As a health and wellness provider, I believe that self care is an integral part of a health and wellness regimen. I also understand how hard it can be to make self care a priority in our busy society, so here are 5 ways to say on track.
1. Keep it simple - Self care doesn't have to require hours of commitment each day or even each week. It can be found in the simple things. For some it's waking up before their family to drink their coffee hot. Maybe this is also a time that you like to spend in prayer or meditation or a time to exercise. It can be a goal of going on a 30 minute walk 3 times week, drinking more water, eating healthier one meal a day, or scheduling a one hour massage once a month.
2. It doesn't have to be healthy - While I believe that self care is an important part of overall health and wellness, self care practices don't have to just be health focused. Self care isn't just about keeping physically healthy, it's also about keeping mentally healthy and reducing stress. It can look like getting together with a friend for coffee, taking bubble bath, enjoying your favorite tv show at the end of the day instead of washing the pile of dishes in the sink, burning a favorite candle that makes you feel happy, or having a glass of wine.
3. Make it something you enjoy - Sometimes self care practices that we want to incorporate or feel that we need to incorporate aren't necessarily things that we love to do. We might need or want to exercise more, but hate exercise. If this is you, see if you can find exercise that you enjoy more and you will be more likely to stay on track. If it helps you to do an intensive workout that is shorter, do that. If you need to find exercise that doesn't feel as difficult, but maybe requires more time, do that. Maybe you are someone that loves tracking how many steps you take each day and that keeps you motivated so it might be worth investing in step tracking device or downloading an app on your phone. Or, maybe you want to eat healthier, but you have never found a healthy eating plan you enjoy, so you may want to research a variety of plans and ways to eat healthier while also still enjoying the food you are eating.
4. Say no to things that are not a priority or cause more stress - Let's face it, we are all busy and pulled in many different directions. One of the biggest obstacles to practicing self care that I hear of is time, or lack there of. Part of practicing self care can be giving yourself permission to say no. I read something once that talked about not saying no because you are too busy, but saying no because you don't want to be busy. This resonated deeply with me. I might have time in my day to take on another commitment, but I might choose not to because that is time I'm setting aside for me or my family, which is part of self care. There have been seasons in my life in recent years where people wanted to meet for coffee and it wasn't that I didn't want to spend time with these individuals, I was just feeling like I had a lot on my plate and that I wasn't spending as much time with my kids as I wanted, so I didn't want to take on another commitment that took time away from them as I knew it would just leave me feeling stressed. I should have told these individuals exactly that, but instead I told them that we could set up a time and never followed through, which probably indicated to them that I didn't value them, which isn't the message I wanted to send.
5. Start off small and give yourself grace - If you are anything like me, you might have a list of self care practices that you would like to incorporate and because it's overwhelming to implement them all at once, you just neglect all of them. Instead choose one or two and master those as an automatic part of your routine before adding more. Maybe make taking those vitamins or supplements that you want to take every day your first priority, schedule your next massage or chiropractic appointment before you leave the office so that it's in the calendar before you schedule fills up too much, or figure out how many steps you take in an average day and make a game out of trying to increase that number every day until you meet your goal. If you get off track, don't beat yourself, just start again.