How often do you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, overextended, and pulled in fifty different directions? How frequently do you take time for yourself? Do you ever feel guilty about putting yourself first and honoring the true needs of your body and mind? Do you know the importance of self-care?
If your answers are something along the lines of constantly, rarely, always, and no, let me just say…
I HAVE BEEN THERE!
I understand that balancing work, family, and your own mental and physical health can be a huge challenge. I think this is especially true in the Western world, where so often we’re told that sacrifice, pushing yourself to the limit (or past the limit), and neglecting your personal needs are the keys to success. In fact, many of us are taught to wear stress like a badge of honor. If you’re not constantly “busy,” you’re slacking. If you’re not where you want to be financially, career-wise, relationship-wise, health-wise, or family-wise it must be because you’re not working hard enough.
Okay, love — I encourage you to take a deep breath and really take this in—none of that is true!
We’ve been primed to view taking time to care for our bodies and minds (otherwise known as self-care) as a selfish, inconsiderate action. But I’m here to tell you from personal experience that self-care is not an indulgence, a privilege, or a reward—it’s a necessity. Let me repeat: a necessity. The importance of self-care can not be understated or underestimated.
Over time, I’ve come to realize that you have to put yourself at the top of your to-do list in order to have the energy to do the work that matters to you the most, and to be truly present with the people you care about. It’s like the age-old example we’re so used to hearing on airplanes — secure your own oxygen mask first before assisting others. After all, if you’re not taken care of, how can you be at your best at home, work, or just out in the world?
So, this week, I want to challenge you to plan and follow-through with an activity that is 100% FOR YOU!
Take a moment to check in with your body and mind, and get a sense of what you’re truly craving. Is it time with a good book? A relaxing bubble bath? A solo-walk in nature? The sky’s the limit! Once you’ve planned out your self-care activity, put it on your schedule. Block out this time like you would a doctor’s appointment (after all, this is for your health!).
SOUNDS GREAT, BUT WHO HAS THE TIME?
Now, if the mere thought of scheduling time for yourself seems impossible or throws you into a shame spiral (I totally get it!), I really encourage you to lean into this discomfort. You may need to take a stand for your self-care to your family, friends, co-workers, or anyone else vying for your time. And even though this may feel uncomfortable at first, I promise, the more you practice prioritizing your me-time, the more you’ll find that it’s empowering for you and inspiring for them to see you advocate for yourself.
MY PERSONAL SELF-CARE ROUTINE
As you get more comfortable scheduling and taking time for yourself, feel free to expand on your self-care routine. I personally compartmentalize my self-care into four categories—fun, fuel, body, and mind—to make sure all my needs are met. Here are some of my favorite self-care activities for each category:
Day adventures with my family, lunch dates with my friends, coaching baseball with my husband, reading a good book, taking pilot lessons, listening to music, going to music concerts and plays.
Filling my body with nutrient-rich foods like my daily green smoothie, taking the time to cook healthy meals (Let’s Eat always gets me back on track!), and trying not to drink too much coffee… 😉
Running is a daily must-do for me. It clears my head and my body loves it.
Talking with a life coach or therapist, meditation, gardening, quiet time, gratitude, journaling.
I make a conscious effort to practice an act of self-care in each of these categories every day (or at least once a week). I know that may seem like a lot, and when I first started practicing self-care at this level it felt like a lot, and actually took quite a bit of discipline to stick to. I had to work through the thoughts of, “I have 100 unread emails in my inbox. I can’t go running!” and “I’m too busy this week to eat healthy.”
What helped me most in the beginning was to have friends send me accountability texts to make sure I was sticking to my self-care plan. As you begin this journey, I recommend asking a trusted friend or family member to help keep you accountable for your actions. Not only can this help you stay focused and on-track with your self-care goals, but it can also provide a sense of moral and emotional support as you navigate your way forward.
TUNE IN TO WHAT YOUR BODY NEEDS
One of the biggest revelations I’ve had regarding self-care, is that it’s important to recognize what self-care looks like depending on the season in your life. There are weeks when my self-care involves more quiet, internal time, and other weeks when my practice has a greater focus on social connection. During certain times, when I’m really doubling down on self-care, I seek out professional help. Whether it’s a therapist, life coach, intuitive healer, or other professional, it’s nice to have someone objective to see patterns and help you shift.
Finally, I want to give you a gentle reminder that self-care looks different for everyone. Feel free to draw inspiration from the self-care activities I listed above, but I absolutely encourage you to really check in with yourself and your body, and give yourself a moment to figure out what you truly need to feel taken care of. And feel free to comment below to share your experience with this practice. We love to hear about our community members taking care of themselves!
I hope this post will inspire you to double down on your self-care.
To more “me-time” and self-love. 🙂
Top photo by LizandRyan.com