Have you struggled to practice self-care? Has your self-care routine felt unbalanced? If you answered yes to either or both of these questions, breathe your sigh of relief and know you’re not alone in this.
Most of us have heard about self-care and know how important it is. We also may know a few things we “should” do for self-care. However, one of the most common issues people question is “how do I fit self-care into my busy schedule?”
Many helping professionals, entrepreneurs, parents, caregivers and students continue to feel irritable, exhausted, moody and unmotivated right now, trying to balance work and personal life while still in the middle of a global pandemic. If you find yourself struggling, there are ways you can engage in self-care that don’t have to feel like another task on your to-do list. Those who’ve been trying to upkeep their self-care practices and feel like it hasn’t been enough may require a self-care tune-up. If this is the case for you, read on!
What Exactly is Self-care?
Before explaining what self-care is, let’s clear up a common misconception. Self-care is not synonymous with self-indulgence or being selfish. Self-care, in essence, is the mindful taking of time to care for you. It’s anything we deliberately do (or refrain from doing) with our well-being in mind. Engaging in self-care is an essential step to maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself. Regularly identifying and fulfilling our own cups helps us navigate the complex world of connecting with others and their needs.
So Why is Self-Care Difficult Sometimes?
Taking care of ourselves often requires us to do the difficult things we don’t want to do that can feel uncomfortable and unattainable but necessary for our mental and physical health. Being a clinician who teaches clients the importance of self-care, I’ve discovered some common reasons why so many individuals find it challenging to practice self-care:
- Being told self-care is selfish
- Not knowing how to practice self-care
- Believing it’s too costly
- Confusing indulgence with self-care
- Lack of motivation and energy
- Not knowing where to begin
These common hurdles can prevent individuals from jumpstarting their self-care journeys or cause problems in the midst of that journey. If you resonate with anything on the list, I want you to challenge this belief and understand that self-care can help you become more productive and happier when you work through your barriers first.
Essential Self-Care Ideas for Busy People
Figuring out how to incorporate self-care is a common challenge for busy people, but self-care doesn’t have to be time-consuming or difficult. If you feel you don’t have time for self-care, try to implement the following self-care acts that can be tailored to fit your personal schedule:
- Establish a morning and nighttime routine
- Celebrate yourself even for the smallest things
- Use your PTO even for mental health days
- Ask for help and accept it when it’s offered
- Practice daily gratitude
- Prioritize your sleep
- Rest when your body calls for it
- Create to-do lists and prioritize your work, school or personal responsibilities
- Get comfortable with using the word “no”
- Seek out a therapist for additional support if necessary
Questions to Reflect on to Help Improve Your Self-Care
Self-reflection questions, or guided journal prompts, can serve as a tool to assess how you’re feeling, your current needs and discover ways to meet them. Making time to self-reflect is an opportunity to help you dig deeper within yourself. If you need to improve your self-care, take some time to answer the following questions that could assist you with beginning your self-care journey or get back into the routine:
- What does self-care mean to me?
- What forms of self-care give me peace of mind?
- What forms of self-care bring me joy?
- What forms of self-care help me feel recharged?
- What can I do for at least 5-10 minutes in the morning, afternoon and evening that is self-care-related?
There are many ways to take care of yourself, and it doesn’t have to cost you financially or take up your entire day. Having a busy life doesn’t mean you can’t spend time with yourself. Learning how to manage your time and energy can help you create a self-care routine that helps prevent burnout, leads to productivity and then on to success.
Whatever you choose to do for self-care, make sure you prioritize it and take care of your needs first. Always remember, self-care is about both understanding what depletes you and what fills you up.
Katrina Leggins is a licensed mental health therapist, self-care educator, writer and public speaker. She is an Oklahoma native who is the owner and founder of K. Nicole Writing LLC, an informational and inspirational platform that helps motivate individuals through mental health education, empowerment and inspiration. Katrina also runs a t-shirt apparel line and provides mental health products that focus on raising awareness for self-care and mental health. Katrina can be found on all social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @knicolewriting) and at her website at www.knicolewriting.com.