If you’re too busy to tend to your own self-care, try these simple tips.
In the era of wellness coaches, yoga retreats and meditation apps, we all know about the importance of self-care. We may even encourage others to work less and rest and play more. Yet when it comes to the crunch, many of us either feel guilty for looking after our own needs or avoid ‘me time’ altogether. Sound familiar?
The cruel irony is that, by neglecting to prioritise our own needs – including needs such as rest, play and social interaction – we in turn undermine what we’re able to give to others. According to Soaring Health psychologist Prishni, if you’re fatigued or burnt out, the care and help you can afford your children or parents or friends is compromised. (You’ve heard the adage, ‘Fit your own oxygen mask first’). What’s more, people who actively practise self-care are better able to contribute productively and meaningfully to work and relationships, creating a positive ripple effect.
Self-care v ‘me time’
It can be tempting to think of ‘self care’ as selfish or indulgent. You may wonder how you can justify dedicating time to fulfilling your own needs. However, ‘self care’ is not a luxury. Many areas of self care have flow-on effects for your family members. For instance, self care includes practical considerations such as career planning and financial management, which directly benefit others by providing security. If you’re not sure where to start, consider choosing one of these areas of self-care as a focus and set a SMART goal related to it.
- Caring for your body with adequate nutrition, sleep, exercise and rest.
- Growing intellectually, maintaining curiosity about learning and expanding knowledge and skills that enable you to share your gifts with others.
- Understanding, respecting and managing your feelings, values, and attitudes and appreciating the feelings, values and attitudes of others.
- Maintaining healthy relationships, enjoying being with others, developing friendships and intimate relations, caring about others, and letting others care about you.
- Finding purpose, value, and meaning in your life and participating in activities that reinforce you part in something greater (e.g. meditation).
- Preparing for and participating in work that provides personal satisfaction and life enrichment that is consistent with your values, goals, and lifestyle.
- Managing your resources to live within your means, making informed financial decisions and investments, setting realistic goals, and preparing for short-term and long-term needs or emergencies.
- Understanding and managing how your social, natural, and built environments affect your health and wellbeing and being mindful of the effects of your daily habits on the physical environment.
Ideas for ‘time out’ when you don’t have time
What if the idea of self-care only exacerbates your stress and overwhelm? In considering self-care, it’s important to resist the trap of feeling obligated or pressured to do it ‘perfectly’. Self-care practices that leave you frazzled defeat the purpose! If you are overwhelmed, set aside just five to 10 minutes per day, which may be while you’re lying in bed first thing in the morning or before going to sleep. For five to 10 minutes, dedicate your focus to one of these self-care activities.
- Journalling: Putting thoughts on paper helps to get them off your mind.
- Making to-do lists: Doing this each evening or morning helps to reduce overwhelm, relieve the burden of swirling thoughts and increase efficiency.
- Deep breathing/meditation/yoga: These practices have been shown to help with symptoms of anxiety and depression.
If you’re struggling to find balance between work and life, work and family or all three, consider consulting a psychologist, who can help you to clarify your values and priorities and assist with adjustments to improve your life satisfaction and wellbeing.