We take care of our people, our to-do lists, our errands, and, occasionally, items on our bucket list. But how often do we take care of ourselves? I'm talking about real, good-quality, slowing-down, deep-work self-care.
If you're anything like I was a couple years ago, the answer to that might not be one you want to admit out loud. But that's okay, friend! You're not alone!
Many women, especially those caring for other people, working full-time, volunteering, supporting families, and/or running businesses, don't feel like they have time to invest in stereotypical self-care. Several of them might even offer up a litany of excuses for why they can't afford to do so.
But might I encourage you to be open to creating more time to take care of yourself? There's only one you, and the world needs you! Your people need you. Your work needs you. And you can offer them the best version of you only by taking care of yourself. I promise it can be manageable, too!
You might have dreams of taking a whole Saturday for an all-day pampering session, but you might not actually have room for that in your life right now. There's nothing wrong with that! It doesn't disqualify you from making time for yourself.
Much like making time for Sabbath, making time for self-care starts right where you're at! Do you have five minutes? Ten minutes? Half an hour? An afternoon? Start where you're at, take what you've got, and go from there!
Anything people have accomplished has started with small steps taken forward from square one. We were all beginners at some point, we've just gone at different times and different paces. It's okay if you're not where you want to be or not where your best friend or sister is. You're on a journey that's uniquely yours, and a step forward-- no matter how small-- is still a step in the right direction!
DO MORE OF WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY
What do you love? Engaging in things that make you happy is one way to take care of yourself on a soul level. This world is chock-full of things that are hard and disappointing, but it's full of beautiful and good things, too, and we get the opportunity to choose which set of things we're going to focus on and fill our days with. I don't know about you, but I want to choose to fill my days, my life, and my heart with good and beautiful things.
What's beautiful and good in your life, and how can you incorporate more of it into your days? When we infuse more of what brings us joy into our everyday lives, we radiate that joy. We turn our focus to what's good in the world, and it changes us from the inside out. We start seeing the glass as half-full. We spread joy and positivity. We're less stressed. We're friendlier. We're more fun to be around. And we enjoy ourselves and our lives more, which alone would be worth it!
So what do YOU love?
- a good cup of coffee
- puppy snuggles
- scented candles
- essential oils
- talking to your friends
- going for walks
- being near water
- being in nature
- learning new things
I could go on and on, but I'm sure you get the point. Some things on that list are actual things, and some are activities-- that's part of the point. There's a wide variety of things you could incorporate into your life to bring you joy, based on what YOU love. And did you notice that the things I listed were all simple pleasures, things that could easily be added to our lives? That was 100% intentional. This is meant to be applicable, not just material to read, but tips that can help you in your actual everyday life.
One of the most freeing words in the English language is "no." I'm not talking about saying it like a petulant two-year-old testing the power she has over her parents. I'm talking about choosing to intentionally say "no" to certain opportunities so we can say "yes" to the best things.
I've talked about it before, but I'm going to say it again (and I'll probably talk about it until I die): we can't do it all. We have to say "no" to some things in order to make room for others. And we get the opportunity to decide which things we're going to say "yes" and "no" to.
What matters most to you? What gives you life? On the opposite side of the spectrum, what drains you? What do you dread doing? And why are you investing your time and energy in the things that you are?
I've started asking myself why I'm doing what I'm doing all the time, and it's had some interesting effects:
- I've let go of some things I was doing just because I thought I was "supposed to"
- I've committed more to some things I love because I reaffirmed the reasons why I was doing them
- I've begun adopting healthier habits because I'm making more intentional choices about what I need
- I'm living more by design and less by default
- I'm finding myself investing more time and energy in things that matter, and less in things that will pass or fade
- I'm showing up more consistently because I'm reminding myself of what really matters and what my goals are
STRIVE FOR HEALTHY BALANCE
No matter how much we want to take care of ourselves, we still have to work, and we still need community. Those aren't bad things (in fact, they're great things!), but they compete with our "me time."
I'm an introvert, and I've had to figure out what balancing the various aspects of my life looks like for me in this season. So far, it looks like working by myself at home during the day, where I can get my work done in peace and quiet, all the while having time to myself and taking care of myself as necessary, along with planning social get-togethers for evenings and weekends. When I worked in a corporate environment, I found myself skipping more social events and planning more "me time" in the evenings just to save my sanity.
I was surrounded by wonderful people all day at work, and while I liked them a great deal, being with people for so many hours left me feeling too depleted to spend more time in social situations after work. If I planned too many social events in a week, I'd feel like I was running ragged, distracted, and not able to give anyone all of my attention or energy that I felt they deserved. Not to mention there was always a part of me that wanted to go home and rest because I was just so worn out.
Now that I work by myself, I have more time to "recharge" and then pour into relationships in social situations on evenings and weekends. I knew that I couldn't work at home all day by myself and then spend all my weeknights and weekends doing the same. I would go stir-crazy (in fact, I almost did when we had that unexpected April blizzard and I was stuck at home by myself for three days). I still have to make time to invest in myself, and I do, but it's a balance I had to strike, and it's something that looks different for everyone!
It might sound too Type-A (which I readily admit I am, along with an enneagram type 1, which probably explains a lot), but scheduling time for myself was probably THE number one way I made more time for self-care.
When I was working in an office during the day, I would schedule a date night with myself on Friday nights-- to catch up on my favorite show's latest episode, paint my nails, give myself a facial, and go to bed whenever I got tired. It was my gift to myself for making it through another week, and it allowed me to recharge the way I do best. I would then be energized enough to make plans with friends and family for the remainder of the weekend.
Now my life looks a little different and I'm more flexible with the plans I make because I can afford to be, but I still actually write down when I'm going to invest in some "me time." I put it in my planner so I can make sure I do it. If I don't write it down, I'm apt to put it off, and I know I need to not ignore my own need to take care of myself. So on the calendar it goes!
What do you think? Does making time for yourself seem simpler now? I sincerely hope it does! Just remember you can start small, and it all just comes down to incorporating more of what makes you happy!
P.S. If you're looking to chat more about self-care or find a way to incorporate more of it into your life, I'd absolutely LOVE to talk to you about it!