Updated: Nov 1, 2019
“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
We hold the power to live healthier, more fulfilling lives. We know that. What most of us don't know is how to make time for it. Self-care has turned out to be a luxury rather than a priority.
According to an article by Alice Hickson and Lilly Blumenthal in Tufts Observer, self-care is a 10 billion-dollar business, and at the time of this writing, #selfcare has 20.4 million posts on Instagram. This means that people are definitely making time for it. Wishing you were one of them? I'll let you in the secret: Make self-care a priority.
Making self-care a priority is the first step. However, when we finally transfer self-care action steps from the wish list to the to-do list, it may feel more like a must-do than a want-to-do because those actions haven't become habits yet. We acknowledge that we should be exercising every day, eating healthier, meditating, and not finding the time to do so discourages us, causing more stress.
Maria Baratta, Ph.D., in her blog Self-Care 101, says that self-care “in essence is the mindful taking of time to pay attention to you, not in a narcissistic way, but in a way that ensures that you are being taken care for by you." For many busy women, the question is, Where do I find that time?
Well, it all depends on your interpretation of self-care. I take self-care to be whatever makes me happy and helps me become more aware of my individual needs; the little things I do every day that bring my awareness back to myself in brief yet meaningful ways.
Self-care is not only about spa getaways or elaborate weekend plans -although if the opportunity arises, by all means, go for it! For most of us, that’s a splurge (time and money-wise) we can afford only once in a while, if we're lucky.
Avoid turning self-care into another task in your already busy schedule. Self-care should be uncomplicated. Find fulfilling habits that you can practice every day, several times a day. Think of it as taking mini-breaks from your ever-growing list of duties.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Morning reflection. Taking 10 minutes every morning to reflect on my priorities for the day. Nothing too elaborate, just a big picture in my mind of my priorities for the day ahead.
Five deep breaths. Sometimes, my mind drifts to places I don’t want it to go. Past situations that made me angry or scared me, concerns about things entirely out of my control, those sorts of things. Five deep breaths help me remember that the past is past, and my power is in the now.
Hot tea and a book. By now you know that this is one of my ideal activities to unwind. Enjoying a cup of freshly brewed tea while reading an engaging book allows me to disconnect from everything else around me. Moreover, I find value in the fact that I can spend a few minutes or the whole afternoon doing it.
Spending time with my friends. Hands down, my favorite. Usually, the best time of my week is when I get together with my close friends and share a tasty meal and a nice bottle of wine. Nothing compares to good friends and good food. Superb at any budget!
Those are some of the self-care activities I practice the most because I can easily fit them in my schedule, several times a day. However, self-care is not one-size-fits-all; it’s very personal. Meditation, for instance, is a well-accepted form of self-care, yet it doesn't help me at all. I've tried, but it has the opposite effect on me.
Sometimes, social media makes people believe that self-care is glamorous, expensive, picture-perfect even, but it doesn't need to be that way. It's about what works for YOU. Period. Don't let influencers or other people's notions of self-care affect what could help YOU. You know what works for you and your busy schedule.
Make time to think about what habits can nurture you —walking your dog for an hour on a lovely sunny day, maybe? A meaningful conversation with a loved one? A Yoga class? There are a million things you can do that are affordable and can easily fit into your schedule. Find yours and practice it whenever possible. Make a point of making time for mini-breaks in the middle of your busy day.
In the back of our minds, we all know the importance of self-care, yet we fail to consciously making it a priority. I invite you to choose one practice of self-care today and start practicing it right away. Start a Habit-Tracking Checklist to track your progress. The secret is to make it easy to practice every time you need it.
Do you prioritize self-care? What actions -small or otherwise- help you bring your awareness back to yourself? I encourage you to share what has worked for you. Leave your comments below.