5 Steps to Create Space for Self-Care.
The foundation of living a fulfilled and productive life is self-care. Don’t believe me? Read on. The two most common speculations on self-care are, what does it really mean, and how the hell do I have time for it. I want to break this down so that we’re all on the same page here.
First, self-care has a wide range and varies from person to person. But essentially, self-care is a collection of practices to help you slow down, reconnect to self, and allow you a greater capacity for living in the present. There’s a range of needed self-care from personal grooming all the way to activities that feed your soul. What we need to get out of as a culture, is thinking (consciously or unconsciously) that self-care is just pedicures and binging netflix or having wine at night. These are temporary fixes or slowed-down moments, but they’re not functioning to nourish you in a lasting way. They’re band-aid approaches, when you really need to address the deeper human needs.
Second, caring for yourself is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. If you don’t agree with that statement, there’s some initial work that may need to be done with your self-worth to prioritize yourself. That might sound harsh, but I’ve lived it and it’s the truth. If you let everything else but you become a priority, my guess is that you’re not deeply happy, and likely the other things you’re prioritizing above yourself aren’t flourishing to their potential, either.
I have yet to meet someone who puts themselves last who is also wildly successful and loves their career, has an amazing relationship with great sex (yep, I said it), is really healthy, has wonderful family and friend relationships, and can say with authenticity that they love themselves. Just stating facts here. And I say this with love, because I’ve been there. Putting everyone and everything else first and waiting until there’s “time” to focus on me, when all the other things are done.
Nope, nope, nope- this is no way to live and achieve a full and happy life. You’re probably thinking, “Well, what choice do it have?! I have to keep my job that requires an insane amount of my time and energy, I have to make time for my partner, my kids, and errands, personal admin, and all the other things I need to do, and I obviously need to sleep at least a minimum amount of time at time, that I don’t really understand WHERE this self-care time is going to happen.”
I. Hear. You.
The struggle is real, and I get that. So first, in honor of self-care September, we need to address HOW to make self-care possible and practical, and get you off of this hamster wheel that’s become your comfortable home.
Here are the 5 steps you need to take to make room for self-care and get out of the constant rat race, without sacrificing your career and relationships:
1. Start small. Carve out a minimal amount of time every day from the hustle and bustle. Start by looking at your schedule and getting smart with your time. If you’re in constant go-mode, chances are that you’re lacking productivity for at least a portion of your day. The awareness that carving out rejuvenating time for yourself within your day will increase your productivity will help make this step happen.
Start with 15 minutes, twice a day (or more if you can allot it)
*If you’re someone who lives by a digital calendar or written planner, add these time increments into your daily schedule. If you don’t schedule out your day to achieve goals, this is a fundamental step to become more productive and less stressed (I’d be happy to chat with you about block scheduling if you need support- send me an email)
2. Ask for support.
*Know that this may require you to ask for help from your partner, or to let go of doing a non-essential errand that can wait, scrolling social media, saying no to a social engagement/invitation that you aren’t totally thrilled about, and actually forcing yourself to take a break at work.
3. Commit yourself and get curious.
*Commit to 30 minutes a day for one week to start.
If you find yourself not following through, don’t beat yourself up, just become curious. Why couldn’t you follow through? What might set you up for inevitable success the next day?
4. Connect to your “why.”
*Consider why this time for yourself is important in the first place.
Maybe it’s because you need more energy, so you can show up as a better version of yourself for people and things in your life that need you.
If you’re skeptical that self-care will help all areas of your life, I urge you to try it for at least a month, work through the challenges, and see the improvements for yourself.
5. Reframe the notion that self-care is selfish.
*Really think about the danger of not taking care of yourself physically and mentally. Who/what suffers? Start to recognize that the exact thing you’re afraid of (not performing well in your job, not being present for family, not connecting with friends), is EXACTLY what will suffer if you can’t show up as a whole, healthy, centered and present person.
There are sometimes mental blocks to taking care of ourselves and prioritizing self over everything else. I’m not going to get into that here, but again, just get curious about WHY you can’t commit to a measly 30 mins total a day to yourself, if you find difficulty with it.
Now, you might be wondering what you’re supposed to do with this time. When I work with clients, first we explore what intuitively comes to them first. I’m going to go deeper into this in my next post, but it’s really important for me to set the stage before we dive in to the juicy stuff.
For now, here are some thought starters if you don’t get the intuitive hit of what you need to nourish yourself:
JOURNAL 5-10 things you’re grateful for, and 5-10 things you’d like more of in your life (note: these can be tangible, emotional, experiential, anything at all).
Journaling gives us space to just “be” and develop a deeper sense of purpose- a basic human need that’s often overlooked and the lack of this leads to mental stagnation, decreased energy, stress and overwhelm.
MEDITATE If you’re new to meditation (for the experienced, too!), try downloading a free app called Insight Timer and find quick, bite-sized guided meditations. Have headphones or earbuds handy and take a time out either in an office at work, in your parked car anywhere, or at home. On Insight Timer you can choose a topic and there are thousands of teachers and free meditations to choose from. Don’t quit if you don’t find one that resonates with you right away. And keep in mind meditating is a muscle and you’ll get better over time. Even if you feel like you’ve done it “wrong,” you’re reaping benefits. I promise. It’s ok to have thoughts when meditating. The goal is to think them, accept them, and keep your brain moving along with the goal of clearing your mind, but accepting any thought that comes through, without fixating on it.
BATH This is a simple one, but really can work wonders because it allows you time to slowww downnn. Make it a ritual bath by dimming lights, lighting a candle, putting on spa or ocean music, adding in bath oils or bubbles, or even take it a step further and add in crystals, flower petals, and more. I love these recipes for ritual baths. You can even do a face mask before the bath to really care for your self in this ritual. Include some slow deep breaths and focus on everything you ARE doing, not the things you are not doing.
TAKE A WALK Being outside, getting some sunshine, breathing fresh air, and looking at nature is very therapeutic. It almost sounds too simple to be wildly effective, but I promise you, it is. Look at nature on your walk, even if you’re in a city, check out the trees on the side walk and the clouds in the sky. Focus on how they are made perfectly, and do not force their existence. Look at their beauty. Nothing in nature is forced, yet everything is achieved. Remember also, that you are part of nature.
Whatever you decide to do for yourself, try to stick with only 1-2 self-care practices consistently for a week instead of jumping around to different ones. This helps you really connect to that practice, create routine, and refine it to work best for you so that you see results. It’s important that you feel a sense of accomplishment in something you want to stick to long term- it will keep you motivated to continue.
Remember why you’re doing this in the first place. How will your life improve when you’re more present, have more energy, and feel more balanced?
Right now, we’re just focusing on clearing space for you. Take this one step at a time this month, and start clearing that space. Keep reminding yourself why this is important to you. No one has control over your life but you, and there will never be a time where it will be easy to fit yourself in amongst all of the to-dos. You choose that, and everyone else will adjust- I promise you that. And the best part? They’ll be thrilled when your relationship improves, your work productivity improves, and you’re a happier, shinier version of yourself. Icing on the cake? You give them permission to do the same. Be the change you wish to see, my friends.
So- where can you make room to start living the life you want to have? Schedule in your 30 mins (or 2, 15 minute increments) a day for the next 7 days, and write down how you’ll use this time. I’m doing a meditation and journaling, daily, for 15 minutes each.
Or get intuitive with yourself and listen to what you need this week. Drop me a message and let me know how it went for you, or reach out for guidance if it’s difficult to cultivate. xo