This post focuses on why self-care is so important. The reason we are instructed to put our own oxygen mask on first and then assist our children is that we cannot be the best care-providers for others unless we are taking care of ourselves. Once you get your own oxygen mask on, you will be better able to assist others. So it is in life. Once you begin to take care of yourself, you may notice that it becomes easier to take care of others.
Once you begin your self-care regimen, you may notice that you have more energy, experience less pain, have more patience, have more time, and have a more positive outlook.
It is easy to tell yourself and others that you will start to take care of yourself, but it can be a little bit hard getting started. Those of us who are not used to making time for ourselves may find the task daunting so here are a few basic guidelines for starting a self-care routine
- Make realistic goals. When you are starting any new routine, it is best to start in chunks. If you have been eating poorly, saying "I will only eat healthy from now on" isn't going to last. Instead, try making a point of scheduling 1 healthy meal each week. Decide what it will be and make sure you have plenty of time to prepare it. So it should be with any new routine. Start out small, with things that you know you can handle. If you make unrealistic goals, you are dooming yourself to failure before you even begin.
- Allow yourself time to adapt. Now you have decided to make 1 healthy meal a week. Work on that until it becomes routine, then add in a second healthy meal, or a yoga class. If you try to make too much change too quickly, you aren't likely to succeed. Instead choose something small and allow yourself time to adapt before adding more. This is one of the most effective ways to create new routines.
- Make self-care your priority. If you put self-care in your schedule and then it is the first thing that you sacrifice when you are trying to make more time, you aren't taking care of yourself. Choose 1 hour of every week to dedicate to self-care and you will begin to notice a difference. Begin sacrificing that hour for other things, and you will be right back where you started.
- Get a massage to relax your body and mind
- Try acupuncture
- Make a healthy meal
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day
- Try an exercise class (yoga, pilates, aerobics, Zumba, dance... the options are endless)
- Stretch before you get out of bed in the morning (I like to lie for about 10 minutes in an open position)
- Take a walk (much healthier than taking a run by the way...)
- Start walking or biking to work if you can
- Read a book
- Get together with friends
- Go to a park or museum
- See a concert
- Do a puzzle
- Cuddle or play with a pet
- Take a relaxing bath
- Take a nap
- Get some sun
- Write in a journal
What is your favorite way to practice self-care? Leave your suggestions in the comments!