Finding time for self-care doesn’t have to be a balancing act

When I ask people what they do for self-care, they often respond with “I don’t have time,” or “I’m too busy”. One of the most important things I have learned as a practitioner is, if you don’t make time for self-care, you will need to make time to be sick, anxious, and unhappy. 

Taking care of yourself isn’t a luxury, it is a necessity

If you don’t think you have time for rest, fun, movement, creativity, spiritual connection, stress relief or other forms of self-care, I’d like to challenge you to think about the subject differently. Rather than seeing self-care as a set of separate activities, approach it as a lifestyle.

It’s like following a diet plan vs. establishing a healthy lifestyle. This means listening to your body when it wants to move and responding to your appetite, and even cravings, rather than following a temporary way of eating set up by a person, or book, that knows nothing about you as an individual. 

Healthy lifestyles often lead to permanent, significant health changes but diets rarely give you the long-term results you were hoping for.

Self-love as a lifestyle means carefully considering your thoughts and actions and asking yourself if they are in your best interest. 

You don’t have to overthink it. I believe that we all naturally receive signals about what is best for us.

The challenge may be listening and responding rather than blocking them out.

A feeling in the pit of your stomach, an inner calm, a sudden headache, a feeling of dread or anxiety and the little voice in your head that gives you direction are all signals about how what you are doing is impacting you. If you ignore the subtle signs, you will eventually be hit with exhaustion, frequent illness, panic attacks and more.

It can be difficult to know what is in your best interest if you do not know yourself. Living an authentic life is essential for health and happiness, but it can seem elusive, especially if you are used to pushing down your feelings and ignoring your intuition. A great way to get to know yourself is to make a list of everything you can think of about yourself, which you can add to and subtract from over time.

Keep it simple: The colours of your eyes and hair, the foods you like, what and who are important to you, the activities you enjoy, where you like to spend your time, etc. The more you learn about who you are, the easier it will be to know if something or someone is healthy for you.

Too many of us function like robots, just going through the motions rather than being active participants, then later wonder why we feel out of control.

As you go through your day, consciously think about whether what you are doing makes you happy, sad or angry, energises or exhausts you, and enhances or takes away from your self-worth. Be mindful and present, think before you act and speak and process the results of your activities.

Listening to ourselves and our intuition can be frightening because it often means change. Change can feel overwhelming, unattainable, and even impossible, especially if we think we must accomplish it overnight. 

All or nothing thinking is a form of perfectionism, believing that if we cannot do something perfectly, we should not do it at all. We need to get out of our own way.

These are a few examples of easing into self-care:

  • Set aside one or two hours a week to go to a class for fun or to learn a new skill
  • Making a commitment to walk for 15 minutes every other day
  • Going to bed ½ hour earlier at night or waking up ½ hour earlier to have some time to yourself.
  • Chew your food and eat it slowly, allowing yourself to taste it. Do not eat it if you aren’t enjoying it
  • Cut down on screen time by 15 minutes per day
  • Wait 24 hours before texting or calling back people who drain your energy. You don’t need to offer an excuse
  • Stop doing one thing for your children that they can do for themselves.

You get the idea. What will you start with?

Making time for self-care does not have to become a stress creating, balancing act. Accepting that you may not have time to do everything you want and need to do and that you can’t please everyone doesn’t mean that you are deficient, it means that you are human.