Self-care is essential to leading a health and wellness lifestyle. After spending nearly a decade without taking the time to take care of myself, my body yelled at me in the form of heart palpitations and various other ailments. I finally listened and made the difficult decision to leave my career as an executive in the hospitality industry. Since then, I re-evaluated my priorities and my number one focus has been on my health and wellness. With this shift came the understanding and a commitment to practice regular self-care so that I can be the more present and enlightened mom, friend, colleague, and wife who I want to be.
Self-care doesn’t have to be a costly and time-consuming day at the spa, but it is a dedicated amount of time that you carve out for yourself. And it doesn’t have to take long either! And it is non-negotiable! Keep reading to find out how easy you can treat yourself, without spending loads of time (or money) doing so.
What Does Self Care Mean?
Self-care can mean a lot of things. In fact, it’s unique to each person. Perhaps a mani-pedi is enough for you? Get your nails done, girl! Once your nails are looking amazing, I challenge you to think outside the box and push the boundaries of what you and society define as self-care practices. For me, self-care involves activities which allow you to release the stress and anxiety that can eventually lead to physical and emotional stress.
Self-care is ultimately about taking time for yourself. I’ve included several options below to help you practice small acts of self-care every day in just ten minutes (or less).
Practice one a day, or all ten when you’re feeling motivated. My one suggestion is to avoid the feast or famine mentality. Make it a goal to practice at least 10 minutes of self-care daily. Then ramp it up to 30 minutes, or even an hour, at least once a week. Once you’re a pro at putting yourself first, you could even dedicate a whole day to self-care monthly!
Why is Self Care Important?
It’s common for life to feel overwhelming and for new challenges to pop up. This can make it hard to stay committed to taking care of yourself. I am a firm believer in being proactive instead of reactive. Strive to make self-care the priority before you become extra stressed out.
Self-care is ultimately essential for you to be able to function. After experiencing a negative physical response from years of neglect, I can speak first-hand to the repercussions of putting it off.
There is never a good time for stress to enter your life. There is also always a good time for you to take ten minutes for yourself, with purpose, and with intention.
And when you carve out those ten minutes, you will be able to handle your life stress better while also decreasing the additional side effects the pressure may have on your mind and body. In an 8 hour work day, ten minutes only accounts for .02% of your day. (I think we can all afford to spend that small amount on ourselves when we’re not working!)
It’s important to note the difference between eustress, which is the kind of positive stress that motivates you to work (Like when you’re excited about a new project, or have just learned a new detail about a client that gets you fired up) vs. stress, which is something that ultimately makes you feel fatigue and exhaustion.
Some Important Self Care Reminders:
It’s easy to add taking care of yourself to your to-do list, making it another chore and, therefore, another source of stress..
This can leave you resenting the whole idea, which is not the goal here. The aim is to carve out time just for you. So it’s essential that you remember a few things:
- It’s okay to feel like you have nothing under control or that you are overwhelmed.
- It’s okay to ask for help.
- If you’re particularly overwhelmed, remember it will be ok. Practice deep breaths or write a brief entry in a gratitude journal
- You are not alone.
- Carve out time in your day to rest. As the saying goes during the in-flight safety presentation on planes: remember to place the oxygen mask on yourself first, before you can assist anyone else.
- Try to talk to yourself as you would a four-year-old and stop the negative self-blame. Particularly during really high-stress times. Give yourself a break and try to be patient. It pays off in dividends.
Basic Self Care Checklist
It’s easy to brush off practicing self-care because you believe you’re “too busy” or you “don’t know where to start.”
Which is why this list is your new best friend (go ahead and bookmark it for later, or have it pop up first thing on your Google calendar every day).
Let’s get into it, shall we?
1 – Unplug
It may feel extra overwhelming to put your phone down and shut down your computer especially when you’re overworked and underappreciated. But the truth is the evidence that technology can do more harm than good is astounding.
If you’re not sure when to start, try using a real alarm clock (instead of your phone) to wake you up in the morning and resist turning your phone on for the first ten minutes that you’re awake.
Alternatively, at the end of the night, turn your phone off for ten minutes at least before you go to bed. By disengaging from social media, you will have a much easier time relaxing into sleep.
2 – Make Your Bed
Making your bed every day is hands down one of the fastest and easiest ways to clear the clutter from your mind and create order in the chaos.
This is especially true if your entire house needs to be cleaned and if your dishes are piling out of your sink. When you spend less than ten minutes making your bed, you’ll magically feel like you’ve been able to do something to make life feel a little less out of control.
And even if you have a clean and tidy house, making your bed right after you wake up can energize you and get you started on the right foot to tackle your actual to-do list.
3 – Make Bedtime Ten Minutes Earlier
Americans don’t get enough sleep. Go to bed earlier. The end.
Okay, not the end. Because in reality, it’s really tempting to binge watch one more episode of your new favorite show, or read another chapter in that book, or try to tackle three more things on your to-do list at the end of the night. If you have children, it may be your only time to have an adult conversation with your spouse.
And all of this is important, it really is. But sleep is especially important. Schedule bedtime like it’s an appointment. Give yourself a realistic amount of time to get ready for bed, get into bed, and shut down your mind.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult over 26 years old needs between 7-9 hours of sleep each night, although some can do fine on less, and others need a bit more. With a little experimentation (i.e., sleep in, wake up early) you can find an amount of sleep that is optimal for you.
If you have a fitness watch, you can schedule it to monitor your sleep and figure out how you’re doing.
The goal is to get more sleep, more often.
If it’s impossible to get to sleep earlier, try to take a nap at some point during your day. Even ten minutes in your car with the seat all the way back can do wonders for your mind and body.
4 – Spend Some Time in Nature
Just ten minutes a day outside can improve your cognition, prevent disease, and promote a bajillion other health benefits.
Take a quick walk in the morning or during your lunch break. Try to avoid city blocks though, and stick to the local park if you can.
5 – Treat Yo-Self
Splurge on SOMETHING. That brownie at the local bakery that you notice every day and never allow yourself to get, for example. Or perhaps that pair of shoes you love but have no place to wear them or anything to wear them with!
Whatever you have resisted because of whatever perceived or real restriction in place, give in.
It’s important to note that this isn’t an everyday splurge. Or every hour splurge. Just once in a while. Maybe once a month or so (or less or more). You decide. But give yourself a little treat once and awhile. The only parameters are that it must bring you joy (not guilt) and that you must carve out the space to honor that joy when you treat yourself. (I’m talking really enjoy that brownie, wear those shoes for the rest of the day – coordination be damned!)
6 – Pay it Forward
Buy coffee for the customer behind you in line. Sign up to volunteer at a local organization. Help someone somehow do something. It can be as simple as holding a door open or as complex and pricey as buying your colleague lunch (or buy your whole office those brownies you treated yourself too!)
7 – Declutter Your Space
I talk a lot about the importance of keeping space free of clutter here, but it’s worth mentioning as a little act of self-care as well.
Spend ten minutes tidying up your workspace, living space, cooking space, driving space. Whatever! It will make you feel physically lighter and create an overall sense of focus and creativity as well.
8 – Buy Yourself Fresh Flowers
Or a candle. Or a new scent for your diffuser. Or frame a picture you love. Find something that brings you joy (a new journal!) and adds to your daily view. Something is freeing and indulgent about being able to look at fresh flowers or smell a scent that helps you relax.
9 – Get Physical!
Go for a walk. Turn on the music real loud and have an impromptu dance party in your living room. Take the dog for a hike. Workout. Practice Yoga. Do something that moves your body and as a result, also moves your mind.
Endorphins are excellent for self-care, and they help reduce stress and give you an overall sense of feeling good.
10 – Journal
Self-care often means self-reflection, and for many that includes journalling. I love journals and actually collect them (these from XXX are some of my favorites!), but you don’t need a fancy place to write you your thoughts. You can write notes on your phone, on your computer, even on twitter if you’re feeling like exposing them publically.
As Joan Didion famously said, “I don’t know what I think until I write it down.” This can be true for many as well. And detailing your thoughts in a diary style journal can allow you to process big thoughts and feelings and in some cases, help you work through them.
How Often Should You Practice Self Care?
Self-care is good for everyone and should be a priority up there with working out, sleeping, and eating a healthy diet. It’s also important to note that self-care should not be a reward for other things. Taking care of yourself isn’t something you earn, it’s something you deserve. When you make time for yourself, you will feel good and well deserve to feel good.
Practice all of these daily self-care tips at the same time as part of a self-care daily routine, or just a few at a time, or one each day. This is your self-care journey, and you can make it look and feel like whatever you need it to be.
What did you do today to practice self-care? Share this post on facebook and let your friends and family know! Or you can pin this to Pinterest and help me spread my message of taking care of yourself to take care of others too.