10 Ways to Stay on Top of Self Care
Having recently recovered from a period of feeling unwell, through reflecting in my journal I was reminded of the importance of taking care of myself. In this instance, falling ill was somewhat inevitable. I took on far too much at the same time, said yes to things I should have said no to and agreed to deadlines without enough thought as to whether they were manageable.
There are lots of resources available to give you ideas on great self care activities. The problem is, I knew that I needed to spend time on self care, I knew I was feeling over-whelmed, but I had crammed my schedule so full that I had left no time to fit in any of those lovely and vital activities. This led me to thinking about how I can stop that situation arising in the future and learning from the mistakes I made. I know that I need to improve what I offer myself before I can improve what I offer the world.
So, here are my ten tips for staying on top of self care.
1. Be Careful What you Say "Yes" to
When you say "yes" to lots of things, you are running the risk of saying "no" to other things that are important to you, like self care. Knowing that you should be taking more time for self care doesn't make up for the actual doing it! Evaluate the activities that you are committing to and weigh up the benefits against the costs to your personal time. Negotiate deadlines in advance if you know that they are going to cause you problems.
2. Schedule Non-Negotiable Down Time
Block out time that is just for you and recognise that this is absolutely as important as everything else that you add to your schedule. Note it as an appointment in your diary, think about what you are going to do during that time and make sure you do it. It will make so much difference to you and your energy levels.
"I lied and said I was busy. I was busy, but not in a way most people understand. I was busy taking deeper breaths. I was busy silencing irrational thoughts. I was busy calming a racing heart. I was busy telling myself I am okay. Sometimes that is my busy and I will not apologise for it."
- B. Oakman
When you are faced with an overwhelming list of tasks, it's easy to feel exhausted before you even start. Make sure that you prioritise those tasks and just focus on one thing at a time. Don't put off the tasks that you are dreading. (How I wish I had remembered this over the last couple of months!) Putting things off means you waste your energy worrying about them for ages before even actually doing them. You make yourself suffer twice and that's just no fun.
4. Recognise your own Achievements
It's important to recognise your successes. By this, I'm not just talking about achievements like hitting those big goals. I mean things like recognising that you are flagging and taking some rest time to reboot your energy and enthusiasm. This is definitely something to be proud of. Beating yourself up emotionally will lower your self-esteem, whereas giving yourself a pat on the back helps you see yourself in a far more positive light.
"Self care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what's left of you."
- Katie Reed
5. Focus on the Moment
Grounding yourself in the moment can be hugely beneficial when you are feeling overwhelmed. I use mindfulness techniques to focus on my breathing and writing in my journal is part of the routine I use to calm my mind. Taking a moment to put everything else on pause can help you to feel refreshed and ready to start again.
6. Show Gratitude
Being grateful for your current circumstances, exactly as they are, can really help to put you in a better frame of mind. However much you have going on, don't let the good things and special moments pass you by without you even having noticed.
"You can't pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first."
7. Identify your Favourite Self Care Activities
There is no "one size fits all" approach to this. One person's idea of a feel-good activity could feel like torture to someone else. Also, what feels great one day might not suit you on another. Popular suggestions include taking a walk, reading a good book, meeting up with friends and eating delicious food, but you shouldn't try and do what you think you should be doing.
Think about what genuinely makes you feel good and make a list so that you can refer to it when you need it. I like to include activities that vary in length, so that I always have something appropriate to the time I have available.
One of my favourite quick mood boosters is listening to a song that I love. In less than 4 minutes I feel my soul has been lifted to a whole new level. You can find my favourite here in case you're interested :)
8. Look Out for the Signs
If you are anything like me, you will be given all sorts of helpful warning signs that you are not taking good care of yourself. Mine include having trouble sleeping, making poor food choices, staying up too late to try and somehow compensate for a busy day, laughing less and having trouble finding the joy in every day life. Make sure you look out for the signs and take action to get yourself back on track as soon as possible.
"Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you."
- Anne Lamott
9. Reflect on Where your Time Goes
Try recording how you spend your time. Think about whether your day went to plan. If it didn't, think about what disrupted it and how you can minimise those things moving forwards. Taking some control back over how you spend your time allows you to fit more of those valuable self care activities into each day.
10. Make Self Care a Daily Habit
Don't leave it until you're feeling overwhelmed. It's too easy to feel like you are on top of things and push self care to one side, only to find that things catch up with you in the end. Make a commitment to find time every day for at least one thing that makes you feel good.
To help me with this I have created a self care tracker. I'm going to colour in a section of the flower every day that I do something just for me. I have included it as a free printable here in case you fancy joining me.
If you decide to use the download and post your page on Instagram, use the hashtag #jwpselfcare so that we can all offer each other some support and encouragement.
The password for the printables section can be found on each newsletter and the welcome email that you will have received on subscribing to my blog. Any problems, then just let me know.
I hope this post inspires you to take good care of yourself, plan well to avoid unnecessary stress and enjoy some lovely activities which make you feel great. Let me know how you get on, Helen xx