Self-care is something I have written about thousands of time in the history of #Fearless, and it’s something that I will continue to write about for the rest of time because it’s so freaking important. Not just for people with mental health issues, but for every single human being on the planet.
I don’t care if you’re 100% healthy, everyone gets stressed sometimes. Work, life and human responsibilities take a lot out of you. Dedicating 30 minutes, an hour, a day to focusing on what you know you need, versus your responsibilities, really can make a difference.
In the past I’ve written about the importance of self-care but I’ve never really given you the key steps to finding what you need to be doing for self-care. I figured, in light of this, why not offer you my tips on how to find the best self-care routine for you!
Step One: Assess the mental, physical and emotional state you’re currently in.
Before proper self-care can be done, you have to be able to look inside yourself and see just how worn down you are. Sometimes, our bodies give us signs for days, weeks or even months leading up to a really bad break down that we just ignore or didn’t see as a compiling issue. If you find you seem abnormally stressed, take a moment to stop and be introspective. Has your neck been tighter than usual? Have you been having more headaches, or seemed to be overwhelmed by simpler tasks? Do you find that you’ve been a little more grumpy with your friends, family, colleagues, or spouse? Are you withdrawing from social activities, or finding yourself unmotivated to keep up with daily chores at home? If you feel you have been showing these signs, but feel like you’re “too stressed to stop”, I have news for you: you are too stressed, and it’s your bodies way of saying you need to stop.
Step Two: Schedule your self-care time.
You don’t have to know what you’ll be doing yet, that comes later, but you need to actively schedule that time. Much like you schedule meetings, appointments and dates, this should be something that ends up in your planner as frequently as possible. Self-care works best when done for longer periods of time, but if you’re the kind of person who is new to self-care, a good solid hour is a good place to start. I’d personally recommend taking half a day to an entire day to yourself, but I realize that’s not always possible. If you work, perhaps now would be a good time for a sick day to be used, or if you’re a mom, maybe find someone who can watch the kids for the day if they aren’t at school.
Step Three: Decide what your self-care will consist of.
Now that you’ve determined you need a day to yourself, and you’ve scheduled that time, you may be asking: What can I do with all this free time? The answer: Whatever you want. The beauty of self-care is that it seriously is focused on what you want to do, and it doesn’t have to be the normal activities you may do to decompress. Depending on how much time you have set aside, self-care can be as time consuming as spending the day doing a hobby or activity you love, or as simple as laying at home, in your pajamas and eating ice cream. If you don’t really know what it is you enjoy, try asking yourself this question:
What do I enjoy that I’ve been putting off because I just haven’t had time or other things have come up?
If you’re an avid puzzle fan, put together a puzzle. If you have a hobby that always seems to get brushed under the rug because life has other plans, do that hobby. If you are just craving a quiet hour under a blanket with some tea and some funny YouTube videos, do that. Listen to what your body needs, and make it happen.
Step Four: Commit to the self care, and don’t feel guilty.
Now that you have your date, your time, and your activity planned, here comes the most important step. Fully commit to your self care day, and don’t feel guilty about it. Stress and anxiety is bad for us, because it makes us believe we have to do everything, right now, or else. Any normal day to day tasks can always wait, and after all you can’t continue working if you’re sick and run down from overworking yourself.
The first few times you sit down to do self care you may run in to this nagging feeling that you should be doing other things, or perhaps you may feel guilty or selfish for taking this time for yourself. This is totally normal, but ignore it, and tell yourself that you’ll get to those items on your checklist after you do this. You aren’t selfish and you shouldn’t feel guilty. This you time is just as important as all the work you need to be doing, the difference is this is going to help you come back to those tasks with fresh eyes and a rested mind.
Step Five: Repeat as needed.
Self care is not just a one off decision. Self care, much like many other aspects of our lives, will likely need to be repeated and done frequently. I try to schedule self care time once a week, even if it’s just a few hours. My recommendation would be, even if you can’t take a full or half day from work or your responsibilities, try your best to find time once a week that you can devote to doing what you want to be doing, versus what you need to be doing. That may not always be possible for everyone, but setting up a routine that includes self care will be the best decision you may ever make. Frequency and consistency are key to just about anything you are attempting to learn or do, and self care should be no different!
What do you guys do for self-care? And how frequently do you try to employ it? Let us know in the comments!
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