Life sometimes demands much. Responsibilities like school, work, relationships, and parenting carry an urgency that often means they sit at the top of our list of priorities making little room for our own needs. Arranging our priorities is an important skill in accomplishing and fulfilling tasks in life. Given the importance of these life demands, other important tasks may have to take a back seat. Unfortunately, self-care is one thing that often gets pushed aside or drops to the bottom of our list when life is busy (Pratt, 2021).
Many people go about their days with routines that they have created based on their responsibilities. These routines can include waking up, taking a shower, having breakfast, brushing your teeth, and putting clothes on before going to work or school. People tend to make time in their schedules to make sure that these steps or tasks are completed each day. But how often do you make time to incorporate a self-care routine into your busy schedule?
Having a consistent self-care plan can be very helpful when dealing with stress from work, exhaustion from school, or even frustration from parenting. A consistent strategy for your well-being can help you reduce the intensity of your symptoms, such as irritability, anger, anxiety, stress, and low energy. Self-care can help reduce the chances of burn-out, as well as the potential of increasing your energy, concentration, and happiness. The best approach is about finding a balance between your responsibilities and your needs, and between your commitments to others and yourself (Glowiak, 2020).
Here are some self-care tips that can serve as a starting point:
In the same way that we find time to do our daily tasks, finding time to invest in our well-being is important. A self-care plan works best when you find a specific time to include it in your busy schedule, but make sure that it is a sustainable plan. The point is to make it a priority!
2. Make a list
Create a list of activities that you enjoy doing. Write down activities that you do for fun, to relax, and to heal. Activities can include things you can do every single day, as well as activities you might only do occasionally. Your list of daily activities might include listening to music, meditation, deep breathing, physical activity, video games, or watching your favorite Netflix show. In addition, you might list activities that you can do from time to time such as going to the movies, going out to eat, hanging out with friends, getting a massage, getting a pedicure, or going on a trip (Pratt, 2021).
To stay consistent with a self-care plan and make sure that it is sustainable, including time slots for enjoyable and relaxing activities in our schedule can be very helpful. For example, you might schedule 30 minutes to an hour after coming home from school or work to relax and do something fun before tackling homework assignments or household tasks. For parents the best time might be at the end of the day after your kids fall asleep. Being creative with your schedule can be very helpful, it is just a matter of finding a time slot and sticking to it.
One of the reasons why maintaining a consistent plan can be difficult is because sometimes other responsibilities or commitments may demand unexpected time from our day or week. Setting healthy boundaries with your self-care plan can decrease the number of times you may give away your time of healing and resting to other responsibilities or commitments. An example might be saying no to a friend that wants to go out when all you really want to do is stay at home and rest. Because sleep is self-care, a boundary you might set is to turn off all games or electronic devices at a certain time to ensure that you avoid sacrificing sleep.
5. Take care of yourself
Our mental health and physical health are interconnected. So, taking care of both is the optimal path. A complete self-care plan contains a healthy lifestyle that includes proper nutrition, physical activity, self-compassion, and spirituality. A sustainable and rewarding plan is uniquely suited to the individual and what helps them to flourish. For some that might mean doing research on workout routines or getting a personal trainer. For others that might mean seeking out counseling to heal, learn, and develop as a healthy human being (Glowiak, 2020).
Self-care is a natural and important human need. Viewing it as a priority will make it easier for you to start incorporating or improving a self-care plan. Self-care is like a video game “power-up”! So, let’s use it to power ourselves and tackle life’s obstacles.
Glowiak, M. (2020, April 14) What is self-care and why is it important for you? Southern New Hampshire University. https://www.snhu.edu/about-us/newsroom/health/what-is-self-care
Pratt, E. (2021, June 20) What self-care is and what it isn’t. PsychCentral. https://psychcentral.com/blog/what-self-care-is-and-what-it-isnt