When I was a young adult, I knew nothing about self-care, I partied too much, and I never picked well my boyfriends. I had a lot of conflicts with my parents, but I had no tools to work on them. I was hard on myself and didn’t believe in myself. As time passed, I learned a lot about myself and who I wanted to be, and I started to understand better what self-care is and what things I could do for my self-care.
But then I had a family, and even though I was a completely different person, a way more mature one, I was a new mom, and I forgot self-care once again completely. I stopped prioritizing myself, and it had an enormous toll on my mental health and my stress level. So what are the things that we all can do for our self-care?
1. You deserve it
The first thing to start with is that we all deserve self-care, and there is always a way to express it. It doesn’t matter if you have a newborn baby to take care of or you are a CEO of a company, or you are busy with one million different projects in your life, you need to stop for a second and acknowledge that you do not only need self-care, but you deserve it. Too often, we just ignore our own needs by saying that we don’t have the time for that, which is completely untrue. There is always a way to find some time for yourself, to prioritize yourself every day.
If you have a newborn baby, you can ignore your messy apartment, the phone calls, and chats to return for 10 minutes every day and do something for yourself, maybe have a warm shower or meditate or do a 10-minute-long yoga. Or just do nothing, literally. If you are a busy businessman, you can decide between keeping 60 minutes every day for yourself when you can recharge your batteries with physical exercise or listening to music. Very often we tell ourselves that we don’t have the time for self-care because deep inside, we don’t deserve it. We say that our self-worth depends on what we achieve and not who we are.
Coaching tip:: if you listen to your inner thoughts, what is the story you are telling yourself? Why don’t you have some time to take care of yourself? What would you need to prioritize yourself?
For example, I had a client, who is a busy mom of two kids, and she was always busier than anyone else I know. She always had to do so many things for her family and her friends, she always needed to work so much at home, cooking and cleaning, that she was always stressed out and dealing with anxiety. She told herself the story that having a clean home, responding to her kid`s needs, and cooking every day were the most important priorities throughout the day and these years. And while all these might be important, the real reason for not prioritizing herself simply believed that she didn’t deserve it, that her worth was equal to the completed tasks. When she realized this, she could make the first steps to value herself and block some time for herself every day without feeling guilty about it.
2. What Self-Care is To You?
It is very important to define what self-care is for you. For some, it means running a 10K, while for others dancing and partying is the key to disconnect. Don’t let yourself be pressured by culture and society even for a moment about what self-care is for you. If you prefer staying at home and reading a book alone with a glass of wine while all your friends are calling you to go out with them, just listen to your own needs and do what is best for you.
Coaching tip: being an introvert or extravert not only defines how you connect to your environment but also how you get back your energy level. Introverts need to be alone and do some solitary activities, while extroverts can feel energized again after a great dinner with friends. So what are the activities that you could build into your daily routine to take care of yourself? Write down a list of things that you could apply when you have 10 minutes or when you have an hour or more to make sure that you have options for every day. One day you might do a 10-minute yoga class online or just quickly call your friend, while other days, you might have the luxury to have a walk-in nature or play volleyball with your friends.
3. Explore your boundaries
So when your friends are trying to convince you to go out with them, how difficult it is for you to say no? We all are different, and we all have different needs. The people who matter in your life don’t love you because of doing always what is expected from you, they love you because of who you are. They will love you and value you equally even if you say no or you express your opposite opinion. As fresh mums, we often think that we need to prioritize all the roles in our life, be the perfect mum, partner, sister, or friend, while in the end, there is simply no capacity for ourselves.
Wishing to be alone for half an hour won’t make us bad moms or partners, it is a basic desire. Learning to communicate your own needs is the key, as your environment might not know what you are going through and what are your necessities, pardon them but they don’t always read your mind. So be firm and kind and say no or ask for help to get the time for self-care.
Coaching tip: what are the things that stop you currently to prioritize yourself and what are the things that you need to start taking care of yourself?
When you have clarity about what could you change to be able to take care of yourself more, the next step is to communicate this to all the people who are impacted. I had a client who dedicated himself to his project for six months so that he could build his career, and he simply told his friends that he wouldn’t be available to meet up on weekdays anymore as he was dedicating that time to his project. Surprisingly, the world didn’t stop spinning, and no one blamed him, but they respected him for devoting himself to his goal.
4. Make Self-Care Part Of Your Daily Routine
Finding time for self-care is great, you realize how relaxed you are after the swimming pool and sauna combination. So you decide to make it a habit, and you join the gym, pay the fee, and you never go even close to the gym. Does it sound familiar?
To build self-care into your daily routine, you need to create the habit every single day as if you were building muscle every single day for months. Don’t expect that muscle to just be there overnight, take the time to establish that new habit.
Coaching tip: plan and follow up. Plan how and when will you practice self-care, and build it into your calendar with a reminder. Then as if it were a work project, inform all impacted parties so that they can support your new habit. Tell your husband that, as of now, you will ask him to pick up the kids twice a week or inform your colleagues that you won’t be available at a specific time and switch off your work phone. Follow up on your progress, let yourself be human if one day you can`t stick to the new habit but acknowledge all the positive changes you have made in the past weeks in your lifestyle and take the time to count what you have won due to the change, how your life has improved.
5. Once You Have Made Self-Care A Habit
Finally, when you get into the habit of taking care of and prioritizing yourself, gradually, a brand new world opens up for you. In this new dimension, you managed to reach something very important: find inner peace and happiness through self-love. Self-care is the gateway to self-love, and be careful, your whole world might change! What if you could live a life that is authentic to your real personality, where your top priority is to live true to yourself and be kind and gentle to yourself? Where you not only give permission to yourself to get 10 minutes every day, but you seek more, you want a job that you fully enjoy, a partner who values you, and friends who like you as you are and not as they expect you to be? Be aware that self-care might have the side-effect of loving yourself more and creating an authentic life for yourself.