3 Ways to Make Self-Care a Priority
I love talking about self-care. Mostly because, well, I’m an introvert and I need my space. So, let’s talk about how you get more space. Or maybe, you’re an extrovert and you don’t need space, but you need an outlet! Ultimately, self-care’s dictionary definition is: “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health.”
So, let’s talk about that, shall we? Let’s start with a simple exercise.
What have you done today to preserve or improve your own health?
I feel that the answer is a resounding…nothing. If you can’t think of one thing, then it’s likely you’re not practicing self-care. Or, perhaps a better statement is that you don’t know how. Think of it this way: Your life is a full glass of water (or wine if that floats your boat). Each time you have to go to work, do something you’d rather not, or feel stressed or anxious, take a drink. If you never do anything to refill that cup, eventually (and for some, quickly!) it will be empty. How can you continue to give to others if your cup is empty? Self-care is all about how you refill your own personal cup.
#1 - Listen to your inner voice.
The first step in self-care is finding out what recharges you. I’ve already mentioned that I’m an introvert, so a weekend full of social events, parties, and even lots of sound and noise is far from relaxing for me. I need that quiet, unadulterated time alone to feel rejuvenated. My fiance? Not so much. It’s been a running joke that he is my social calendar.
The most important part of self-care is that tiny little voice inside that whispers what you truly want. What do you want? It might be, like me, a bit of piece and quiet. It might also be an hour-long massage. Each individual’s self-care regimen is going to look different. And that’s completely okay!
But, mostly, this part of self-care is about developing a healthy relationship with yourself. Your body is happiest when you’re listening to it. And treating yourself to a little pampering is the perfect what to tell your body that its needs are important, too!
When thinking about what recharges me, I usually ask myself a stream of questions:
What would I rather be doing right now?
Will this make me more relaxed? Or more stressed?
Will this make me happy?
What does my body need?
Answering any of these questions helps me get right into the self-care mood. If I don’t want to do it, I listen to my body. If I could be better utilizing my time elsewhere? I do it. If I can, I like to step away at least once a day and do something for myself (even if it’s 10 minutes!).
#2 - Don’t feel guilty.
Did you read through that last part and think “Oh man! I don’t know if I can do that?” That’s okay! If you feel overwhelmed by daily life events, work, or children, don’t feel guilty when you say, I’m doing this for me. Because, ultimately, it goes back to that initial metaphor. A cup that is empty has nothing to give. If you don’t take the time for yourself - to put your needs first - there will be nothing there. You are able to be better for others when you take time for yourself first.
But what about work, Ashley? I can’t just take time off. I completely understand that! But unlike you may have been told, working yourself to death is NOT a virtue. Chronic workaholics are constantly battling stress, anxiety, poor sleep, and even depression. All of this puts a toll on your immune system and you’re likely to end up having to take days off because you’re sick. Self-care, for many, could be as much about developing a healthy work-life balance as it is a bit of pampering.
“Self-care, for many,
could be as much about developing
a healthy work-life balance
as it is a bit of pampering.”
So don’t feel guilty. Adequate time for self-care is a need, not just a want.
#3 - Stay consistent & Schedule
What’s the best way to make sure that you do something? Plan it out! Schedule time in your day to devote to self-care. Do you have kids? Enjoy the hour after they go to bed. Stressful day at work? Try taking a long bubble bath. Self-care doesn’t have to be a monetary item. It could simply be sitting down to read or preparing dinner for yourself. But just like you would schedule an important meeting or deadline, scheduling time for yourself shows that it’s important.
And really, what’s more important than your health?