Chances are you’ve heard the term self-care more times than you can count.
And while it sounds great and you’d love to get a moment to actually take part in some much-needed self-care, somehow, time just slips away and before you know it, you’re hearing all about self-care again, having never found the time to actually try it.
Rinse and repeat.
So whether you find it challenging to find the time or always make excuses for “more important things,” here are six ways to make self-care more of a priority in your life so you can feel more centered and calm.
1. Find the Right Self-Care Routine for You
The term self-care has recently taken on a meaning of indulgence, filled with costly spa days and time-consuming activities. However, this is not truly the meaning of self-care.
Self-care is actually more about finding an activity you enjoy–not necessarily bubble baths or manicures–that takes care of your mental, emotional or physical health.
If you do love being pampered for a self-care day, you do you. But it’s not necessary and it is worth noting that self-care is different for everyone and can be achieved in countless ways, from slipping into comfy workout leggings and going for a run or calling up an old friend to chat.
If you’re not certain what self-care activities and routines can take care of your mental, emotional and physical health, it’s time you find out. Try various activities, such as taking a walk in the woods or creating art or music.
This might take some time and even soul-searching, but once you do find the perfect self-care routine, you’ll grow to appreciate it and make it more of a priority.
2. Keep a List of Your Favorite Self-Care Practices
Once you determine the right self-care activities, make a list. When you’re feeling anxious or depressed, your list can offer a quick reference point to get you back on track to feeling calm and collected. This list should be your go-to on those days when you’re feeling really overwhelmed and stressed.
3. Find the Root of Your Self-Care Setback
Ask yourself what’s causing your self-care procrastinations and setbacks. Take a moment to consider the answer and remember to be honest with yourself. Many people don’t bother with self-care because – to them – they’re at the bottom of the priority list.
They’re not as important as their jobs and colleagues, their kids and partners, and their home. People often get in the way of themselves; they are their own self-care setback and it’s got to stop.
You have to put yourself at the top of the list when it comes to your own self-care, because if you don’t, your regular manicure will end up being a laser nail fungus treatment. While it works pretty well, it’s the last resort when you haven’t taken care of your hands properly and it is a clear sign that you are the cause of your own self-care issues.
Understanding that you are getting in your own way can show that you are ready to start putting yourself at the forefront of your own mind. Be honest, if you’re noticing fungus behind the nails and dandruff in your scalp, then it’s time to remember that you are obligated not only to help others but to help yourself, too.
Once you find the root of your problems, it will be that much easier to confront them head-on, allowing you to move forward and make self-care more of a priority. After all, confronting the reasons for procrastination or setbacks is essentially part of your self-care. It’s just one small step in addressing both your emotional and mental well-being.
What types of reasons might someone subconsciously procrastinate or set back their self-care routine? Many find they have trouble being assertive and saying “no” to others. Instead of setting aside time for themselves, they overcommit and feel obligated to help others.
Many also simply convince themselves they are too busy and can’t possibly find the time amidst taking care of family or schoolwork. The point is: Whatever excuse you’re using, it’s time to stop and make self-care a priority.
4. Take Small Self-Care Moments, Not Days
While a self-care day might seem ideal, it’s just not that easy in our busy lives. For some of us, the thought of “wasting” an entire day to our self-care conjures up more anxiety, worrying about tasks and work that will ultimately fall through the cracks.
The worry of setting ourselves further back is greater than the anxiety we need to ease, negating the purpose of a self-care day. So, instead of feeling obligated to set aside an entire day, set aside just 10-20 minutes each day.
Treat it like a ritual, and you’ll come to look forward to it. Whether you choose to do a morning meditation, midday walk or sip a cup of warm chamomile tea in your comfy cotton pajamas just before bed, a once-a-day self-care ritual might be easier to manage than dedicating an entire day.
Even if it’s not 10 minutes or so each day, start with baby steps and aim for at least a one-hour self-care ritual per week. If it helps, download and try out several of the available self-care apps, setting a ping to remind you to take a quick 10-minute meditation or other activity.
5. Schedule Your Daily or Weekly Self-Care Ritual
Okay, so now that we’ve established it’s much easier to have a bite-size self-care routine, pencil it in. Schedule your self-care ritual and block out 20 minutes a day or an hour each week–whatever you can make time for!
Sometimes, seeing this visual chunk of time set aside in a calendar will make it appear equally as important as a doctor’s visit or a client meeting. This method works incredibly well for those of us who are more time- and task-oriented, offering a way to check off your self-care accomplishments of the day or week.
Schedule it in your planner or digital calendar as “Me Time” or “Self-Care Ritual” and repeat or duplicate it daily or weekly as needed. This way, you will hold yourself more accountable and be able to follow through. Again, start with smaller self-care routines, increasing only once you have made it a solid habit. Maybe, eventually, you can hit that entire self-care day routine once a month.
6. Remember: Self-Care Isn’t Selfish
Whether we outright admit it or subconsciously think it, many consider self-care selfish. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
It’s like the old adage: To help others, you must first help yourself. So while you may feel guilty that you’re not tending to your child’s every need or working harder to perfect that project proposal, you need to remember that it’s essential to take care of yourself, too.
You’re not neglecting important people or things. You’re merely taking a few moments to prioritize your mental, emotional and physical needs.
Empaths and introverts especially need to make self-care a priority. Empaths are always thinking about how others feel, placing their own needs aside. And introverts need to balance out the time they spend in social interactions with complete quiet.
When self-care and quiet time are not obtained, it can cause empaths and introverts to feel overwhelmed. And this overwhelming feeling can further lead to stress, burnout and even depression, which doesn’t do anyone any good.
So instead of reaching this point, carve in some self-care for yourself, too! While it makes you happy to go out of the way to help others, you need to replenish yourself–mind, body and soul!