It is so common for people to feel guilty about taking time out for themselves and carving out a self-care routine. They either don’t feel like they deserve it or, worse, they think it makes them look weak. Is this you? I do it too, sometimes. But I have realised that self-care routines are not selfish or weak, they are sensible.
I was chatting with a friend a few days ago, asking how her life was going. She has a remarkably crazy life at the moment: three kids, a new business, and a husband who doesn’t pick up his socks! We got about ten minutes into the conversation before I had to stop her!
Woah, Woah, Woah! Where’s the self-care routine?
My friend had gone through everything her family had been up to and what that required of her. And she was about to get lost in details of her to-do list for her business. But, she was yet to mention herself, how she was, or what she was doing for herself. So, of course, I asked her.
What are you doing for you?
In response to this, she started listing her to-dos again. As I explained to my friend: you can take care of your to-do list all you want, but it doesn’t mean you’re taking care of yourself.
This idea perplexes many people, including my friend. Which caused me to ask when the last time she had stopped and taken time out for her. When did she last establish a self-care routine and stick to it? It shocked me when she said she never did in case it made her look selfish or weak, and as if she couldn’t cope.
Looking after yourself is not a sign of weakness. It is a fundamental aspect of staying healthy, emotionally and physically. If you do not practise self-care, you lessen what you can offer other people. This is the case at work and in your personal life.
For example, I spend a great deal of time supporting, advising and motivating others. I love it; it is what I want to do. But, if I never took the time to look after myself, I’d get ill and crabby! In fact, I can tell when I haven’t been looking after myself when I get irritated by insignificant things.
Creating a self-care routine is, unfortunately for some, not something you can add to your to-do list. You cannot tick it off when you’ve taken the time to read one chapter of a book or had a bath. It makes the most difference when you do something small every day.
Remember what I say: little stuff adds up to big stuff.
Simple Things to Add to Your Self-Care Routine
As I say, it is so easy to let self-care slip down the priority list. With the demands of a job, family, and friends, there’s not a lot of time or energy to devote to yourself. Before you know it, you’re stressed, exhausted, and maybe even sick.
If this sounds like you, it is definitely time to take back control and schedule your self-care routine. Remember, this is not selfish, it is sensible!
The good news is that self-care doesn’t need to involve expensive holidays, massages or yoga retreats (although they do sound pretty good). A self-care routine be can simple, easy, and straightforward. The best self-care is the constant repetition of small acts of self-love and kindness. Doing little things every day is easy and practical.
Here are some simple self-care suggestions to get you started
- Switch everything off (smartphone, tablet, computer, TV) just for an hour, and enjoy some uninterrupted silence.
- Stand up and stretch your arms above your head. Wriggle your fingers and toes. Shrug your shoulders up to your ears, and then drop them down. Do a few head circles, nod and shake your head gently.
- Breathe gently and deeply, in and out, three times. Smile.
Put on your favourite song and get up and dance.
Take the dog for a walk. If you don’t have a dog, borrow a friend’s dog and enjoy watching them live in the moment.
- Buy yourself a healthy treat. Choose the ripest peach, the most luscious looking mango, the most fragrant strawberries.
- Sit under a tree and feel the quiet.
- Have a self-date and go to a movie or museum.
- Get some positivity. Ask three friends what they love about you.
- Have a nap. A twenty-minute nap or zone out can make a massive difference to your energy levels.
- Give yourself a night at home. Have a bath and eat dinner on the sofa in your jammies.
- Have an early night and take that new novel to bed and read for a while before getting a good night’s sleep.
- Listen to a meditation on your smartphone or tablet. There are lots of apps with thousands of guided meditations for everything from relaxation to weight loss.
- Treat yourself to your favourite childhood food.
- Take a friend to the park and go cloud-watching. Lie on your back, relax, and look at the sky.
- Declutter your social media. Mute or delete people who drag you down with negative energy.
- Take one day every week where you do something for you, whether it’s a hobby, sport, bookshop browsing, or staying in bed reading.
Do something every day that nourishes your mind, body, and soul, and you’ll find self-care is not so hard after all.
Further reading for self-care routines:
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