Sometimes we get so busy with life and in taking care of others we forget about the person who is important to us…ourselves.
That may seem selfish for some who have spent their lives looking after those around them. Yet, if we are running on empty physically, mentally and emotionally then we won’t be much use to anyone.
It’s time to stop and take stock of if you are taking care of yourself and, if not, where adjustments can be made so that you are running on a full tank of energy and ready to give to the world.
If you have no idea on how to start a self-care routine, we will run you through the essentials so that you can begin focusing on yourself.
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How to start with self-care
Beginning self-care doesn’t have to require major life changes. Subtle tweaks and analyzing your current routines can help you take a step in the right direction.
You may find that there are blockages that come up such as time or an emotional issue (journaling can help you in identifying and working through emotional barriers).
Don’t feel like self-care is something you “have to do” that turns it into a chore and adds stress to your life when you feel you have neglected an aspect of self-care.
Treat it as a fun project and you can pick and choose which types of self-care you want to do. By making it something enjoyable will help you develop and maintain the motivation to carry on with it.
Slow down and stop
Life can get so busy and you are always on the go. Maybe you have children to take care of, work to go to and then when you get home you have family commitments to attend to and housework that has to be done. That can leave you feeling tired, frazzled and stressed.
Spend a week or two jotting down what it is that you do every day. Then go through the list and see which tasks you can eliminate and which you could delegate to other members of the family.
Find time to spend at least thirty minutes each day just as “me time” where you can be alone in silence without any interruptions and allow yourself to relax.
Get enough sleep
Some people can get by on 5 hours of sleep, others need 7 or 8 hours. If you don’t know how many hours are sufficient for you, then pay attention to how you feel after you have had several hours of sleep as opposed to what you are like when you have 8 hours.
Not getting the proper amount of sleep can affect you mentally and physically. You will wake up exhausted and feeling run down which can cause your body to become more susceptible to illness and you becoming grumpy and emotional.
Take time for a nap during the day (if you can) to catch up on sleep that you have missed.
Related: The 30 day self care challenge
We all know that a lack of exercise isn’t great for your health. However, it could be that you haven’t got the time or interest in going to a gym. That doesn’t mean that you should neglect becoming fit.
Go for a walk with some friends every day or enjoy playing your favorite sport once or twice a week. Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator. Another way of fitting exercise into a busy work schedule is if you use a bus to get to work, get off one or two bus stops before yours and walk the rest of the way.
Exercising in the morning will give you a boost of energy and adrenaline that will make you feel great and ready to tackle the day ahead.
Download your FREE Self Care Checklist Here
What are you eating
Your diet can affect your energy levels as well as your long-term health. There is an obesity epidemic in the world, especially in Western countries as people become busier and it’s easier to buy fast food rather than cook when you come home tired after a day at work.
However, self-care involves looking at what you eat and how you can change your diet so that you are eating healthier. We all know how our parents would tell us to eat our greens and we did so with reluctance and a lot of complaining. Yet, we need to have a daily intake of vegetables and fruits to provide our body with the nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants that it needs.
Ensure that you have wholegrain foods such as whole-grain bread, rice, crackers or oatmeal as these provide you with Vitamin B (which affects your energy levels, brain function and cell metabolism). Wholegrain foods also help you feel fuller for longer.
Your skin and muscles need protein, so add nuts, seeds, red meats, low-fat milk and yoghurt into your diet.
60% of our bodies are water and when we don’t get enough of the liquid into us each day, then we can feel lethargic, dizzy, and confused.
With fluid intake, men should have at least 3.7 litres of water per day and women need 2.7 litres every day.
By keeping yourself hydrated you are increasing your cardiovascular health, helping maintain your joints, cleansing your body, improving your concentration and memory and balancing out your moods.
Learn to say “No”
It can be extremely hard for some people to turn down requests for help. Primarily it is motivated by not wanting to be disliked by others (a basic social human need is acceptance).
However, saying “Yes” to every favor asked of you can lead you to be overwhelmed by the amount of work and responsibilities you have to take care of and you end up feeling stressed and burnt out.
You don’t have to become a mat that everyone walks all over. Start declining offers of help when you know that you have too much to do. It doesn’t mean that you care less about people, it’s simply a matter of reprioritising things in your life and finally putting yourself at the top of the list of things that need to be taken care of.
On top of that, for those of you struggling with esteem and confidence issues, saying “No” can be a step forward in helping you become more self-confident.
Related: Creating a self-care kit
Giving yourself a good clean or makeover will leave you feeling wonderful. You will be amazed at how you feel after even the most basic cleansing routine (such as exfoliating your face).
Keeping your body clean will ensure that you are washing away all the bacteria and dead skin that can accumulate during the day. Shout yourself out for a full-on beauty-therapy session (yes, men can enjoy these as much as women) and then check in on how good you feel physically, mentally and emotionally.
Have you ever sat in the sunshine and let it wash over you? How did it make you feel? Sunshine contains Vitamin D which can aid in alleviating depression. Additionally, have you ever taken a walk in the forest, along a river or the beach?
Spending time in nature has a soothing effect on our souls as it allows us to unwind and destress. Listen to the sounds in the forest or the gentle lapping of the ocean against the sand and you will discover that your energy levels have been recharged and the stress has melted away.
Setup self-care program
Create a self-care program in which you can add daily aspects of care into your life. We have mentioned that this schedule shouldn’t be seen as something that is to become a demanding task, but an activity that you look forward to doing.
Start with only one or two life changes at the beginning to prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed and losing the motivation to carry on. At the end of each week reflect on how the changes have benefited you (focus on the positives) then consider if you need to tweak anything or you want to add extra items into your schedule.
If you think you need moral and emotional support, reach out to your family and friends and ask them to either act as a mentor or even encourage them to get involved. By teaming up with others rather than going it alone introduces a whole different level of commitment and motivation into your self-care program.
Just remember, at the end of the day, it’s all about taking care of yourself. Those of you who haven’t done so before may battle with feelings of guilt and thoughts of being selfish. Confront those feelings and understand where they come from, then tell yourself that the whole process is to help you to become a better person so that you can offer those around you more love and energy.
Who would you rather be:
- Someone who is always rundown. Constantly exhausted mentally and emotionally and predisposed to a raft of health issues in the future; or
- A person who is full of vitality and positivity. Emotionally balanced and the epitome of health and always ready to help out when you decide to.
It’s time to put yourself as number one…
Let us know your triumphs and struggles in self-care and how you have overcome your barriers. Leave a comment below.
Download your FREE Self Care Checklist Here