Self-care should never be optional. We’ve become so accustomed to burning ourselves out, trying to get everything done each day, that sometimes the idea of self-care seems selfish or just plain impossible. This is unfortunately the reality for so many people in this country. With the demands each day brings, self-care is often the last thing we think about. However, research shows that neglecting your mental and physical health can lead to chronic illness. And it leads to more feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, and isolation — which all can take a toll on your health.
When you can begin to more mindfully address your day to day life, and understand just how important and doable self-care is, you will start to change your mindset and make YOU a priority. Here are four ways you can practice daily self-care, no matter how busy your day is.
Four Ways to Practice Daily Self-Care Even with a Busy Schedule
#1 Start Your Day Earlier
Do you hit the snooze button, maybe too many times before you actually get up out of bed? When you tend to burn the candle on both ends, it’s easy for fatigue to set in, making getting up in the morning so much harder. You may hit the snooze button so many times that you leave yourself no time for any form of self-care before the hectic day begins. This leads to stress and anxiety.
While waking up earlier may be the last thing you want to do, getting in the habit of waking up just 10-15 minutes earlier can greatly improve your day! To help yourself get started, head to bed 10-15 min earlier the night before. Think about it as your scheduled “you” time before the demands of the day set in and before you even grab your phone in the morning to check e-mails and social media. Maybe this means getting up ten minutes earlier to sit down and enjoying a hot cup of tea or coffee while listening to a favorite podcast or reading a book before the rest of the house gets up.
Many people find that writing down their goals for the day and things they're thankful for sets the tone for the rest of the day. Or, maybe it just means having a little extra time to make yourself a nutritious breakfast. Whatever self-care means to you, try to go to bed a little earlier each night and rise just a little bit earlier each day to make this your self-care time.
#2 Find an Extra Five Minutes Each Day
Write out your day-to-day schedule and see where you can find an additional five minutes. Maybe you can use five extra minutes of your lunch break to go for a brisk walk, or maybe you can take five minutes after dinner to do something to take care of you. Finding just a couple of minutes sporadically throughout the day to do what feels good for you to calm any stress or anxiety will remind you that self-care is important. One of the best ways to carve out extra minutes is to leave your phone out of eye-view. Many times, we end up reaching for our phone or mindlessly scrolling on our social media feeds to pass time or out of habit, not specifically looking for anything. Instead, leave your phone in your car or at home for a bit and see how much more free time you carve out for yourself. It will also help you return to whatever else needs to be done for the day in a calmer and more centered manner.
#3 Find What You Love
If you have had little time to take care of yourself for as long as you can remember, chances are you have forgotten about some of your passions, creative outlets, or hobbies you love! Spend one day over a weekend or when you have some time to sit down and journal. Think about what subjects and activities that bring joy to you. Figure out what sparks your interest or brings out the best in you and make a plan to get back into these activities. Maybe that means joining a book club, or a fitness class or local interest group, picking up a new crochet project, an art project, or making music. Think about steps you can take to integrate things that you love to do into your life.
#4 Wind Down Your Day
Winding down your day is an excellent way to practice self-care. If you are used to waking up stressed and going to bed with a racing mind, it may be hard to get into the groove of this. However, once you do, it will become a habit, and you will feel so much more rested and less stressed when you wake up. Try to set aside 30 minutes each night to wind down your day. Turn off all electronics, dim the lights, and just relax. Maybe you can take a bath, diffuse calming essential oils, play with your house pet or do a short yoga routine. Do what helps you calm down and make it part of your evening routine.
It is so easy for us to forget to take care of ourselves. There is also a stigma surrounding self-care that makes many of us feel guilty. However, guilt should never be associated with the practice of taking care of yourself. When you take care of yourself, you are better able to take care of others, you’re better at your job, and better able to show up for everything that needs to be done in your life. If it’s been some time since you made self-care a priority, take this as your invitation to take better care of you starting today! You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars at the nail salon or getting expensive massages or take once-in-a-lifetime trips to the Caribbean. Something as simple as reading a book, going for a walk, or doing some yoga is an excellent place to start.