In the busyness of life, it is easy to neglect our own self-care. We get caught up in our plans and commitments to work, business and people who are important to us. Commitment to our own well-being needs to be in that mix.
What is self care?
Self-care doesn’t just mean physical health. It includes care of other aspects of your health like mental health and emotional well-being, care of relationships, your environment, your time and resources. This more holistic perspective incorporates all aspects of your lifestyle.
The ultimate goal of effective self-care is to maintain the lifestyle you want to lead while remaining connected to yourself and the goals you want to achieve. It is not about obligation, rather a commitment to yourself. Such a commitment will mean bringing self-care to be part of your daily routine, making it a “normal” part of what you do.
A kind perspective
It is easy to be a harsh critic of yourself about maintaining a standard of self-care. A way of taking a kind perspective with yourself, is to consider what you would say to a colleague or friend. Be kind to yourself, yet be accountable to your self-determined goals.
Daily rituals and routines
Incorporate activities that help you care for yourself, in your daily routines. Perhaps these can become rituals which bring with them a sense of familiarity and security. Routine activity means that with time and practice they require less conscious thought and deliberate attention and energy. In other words, they can seem to require less effort to do.
Incorporating rituals into the routine of a work day makes them manageable. This could mean things like:
- taking time to plan and priorities in your day for work, rest and play
- making effective use of quality thinking time – at the start of the day
- going to regular gym or exercise classes on the way to or from work
- making a habit of leaving your desk or workspace for lunch
- spending some time in a green space, smell the roses and feel the sun on your face
- allowing yourself time to unwind and relax between work and home
Friends, families and foes
Supportive relationships are important to all aspects of life. People who are positive and energetic are usually good to be around with these infectious qualities. People who inspire you are important to spend time with, whereas you may need to “manage” your time with those who drain your energy.
Friends to talk things through with are important. It is usually a process of give and take – supporting each other at times of need, celebrating achievements and other events together. These connections can make all the difference when facing challenges – whether they be your own premeditated ones or those imposed by life. Nurturing relationships take time. Talking. Sharing time together. Helping. Being helped. These are all important facets of relationship building.
Recharge, refuel, reboot
High performance athletes train hard. They are also serious about resting, refueling and rebooting themselves in their down time. They need to do those things to be able to maintain their performance.
Likewise, we all need adequate time to rest, relax and eat well. However, these things can often be compromised because of deadlines, workloads or other commitments. Being committed to our own needs and ensuring we get those recharge, refuel and reboot requirements met will enhance our performance too.
Ways to do this
- take meal breaks away from work, TV and other tasks
- develop a regular sleep routine
- make time to relax
- unwind with relaxation or mindfulness exercises
Know thyself, manage thyself
Self awareness if a wonderful thing. We know ourselves best, but are not always willing to admit to our own habits and behaviours. Self-care requires that we do. Know your own weak points. Notice them. Take action to counteract them. Care for yourself.
Self-care takes commitment. It is another thing in a list of commitments that we all have. Yet if we are taken care of, other commitments are more likely to be met as well. It is a choice we all face.
Jen Su, Amy. 2017. “6 Ways to weave self-care into your workday”. Harvard Business Review. 19 June 2017.