I honestly don’t know how this blog post hasn’t been written before. It’s one of those subjects I talk about so much, I guess I just forgot to actually articulate it here on the blog.
If you follow me online, you’ll know how passionate I am about self-care. After struggling on and off with my mental health over the years (from an eating disorder in my teens to anxiety more recently) I’ve come to learn that if I want to stay well, I have to take care of myself better.
The turning point was in the summer of 2017 when I needed therapy to overcome a bad patch of anxiety. My therapist helped me realise that I was taking on too much and was neglecting my self-care. Since then, self-care has become a non-negotiable. I have clear motivators, I know how it impacts my business and those around me. I know it’s important.
But I also know that, despite all of this, self-care can be hard to find the time for.
Lack of time is one of the biggest barriers to self-care I hear about, and I’m not going to sit here and tell you that this reason isn’t valid. We all have different circumstances. But I do believe there are steps we can all take to utilise the time we’ve got and shimmy self-care a little higher up the priorities list.
Write up your self-care motivators – why are you doing it?
Your first step is really to hone in on why self-care is so important, what are your motivators? If you don’t believe it’s important, then you’re unlikely to do it. Ask yourself how you’ll benefit from self-care personally, how your work will benefit and how others around you will benefit. Write a concise line or two outlining your motivations and put it somewhere you’ll see it every day.
Make a list of your favourite self-care activities
Self-care looks different to all of us and honestly, there is no right or wrong here. Self-care is any activity that leaves you feeling relaxed, calm and rejuvenated. My tip here would be to categorise your self-care activities under the headings ‘small’, ‘medium’ and ‘big’.
Small self-care activities take very little time. It might be a mindful cup of coffee, five minutes of meditation or checking in with how you’re feeling in the morning. A medium activity will take a little longer, such as going for a walk in nature, taking a day off work or seeing a friend for dinner. Bigger activities take longer and may involve more financial investment, this could include holidays, massages or just extended time off.
Look at your schedule and plan self-care in
Now you have three lists of activities and you know how much time they’ll take roughly, it’s time to think about how these can fit into your daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly schedule. This will look different for everyone and it’s usually a fine balance between what would be ideal, i.e. if we had no other responsibilities, and what’s feasible given those other responsibilities. In my case I aim to fit at least one small act in every day, at least one medium act every week and one big act every 6 months.
If you are a carer (in any form really) I wrote a piece about self-care for carers for Happiful and think the advice here could be helpful.
Schedule these acts in. Put them in your calendar, add them to your to-do list. Put them at the top of your list when you need to. Bold them, underline them, highlight them, set reminders, get some accountability… anything you need to make it happen. Soon you’ll see the benefits and you’ll feel more motivated to keep it up.
Create a new habit
I recently polled my followers on Instagram stories about self-care and asked if they had a routine or if they treated it more ad-hoc. 80% said they do self-care on an ad-hoc basis and if this sounds like you, and it’s working for you – great! Keep doing you. But if you find it’s not working, that self-care is slipping off your list, you might want to consider setting up a routine.
It can help you form a new habit and make self-care part of everyday life. Over time it can become second nature, like brushing your teeth. I have my routine nailed down and find it helpful to know when I’ve got space to rest in my week. I then tune in with myself daily because some weeks I need more rest than others. Routines should be like a guide, helpful but not rigid. And on that note, my last tip is to…
Be intuitive with it
Throughout every day, week and month our energy and stress levels fluctuate. Life events come up, busy periods at work happen. This is why, when it comes to self-care, we have to listen to ourselves and check in with what’s working and what’s not.
Journaling really helps me with this as I check in at the end of every day to note how I’m feeling, what felt good that day and what didn’t. The act of self-care you loved last month, might feel like a chore this month. Keep trying different things and allow your routine to evolve with you.
I hope this was helpful. I know self-care can be an incredibly individual thing, which is why I created my self-care strategy coaching sessions – I know how helpful it can be to get tailored support and a little accountability.
I would love to hear how you make room for self-care in your life and any other tips you may have, let me know in the comments. I hope you have a lovely week, I’ll be back next Sunday with a note on the moments that shape us.
Save for later: