Do you ever get that feeling that you’re being pulled into a million directions until you feel like you’ve lost your center, your focus, and your own being? Everybody and everything wants you to do something for them, and of course you want to help them and you want to be there for them. You know that it's important to take care of yourself, but somehow that takes second fiddle to everyone else. You get a feeling of satisfaction when you help someone else, that is true, but there is a high price to pay for that of course. You keep giving and giving until you are emptied, drained of life and you don't even recognize or feel like yourself. I just described my life to the tee too! Colleen and I hear a million times the reasons why people can't work out, take care of their bodies and minds.. and again, I, myself, regularly put everyone (and by everyone, I mean everyone.. even the mailperson) ahead of me. That changed at the beginning of March. How do we learn to take care of ourselves so that we can really be all there for those that need us the most? Here are 6 ways to get yourself in order so you can be 100% for others at the right time.
What It Means to Take Care of Yourself
This is the holy grail question, right? The answer to this can make or break you because the difference between self-care and being self-centered is so small. What is practicing self care? It is quite simply realizing that YOU are also important. It means you should not unnecessarily and constantly ignore your needs and the things that make you feel good. It can be best described as helping others by helping yourself first. Prioritizing your health, happiness and fulfillment without being absent for the people you care about.
We’ll always be needed by people around us—kids, friends, families, and even coworkers—but most importantly, you’re also needed by YOU. Shouldn’t you extend the same care and consideration to yourself as you do to the other people in your life you care about? Just FYI, if you’re looking to live your healthiest and happiest life, the answer should be a confident YES!
Making Self-Care a Priority Is Selfish
This serves as one of the significant reasons for feeling guilty when we decide to put ourselves first. A kinder, more realistic way of looking at it would be to realize that taking care of yourself renews you and helps you take care of your loved ones better. You’ll practically be of no use if you’re constantly being depleted. Ask yourself if you’re really willing to sacrifice your joy and mental health.
6 WAYS TO PRACTICE SELF CARE
1. Start with Your Needs First
Self care is misconstrued as pampering yourself, however, what it really is about is meeting your basic human needs. Relaxation, a need for quiet, a need for connection, a need for stabiliy.
Not only will this help you truly care for yourself on a very fundamental level, but it will make your self care more effective. Instead of engaging in random self care activities in an attempt to feel ‘better’, you can pinpoint exactly what it is you need right now and go straight to meeting that need. Um, uh, a spa treatment perhaps...
2. Schedule It
"I'm too busy" or “I don’t have enough time” is
one of the most common reasons I hear from people struggling to take care of themselves, myself included. I get so upset when I hear other people tell me that, I didn't even realize I was doing the same thing. The solution is simply to make time. Perhaps this sounds easier said than done, but one certain way to create time for you is to schedule it. Find a gap in your calendar during the next week and schedule in an appointment called “self care time” whatever that may be, a spa treatment, meditation, a virtual workout, a walk around the block. I'm booking a massage as I write this- it's so easy! Then, most importantly, stick to it.
Be a realist with your scheduling: if all you can see is the odd 10-minute gap, use that. As I mentioned in a previous post, schedule your workout or mediation as you would any other important appointment. You're worth it!!
Let’s discuss priorities. When we feel like we don’t have time to do something important, it’s either because we’re not making time, or because our priorities are out of alignment with what we actually need. I am the biggest culprit of over scheduling myself because I think I can do everything (I can do most though, that is true, but not everything). Everything we do with our time is a choice. It may seem like we ‘have’ to do certain things, but, in reality, we have complete control over how we spend our time. You CAN fit self care into your schedule, no matter how busy you are, by deciding it is a priority. Whether this means making it the first thing you do each morning, not watching Bachelor (YIKES) for a Monday or saying ‘no’ to certain commitments, or potentially displeasing others, you can fit self care into your weekly routine if you prioritize.
4. Learn to Say No!
When you start deliberately taking time for yourself and saying ‘no’ to commitments and requests, you might experience
resistance from people around you. This can be emotionally challenging, especially if you’re not used to saying ‘no’ or placing your preferences above other people’s. If you’re faced with this kind of resistance, you need to be assertive about your needs and boundaries.
When you start setting boundaries about what you are and aren’t willing to do, it can be hard to stand your ground in the face of guilt from those around you. Remember: you can take half an hour for yourself, and the world will still be there when you return. And when you do return, you’ll be in a much better, healthier position to deal with the world around you. "No". There I said it!! Self care is not a luxury. It’s not selfish and it’s not indulgent. Self care is incredibly necessary to both your mental and physical wellbeing, especially during this COVID mess.
5. Focus on Little and Often
Like exercise, meditation, learning, and other beneficial activities, self
care is far more effective when you engage with it little and often, as opposed to big chunks every now and again. Practicing some kind of self care activity that takes 15-20 minutes a day is far more helpful than one that takes two hours once a month. Try our express glute and ab classes for 20 minutes for some great self care (and a good ass as well!). https://www.fitnesswithfriends.net/adult-classes
6. Protect Your Memory
You likely know exercising reduces the chance of you developing heart disease, stroke, or diabetes. However, did you know
that exercise also protects your memory
and thinking skills? Studies suggest that the part of your brain that controls your thinking and memory have “greater volume” in people who exercise (hand me the weights!). The recommended amount of exercise per week is 150 minutes, but it is okay if you start small and work your way up. Walk your kids to school if possible, walk the dog, anything to get your heart pumping and body moving.
These 6 steps are a great start of self care. It's not as easy as it sounds, and I know that first hand. So remember...if I say no to a request of yours I'm not being selfish, I'm getting a massage or something like that! We would love to hear from you about ways you can practice self care - maybe how you accomplish the above 6 steps or if you have other ideas you can recommend to us. Please write in to us and share. Remember, it takes a village! Good luck!