When we’re really busy in our daily lives, it can feel almost impossible to prioritize self-care. Even hearing the word ‘self-care’ may bring up a variety of responses for different people. However, it may be supportive to remember that taking care of ourselves is essential for our overall well-being and can actually make us more productive in the long run. It may be difficult to imagine finding time, space or energy in our daily lives to insert a new practice or even to take a moment for ourselves. What I like about self-care is that it doesn’t have to be huge or monumental and it can even be done in the small margins of our days.
Sometimes it’s just the remembering to do it and the belief that it is actually possible to start small and be okay with seeing incremental changes occur with those smaller shifts in behavior that helps me to find self-care helpful and manageable.
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Having a starting place with ideas though tends to be helpful for me when starting something new. Here are few ideas to build on as we seek to build cumulative change throughout our days, weeks, months and hopefully years:
- Start small: We don’t have to do everything all at once. Start by incorporating small self-care practices into the daily routine. This could be something as simple as taking a few deep breaths when feeling stressed or overwhelmed. And even when you’re already in a calm, peaceful state, if you have the thought that it would be a good time to take a few deep breaths, feel free to practice them even more. Our bodies remember the good feelings that come from caring from ourselves even if we’re already in a desirable state of being.
- Make self-care non-negotiable: Treat self-care as something that is just as important as your other responsibilities. Scheduling it into the day may provide the boost and reminder that is needed to start the change. There are plenty of apps out there in addition to the calendar and alarm apps to provide small reminder blips throughout the day that your well-being is worth taking a few moments to focus on.
- Find creative ways to incorporate self-care: We may not have the time for an hour-long yoga class, but we can find creative ways to incorporate self-care into the day. This could be something as simple as taking a walk during your lunch break.
- Make self-care a priority, not a luxury: It may be easy to think of self-care as something that’s only for when we have extra time, but it’s important to make it a priority because of the positive echoes it can have in the other areas of our lives.
- Set boundaries: If our schedules are overloaded, it may feel unmanageable to add one more thing. Setting limitations around our time and energy is vital to giving ourselves the needed time and energy for caring for ourselves. Learning to say ‘no’ when we need to and not overcommitting ourselves can become the foundation we are able to work off of to pursue our self-care goals and priorities.
Self-care doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive – even small acts of self-care added together can make a big difference in our mental and overall well-being.