Are you too busy to practice self-care? Does it feel like your life is not your own? Do you feel guilty to make time for yourself?
Unfortunately, we live in a day in age when being busy is considered a normal and good thing. We feel exhausted all of the time, yet pride ourselves on how much we have “going on.”
It may be that our list of obligations and responsibilities gives the illusion that we can successfully do it all. We want to be known as someone who can handle anything life throws at us.
So, we are always running around from one activity to the next. Our days are filled to the brim with activities, appointments, and errands…most of which we don’t actually want to do.
And then we wonder why we are so exhausted at the end of every day! It’s one thing to have a day that’s busy with things we love to do, and a whole other monster when our days are busy with tasks that discourage and bring us down.
Even more, we feel like the people in our lives need so much from us. We don’t honestly believe that we have a choice! Our children need us, our spouse needs us, our family and friends need us, our boss needs us… The list could go on and on.
If this is the place where you are coming from, from a place of exhaustion and guilt, I hope that I can show you that you don’t have to live that way. You
should must practice self-care, and the good news is that you CAN practice self-care, even if you are super busy and overwhelmed.
Why should I practice self-care?
We’ve all probably heard it said that it’s like the airplane stewardess telling you that you have to put on your own oxygen mask first before you assist others. Well, it’s true. We MUST practice self-care in order to be there for others.
You can’t give of yourself unless you have something to give.
Self-care is not selfish, but neglecting yourself actually is kind of selfish. When we don’t practice self-care, we aren’t able to give our best selves to anyone or anything!
According to an article in Forbes magazine, “self-care is crucial for our physical, emotional and mental well-being” and “essential for your daily happiness”.
It’s that important. So, please, please, PLEASE give yourself permission to practice self-care, and practice it regularly. You don’t need to feel guilty about it. If there’s one thing you deserve, it’s this.
How can I prioritize self-care when I’m busy?
Okay, so you get that self-care is important, but how do you make it a priority when you don’t have time for the things already on your plate?
First of all, you probably need to declutter your life. You likely have too much on your schedule, even if it seems like you should be able to handle it. This is where you resist the urge to compare yourself to so-and-so and evaluate your life and how much you can handle right now.
Second, you need to slow down. Create space in your schedule to avoid rushing from one thing to the next. Make a habit of pausing so that you can be intentional with your time and energy. Notice what is happening in and around you. And, cut out the habit of multi-tasking. Do one thing, and do it well.
But even if you haven’t decluttered your schedule or learned to slow down yet, you can still practice self-care TODAY. When you are busy, as we all are from time to time, you simply have to be extra intentional about prioritizing self-care.
Schedule Self-Care First
Before you put anything on your calendar, before you plan your day or write your to-do list, before the day sweeps you away…you schedule when exactly you will practice self-care.
Then, you communicate it. Tell your spouse, tell your children, tell your neighbor. Whoever you need to tell, tell them. Let them know that you need a few minutes to take care of yourself so that you can give them your best.
Delegate tasks if you must. This may mean that you need to relinquish control and let someone else do what normally falls to you. And it may mean that you have to learn to be okay with someone else doing “your job” imperfectly, or at least not the way you would do it.
If you have kids with you during the day, find ways to keep them busy. Every kid is different, but every kid has something that can occupy them for longer periods of time. Find that thing to keep your child busy, then use that time for a little self-care.
Build Self-Care Into Your Routine
Self-care is much more likely to happen regularly if you build it into your routine somehow. At which parts of your day do you already have somewhat of a routine or ritual?
Maybe you drink a cup of coffee every morning before the kids get up and you can practice self-care then. Or maybe you take a break at work to use the bathroom around the same time every day and could build in some self-care at that time.
Think about when you already have a routine, or when you would like to, and start by adding in self-care there. When practicing self-care is part of your routine somehow, you look forward to it, which helps you keep your spirits up throughout the day.
Not only that but creating a routine around self-care makes it a habit. And that’s exactly what we need right now! We need to create the habit of taking good care of ourselves.
Think Little Effort, But Big Impact
A self-care practice doesn’t have to be earth-shattering. Self-care shouldn’t add to your exhaustion, and it doesn’t need to take up hours of your day. (Unless you need it to.)
First, think about what you really need right now. Does your body need some healthier food? Do you need time to relax? Do you need to connect with others?
Second, think about a small, easy way you could experience what you need. By choosing a self-care method that actually alleviates a need that you have, you ensure that it will have a huge impact.
What can I do to practice self-care?
So, now you might be wondering what kinds of self-care practices require little effort but still have a big impact. And the answer is, that depends on you. It depends on how you are wired, and it depends on what your deepest needs are right now.
Only you can know what you need the most. But even though I can’t tell you what you need exactly, I can give you some ideas. Read through the list below and see if anything stands out to you.
What on this list makes you smile or leaves you feeling excited? Which self-care practices make you breathe a sigh of relief? Those are the kinds of things you should be incorporating into your routine.
And more than that, you must learn to pause and evaluate what you need at any given moment. And once you know that, you need to make it a priority so that you can be the best version of yourself again.
Some Self-Care Practices
Here is a list of simple self-care practices that can have a HUGE impact on your life:
- Sleeping or resting
- Exercising or building strength
- Eating a balanced/healthy diet
- Make time for what you love (what makes you feel like you?!)
- Giving yourself a change of scenery
- Practicing mindfulness (clear your mind and be present in the moment)
- Staying unplugged for as long as possible in the morning
- Getting your blood flowing
- Practicing gratitude (keep a journal or verbalize your gratitude)
- Spending time with people who put you at ease
- Treating yourself to something you love but rarely get
- Listening to music, singing, or playing an instrument
- Reading or writing in a journal
- Practicing a beauty routine, taking a shower, or soaking in the tub
- Getting your creative juices flowing
- Praying or meditating
- Replacing negative thoughts with the truth
- Switching your mind from worrying about the future to dreaming about it instead
- Choosing convenience (when you don’t have a habit of this)
- Exploring a new hobby
Self-care is beyond important for your health and your ability to care for others. You can make self-care a priority, even when you are super busy, by doing small things that have a huge impact.
Theresa Bedford is a syndicated freelance home and travel writer with regular contributions to the Associated Press wire and MSN. She helps everyday people love the life they have through simplicity, organization, and prioritization.