February 22, 2021
We’ve all been there. Feeling overwhelmed, burned out, like there aren’t enough hours in the day. Like we need a vacation. A retreat. Or just a moment to breathe. And often, we don’t prioritize ourselves until we are in desperate need of slowing down. Many of us were taught to take care of everyone and everything else before we take care of ourselves. To nurture the needs of others over our own. And I don’t know about you, but I have found that this mentality leads us to even more of a need for self-care.
When I talk about self-care, I often hear people say they feel selfish if they take time just for themselves. Or that they don’t have enough time to do anything other than their daily tasks. I know for myself, as a master list-maker, I always felt as though I had to get through my to-do’s and then I could do something for me. As a reward. Like I had to earn taking care of myself. Where the heck did this rule come from?!
Yes, it’s important that we tend to our responsibilities. And it’s equally important that we take time to feed our whole selves so that we can continue to move through our days with more ease and balance. Because I don’t know a single car that can run on empty. So just like we recharge our phones every night, we must take time to recharge our souls. Yes, sleep is a time to recharge. But it’s equally important to take conscious moments to invite in ease, rest and balance so that our entire being is tended to.
I have found that self-care takes discipline. A commitment to myself that I matter. That I am worth the time and energy to do something just for me. And when the ‘ifs, ands & buts’ start to creep in, I must have the discipline to stop my busy mind in its tracks and remind myself not to put myself in last place.
Self-care looks different for each of us. For some, it’s reading a book with a warm cup of lemon water. For others, it’s listening to calming music while taking a bath. For myself, it’s a morning walk, a breath-work practice and a meditation sit before I do anything else.
Even if it’s just closing your eyes, taking three deep breaths and thinking of one thing you are grateful for, just start somewhere. Give yourself the gift of daily self-care.
How to start a self-care practice for yourself:
1) Explore – Try out different things! Maybe it’s a morning yoga practice. Or taking 15 minutes a day to learn how to salsa dance using YouTube tutorials! It will look different for each person. All you have to do is start exploring what interests you and brings a lightness and recharge into your day – and be sure it’s something just for you!
2) Make a commitment to yourself – Just as you would commit to a work conference call or picking your kids up from school, you must make a commitment to yourself to take care of you. We have to create healthy boundaries around our precious time. So do whatever it takes! Schedule it in your calendar. Get a babysitter. Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier. Have an accountability friend you check in with. Make self-care a non-negotiable in your life. It’s not something that just comes with “free time” (because I’m guessing you aren’t just sitting around, twiddling your thumbs very often!) And remind yourself every single day that it’s the practice of self-care that will allow you to show up fully for everything else in your life.
3) Surrender – Let this time for you be something that truly lights you up, something that feeds your soul. Let go of what you think you “should” do during your self-care time and do what you need for you. The last thing we want to do is make self-care feel like a chore. So let yourself off the hook! Laugh a little. Dance. Get silly. And let it change – some days will be more disciplined than others. Some days what we need for self-care may surprise us. Surrender in every way. Surrender the idea that self-care looks a certain way. And surrender to the kind of self-care you need from one day to the next. When we surrender all of the reasons we shouldn’t do something for ourselves, we are left with a freedom that fills our cup back up so full that we are ready to take on the day with an open heart and a lightness in our step.
So create moments of vacation everyday. Let pieces of your week become a retreat. And carve out pockets of your day for deep breathing. Because you don’t have to go somewhere or change your entire life to create more space for self-care. You just have to remember that you not only can take time for self-care but you absolutely need and deserve it.
Self-care first. And the rest will follow.
Below are some recommended practices to help you care for yourself: