I’m siting here listening to the warm summer rain and frogs that are chirping like birds. Bugs are clinging to my window screens, looking for the sunlight they are sure lives in my bedroom and I only feel a sense of peace because I canceled stuff. That’s right, I canceled plans in order to write this blog.
You’re thinking… why are you telling me this? Well, I like writing this blog and I don’t like to be rushed, I like knowing you’re reading this and you’re thinking about your own self-care.
The fact is, this morning was a whirlwind of too much, followed by a list that was too long and my day was packed like a can of sardines (fun fact, I’ve never opened a can of sardines and so this metaphor is hypothetical). The fact is, self care is often suggested when you’re stressed, when in reality self care should be worked into your day to day life whether you’re stressed or not.
Answer these few questions to better understand your need for self care…
- Do you feel exhausted even after a good nights sleep?
- Do you feel like you could take a nap, or that you can’t keep your eyes open but then you get off of work (or whichever task you were doing) and you suddenly feel awake and full of energy?
- Do your thoughts and plans feel fuzzy and unclear?
- Do you have a difficult time trusting your intuition?
- Do you feel disconnected from the things you care about?
- Do you feel vaguely dissatisfied with your life and you want to know once and for all how to address it?
If you answered YES to any of these, you need to make a change.
What is self-care?
Self-care can be anything but it comes from deliberately doing it in order to take care of your mental, emotional, and physical health. That’s pretty easy right? It can be… but honestly it can be way easier to give up things for others (friends, family, kids) and we often overlook doing something or giving-up something to improve our own mood and reduce anxiety. Good self-care is key for a good relationship with yourself and others.
Next question: What do you do to take care of yourself?
Your answer can be as simple as “canceling stuff” or it can be something like that two pounds of kale you just bought in an attempt to live a healthier life, it can be saying no to a friend who is taking advantage of you. Self-care can be more complicated than just going to get a manicure but hey that counts too.
So… what next? You’re thinking I’m going to tell you go to meditate and drink tea?
Let’s start with this:
- Most likely you have a rhythm and routine to your day, even if it isn’t exactly what you want. You more or less have similarities day to day. For self-care you need to actively plan instead of letting it just happen. So between waking up and going to work or coming home from work and having dinner, you can add self-care in-between. Adding activities to your calendar and telling people around you will increase your commitment and help it stay at the forefront of your mind.
- Conscious choices of self care work better than non-conscious choices, stay aware of what you do and why you’re doing it and how it feels and what the outcome is. i.e. canceling stuff and giving myself the time to work in peace brought me joy, it was a self-care choice. Was it easy to make the call that I’d overpacked my full day, no but it took my night and made it peaceful.
Self-care is different for everyone but there is a checklist that can help:
- Create a “no” list of things you don’t like or you no longer want to do. Examples, not answering the phone when you’re on your lunch break, not checking emails right before bed, not going to particular gatherings.
- Promote a heathy, nutritious diet, making sure you remember to take your S’moo everyday
- Get enough sleep.
- Exercise, it will increase your serotonin level and improve your mood.
- Follow-up with medial care instead of putting off your checkups.
- Use relaxations exercises or practice meditation. Even sitting on your deck and zoning while you watch the clouds counts.
- Spend time with the people you love
- Add relaxing activities to your day like walking or petting your cat
- Do at least one pleasurable thing a day. Hanging out with friends, painting, writing, watching a movie.
- Don’t forget to find things in life that make you laugh.
You can set up 15 days on a calendar that include self-care tactics and see how it makes you feel each day, and after each week. Like anything, self-care takes practice and once you get into the mind-set, much like happiness, you’ll find it easier to incorporate into your days.