On a logical level there is no denying that self-care is important. We all know the comparison of “put your own oxygen mask on first, before helping others”. Yet, when it comes to actually implementing it, too often when we most NEED self-care, we’re struggling to come up with ideas that can be implemented on the spot.
I know that too often when I feel like a deflated balloon, if left to my own mind in that situation, the best I could come up with would be to lie down in bed and watch Netflix. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, I want more variety!
My self-care must fulfill the needs of my mind, body and soul, and not just the comedic/romantic needs of cozying up on a bed with a blanket to watch something.
So here is what I did to conquer that natural laziness and inclination of retreating to only one solution for self-care, and instead have more variety and more things I can implement easily:
1. CHANGE THE WAY YOU THINK ABOUT SELF-CARE
First, I changed my mindset/thinking around it.
If you leave self-care as a remedy for the moment when you’re already feeling like a deflated balloon, that’s leaving it till too late. We should think of self-care as a preventative method to NOT burn-out and minimise any bad days, so that they happen as rarely as possible.
Changing the way you view self-care (aka your mindset around it) will allow you to change your behaviour.
If you’re still thinking taking time off, resting and taking care of yourself is wasted time in your busy schedule, then focus instead on the time you’d lose if you were to get ill or hit burnout levels of stress. And that’s going to happen if you DON’T take care of yourself before it gets to that point.
Time for self-care is all the time, not just when you’re feeling really low. Plus, when you’re feeling low on energy and mood, that’s when it’s easiest to retreat to the laziest solution, in my case: bed and Netflix, and not be able to come up with different solutions for recharging your batteries.
Focus on seeing and understanding that NOT doing self-care now will be more painful and more “time-wasting” in the longer run than taking that time to do it now. You have complete permission (mine and, most importantly, your own) to devote time to a regular self-care practice: think of self-care like vitamin supplements that you’d take regularly, and NOT like cold remedy you’d take only when you’re already ill.
2. PREPARE AND MAKE A LIST OF SELF-CARE IDEAS AT A TIME WHEN YOU’RE FEELING GOOD
And secondly, the other thing I did to help me implement a variety of self-care solutions I could reach for easily and at short notice was simply to prepare in advance.
The concept is easy: you need to create your own list of things you like to do that would be considered self-care (and I’m sure that you do have more ideas in your head about what you’d like to do than you think – just make sure you do it when you actually have energy and are feeling good, and not when you’re already in desperate need of self-care and lacking creative juices), and keep it all in one accessible place.
Then, to prepare further, you’ll:
A. plan some of those items regularly into your schedule, and
B. have the list at hand, ready to inspire you when you feel like you need some time for yourself.
You know, whenever you feel like you could use some pick-me-up, but you also don’t feel very creative in the moment and can’t seem to come up with ideas? That’s when you open your list and find & do what speaks to you most right then and there.
And to help get you started, here is a list with my examples of things I both scheduled into my calendar on a regular basis AND do ad-hoc when I feel like it:
- Going to a sauna,
- Going to a massage,
- Getting a blow-out,
- Doing energy work (on myself or with a practitioner: reiki, energy edits, kinesiology),
- Tapping (if you don’t know what that is, check out “EFT with Brad Yates” on youtube),
- Epsom salt foot bath,
- 20min meditation,
- 10min lying down flat on your back,
- Exercise (your favourite, most liked kind – not sth that feels like a chore, but something that gives you pleasure and makes you feel like you’re having fun) – for me: pilates, tango,
- Writing in a gratitude journal,
- Writing in any journal, in fact, doing a sort of “brain dump” of everything that’s going through your head, to release all the nagging thoughts and feelings (concept also known as “morning pages”),
- Going out to a nice meal or a coffee/juice/smoothie (can be by yourself!),
- Going to a top of a tall building/viewing point in the area to look at everything from a different perspective,
- Listening to music that reminds you of some happy memories (playlists are great for that),
- Saying NO when you don’t want to do something (YES, that is self-care too!),
- Taking a nap,
- Listening to a guided visualisation,
- Going to sleep early (I would advise scheduling that one as your regular self-care routine),
- Taking a bath while listening to an audio book,
- And anything else that FEELS like it’s taking care of your mind, your body and/or your soul.
3. ABOVE ALL: IMPLEMENT
Now it’s your turn. You need to make that kind of list for yourself and keep it handy. A note on your phone might do. Or maybe a piece of paper you’re going to attach somewhere near your desk. Whatever form you want to choose, you need to actually do it.
Buuuut… not so fast. I know, you’re probably reading it somewhere at a time and place where very likely you can’t drop everything right now to do it right this second. And you know what? That’s ok. Just if that’s the case, then please please please, do me (and yourself) a favour and schedule a block of time to do it into your planner/calendar/reminders’ list right now. Add it to wherever you plan your time, so that you don’t forget.
Self-care shouldn’t be a thing that gets pushed and forgotten about, so make sure you plan right now for when you’ll take an hour or even half an hour of uninterrupted time to come up with your own list of what you like to do (or maybe would like to start doing) as self-care activities.
And then, when you have your list, remember to look through it and schedule some things regularly, while leaving the rest of the list to inspire your ad-hoc self-care routine.
Are you going to schedule it now?
(I’ll wait – do it now and come back here for one last pep talk ;) )
Did you do it?
I hope so!
Nobody else is going to take care of you the way that you need to take care of yourself first. Remember that oxygen mask analogy? Yep. You’re in charge of your body, mind and soul and even if you have people around you who love you and want to take care of you (in various meanings of the word), you have to tune in with yourself first to know what you need and then make sure that whatever you need is happening. Before it’s too late (aka you get ill, burn out or just plain lose motivation).
And once you write down when you’ll plan out your new self-care practice that fits your lifestyle, I have one question for you. I’m always on the lookout for more things to try as self-care. What are your favourite things to do to take some time out and take care of yourself? Leave a comment below and let me know! Your answer might inspire me (or someone else) to try your favourite thing, creating a ripple effect of positive change :)
Have a great day and remember to take care of yourself first 💕