While some of us were able to use these last couple of pandemic years to slow down and narrow our focus to what’s most important, many of us found ourselves even more overwhelmed. With the entire world disrupted amid a tumultuous health crisis, and with families hunkered down in close quarters, it’s easy to feel stressed, not to mention stretched too thin.
But if you’ve been putting yourself on the back burner, it’s time to focus on you for a change—getting in touch with your own desires and arranging your life to bring them into fruition. When we get so caught up in fulfilling the wishes of others that we’ve lost touch with our own needs and overlook taking care of ourselves, we can’t properly take care of anyone else, either. Therefore, abandon the false idea that self-care is selfish; it’s actually the best move you can make for not only yourself, but everyone around you. Here are 5 ways you can start putting the focus on yourself again.Abandon the false idea that self-care is selfish; it’s actually the best move you can make for not only yourself, but everyone around you. Click To Tweet
5 SIMPLE STEPS TO BETTER SELF-CARE
Check in with yourself.
We know that New Year’s resolutions and goal setting, including health goals, are helpful practices in creating the life you want, but intentions are also a great way to assess your desires. Rather than the to-dos that characterize goals, intentions help set forth a general path, a direction you want life to move, and the overall values that are important to you. Others prefer to use “mile markers” to track the steps toward goals or intentions, since they can create less pressure versus completing specific tasks. Or use a combination of all of these. Whatever method(s) you choose, make sure to write everything down, which helps make your direction more concrete and helps you remain accountable. Imagine how accomplished you’ll feel when you look back on these in years to come—and when you see how far you’ve come.
Create (and enforce) boundaries.
If you find that you’ve put yourself on the back burner, it’s probably time to ask yourself if you’re a people pleaser, someone who can’t say “no,” or someone who routinely puts yourself last in line. People sometimes think of self-care as spa visits and positive affirmations, but it’s more than that—it’s about taking care of yourself on a deeper level. One part of your holistic journey should tackle setting healthy boundaries—both at home and at work. Remember that others benefit from them as much as you do, since they help people know what behavior is and isn’t OK. And here’s another suggestion many people overlook: Set boundaries with yourself. That can mean exchanging your harmful habits for healthier ones, for example, and taking charge of your own physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Treating yourself right always starts with you.
Take time for fun.
What are the hobbies that make you feel fulfilled or purposeful and give you joy? What activities do you find allow you the opportunity to “switch off” or immerse yourself in another world? When do you feel the most “in flow,” energized, or relaxed? When we’re kids, it’d be unthinkable to not take time for play on a daily basis, but those habits can all but disappear in adult life. If you already have a hobby you love, great—take this time to recommit to the practice. But if you find yourself at a loss here, think back to what you loved most as a kid. Did you look forward to art class, always want to learn an instrument or another language, or dream about writing your memoir? Was there a sport you played or a physical activity you loved? Even if you think you’re “not creative,” there are many relaxing activities you can try, from working on puzzles to filling in coloring books. Or try things that are easy to start with supplies you already have on hand—like sketching with pencil and paper—to see what lights you up.
Tune in, turn off.
Spending some time alone or scheduling “empty” stretches of time on the calendar can be just what you need to refresh and recharge in your day or week. For example, turning off the digital devices, stepping away from the television screen, and heading out to spend time in nature is restorative and gives a rest to both your eyes and brain. Taking breaks in the day has been shown to actually boost productivity, not detract from it, while scheduling your day with back-to-back to-dos and appointments increases the risks of stress, overwhelm, and burnout. So, whether you’re taking a nature walk, enjoying a short meditation session, or committing to periods of mindfulness throughout the day, make downtime and quiet time a priority.
Nail the basics.
It’s difficult to truly take care of yourself without taking care of the basics of your well-being: a diet full of energy-boosting (instead of brain-dulling) foods, mood-enhancing exercise, and enough high-quality sleep. Try cooking from scratch a new recipe, and involve your kids for a feel-good family session—one long-term Harvard study showed that close relationships are a top generator of happiness. Get yourself moving every day to encourage better mental health. And keep yourself well-rested so you have the energy you need to take care of yourself every day. Remember: You are worth it!
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