In all the roles we perform as partners, parents, employees, leaders, and servers, filled with the busy and important tasks of caring for others, it is common for you to overlook the importance of self-care. As a therapist, I have come to expect confusion when I ask “what do you do for yourself?” Yet the busier you become and the more caring for others that you do, the more important self-care becomes.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care means being intentional about taking time for yourself. Self-care includes actions and attitudes that are intentional in improving or restoring health (mental and physical). For a lot of people, activities that focus on yourself can leaves you feeling guilty – especially when you have a family, children, and other obligations. But in reality, self-care helps you to recharge, empowering you to be more intentional in your relationships and creating more meaningful interactions with others. It also helps you in your work by being more attentive and thoughtful. So what does self care look like practically and realistically in our busy day to day lives? Here are three things you can do to exercise self-care and be a better you.
3 Simple Tips to Self-Care:
Schedule It. Make it a priority and schedule self-care like you do your other important events, classes, and obligations. In the middle of your busy days, it can feel overwhelming to try and think of when and how you are going to tackle one more thing – especially when it involves focusing on yourself. Scheduling it not only makes it a priority, but makes it feel more manageable and less overwhelming, which means you’ll be more likely to do it.
Just 10 minutes. People often think about self-care in terms of grand, time-consuming activities and actions that in reality, we just don’t have time for. Switch that thinking to recognize that just 10 minutes can make a huge difference in your attitude and energy. By giving yourself a 10 minute break, or time-out, you can return as an improved version of yourself. By taking this 10 minutes to focus on something for yourself like stepping outside to enjoy the sunshine, or reading a chapter in your favorite book, you empower yourself to return in ways that are more meaningful and intentional.
Pick one Thing a Day. When you think of all of the things you might like to do, self-care can feel overwhelming. Break it down to an area that you’d like to focus on fitting in for just that day. It can also be helpful to remember that self-care does not have to mean trying something new or spending a lot of money. Self-care can include ensuring you prepare (and sit down to eat!) a balanced meal, fit in a few minutes of exercise, and get adequate sleep. Even taking steps to ensure your health such as scheduling counseling appointments and medical appointments are a part of self-care.
Self-Care Isn’t Selfish
Self-care is too often talked about in terms of feeling selfish and taking time and energy away from family and other responsibilities. Changing that thinking to regard self-care as an extension of your service to others and essential to your own contentment will help you to make self-care a priority. Start looking at self-care as a way to empower yourself to not only care better for yourself but for your children and family too. For many more awesome self-care ideas check out The Self-Compassion Project.
Amanda Regalia, M.A. is a marriage and family counselor and clinician for The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. Amanda specializes in working with families and children ages 5 and up. She is passionate about helping people to create practical solutions that support them in achieving their goals and improving their relationships and life