Self-care is an art in how it is unique to each individual. Also, like any art, it requires a mastery of both theory and practice. This means there is something to be learned—it is not always intuitive or natural.
I want to begin by asking, how do you take care of yourself? Is it enough for you? If you had to improve one of these five categories, which would you choose: social, recreational, occupational, spiritual, and/or intrapersonal?
1) Schedule It
Before anything else, find a time, block it off. Schedule it like you would schedule a job interview for your dream job—it will take the magnitude of a natural disaster to get in the way of your self-care time from now on.
2) What to do?
Ask yourself: what’s something I can do today that I will be proud of when I wake up tomorrow morning? Take a look at the lists linked above for inspiration.
3) Keep it simple
Common barriers to good self-care are: forgetfulness, procrastination, feeling overwhelmed, and being tired. Keeping self-care tasks simple, small, realistic and achievable can overcome the majority of these initial barriers. Instead of starting with a 10km walk, try making it out the door. It’s good to have big goals for yourself, but always remember the worlds smallest something is infinitely better than the worlds biggest nothing.
4) Learn to Say No
Do you over-commit to tasks, fear disappointing others, make yourself too busy? One great way to communicate your needs without “offending” others is to have some good “I” statements you can use, i.e. “I apologize, I would’ve liked to help, but I’m too busy at this time.” “I appreciate that you thought of me to do this task, but unfortunately I have too much going on right now.”
5) Don’t Look for Opportunities, Make Them
Waiting for a perfect self-care moment is like waiting for a river to stand still before jumping in. There will always be a reason not to do self-care…keep your focus on reasons to do self-care.
6) Seek Out Accountability
Create accountability partners by asking people to check-in on you. Also, committing to group activities can be a helpful way to have a steady, scheduled form of self-care.
7) Ask For Help
There is a famous story of Benjamin Franklin facing opposition in politics. He dealt with it by asking for his oppositions help with things unrelated to politics and was extremely thankful to them. At following meetings his opposition was turning into support. The moral of this small vignette is that asking for help can feel like a burden, but people often feel better about themselves and others when they are helping—as long as they feel appreciated. Don’t be afraid to ask for help—it’s a win-win, as long as we show gratitude and thankfulness for the help.