Self-care was a concept I used to discuss with clients but rarely put into practice in my own life. I thought I didn’t have time for self-care, it was not a priority for me. Other people, my career and my never ending to-do list interfered. It wasn’t until my physical and mental health declined that self-care became a priority. Don’t let this happen to you, it’s not worth it. Start to integrate a little self-care each day to help you connect with your wants and needs, it’s vital.
I was suffering from exhaustion and burnout in a big way. I loved my work but I was rarely rested and not always fully there for my clients, family and friends. Interestingly enough, when I stopped putting others first and began placing my well-being as a top priority, I became much happier, my stamina increased, and my relationships improved. I also developed a great relationship with this person I had been ignoring for years, myself! Now, I practice acts of self-care every day. Many people who suffer from low self-esteem have struggled with adapting self-care into their lifestyles; this can lead to depression, resentment and anxiety.
Stop Neglecting Your Needs and Start Implementing Self-Care
It may sound impossible to put family, friends or your career on the back-burner for a bit, but it’s necessary for your health. Self-care isn’t something that you can just put off until you have more time or money. If you don’t fit in some time for your own daily renewal others around you actually suffer. Stop neglecting your needs and start embracing what your brain and body need.
It may feel like you are doing the right thing by putting off your yoga class to tend to the demands of your job. It may feel uncomfortable to ask your spouse to take the kids for the afternoon so you can take a bath without an audience (toddlers can be a bit intrusive), but you need to. No matter what you do in life, how old you are or what your relationship status is, putting me before we AKA practicing self-care will make you feel more confident and improve all of your relationships.
Self-Care Can be Difficult
If you’re too busy putting others needs first, you can bet that they aren’t appreciating you as much and you’re more likely to stressed, resentful and unhappy. You are not your best self. Self-care is a very active and powerful choice to engage in the activities that are required to gain or maintain an optimal level of overall health.
You may be worried that someone will get mad at you if you start to integrate self-care. If someone is frustrated with you for taking time to nurture yourself, they are likely not a supportive person to have in your life. Now, if you’be been putting the crew before you for the past 10 years they may need some time to get used to this new situation, you not being at their beck and call 24/7. Guess what? The best part of taking time for yourself is that people appreciate you more when you’re not there all the time. This leads to more reciprocal and fulfilling relationships with others.
It’s not always possible to get away for a vacation or spend the money on a day of relaxation. And you don’t need to. Self-care can be a daily activity that you can incorporate it into your routine no matter how busy you are. I often set an alarm for a guided meditation (5-10 minutes in length), eat my lunch without scrolling through Instagram or answering emails. At night I take a bath without the light of my phone and attempt to escape the to-do list running through my head. These acts of self-care allow me to check-in with myself and my needs. They are just a few examples of self-care that enrich my life and allow me to feel in sync with my emotions.
12 Ways to Practice Self-Care
Here are a few ideas that you can implement into your life, no matter what your budget or time constraints are.
First, ask yourself what are my needs? What would make you feel better right now? What is something that your brain and body need from you today? When you neglect your basic and primal needs due to money or guilt, you’re not serving others or yourself. A few minutes a day, just for you, can make a huge change in your well-being and self-esteem.
- Take a mid-day break and walk around outside. Instead of eating lunch at your computer or answering emails. Just take 10 minutes for a mini-vacation or walk around your neighborhood.
- Make that doctors or dentist appointment you’ve been neglecting.
- Say no. No is a complete sentence. Say no to something that doesn’t sound fun or really isn’t vibing with you. Dinner with the friend that makes you feel lousy, no thanks. Hanging out with your best friend via Facetime and staying in because it sounds better, yes please!
- Connect with someone you care about. A friend from the past or relative you’ve lost touch with. Call them, make plans with a friend or relative, or email someone you’ve wanted to reconnect with.
- Get organized, just for a few minutes. Do something today that will help you tomorrow. Pack your bag for work the night before, make your lunch, organize your planner. It may seem like work but it’s actually going to help you feel more at ease and relaxed the next day and moments after it’s done.
- Embrace your senses. Whether it be you’re favorite body scrub or a scent from the past, scents can be powerful mood boosters. Aromatherapy isn’t expensive, it can be a few dollars at most. I love gardenia or lemongrass. Infuse your home or your car with a soothing scent that will improve your mood.
- Put your favorite food on the shopping list. You do enough for others, why not get that package of cookies you love? Buy your favorite food. Lots of parents, spouses or anyone on a budget fall prey to sticking to the basics. Maybe you buy what your budget allows or what their kids and families want to eat. But what about you? Do you want a particular cheese or fresh squeezed orange juice? Add it to the cart.
- Read a book or article for pleasure. No judgment. Grab that celeb magazine or chic-lit you’ve been eyeing. Let your mind go on a vacation it’s okay.
- Drink more water. Instead of beating yourself up for never drinking enough, remind yourself that water is something your body and brain love and need. It detoxifies you and can take just a few seconds.
- Edit your newsfeed. Block or hide people who bother you on social media. There is no shame in blocking people make you feel bad about yourself, who’ve hurt your feelings or who are filling your social media with annoying comments or pictures. You’ll feel better, and they don’t have to know.
- Give yourself the gift of more time. Wake up a little earlier to make a meal your body will thank you for, meditate, breathe, read the paper, or do some yoga. If you plan ahead, it is always possible to find a way to give yourself some extra time.
- Get creative. When you were a kid what did you love to do? Paint, draw, sing, dance do it in the privacy of your home or take a class. There was a reason you were called to these activities. They re-energize you and I’m sure they will help you clear your mind.
How do you incorporate self-care? Let us know how your life has changed and how your health has improved when you’ve taken time for you.
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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is The Guidance Girl. Her goal is to help YOU become the most confident person you know! Emily is an award-winning author Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, Educational Speaker, and parenting consultant. She travels around the country educating girls, women, and parents. Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.