We have all heard it, you can’t take care of others if you aren’t taking care of yourself. It’s true. So why don’t we do it? It’s hard to find the time. Maybe you don’t have the energy. Or maybe you just think it’s selfish or indulgent.
Taking care of yourself is absolutely not selfish. If you don’t take the time to rejuvenate, you are never working at full capacity. When you take care of yourself you have more internal capacity to better handle stress, to better cope, to better execute.
“Self-care” is different for everyone else. True, sometimes it is wine and bubble baths or a massage. But most often it is something much more simple. A quiet 30 minutes to drink your morning coffee and read the news. 45 minutes spent at the gym. Even sometimes clearing out a closet so you can actually find things. Completing a task so that your daily stress level is decreased and life is just a bit easier is taking care of yourself. (Plus, sorting for some people is the definition of stress-relief!)
Taking a few minutes a day to do something simple is vital for mental health. If you are not in a good mindset personally, you are not in a good place to help other people. Most often when we are not taking care of ourselves we are full of anxiety, tension and stress. That sort of energy not only radiates to other people, but lessens our ability to really hear what they need and what they are saying. You are not able to nurture your relationships with those at work, let alone your family.
Most people fall into the trap of prioritizing others needs before our own. We begin to confuse rescuing people with caring. We are trying to help others and solve their issues, make their lives easier. People have to learn their own lessons and solve their own problems. It’s not your job to take care of everything and, despite what you think, you do not know what is right for each of them! Is that not selfish? Their outcomes are their own decision that they must execute themselves. Your desired outcome for them should not be projected onto them.
It’s time to begin to value yourself, your time, and your energy like your clients, patients and colleagues do. It is time to commit to your own personal self-care practices.
So what are some “big picture” ways you can take care of yourself?
- Take out the trash: Get rid of what does not serve you or is not helping you improve. Stop wasting time and energy on things that don’t work or don’t matter. Not everything that brought you happiness in the past continues to bring you happiness. Stop doing it. Throw out what needs thrown out. Change rules and roles that don’t make sense anymore. Everything should serve a clear purpose.
- Be consistent: Figure out what is working and keep doing it! Habits and systems that work decrease stress and save time! If you need to establish new habits, do so. Find ways to manage, systematize and prioritize what gives you more time. Implement these strategies and watch your world get easier!
- Manage your stress: Stop and take note of what is making you stressed. When you know what is making you stressed, you can figure out what to do about it and how to manage it. It’s true that we cannot change people and many times cannot change situations, so any change has to come from you. Think about how much time you spend around certain people. If the chatter in the break room stresses you out, then find another option for break time. Yes, you have to initiate the change. You have to take responsibility for your stress. Stress is not the fault of others, it is your reaction to situation and your ability to handle, change or avoid situations. Stress is cumulative and makes physiological changes on our bodies. You can not always be your best when your stress is at its max. What good are you then, when you are supposed to be taking care of others?
Self-care is different for others. Whether it is a little time everyday, or a few hours every week, make that commitment. Below is a list of several of my own self-care practices. I hope it gives you some inspiration.
I encourage you to commit to a handful of small easy to achieve “self-care” tasks. Make them easy to achieve, yet will make a difference in your days. Here are a few examples of commitments I have made as I transformed my actions and stress levels.
I commit to:
- Morning tea with must me and my cats
- A minimum of 3 days of 45-60 minutes of workouts per week
- Monthly massages
- 30 minutes at lunch time where I step away from work tasks and stop answering questions
- Weekly cat videos (seriously, got some good ones? Send them my way!)
- Weekly food prep night so that making good food choices is easy and I don’t have to stress each weeknight about making dinner.
Share in the comments your favorite way to take care of yourself. What self-care practice do you commit to?