For a lot of us, self-care is difficult. This is for a lot of reasons, some of which might be guilt, not enough time, putting others before ourselves, not sure what self-care activity to do or what is best for us, etc. Whether you have a specific health issue or not (in my case it is chronic pain from dystonia), everyone needs self-care. But how can we do that in a way where we feel good about it? Before answering this question, I want to share with you the things that I do that I consider to be self-care.
Self-care for me includes eating well, exercise, quality sleep, massage, listening to music, resting (by the pool, at the beach, or in my yard), meditation, prayer, avoiding toxic people, refraining from activities and events that overtax my body, taking breaks from my computer and phone, walking in the park, reading inspirational books, watching my favorite movies and TV shows, and spending time with people who lift me up.
I have been able to implement many of these self-care activities throughout my day, mainly because I have made them part of my routine and lifestyle. However, it wasn’t always easy. I had to first try different things to see what might help and then do them daily, without guilt. That was the sticking point…guilt! I felt guilt for taking time for myself or doing what I perceived as nothing, until I realized just how helpful it was for my health and how much better it made me for others. If you struggle with guilt or anything else that prevents you from self-care activities, I want to share an idea that might be different than how you have approached self-care in the past.
For a lot of us, we only utilize self-care activities and behaviors when we find the time. In other words, we fit it in around everything else. What I think is maybe a better approach is to pick one self-care activity that you implement every single day and schedule everything around that activity. It’s the opposite of how most of us do it. It could be the same thing every day or a different thing every day of the week. Whatever it is, commit yourself to that ONE self-care activity, which makes it a priority versus something we get to if we find the time.
I know how cliché it is to say this, but we have to take care of ourselves in order to take care of everything else in our lives and everyone else in our lives for whom we are responsible. It’s also very cliché to use the following example, but it is a great metaphor for life: when we are on an airplane, we are always told in case of an emergency, to first secure our oxygen mask before helping others. This is what more of us need to be doing in our everyday lives.
Determine that one self-care activity or tool that will help you feel better and implement that one thing into your life to see how it makes you feel. Not just how the self-care activity makes you feel, but how you feel about making self-care more of a priority. From there you can determine what next self-care activity you can implement. The important step for many of us is to first get comfortable practicing self-care, so take it slowly.
For some ideas about various self-care activities and tools that can be utilized for pain and stress and muscle spasms, etc., please click here to see my other blog that has a long list of tools with descriptions and links to where you can find them. Please also click here for another article I wrote about self-care to offer some additional perspective. It is called, “Be Your Best Health Advocate.” Please also check out my book that has a lot of other self-care strategies.