When the going gets tough and our lives seem to be moving faster than we can keep up with, those are the times we must pay attention to what we need -- self-care. Self-care refers to activities and practices that we can engage in on a regular basis to reduce stress and enhance our long-term health and well-being. As a mom and a business owner, I often feel like I am carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. When I feel overwhelmed, I automatically think that I need to put in longer hours. The idea of taking time out for myself not only seems implausible, it also seems selfish. Starting with myself, women have to stop that negative way of thinking. Self-care is self-indulgence and we shouldn't feel guilty about it because it allows us to honor ourselves and improve our lives.
Especially for those who care for others, the tendency to avoid behaviors that are self-serving is strong. It's important to remember that you are useless to help anyone if you yourself are not okay. Self-care allows time to reevaluate ourselves, to figure out what we need in order to do what we want to do. Taking time out isn't a luxury. It is necessary to reduce anxiety, strengthen relationships, and prevent a myriad of health problems linked to stress. No matter your professional or life circumstances, taking time for self-care, however little, can make a huge difference in your life. Here are three tips to practice good self-care.
1. Do what makes you happy. Everyone is different, so self-care is going to vary depending on the person. For some more exercise-inclined people, running or yoga is great self-care. For others, maybe doing a crossword puzzle, or spending an hour watching a silly but entertaining show is a happy break from the bustle of life. Think about what you enjoy doing, and develop your self-care plan around it.
2. Plan ahead. It's easy to say you'll "get to it eventually." Set aside specific times for periods for self-care, whatever it may be. If you like hiking, add a time to go in your calendar. Maybe your self-care is a trip to the spa to get your nails done, that can be scheduled too. When it is on your calendar, it's harder to push it back. Taking care of yourself is just as important as your daily obligations, prioritize it as such. Taking time for yourself to reduce stress will help you to more effectively deal with all the other parts of your life that aren't as enjoyable. It's a win-win!
3. Reflect and readjust. Sometimes things we think make us happy may be causing more stress than they are worth. It's helpful to reflect on different parts of your life so you can alter them if need be. For example, shopping might be a fun way to kill time on the weekend, but if the resulting credit card bill causes undo stress, maybe it's time to find a cheaper hobby. Everyone is different, it's up to each person to evaluate what makes them happy and what stress in their life can be eliminated. It's also important to recognize that self-care can't solve every problem or stress, and reflection time might help to find another solution to an issue.
Self-care is an important tool for leading a fulfilled and happy life. There are many ways to practice it - check out this awesome list of suggestions developed by psychologists. I guarantee that taking time for you will have great benefits long and short term. So find what makes you happy, prioritize yourself, and carve out time to make it happen. You'll thank yourself later.