When is the last time that you set aside time for yourself to take care of yourself? Or, if you have recently had self care, how consistent is it? In couple’s therapy, it can sometimes throw couples off to hear that taking care of YOURSELF (and not focusing on your partner so much) can actually help you to have a BETTER relationship. How does that work? Well, if anyone focuses on other people before themselves, this can lead to burn out, feeling overly stressed, feeling that your needs are being neglected, and can lead to built up resentment if it happens long term. Therefore, if you take care of yourself, you can be a better partner in your relationship.
Now, whenever a therapist suggests prioritizing self care, there is often push back. There’s not enough time in the day, there are other priorities that need to be taken care of first, you may not know what to do for self care, etc. Well, you’re in luck! Here are some tips for self care so that you can start taking care of yourself and have a better relationship as an outcome!
1. Make Time
Time is always going to be an issue if we let it be an issue. Look at your schedule a week or a month out (whatever seems most feasible) and actually plan time for yourself. Whether it be an hour or two once a week, or 30 minutes to an hour every day. Scheduling time for self care has to start somewhere. Moreover, if you find yourself needing additional self care because of stressors in your life, make time for it. If you’re feeling a need for self care, that need must be fulfilled. If it’s not, it will only lead to being overly stressed and potentially allow this stress to spill over into your relationship.
After scheduling time for self care, make it a priority and commit to it! YOU ARE IMPORTANT and committing time to take care of yourself is essential. If you are struggling to commit to self-care, think about why. Why is it difficult to commit time for yourself? What are the barriers? How can self-care be prioritized and committed to? What would it look like for you to have a regular self care routine?
3.Know That Self Care Will Change Throughout The Year
It happens all the time! You have a good self care routine going and naturally, life transitions, changes, and different seasons interfere. So, be prepared! You may not be able to do the same thing for self care in the Summer as you would in the Winter. If you have kids, it may be an adjustment to have self care once they are in or out of the school year. Be proactive in thinking about what your self care plan looks like throughout the year.
What does self care look like when your kids are in school? Does self care look different during each of the seasons? How do you want self care to look for you when work starts to pick-up? You may need a different form of self care based on the time of year and season and that’s ok- as long as self care is being maintained.
4.Have Self Care Be Uninterrupted
Self care is NOT self care if you are juggling other tasks during this time. So, turn off your phone or other distractions during your time for self care. If your self care is time away from others, let your partner/spouse know and family/friends so that they don’t interfere. Clue your partner and loved ones in on what you need for self care to be successful. Focus on whatever activity you choose for self care so that you can stay present and actually enjoy the time for yourself.
5.Have Regular Check-Ins With Yourself
It can often be difficult to know when self care is needed (or needed more than usual) if you are not checking-in about how you are feeling or doing emotionally and physically. So, have regular check-ins with yourself. Either at the beginning or end of each day, think about what you have going on that day or the next. What do you anticipate as being challenging? How has your self care been recently? Do you feel your body/mind is needing something specific? Asking yourself questions similar to these can help you to gauge your self care needs so that self care is not a reaction to something negative, but rather, something that is thought of and acted on proactively.
After reading this, how is your self care routine looking? Are there ways that your self care could be improved? How can you make self care a priority in your life? Start practicing these tips for self care and see how this helps you have a better relationship with your partner.
Amanda Cummins is an associate therapist with The Marriage and Family Clinic. She focuses on working with couples in distress as well as families and children in transitions. As a Denver Native, Amanda enjoys hiking, yoga, and spending time with her family.