We, the people on this planet today, are more prone to “burnout” than ever before. We work more often. We absorb more information. We move at a faster pace. That’s why, when you feel you’re most exhausted, you’re likely to hear the phrase “you need to focus on self-care.”
What is Self-Care?
It is an act that’s done intentionally in support of one’s mental, emotional, or physical well being.
Why Do People Need Self-Care?
To put it plainly, we need it so we don’t collapse under the weight of everything demanding our energy and attention. Self-care means different things for different people, but committing to it on a daily basis is crucial to leading a happy, healthy life.
What Does Self-Care Look Like for Parents?
If you’re a parent, you might flinch at the thought of dedicated time for yourself every single day. There’s so much to do within the day, it’s hard to picture adding anything else to your plate. That said, true self-care will make the to-do list feel easier and maybe even shorter.
It’s important to understand what self-care is not. There’s an entire industry built around capitalizing on the concept of self-care. Self-care is not the once-in-a-blue-moon spa visits or a weekend getaway with friends.
It is not indulgent.
It is not selfish.
It is not fleeting.
It is planned.
It is deliberate.
It is infused into your daily life.
It is a practice.
As parents, you already have the tools to tackle the dedication to self-care. Think about it. Since becoming a parent, you’ve had to adapt to a planned and deliberate schedule. However, for most of us, all of that time has been dedicated to the care of others—at work and at home. Self-care is about carving back some of that time to refuel yourself so you can give your best to the things that matter most to you.
Tips to Start Practicing Self-Care
Since self-care is an individualized experience, there’s no set regime to follow. However, there are a few key components that can apply to almost everyone.
Make a “No” List
If anything is a “first step” in self-care, this is it. Take 30 mins to think about what brings you the most stress in daily life. Then think about which things you can realistically say “no” to. Maybe it’s saying “no” to checking your phone in the evenings or saying “no” to certain gatherings or saying “no” to working through lunch. All of us have something that is we simply said “no” to it would automatically take a weight off.
Adults need 7-8 hours of sleep every night. There aren’t really exceptions to that.
Find a Form of Exercise You Enjoy
Exercise is linked to improvement in mental health as well as physical health. Find a form of exercise that makes you feel good – swim, run, dance, bike, lift weights, row a boat – there’s a lot to choose from. Whatever it is, it shouldn’t always feel like a chore you have to endure.
Focus On a Nutritional Diet
Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, where the fresh food lives.
Spend Quality Time with Loved Ones!
(Hint: quality time involves conversation and connection, not just shared space looking at different screens.)
Do Something That Brings You Joy Every Day
Maybe that means calling the sitter and going to the movies one day and the next it’s having a dance party with the family in the living room. Mix it up but look for your personal joy every day.
Go to the Doctor
Seriously, when was the last time you made your annual check-up in a regular timeline?
Dedicate 30 minutes to something that helps you unwind and relax every day.
Essentially, self-care routines are the key to unlocking a balanced life. And as with anything worth having in life, it takes practice.
When developing a self-care plan. Stick to the basics. Give yourself the runway to build the practice into your routine. Start with a 15-day plan. Find what works for you and what doesn’t. Adjust as needed. Over time, you’ll get into the flow and self-care will be part of your daily life, rather than a term you hear thrown around when you’re on your last leg.