following:
· What activities make me feel relaxed, at peace, or calm?
· What am I doing when I feel the happiest?
· What activities bring me joy and fulfillment?
· When do I feel safe enough to be authentically me and vulnerable?
· What fills me up when I feel drained or exhausted?
· Before life experiences clouded my childlike dreams, what did I enjoy doing without fear?
Make a list of the various activities or actions that answer the above questions. Do NOT think about anyone else when answering these questions. This is 100% about you! These are your specific self-care activities. And remember, self-care can be as simple as deep breathing for ten minutes or as intricate as planning a 2-week multi-stop vacation. It can be sessions with your therapist every other week or it can be going for a hike. Sometimes self-care is fun. Sometimes self-care is having the difficult conversations and healing.
This is the most important step because as previously mentioned, it’s hard to create a habit when you don’t have any idea of the habits you’re trying to implement. Another thing to keep in mind when creating your list is to not allow fear (fear of failure, judgement, rejection, etc.) to limit you. If you want to do it, do it. If you enjoy doing it, do it. Do it afraid! Life is meant to be lived. And when you live in fear, you fail to live!
Oftentimes as society begins to shape our worldview and we attempt to live up to the titles, roles, and expectations of other people, we start to lose ourselves. We lose the things that we dreamed about. We put activities that used to bring us pure pleasure on the backburner until we forget that we even liked it. According to studies, the number one regret of the elderly is not taking a chance on their dreams or making time for their goals or the things they desired to do. As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late!
2. IDENTIFY THE FREQUENCY AND ANY POTENTIAL EXPENSE.
By each item on your list, mark if it can be performed daily, weekly, monthly, etc. Can you do it in the middle of your day or do you need to plan for it? Does it cost you nothing but your time and energy or do you need to add it in the budget? Doing this helps you to clearly see that self-care does NOT have to take a lot of time, and it does NOT have to cost a lot of money. Essentially, you are getting rid of the excuses.
3. PRIORITIZE SELF-CARE IN YOUR SCHEDULE.
Lastly, be intentional about scheduling some of the daily activities into your day, the weekly activities into your week, the monthly activities into your month, and so on and so forth. Literally! I want you to schedule it in just like you would do for a client meeting or doctor’s appointment. Many of us don’t deviate away from the tasks or appointments that are put into our schedule. If you don’t use a schedule or planner, that’s okay. You’ll just have to be more intentional about putting it into your routine. And don’t let anything derail you from keeping this appointment with yourself. You deserve it!
Any time you feel like your day or mood is trending down or going sour - stop, think about your list, and then execute one of the activities. Because you’ve already done the mental work of listing out and organizing your self-care activities, you can execute them in the middle of a crazy day a lot easier and more efficiently. As mentioned in a previous blog, it’s hard to effectively read the safety manual as the plane is crashing down. Be proactive by reading it in advance. Be proactive in protecting and preserving your overall well-being by practicing self-care on a regular basis; and when your “plane” starts to crash, it’s a lot easier to catch it and course correct back to safety.
Be consistent. Some days will be better than others; so show yourself grace. But understand that the overall quality of your life, depends on your ability to make regular self-care a non-negotiable part of your routine. Don't think of it as something that you "have to do". It should be something you look forward to doing. And soon you'll notice the significant difference it makes when you don't do it versus when you do!
Again, feel free to download the “How To Incorporate Self-Care To Maintain Your Sanity” guided worksheet. And if you have any questions, post them below!
Blessings, Lindsey Vertner
Mindset Expert & Professional Speaker