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We’re all running out of time.
Time to laugh.
Time to breathe.
Time to savor.
Time to do what’s meaningful.
Time to explore.
Time to feel good.
Time to just be.
Having an abundance of space in your life to do all these things is the ultimate form of self-care, yet so many of us feel like we don’t have enough of it.
We lack the physical, mental and emotional capacity to live our lives to the fullest, yet need it to feel like the life we’re living is meaningful and worthwhile.So even though you’re not alone in wondering: “I don’t have time to take care of myself. What do I do?”, know that there are there steps you can take to make time to give yourself the care and attention you need.
WHY SELF-CARE MATTERS
What if you’re thinking: “But I have no motivation to take care of myself. What then?”
Self-care’s important, but not just for the obvious reasons — it’s about so much more than just eating healthily, getting enough sleep and exercising.
The other reason it matters so much is this: You need to take care of yourself so you can take care of others.
Go for too long without taking care of yourself and you’ll eventually run out of the steam you need to take care of the people and causes that are important to you.
SIGNS YOU’RE NOT TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF
The signs of chronic self-neglect are obvious: You’re exhausted, sluggish, unmotivated, or even irritated all the time.
Your body feels low on energy, and mentally, you just feel uneasy or off your game.
But signs that you’re not taking care of yourself aren’t always easy to spot.
They can turn up in a myriad of ways, like:
- escalating credit card debt
- poor boundaries
- continued weight gain or loss
- feeling out of control with your life
- feeling isolated or alone
- living in a cluttered home
- relationships that are toxic or unfulfilling
- toxic positivity either from yourself or the people around you
- constantly feeling reactive or triggered by the smallest things
- spending most of your time at work
- not wanting to turn up for work
- being unable to ask for help when you need it
- compulsive shopping
- crushing guilt when you spend money
Every single one of these signs have one thing in common: Imbalance.
So if you’re feeling off-kilter in one or more areas of your life, that is in itself, a sign that you need to take a look under the hood to figure out what’s going on.
HOW TO SELF-CARE SUCCESSFULLY
Making self-care work for you requires more than just a random list of to-dos — you also need to set yourself up for success with the following steps:
1. BE REAL WITH YOURSELF
This is where you check in with yourself to decide if your self-care plan makes sense.
Are you willing and able to wake up at 5am three times a week to work out before heading to the office if you’re used to going to bed past midnight?
Will you be able to lower your feelings of stress without giving up your habit of pulling all-nighters at work on most days?
Can you give up smoking within a month despite your friends and colleagues lighting up every time you see them?
The more realistic and well thought-through your self-care plan is, the higher your chances of success will be.
2. KEEP IT SIMPLE
The more complex your self-care plan is, the less likely you’ll be able to stick to it, especially when you’re crunched for time.
To make getting started and your plan as ‘sticky’ as possible, break it down into fail-proof steps.
This could mean:
- going to bed 15 minutes earlier instead of an hour.
- taking the stairs at work instead of signing up for an all-new gym membership, or
- having healthy salads delivered to you rather than deciding to make them yourself every day.
3. MAKE SELF-CARE A PART OF YOUR SCHEDULE
Treat your self-care as you would your work meetings or appointments.
This way, you’ll be subconsciously telling yourself that taking care of yourself is just as important as the other commitments in your life.
Setting aside time for it with no interruptions ahead of time means you’ll be less likely to bail.
4. TELL SOMEONE YOU TRUST ABOUT IT
You don’t have to tell the world about it (unless you want to), but keeping a trusted friend in the loop about your self-care goals will hold you accountable to someone other than yourself.
This accountability can serve as a powerful motivator because you won’t want to let someone you care about down.
RECLAIM YOUR TIME
No time to take care of yourself?
Think again, starting here:
REVIEW EVERYTHING YOU DO IN A DAY
We’re all guilty of complaining that there just aren’t enough hours in a day to take better care of ourselves.
However, the reality is that on some level, all of us participate in time-sucking activities throughout the day.
Think: Mindless scrolling through your social media feed, TV channel surfing, zoning out in front of the computer or even repeatedly hitting the snooze button even though you know all too well that it’s not going to get you any more good quality sleep.
To zero in on your biggest time suckers, follow these 3 steps:
Grab a notebook, pen and watch, and keep them close to you. Over the next 24 hours, record everything you do every 15 minutes.
8.00AM: Wake up
8.15AM: Hit the snooze button
8.30AM: Still lying in bed
8:45AM: Brush teeth
9.00AM: Shower and get dressed
9.15AM: Have breakfast
9.30AM: Scroll through Facebook
Once your 24 hours are up, review what you’ve recorded and tally up the time you’ve spent on everything by category.
7 hours: Sleep
8 hours: Time spent at the office
2 hours: Time spent on Facebook at the office
1 hour: Lunch break
1 hour: Traveling to and from the office
1 hour: Watching TV
Ask yourself: “What is the self-care goal that I want to achieve, and what are the biggest time suckers that are stopping me from achieving it?”
Be ruthless. Be honest. Be real with yourself.
Then, figure out how you can tweak your daily schedule so that you can replace those time-suckers with actions that will renew your commitment to your goal and get you closer to it.
FOCUS ON WHO YOU WANT TO BECOME
You don’t see it, but you’re changing every single day, and I’m not just talking about getting older.
Everything we experience changes us in some inexplicable way — it could be a subtle shift in our mindset, the stranger with the unique perspective we met on the subway, the realization that a habit that’s stuck with you your entire life is no longer serving you, or even a spark that’s triggered a desire to live your life differently.
But humans are also creatures of habit, and habits rule our daily behaviors.
They kick into high gear the minute we open our eyes, so we automatically head to the bathroom to brush our teeth, take a shower, get dressed and reach for our morning cup of coffee.
The thing is, as useful as habits are, not all of them are great for us.
Some, like reaching for the bag of chips whenever we’re anxious or bored, can drive our health and spirit into the ground.
And if you look closely enough, most of these ‘bad’ habits are almost always tied to a painful emotion or thought from the past that we constantly revive and keep alive.
So what can you do to change this?
Take the lessons that you learned from everything that didn’t go right in the past, but shift your focus to building the habits that will help you become who you want to be tomorrow—healthier, fitter, calmer, slimmer—and the day after that, and the day after that.
Once you start doing this, taking care of yourself will no longer feel like a chore that you have to squeeze into your already busy day.
It’ll feel like a part of who you are.
PRIORITIZE WHAT BRINGS YOU JOY
In her book The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art Of Decluttering And Organizing, Marie Kondo speaks of how so many items are kept and accumulated in our homes ‘just because’ without much thought.
If we keep collecting these items, they end up taking up not just physical space but also mental and emotional space, because they clutter up our thoughts and energy.
Even if you don’t realize it, the same applies to your self-care routine (or a lack of it).
Jumping into the latest fitness craze or diet just because everyone else is doing it, regardless of whether you enjoy it or not may work for a little while, but it’ll eventually be impossible to keep up because if you don’t truly love it, you won’t keep doing it.
Dropping off diets and fitness trends lead so many of us to see ourselves as failures even though we’re not, making us feel like being fit and healthy just isn’t the kind of thing that’s meant for us.
Taking care of yourself doesn’t have to be a complicated, time-consuming process, but before you decide to keep doing something, ask yourself: “do I love this?”.
If your answer’s “no”, let it go and keep looking for the right fit.
And don’t get me wrong—loving what you’re doing doesn’t mean that it won’t be challenging.
But if, at the end of the day, it’s enriching your life and making you feel good, you’ll find yourself carving out the time you need to do it.
“I’M TIRED OF TAKING CARE OF MYSELF”
Let’s face it: Getting through life, taking care of others and yourself day in and day out is exhausting, and anyone who says it’s easy is flat-out lying.
We all need a break from the grind, and it’s OK to not feel like ‘taking care’ of things for awhile.
Things are won’t fall apart because you skipped a meal last night, missed your workouts for a week or forgot to shower yesterday.
Sometimes, maybe what you need is to a break from getting things done.
Maybe what you need is to do absolutely nothing for a change.
SELF-CARE IDEAS FOR BUSY PEOPLE
When you’ve barely got 10 minutes to yourself, it’s important to make every minute count.
And who says you can’t squeeze moments of self-care in throughout your day?
Here are some simple self-care ideas to start with:
- Have your meals planned for you
- Add a palm-sized amount of veggies to every meal
- Use your commute to read or listen to an audio book
- Take the bus or subway instead of driving through heavy traffic
- Stop by a 45-minute group fitness class on the way home
- Hire a helper to lighten your housekeeping
- Hire a babysitter to free up more time
- Pencil in some alone time each week
- Organize your day to get more done efficiently
- Go to bed 30 minutes earlier
- Wake up 30 minutes earlier
- Keep a bottle of water in your bag
- Take your pet for a walk
- Make your shower time a relaxing ritual
- Schedule time for fun
- Meditate in your car
This simplicity equals self-care with less effort, and the less effort it takes, the better you’ll feel.
Simplify Your Life: 100 Ways To Slow Down And Enjoy The Things That Really Matter by Elaine St. James I got my hands on this treasure over 15 years ago, way before simple living and minimalism became popular, and it was the first resource that introduced me to practical, everyday steps I could take to ‘un-complicate’ my life. I didn’t have enough life experience then to ‘get’ everything that St. James presents in this book, but when I revisit the pages of Simplify Your Life now, they make perfect sense. If you’re just starting out in your simple living journey and are exploring your possibilities, I highly recommend giving this a read first.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A Simple, Effective Way To Banish Clutter Forever by Marie Kondo Being able to pay attention to the little things in your life starts with decluttering — not the easiest thing to do if your living (or even work) space is disorganised and drowning in stuff. This is my bible as far as tidying up my space and keeping it that way goes.
The Simple Living Guide When life feels overwhelming, this guide-and-workbook-in-one will help you gain clarity with your values, well-being, career, relationships and money.
The Good Morning Guide If your mornings are typically rushed, chaotic and stressful, I made this guide to help you start your day calm, sane and strong.
$5 Meal Plan Cut back on the stress of cooking your own meals, and save time and money with a meal-planning service like $5 Meal Plan. As a member, you’ll get a pre-made meal plan, recipes and shopping list for five dinners and sides, plus one breakfast and lunch emailed to you every week. Prefer to have a custom plan for each week? You can pick specific recipes by cooking method, ingredients, dietary preference and meal of the day. Sign up for a free, 14-day trial here.
Amazon Fresh Barely have time to cook, let alone do your grocery shopping? Shop online and have all your ingredients delivered to your doorstep with Amazon Fresh. Get all the fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood, dairy, whole grains and even kitchen supplies you need to cook healthy, flavorful meals at home.
Amazon Meal Kits Want healthy meals that taste good and all the ingredients you need picked out, prepped and sent to your doorstep? Amazon Prime members (not one yet? You can sign up for a 30-day free trial here), have the option to order Amazon Meal Kits, which contain fresh, prepped, one-pan meal ingredients that you can whip into a meal in 10 minutes or less.
iHerb This I order all my daily vitamins plus my favorite healthy snacks and natural personal care essentials from iHerb because all the products they sell are independently tested by third-party laboratories to verify their quality and authenticity. Shipping is usually quick and free (with a minimum purchase), making it a convenient alternative. If this is your first time buying, you get 10% off their first order.
Online-Therapy.com Therapy has taught me to look at my life and the metaphorical mountains (mental, emotional, and physical) I’m climbing from a different perspective, and how to navigate them in better, healthier ways — skills that I feel everyone should have but aren’t taught in school, and rarely, at home. Online-Therapy offers you an affordable way to get the help (or mental health flossing as I like to call it) you need starting from $40 per week. Membership comes with a live, 45-minute session with your therapist plus unlimited messaging each week, and access to their online cognitive behavioral therapy program. Together, these tools equip you with the skills you need to navigate difficult emotions, as well as yoga and meditation videos for additional support. If this is your first time using Online-Therapy, you’ll receive 20% off your first month here.
START FEELING CALMER, HAPPIER & HEALTHIER…NOW.
If you’re too busy surviving, chances are, you’re not thriving. You’re feeling tired, unhealthy, unmotivated and just plain worn-out from life. I created my FREE Daily Self-Care Ritual Workbook just for busy folks like you who want to take back their health, peace of mind and happiness. Get your very own copy of the workbook HERE. No spam. Just helpful, good-for-you stuff. Pinky swear.