When you read the title of this blog post, does it sound indulgent to you? Does it bring up words like selfish, irresponsible, or arrogant for you? You are not alone. The idea of taking time out for ourselves is something we have been brainwashed to believe is a selfish, self-serving thing we should be ashamed of even thinking about. We live in a society that glorifies being busy – it has become like a badge of honor. But here’s the rub – self-care is absolutely essential for us to be healthy and to function properly on a daily basis.
I am not suggesting you shirk your responsibilities, not go to work, stop caring for your kids, ignore your spouse or loved ones just so you can spend all day at the spa or laying around eating bon-bons. What I am saying, though, is that it is actually irresponsible of you not to take care of yourself. Not taking time for self-care is like wearing a neon colored shirt that says in big, bold letters “I don’t matter”. But you do matter! The reality is that if you don’t take the time for yourself, you will be no good to your spouse, kids, friends, boss, colleagues, etc. I know this analogy is often overused, but it is akin to what they tell us on an airplane – secure the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping someone else. If you don’t, chances are very good you both will be in trouble.
At the very least try to find some time every day for things like:
- Some kind of movement or exercise
- 7-8 hours of restful sleep
- Meditation or breathing
- Eating healthy foods
- Creative or play time
Things that will help you be the best version of yourself every day. Things that help you show up fully in your life every day. Things that will keep you happy and healthy, because when that is how you feel, everyone wins.
Establishing a few, healthy routines is essential to your overall health and wellbeing. Here are a few suggestions for how you might bring a little self-care back into your life:
- Schedule self-care time – That’s right, literally put it on your calendar like any other meeting or task. It might be a little time in the morning or in the evening, or maybe around lunch time… It doesn’t matter, whatever works best for you, just get it on the calendar.
- Add self-care items to your To Do list – If you are a list person like me, make sure those self-care things are on your To Do list and be sure to cross them off each day as you complete them.
- Start small – Perhaps take 5 minutes at the beginning and end of your day for some journaling, meditating, reading, breathing, soaking in the tub, walking, yoga, etc. (whatever makes you feel good) and then slowly build up the amount of time you spend on those things so that within a month or so, maybe you are at 10-15 minutes in the morning or evening.
- Be realistic – If you have not had self-care as a part of your daily routine, don’t expect to successfully add in an hour of self-care immediately. This goes back to start small. Experience the wins, build on your successes, and develop the self-care routine of your dreams over time.
- Practice permission and forgiveness – First, you must give yourself permission, guilt-free, to practice some self-care every day (otherwise it will not happen), and second, forgive yourself when you have a day in which you don’t get to it. While we never want that to be a habit, we are human and we might miss a day from time to time. Beating ourselves up about that doesn’t help us. Forgive yourself for the slip up and then get back at it later that day or tomorrow.
- Enlist an accountability partner – This might be your spouse, kids, a friend, neighbor, or colleague. (Someone who has your best interests in mind and who will lovingly support your desire to implement some self-care routines into your life.) Ask them to check in with you daily or weekly, offer ideas or encouragement, whatever may be helpful to you as you work to stay on track with taking better care of yourself.
So, as we enter into a new year ready to tackle all our goals and resolutions like a bull staring down that red matador’s cape, don’t fall into the trap of putting everyone and everything else before yourself. Prioritize yourself. Love the people and all the facets of your life so much that you make time for self-care… Then, you can give them the best of you.
Bobbi Billman, Ignite Yoga & Wellness Owner