You are worthy of self-love.
Many of us have heard that self-care is important and that we need to make it a priority. Yet, what about when we have busy schedules and lifestyles? What about for the parents, the caregivers, the people who work long shifts or multiple jobs? Let’s face it, life gets busty and it can feel like there is no time for self-care. However, I am here to tell you that all you need is at least five minutes a day for self-care. Sounds impossible? Let me show you it is not!
Tips for Practicing Self-Care
DON’T: Give up
The first step is to not give up. Just because things are busy and you may have a lot on doesn’t make self-care less important. In fact, self-care is even more important when we are busy to help prevent burnout and exhaustion. The most important takeaway is to not use self-sabotaging language such as “I can’t do it,” “I am not worth it,” “self-care isn’t important right now.” Instead try switching the language to, “If I do not take care of myself, I will not be able to take care of other people and things nearly as well.”
DO: Find a small time-block in your day/week for Self-Care
Look at your average day, or calendar for the week. I know, it is probably jam packed with things to do whether that is meetings or exams or childcare (or perhaps something else). If your schedule isn’t listed out in a daily format, I would really suggest you use an hourly calendar (ideally in thirty-minute increments) and map it out. Now, I want you to look at where in that time do you have some gaps? All we need is a minimum of five minutes, maximum of thirty if you have a busy lifestyle. Where can you find those five to thirty minute spaces? (Hint: If you ever work from home, are a student, or a caregiver, can you use the Pomodoro method of doing something for twenty-five minutes and then giving yourself a five minute break? The amount of time you give yourself can even change each day!
DON’T: Think you need to sacrifice your obligations
Remind yourself, I am not asking you to sacrifice your obligations, I am asking you to work with and around them. For example, if you work in an office setting, can you carve out your lunch time just for you? Or if you are a parent is there a time the children have a nap or do something on their own? (The same can apply to elder care too.). If you are a student, can you take a short break from your work whether that is in between classes or working on your assignments later at home? Remember: the goal is to make space for five to thirty minutes in a day.
DO: Make a Game Plan for How You Will Follow Through
Okay now that we have out time blocked out for self-care we need to figure out how are we going to engage in self-care in that time. Five minutes may feel short, but trust me, there are things you can do. Here is a short list of some examples of self-care you can do in five to thirty minutes to help get ideas going:
- Listen to music for the amount of time you carved out
- Journal (you can do this digitally too)
- Three or more minute meditation
- Drink water
- Eat a healthy snack or have a meal if you carved out thirty minutes
- Rest your eyes from technology
- Go over self affirmations
- Massage your hands
DON’T: Feel Guilty
Sometimes we can feel guilty when we take care of ourselves, especially if we have other things going on. Remember the affirmation I set for you earlier in the post? “If I do not take care of myself, I will not be able to take care of other people and things nearly as well.” Think about it. Has there ever been a time you worked yourself too hard or long or took care of someone else’s needs before your own? I am sure you felt tired and perhaps even drained and/or overwhelmed. By taking time for yourself, your metaphorical battery will be recharged, and you will actually feel more present and ready to tackle the other obligations in your life. If that doesn’t work, remind yourself you previously set a time that would have the least impact on your schedule.
DO: Affirm You DESERVE This!
You do deserve it! I want you to say and believe you deserve some time for self-care too! Find your own way of saying it, but I want you to say “I deserve this,” or “I know I am worthy of self-care.” Enjoy the warmth of simply giving yourself permission to engage in self-care. Feels nice, doesn’t it? Now imagine how good the actual self-care will be!
DON’T: Stop in the Middle of Your Practice
We need to talk about this because what if you’re in the middle of your self-care practice and suddenly you get a call from work, an email notification, or your child calls out to you? As much as we hope this won’t happen, it very well can. In cases like these, we need to set a plan in case something comes up in the middle of the practice. I am going to separate this part into two categories between for non-caregivers (think: people busy with work, school, meetings, etc) and caregivers (think caring for another person) because they require two different approaches.
When scheduling your time, you should have blocked your self-care time on a break, in between classes, or during your lunch time. Essentially, you will be on your authorized break period. What does this mean? Remind yourself that you are not obligated to be working at this time. Remind yourself that. Continue your practice. This can wait until you are back on company time. If you are a student, remind yourself that the work will be there when you are done. If what is distracting you is a friend or relative who keeps trying to reach you, also check out the caregiver strategy.
This one can feel more complicated because another person is involved, but it doesn’t have to be. If in the event it is a true emergency and the practice needs to come to a shorter end, please by all means do so. However, if it can wait, try and finish your self-care practice. If your children are old enough for this conversation tell them ahead of time “I need (insert amount of time) to do (insert your self-care practice). Please wait until I am done unless it is an emergency.” Encourage others in your household to practice their own self-care too!
Now let’s say your phone keeps ringing assess the situation, but I would strongly recommend you wait until the end of the practice to answer. If you know there is an ongoing issue (such as a loved one is ill), consider calling in and checking on them briefly before your self-care practice. Another example is if you know a loved one is down, schedule a time to check in with them that will not interfere with your self-care practice.
DO: Connect with the Present Moment
Try your best to be in the present moment while you engage in self-care. How are you feeling? What can you see? Touch? Smell? Hear? Taste if you chose to have a meal for your self-care? Really stay in tune and engaged with the present moment as much as possible.
DON’T: Jump Right Back Into Your Routine
When you are finished with your self-care practice please try not to say “well that was nice, time to dive right back in!” Give yourself a moment or two to bring your practice to a close and slowly transition back into the rest of your day.
DO: Seal Your Practice
A good way to transition back into your routine after practicing self-care is to seal your practice. Sealing your practice is very personal, and can be done in many ways to help transition you back to your routine. Here are some examples of ways to seal your practice, but feel free to use your own:
- Assess how you feel after you practiced self-care
- Seal it with an affirmation of being proud of yourself
- Express gratitude
- Give a very quick, thirty second stretch of your arms, legs, and neck
- Take a few deep breaths
There you go! Follow these dos and don’ts to self-care and you will be on your way to implementing a rocking self-care routine even when you are busy. However, I also want to highlight that sometimes self-care can be more challenging and that people who experience busy schedules can face stress, overwhelm, and burnout. Here at online-therapy, we value having kind, compassionate clinicians here for you and your needs.
If you would like to learn more on the ways we can support you please check out online-therapy.com .