Do you ever get the feeling that you never have time for yourself? Are you exhausted all the time leaving yourself feeling overwhelmed and under-appreciated? Thinking back on the last week, how much time did you dedicate to taking care of yourself? When I ask people these questions, the top responses I get is...
"When am I supposed to fit THAT into my schedule?!" "How is that going to help me AND my family?"
When did taking time for ourselves become just another thing to add to our "to do list"? We often spend so much of our time making sure that our loved ones are taken care of without a second thought, but we tend to forget about the importance of also taking care of ourselves. While it is important to provide time and nurturing to our children and partners, if we do not take the time to give ourselves this same attention we start to fall apart emotionally and physically. Our bodies start to feel tired, weak and health problems often begin to arise. Our emotions become erratic swinging from anxious to depressed to sometimes even rage. There are many different ways that you can incorporate self-care into your daily life, yet when you are not familiar with this practice it can be difficult to visualize how to do this.
Here are 4 simple ways to incorporate self-care into your day.
- Rediscover a Lost Passion - This can include a wide variety of things including some of the following, but not limited to: drawing/painting, writing, creating, dancing, or making music. Finding creative ways to be expressive will allow you to focus on yourself while simultaneously reducing your stress levels.
- Meditation - This practice has countless benefits spanning from physiological to psychological to spiritual. By taking the time to find a quiet place and to focus on your breathing will allow you to dedicate a moment for some self-reflection. This can be a quick 5 min practice to a whole hour.
- Start Reading - Books are an excellent way to take a step out of your day and enter a whole new world. Reading encourages the mind to use it's imagination to bring the story to life. With the new advances in technology today you not only have physical books, but you can also choose other formats such as electronic books for tablets or even audio books making it easier than ever to enjoy a good book.
- Exercise - People typically either love or hate the idea of exercise. I find that those who hate it, envision this to mean they have to go climb stairs mindlessly for hours at the gym, but this is by no means the only format of exercise. Try finding a local yoga class or take a walk in the evening if you do not know where to start. Exercising can be defined however you want as long as it includes moving your body which will then release endorphins - your body's natural anti-depressant.
Ideally it would be most beneficial if you could carve out at least 1 hour per day for your own personal self-care, however, I understand that this may seem impossible at first. My challenge for you would be to start with 1 hour per week. In time as you begin to practice self-care and start receiving the benefits it will become easier and you will likely find yourself making the effort to incorporate this with ease. It is not selfish to put yourself first, but rather it is you honoring, respecting and loving yourself. Remember that if you do not take the time to take care of yourself, who will be left to fulfill the duties that you are so desperately trying to accomplish when you run out of steam?