Without knowing any specifics about your personal life, I’m willing to bet that you have a lot of competing priorities on your to-do list. Today you might be focused on an upcoming deadline at work, and tomorrow a loved one may need your undivided attention. Your schedule has a way of magically filling itself up to the brim, and the next thing you know you’re skipping lunch, dropping your workouts at the gym, declining social invitations, and barely getting any shuteye.
The demands of a busy life make it absolutely imperative that you unfailingly and purposefully make time for yourself.
What Is Self-Care and What Does It Require?
Your brand of “self-care” is something only you can define as the term signifies just about anything you do to be kind to yourself. However, truly successful self-care is derived from three key elements. It involves hefty doses of:
— Though it may be difficult if you’re not already in this mindset, you must recognize and accept that it’s not selfish or inconsiderate to put yourself first. By paying attention to your own physical, mental, and spiritual health, you are better equipped to tend to the needs of others. You can’t give what you don’t have. Continually sacrificing your own well-being and happiness for the sake of the greater good is likely to backfire in the form of burnout and resentment.
— By tending to your needs and desires, you’re sending a strong and positive message to your unconscious. You matter. You have value. You are worthy of care, joy, and belonging. The more practiced you become, the more self-esteem and confidence follow.
—Those who are skilled in self-care have finely tuned listening skills. They’re sensitive to the signals of their own bodies and minds. This heightened self-awareness causes alarm bells go off well before their resources are depleted. Rather than pushing through, they take a step back to replenish their stores. And, better yet, they make self-care a habit, not a band-aid.
Types of Self-Care to Incorporate Into Your Practice
Do a Google search, and you’ll find lots of suggestions for self-care activities. To increase the effectiveness of your personal self-care practice, I encourage you to break it down into categories.
When you’re planning (yes, self-care requires planning for most of us), try to hit as many of these areas as possible to ensure that you’re nurturing yourself from all angles.
When people think of self-care, physical activities typically come to mind—and for good reason. Physical activity, of course, makes your body strong, resilient, and more flexible. But it also supports your mental health in wonderful ways.
Physical self-care examples:
Take a nap, stretch, pet your dog, take a long bubble bath, go for a jog, mindfully prepare and eat a nutritious meal.
Your emotional state has the power to affect virtually everything in your life, so ignoring it is a recipe for disaster. When you feel intense emotion, resist the compulsion to put it aside. Take a moment to acknowledge and process your reaction. Try to pinpoint what you’re feeling and why. It’s not about dwelling in negativity—it’s about pausing to honor yourself and your feelings.
If you’re experiencing emotional pain that you’re having difficulty managing, don’t hesitate to reach out to a qualified professional. Self-care doesn’t always mean relying solely on yourself.
Emotional self-care examples:
Write in a journal, speak with a therapist, sing your favorite uplifting song without concern for what you sound like, watch a funny movie.
Regardless of whether you’re religious in the traditional sense of the word, spiritual self-care is applicable and beneficial to you. The aim is to connect with your values and what really matters to you—to find greater meaning by identifying and developing your purpose.
Spiritual self-care examples:
Keep a gratitude journal, recite positive affirmations, pray, do breathing exercises, meditate, immerse yourself in nature, art, or music that inspires you.
Whether it’s the coworker that grates on our last nerve or the uncomfortable conversation that simply can’t be put off any longer, we all have to deal with people and situations we don’t enjoy. The key to social self-care is deliberately engaging in interactions that make you feel good.
This is an area where boundaries need to be created and adhered to. Stop accepting invitations out of guilt or obligation. Choose to spend time doing things that bring you joy with individuals who make you feel seen and heard (as opposed to drained and frustrated).
Social self-care examples:
Join a club of like-minded people, sign up for a class that interests you, call a beloved friend, pay a compliment to a stranger, express what’s on your heart in a handwritten letter.
Self-care shouldn’t be luxury, nor should it be a reward. It’s an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. You must decide—to slow down, to take breaks from your hurried schedule, to fiercely protect your time, and to prioritize #1 (you!). What can you do in this very moment to be good to yourself? Do it now.
To your Game Changing Success,