Self-Care Isn't Selfish
You have likely heard about self-care....a lot. You have also likely heard how important it is to find work/life balance and how we need self-care to make sure that we are our best selves, for both our business an personal life. I will get back to you when I find "balance", but until then, let's talk about self-care.
In order to thrive, you have to take time out of your busy schedule to take care of yourself! While taking care of yourself seems like a fairly simple concept, it is often the very last thing we do. Especially as business owners and people pleasers. It is easy to prioritize family and clients...but somewhere in between doing things for everyone else, we all need a break. When you juggle all the balls in the air, the one that is often dropped most often is, you guessed it, yourself. Just like you would take care of your body, it's important to come up with ways to take care of your mind too. Coming up with self-care activities and engaging in them, provides you with a way to "bounce back" from the stress of life.
I am a BIG Parks & Rec fan, and I like to think of self-care like Tom Haverford's Treat yo' self day!
However, the answer to self-care isn't always found in buying #allthethings like fancy bath bombs or leather tote bags. We all have ways that we instinctually cope with the stress of life. Those coping skills can either be positive or negative.Some examples of negative self-care behaviors can be: drinking a lot of caffeine (more than 2-3 cups/day), drinking alcohol (more than 1-2 drinks/day), overeating/under eating, spending money recklessly, watching more than 3-4 hours of TV per day, withdraw from loved ones, ignoring stress symptoms, burying yourself in work, or engaging in destructive relationships.
I would be a liar if I said my automatic response wasn't to engage in some of those behaviors. As human beings, we don't want to experience negative emotions and usually try to do whatever we can to avoid them. If you find that a lot of your automatic responses to stress are negative, no worries...there is always time to learn new ways to take care of yourself and avoid an epic burn out/melt down.
Some examples of positive self-care behaviors can be: Engaging in physical activity, getting 6-8 hours of sleep every night, maintain good eating habits, taking time to relax, maintaining a sense of humor, maintaining routines, thinking positively, spending time with family and friends.
Self-care is vital to having a thriving body, mind, and soul, but how do you start a self-care routine? There is no right or wrong way to self-care, but I have a few tips that combine creating a plan and then also engaging in spontaneity!
1. This is the absolute MOST IMPORTANT one: come up with a self-care plan!
Let's go through the different areas of self-care and take some time to write our your current self-care plan as well as coming up with a goal plan for future activities. The three areas of all people are: mind, body, and soul/spirit and it is important to engage in self-care for each of these areas!
What I do currently:
Example: Read for pleasure, unplug from social media, schedule time to play
What I do currently:
Example: Engage in physical activity, walk with a friend, take a yoga class
What I do currently:
Example: Check in with your emotions and journal, plan a vacation and look for a new adventure
2. Create a self-care box and that include your "go-to's". This box can include physical items that you enjoy: a book, your favorite nail polish, etc. Your self-care box can include index cards with activities you enjoy on them! If you come up with ideas ahead of time, you won't feel like you're drawing a blank when you want to do something enjoyable. Part of the cycle of burnout is being so exhausted that you don't actually do soothing for yourself.
When creating your index cards, choose things you enjoy! Self-care doesn't look the same for everyone. What may be relaxing for me, may be incredibly stressful for someone else. Don't simply write down things you think you should enjoy. If you hate bubble baths, don't add that to your box!
3. Block time in your schedule. I am a believer of "if it's not in my planner, it won't happen". You may be like that too, or you may like more spontaneous self-care activities. Either way, it is important to schedule self-care. My favorite example of this is scheduling a monthly spa day to get a massage and pedicure. It can be easy to put things off when you don't have them scheduled, but confirming something like this makes you more likely to do it!
Another way to do this is come up with a little activity to do each day. I will often create a little note in my planner for each evening. Sometimes the note says "enjoy a bath" and others it says "sit by the pool and read." By writing things out, you essentially give yourself permission to enjoy them.
4. Don't beat yourself up when your self-care routine doesn't happen. Everyone has busy weeks...heck, busy years! Give yourself grace when you don't complete your self-care. When it doesn't happen, evaluate how to make it happen in the future.
If your self-care activity feels like another thing to check off the list, that is NOT self-care. The entire point of self-care is to find pleasurable activities that you enjoy. Not activities that are profitable or measure success. One of my activities is to "paint for fun". I have to separate painting for fun from "painting for work" or "painting for a client." If your self-care activity begins to feel draining, find another one! Here is a great list than has over 45 things to choose from if you feel stuck!
If you will read through the list, the ideas are simple things like: playing with your pets or laughing with a friend!
I would love to hear from you! What are your top self-care activities? How do you find time to engage in them? Can you tell a difference in how you approach your business and life when you come from a place of taking care of yourself? It is incredible to me to see how much more I can pour into the lives of others when my own cup isn't empty!
Be sure to sign up for announcements for Mental Health for Creatives and join the FREE Facebook group! What other struggles are you currently battling with as you navigate your small business journey? I would love to help! Feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions you may have or topics you would like to see covered in future posts.