I know, I know what you are thinking, “Not another one of these blogs, who has time for that?!” As a mom, I have spent more than a few days of my life feeling like I can barely keep it all together. I would see articles about self-care as I scrolled through my Facebook feed (usually super late at night, when I could have been, you know, doing something useful) and let’s be honest – I would roll my eyes. I am a single mom, I work full-time, I am exhausted, I don’t have the time or money to indulge in that!
And that was my relationship with self-care.
But, then it happened. I fell into practicing self-care by accident. The definition of self-care according to dictionary.com is: care of the self without medical or other professional consultation. A rather vague definition if you ask me.
The biggest barrier I discovered to practicing self-care was that I really didn’t know what it meant. If you look to social media you will find a plethora of self-care posts that include manicures and pedicures, yoga, massage and meditation. These are all wonderful and research suggests that yoga and meditation have tremendous health benefits. What I “thought self-care was” turned out to be my biggest challenge. I couldn’t afford pedicures or yoga classes and meditation was just “extra” time I didn’t have. So, I shrugged it off as something for a later date. And that’s when I had my self-care breakthrough. If I don’t start taking care of myself now – and by “myself” I don’t mean just physically – but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually – there won’t be anything to take care of “at a later date.”
As a reluctant and unwilling participant of self-care, I was now obsessed with self-care tips and encouragement. Now all I had to do was stop reading about it and do it.
Integrating self-care into a lifestyle
Self-care means different things to different people. And for some, the practice comes naturally. For those of you who struggle to incorporate self-care into your daily routine, here are a few tips to help you on your way.
- Start small – I know the feeling, you miss one day and you are crushed by guilt and failure (slightly dramatic sounding but haven’t we all been there?) Your inner voice is saying, “You don’t have time for this,” “this won’t help,” and it will try and sabotage your efforts. Pro tip: Don’t listen to it.
- Take five – five minutes of practicing gratitude IS enough. Five minutes. That’s it. Many people journal their gratitude but visualization works, too. And if you think you don’t have time for it stop reading this blog, right now. Like, I mean it. Stop and go write down all that you have to be grateful for.
- Be kind – to yourself. Notice your thoughts. Start to become aware of how often you speak negatively to yourself. Would you speak to someone else that way? Our thoughts are very powerful –when you start to hear that voice of self-doubt, guilt, shame, or discouragement welcome it with a kind thought and send that negativity packing.
- Challenge yourself – one of the traps I fell into was that I could only do “so much.” Adding in 20 minutes of exercise a day or a 10-minute meditation would stress me to the point that I would immediately throw in the towel. For me, for the majority of my life practicing self-care was simply avoiding anything that gave me stress. If taking 5 minutes a day to practice gratitude seems like a challenge – then grab a stopwatch and let the world know what you are grateful for. Turn your 30-minute a day run into 35. If you love to write, sit down and write a letter to yourself. If that’s too big a challenge, write one sentence. A whole story can be told in one sentence. The point is – challenge yourself. You might be amazed.
Don’t be so hard on yourself
Sometimes, all the motivation we need to jump-start our minds and hearts into practicing self-care is the gentle reminder we can begin at any time and begin again, as many times as it takes.
Do you have a self-care tip or book recommendation?
We would love to hear it! Share in the comment section below.