I recently attended a conference workshop where the focus of discussion was personal self-care. Confronting this topic in a space like that was very important. So often we neglect our own needs in favor of serving and fulfilling those of others, and we need gentle reminders that making ourselves a priority is necessary for our wellbeing.
First, let’s explore some of the reasons we justify neglecting ourselves.
Justification: “I just don’t have enough time.”
How to overcome: Retake your power of choice. Take a realistic look at how you spend your time, and if you find that you’ve taken on too many commitments, choose one to drop and replace with self-care time. Schedule it in just as you would any other priority, and treat it equally (without letting it fall to the wayside).
Justification: “I’m afraid my employer will not value my personal / work life boundaries.”
How to overcome: Communicate your needs clearly and have frank discussions about boundaries. Many folks will respect the fact that you know what’s best for you, and will recognize that these boundaries will help you to function more fully in the workplace.
Justification: “I do not feel worthy of self-care.”
How to overcome: This is a difficult one. It’s easy to see that everyone is deserving of a healthy and happy existence… but then we make ourselves the exception to that rule. Try to see yourself through the eyes of someone who loves and respects you. And if you’re not in a place where that’s very convincing, at the very least know that self-care restores and improves your abilities to care for others.
We’ve all made these excuses before, and many times, they are valid. However, we must begin to see them more as challenges that can be overcome, instead of deal-breakers.
Now, once we’re past these excuses, how do we begin to practice self-care? Luckily, we are better equipped for this job than anyone else. We are experts on ourselves and our needs. Generally, our needs can be categorized into the three categories of mind, body, and spirit. The ways to fulfill these are endless, but here are a few ideas to get you started:
- utilize your support system by getting together and/or talking with friends
- be creative (scrapbook, sew, paint, etc.)
- put your thoughts to paper by journaling
- read a book for pleasure
- eat well
- adventure out into nature
- participate in your religious community (if you have one).
These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. Please feel free to share your strategies in the comments space below.
Don’t let this post serve as your only reminder to practice self-care. Write yourself a note, put it into your schedule, and if you’re really in committed, write yourself a self-affirming message and read it everyday. This message can be an excerpt from a favorite quote or song, or original work that leaves you feeling inspired to act and worthy of nothing less than the best. Self-care practices are greatly underrated and it’s up to you to make that change for yourself. Good luck!