Can you relate to this scenario? You wake up in the morning with a full to-do list on your mind. You scurry around the kitchen, getting breakfast and packing lunches for your family members as you yell subtle reminders down the hallway to them to get dressed. (Or, if you don’t have kids, maybe you’re hitting the snooze button 5 times before jumping into the shower to start your day).
When you sit down to start your day, maybe you're at work speeding through emails and text messages, putting out fires on projects while simultaneously trying to calm your nerves. You’re able to focus on your to-do list for short increments of time because the phone or some other fire pops up, demanding your attention. By the end of the day, you crawl into bed, wondering where the hours went, and praying you’ll fall right to sleep so you can start this rat race all over again…in 5 short hours.
Most of us, especially women, can relate to this story but they don’t fully realize just how frazzled they’re running themselves because your perspective of being in the middle of the chaos is clouded with the need to keep everyone happy. While you’re keeping everyone in your life happy, you’re not paying attention to your health or mental wellbeing. You may not feel fulfilled with your life because of the constant ‘go go go’ pace you keep all day long.
Maybe it’s time to slow things down a bit so you can focus on yourself for a change. Do you currently make time for hobbies or get togethers with friends? When was the last time you unplugged from your phone? Taking time to disconnect from work and to put YOUR needs first for a change is necessary for your continued health and wellbeing. Constant stress over work, family demands and more on the list of things you have to accomplish keeps your body in a constant ‘fight or flight’ mode. Eventually your body will break down, but let’s not get to that point.
Instead, let’s put your own needs first and start a better self-care practice to restore balance.
How To Take Care Of Yourself Without Feeling Guilty
In a world that's constantly moving, it's easy to let self-care fall to the wayside. But self-care is important. It's not selfish. Here's how to make sure you take care of yourself without feeling guilty. It is especially important in times of isolation during Covid 19.
Why Self-Care is So Important
First, what is self-care?
I am asked this so often. What exactly is it and how can I fit it into my lifestyle? Self-care is the act of taking care of yourself. It is doing exactly what you need to do to feel the best all around. This includes mentally, physically, and emotionally. Each person has their own way to give themselves self-care. This can be anything from quitting your exhausting job, to getting your hair done, or ensuring you have time to read each evening before bed.
Taking care of yourself should not be overlooked. There are many benefits that result from a self-care routine. If you are not taking care of yourself eventually it can lead to overwhelming stress, health problems, lack of confidence, less productivity at work and even cause deteriorating relationships with family and friends.
To really understand self-care, you need to understand yourself first. Ask yourself these questions to gain some clarity.
What are the things I need to do to feel complete?
What activities help me relieve stress?
Is there anything I can eliminate from my daily schedule that is preventing me from taking care of myself?
The way you answer these questions determines your self-care needs. Once you have defined your needs all you need to do now is to add it to your schedule and do them to reap the benefits.
Self-care is extremely beneficial for optimal health
Let’s look at a few of the amazing benefits you’ll experience over time:
Increased Positivity – Adding these activities to your schedule will give you something to look forward to. Now you will no longer be thinking about how bad your day is and only be looking forward to reading that book in total silence or getting your nails done after work.
Increased Self-Confidence – Your needs are now a top priority and that is a good thing. Self-confidence will naturally increase because you are simply doing the things that make you feel good.
Improved Immunity – Self-care allows you to give your body a break from stress, anxiety and emotional trauma which increases your immunity. Stress and depression can overload your mind and body which is crucial to reduce as much as possible.
Better Relationships – The more your needs are met the better your relationships will be with other people. When you are feeling down about yourself and don't feel important chances are that’s what you are putting onto others.
Higher Productivity – All the benefits that have been stated above help with increased productivity at work and at home. Less stress, higher immunity, and higher self-confidence all help to boost productivity.
Remember, self-care is all about you as an individual. So, what you need to do to take care of yourself won't be the same as your spouse, friends, and family. After this routine is put in place you will notice a significant change in your health and overall well-being.
Self-care is imperative because it prevents:
1. Stress -- Most everyone lives with stress in their daily lives but it's important to try to reduce this as much as possible. Plenty of medical research shows that stress can cause many negative side effects. This includes headaches, low energy, aches and pain and even insomnia.
2. Burnout – Burnout is another form of extreme stress that results in physical and emotional exhaustion, negativity, lack of enjoyment and the feeling of hopelessness. Burnout typically happens when people are overworked or during events that you feel you can’t control. Self-care allows you to take a break from these activities that can result in burnout. Even if it’s a simple one-minute break where you just close your eyes and breathe, it will help reduce this type of stress.
3. Negativity -- Putting everyone else's needs over your own will turn just about anyone negative. The feeling of not being important and that their needs overpower yours is a horrible feeling. The fact is, the more your needs are met the more others needs will be met too. You will experience less bitterness and resentment towards others if you take care of yourself.
If you find yourself at any point feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or just negative towards people stop what you are doing immediately. You can easily take a few minutes to refocus your mind. Maybe you need to talk to your friends and family for a few minutes or look at a few pictures that make you happy such as babies or cats. This will allow you to relax and adjust your attitude. You will be amazed at how much more productive you will be if you just put yourself first.
Read more on the importance of self-care in my free ebook.
How to Fit Self-Care Into Your Busy Schedule
Below you’ll find a four-step process for identifying which area or areas of self-care are needed, some suggestions on self-care techniques to help get you started and how to implement the plan and stick with it. 1 - Know Your “Why” The first step in developing your own self-care plan is to know why you want to do this in the first place. What are you looking to fix or restore? Self-care isn’t a self-indulgent activity; it’s about self-preservation and restoration. Those with motor vehicles perform routine maintenance, such as oil changes and rotating tires, for safety and to ensure it continues to run properly. The human body is no different. Consider the amount of work we put our bodies through on a daily basis. Self-care is you taking care of you, inside and out, and deliberately taking an adequate amount of time to do so. If you aren’t clear on your why, your self-care routine won’t remain important in the long-run. Get up close and personal with yourself and decide your main reason for implementing a self-care regimen. 2 - Choose Self-Care Strategies that Fit There are five basic areas where self-care applies: Psychological, Emotional, Spiritual, Physical and Social. In step 2, you’ll decide which areas of your life need an overhaul or rejuvenation and then choose a self-care technique to employ. Below you’ll find a few ideas in each category to help you get an idea.
Aromatherapy; candles, essential oils, etc.
Talk to a trusted friend
Read self-help books
Religious services or activities
Spend time in nature
Group fitness classes
Yoga, Pilates, stretching
Walk, run, jog
A meal with friends
Volunteer at a school or non-profit
Certainly not an exhaustive list, there are at least a few suggestions in each aspect where self-care might be needed. Chances are there is more than one area of life that could use some self-care assistance; don’t limit yourself. 3 – Schedule It! Here’s the tricky part, and many of us are quick to come up with the “no time” excuse when attempting to implement a self-care plan. The fact of the matter is, if you don’t make time for yourself, eventually your time for others will diminish. There will simply be less and less of yourself to offer if you aren’t refilling your self-care tank on a regular basis. Many self-care techniques take only a few minutes, while others might involve several hours. It’s entirely up to you and your schedule, but don’t make the grave mistake of denying yourself altogether. JUST TAKE 10! Meditation can take as few as 5 or 10 minutes when you get the hang of it. A 10-minute walk? Surely there are TEN minutes in a day you can spare. Let’s put it into perspective on how easily we cheat ourselves out of self-care with lame excuses.
How often do you pick up your smartphone to check social media or email? If you don’t know how much time you spend on your phone with mindless activities, there are apps to track it. You might be shocked at the results.
How much time to you spend in front of the TV? On a smoke break? Driving? You can incorporate self-care techniques in ALL of these time slots you’ve made available for other activities.
4 – Follow Up and Reassess And the final step? After you’ve started your self-care plan, go seven days straight and then re-evaluate. Many recommend a month, but that’s a lot of days to carry on with something that might not be working, or forgotten altogether. What are you looking for on your follow up? Pay special attention to how you feel after you engage in something for self-care. Does the scheduling need to be adjusted? Or does the activity itself need to be switched out for something else? If you aren’t really getting the vibe you expected from weekly pedicures, switch it out for a 30-minute audiobook session at your favorite park. You won’t know what works and what doesn’t until you try it. The key here is to keep an open mind and be aware of whether your self-care plan is providing the benefits you expected. It’s okay to switch things up. If you aren’t a creature of habit and want the exact same routine, you don’t have to do that. Do what works for you and your lifestyle! Self-Care Ideas That Won't Break the Bank Lots of people get the wrong idea about self-care. They think they have to be deserving of it. They feel like it’s splurging to do something good for yourself. It can seem extravagant. I’d like to change that mindset today. Self-care is something you deserve. Everyone does. It benefits us all, along with those around us, when we put our own well-being at the forefront. You can’t take care of others when your own well-being is suffering. Let’s take a look at some free and low-cost ways you can care for yourself.
Take a Time Out
Sometimes just a little bit of alone time is all you need to feel rejuvenated. So why not give yourself a time out? Lock yourself in your room with a nice cup of tea. Listen to some quiet music. Just sit still and think for a bit. It’s a luxury we all can afford.
Waste Some Time
We often feel pressured to be productive all the time. Being busy is a sign of worth and accomplishment. However, it really doesn’t have to be that way. Just kicking back and doing nothing is important to recharging our batteries. Let yourself have some down time to do something frivolous like binge on your favorite Netflix show, take a nap or just sit and pet your cat. You deserve it.
Do Some Writing
Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, journaling can be a very therapeutic activity. Jotting down what you’re grateful for has been proven to be beneficial to well-being. It can also be energizing to simply do a brain dump in which you write down all the things that are floating around in your head. Jotting down dreams for the future might inspire and motivate you to take action. Give it a try.
Reach Out to Someone
Socializing is a crucial part of self-care. Even introverts benefit from interpersonal connection. Humans aren’t meant to be isolated. Pick up the phone and call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Sit down and Skype with your favorite internet pal. Meeting up in person for a walk together or a cup of coffee is even better. Connecting to others might just provide the spark you’ve been missing.
Change Your Perspective
A change of scenery can be a wonderful source of renewal, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot. Just heading out to walk in your neighborhood might help when you’re feeling stir-crazy in your home. If you’re able to afford it, a low-cost staycation to a nearby location for a day or two is a fun way to switch things up. You’ll be surprised what this change of perspective can do for you.
While these are just a few of the countless ways you can indulge in self-care without spending much money, perhaps they’re just the jumpstart you need to begin exploring this concept. You truly do deserve to spend time, energy and effort on your own well-being.
How to Deal With Guilt When It Comes to Self-Care
It's a fact that many people feel guilty for spending time and resources on self-care. There are a lot of complex reasons for this within our society. Despite what anyone else may say, you deserve to focus on your own needs. In fact, it’s good for those you love when you take care of yourself. You truly can’t fill another’s cup if your own is empty. So, I’d like to take this opportunity to emphasize why you shouldn’t feel guilty for practicing self-care and encourage you to do so in every area of your life. It’s Not Selfish First and foremost, you must understand that taking time to care for yourself is not selfish in any way. It may be hard to get past the mindset that the needs of others are more important than your own, but overcoming this mindset is essential to allowing yourself to adequately meet your own needs. Care isn’t a zero-sum concept. When you care for yourself, it doesn’t have to mean you don’t care about others. It’s Necessary Self-care isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. It really is like the airplane air mask comparison. You have to ensure you can breathe before you can help those around you. If you’re tired, rundown and overwhelmed all the time, you absolutely cannot give your best self to others. You also can’t offer yourself the very best. Remember that self-care isn’t selfish. It Sets a Good Example If you’re a parent, investing in self-care is not only good for you, it sets a good example for your kids. Even if you don’t have children, taking the time to care for yourself might be inspiring or motivational for those around you. In order for a stigma to end, it has to be normalized. When more of us let the world around us know why self-care matters, they may begin to change their minds about the concept, as well. It Demands Respect It also sets a precedent for how you expect others to treat you. When you demonstrate that you value yourself and that you find worth investing time in yourself, they will respond in kind. Learning to say no and set boundaries is good for your relationships. It teaches others how you expect to be treated and makes it clear that you see yourself as a priority. There’s no reason to feel guilty for that. It will take time to overcome a lifetime of message society has given you and you’ve internalized. With practice, you can come to see the benefits of self-care and that it doesn’t have to be something that causes guilt.
Tips To Continue To Take Care Of Yourself Going Forward
Self-care is a process. It requires practice and dedication if you want to make it stick. Don’t get discouraged if it takes time to make this new concept a part of your life. It’ll get easier, and you’ll probably find yourself craving your self-care activities so much you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them. However, there will inevitably be times that are busier or more stressful when self-care may go by the wayside. If you find that happening, be sure to follow these tips to continue to take care of yourself going forward. Follow Your Gut Sometimes we get so busy that we find ourselves living on auto-pilot. That’s only natural during hectic times, but it’s critical that you make an attempt to listen to your instincts during these times to know whether you’re in need of a boost. When you start to feel especially frazzled or fatigued, that’s not a cue to double down and work harder. It’s your body and mind telling you that you need a break. Listen to them. Along these lines, look for other unusual signs that things are off balance with you such as irritability, eating poorly, losing sleep or indulging in bad habits. These things are telling you to take care of yourself. Schedule It In A trick that helps some people to fit self-care into their schedules when life gets busy is to actually write it in their date book or calendar. Treat your self-care commitments like any other appointment or event. Write down the time you’ll start and finish. Try to be specific about the activity you’ll engage in. Doing these things will increase the odds that you’ll actually follow through. It’s easy to put yourself on the backburner when life gets crazy, but don’t forget that these are the times you need self-care the most. One final word. Take time to assess your self-care needs regularly. This will also help to keep you on track. Ask yourself once a week or so if you’re giving yourself enough time and attention. Listen to your instincts. Make adjustments as necessary. Self-care is an ongoing and evolving process. It requires your constant attention. Taking good care of yourself is essential. It's not selfish. It's necessary for you to be your best possible self. Make sure to fit self-care into your busy schedule and find affordable ways to take care of yourself. Aren't you worth it?
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