If the term 'self-care' at first conjures up images of spa days and other indulgences, hotly followed by a sense of guilt for even considering it, then let me stop you right there. Self-care in its truest form isn’t about spending money; it’s about taking care of your needs as a busy human being. We all need time for ourselves to restore our energy.
All too often I hear clients talk about how they have so much going on that they neglect themselves. This isn’t just common among my clients, but society in general. Busyness is almost seen as a badge of honor these days. It’s a talking point at the school gates, and often the first thing we bring up when asked,
“How are you?”
Why self-care is essential
While our status quo of busyness is completely accepted by society, that doesn’t make it healthy. The truth is that alongside our increased busyness, is an increased rate of burnout and stress-induced illness – especially among those in caregiver roles.
When we push ourselves to take care of others and put ourselves consistently last, at some point something has to give. Typically, that’s our well-being. Now keeping in mind how much of your world hangs on your ability to juggle tasks and be there for your family – consider what would happen if you became too burnt out to keep that up.
This is why self-care is essential. It’s not just about you; it’s about everybody around you. This is also why caring for your own needs is not a selfish act.
Of course, I know that you cannot just drop chores to take time. And I’m not asking you to. Sometimes I give my clients ‘homework’; just little tasks to work into their day that will improve their well-being. So I’d like to suggest a few homework tasks that you can try yourself.
How to work some self-care into your day without being ‘selfish’
1. Upgrade your travel time
This is a nice simple one to start with. So many busy people spend hours of their day stuck in traffic; either to and from work, or dropping the kids off to school.
This is precious time that you could invest in a little enjoyment for yourself. Do you have an uplifting playlist of music you love that you could sing along to in the car? Or how about an audio book from one of your favorite authors?
Driving is a perfect, guilt free opportunity to get a little headspace.
2. The ‘grown-up’ bedtime routine
If you have young children, then no doubt they have a bedtime routine. There is that last drink or snack, a story or a bit of mental winding down before turning in for the night.
This might surprise you, but it’s also a trend in high performing executives. Many career-focused people who may otherwise struggle with insomnia, turn to an evening routine to switch their mental mode from performance to rest.
As the sun goes down, this is your grown up time. You have permission to close your laptop, put your phone on silent, and roll out the yoga mat if you like! Whatever you choose, make it time for relaxing, not time for chores.
3. Saying no, OR, making a counter-offer
The art of saying ‘No’ as a complete sentence and without guilt is incredibly liberating. But it takes time for people to build that skill. It goes against what we were taught to do as kids, to be helpful to others, which sometimes reaches into the realms of exhausting ourselves.
So while saying no to a big request, such as being asked to bake 200 cupcakes for your child’s school event, might be the best thing for you, the guilt and stress around saying no might be too much.
We can address the big topic of ‘No’ another day, but for now, I’d like to suggest a compromise. So how about this: when you can’t say a hard ‘no’, but you’d like to, then make a counter offer instead.
With the cupcake example, your counter offer response could be:
“I’m sorry I can’t make the cupcakes this time around, but I’d be happy to distribute some flyers about the event.”
Rather than a flat ‘No’ that might keep you awake at night, worrying what the PTA thinks of you, you have still offered to help, but without giving away hours of your time that would be better spent on yourself.
It works on all levels, don’t you think?
If you would like to work on more of these achievable compromises and skills that add up to better well-being for you, then why not reach out to me for your Free Consultation? I’d love to put you on the path to better self-care, without the guilt. It’s in your hands...