We hear a lot about self-care these days, and I’m a big believer in it, but sometimes, the people who need it most are the ones who just can’t get it. After all, if you’re on the run all day, sleeping five hours a night, eating whatever you can throw in the microwave, and barely holding your life together, how on earth are you supposed to keep an affirmation journal, drink warm tea, and start a yoga routine? Self-care isn’t always practical, but it’s essential, so here are a few ways to work it into your busy life.
Making Self-Care Part of Your Busy Schedule
Like I said – busy, busy, busy. It’s easy to feel weighed down, overwhelmed, stuck in a rut, or just plain tired in a way a power nap can’t fix. You have physical needs – food, water, sleep, showers – but you also have mental and emotional ones that are much easier to neglect. When was the last time you set aside a little while to be creative? To challenge yourself in a fun way?
We lose ourselves in the hustle sometimes, because we’re told that it’s the only route to success. But you’re going to burn out if you don’t treat yourself well. Self-care comes in lots of forms, from stereotypical yoga-and-meditation routines to treating yo’ self to a mani-pedi during finals week. The trick is finding the things that make you feel good – soul-deep happy and hopeful – and then working them into the craziest moments of your life, when you need them most.
Integrate, Integrate, Integrate
You’ve got a lot to do already, so adding self-care to your routine shouldn’t make it harder to keep up. Integrating self-care into stuff you already do is a great way to prioritize yourself without taking extra time out of your day.
Sure, you might not have time to sit down and journal extensively, but if you make a daily to-do list, jotting a quick affirmation down at the top doesn’t take much extra time, and gives you a boost when you need it the most. If you have to work out, your body might be busy, but your mind isn’t – use workouts as a time to focus on yourself and your needs, or even just blast some music and tune out, instead of stressing about everything you’re not getting done while you’re on the treadmill.
Outsource Your Reminders
If you’re the only one responsible for your own self-care, it’s easy to say “I’ll do it later.” and then never, ever do it. I’m not saying you need a babysitter, either – the biggest thing about self-care is that it’s for you and by you. But sometimes you need a reminder.
Case in point: if you add “5 minutes of meditation” (or whatever it is you do!) as a Google Calendar task, and it pops up at you three times a day, reminding you to do it… You’re much more likely to take that time for yourself than you would be otherwise.
And if you’re living with a roommate (I know a lot of us millennials are!), look out for each other. If you get in the habit of reminding each other about self-care, it’ll become natural, which means no added stress. Just be careful not to feel responsible for someone else’s wellbeing – you don’t need that kind of stress!
Mindfulness Goes a Long Way
Mindfulness is as simple as focusing on what you’re doing while you’re doing it. We like to think we’re multitasking pros who can do a million things at once, but really, all the split focus hurts us in the end. Think about the last time you just sat down (by yourself!) and ate lunch. No phone, no computer, nothing to read on the side. Just sitting and eating and enjoying your food.
For most of us, it’s been a while. And I would also say that for most of us, working/reading/scrolling Twitter through lunch hasn’t been out of necessity, it’s just that we feel awkward being alone with our thoughts. Slowing down, focusing on one thing at a time, and getting comfortable with yourself turns ordinary activities like eating into self-care.
Use the Time You Have
We all have gaps in even the busiest days. Whether that’s spare time between classes or the commute to and from work, leverage that empty space to do something good for yourself. Sure, you could spend the fifteen minutes between your morning classes slumped outside the door scrolling Pinterest, pinning recipes we both know you’ll never make… or you could spend that time sitting on a bench, outside, and clearing the clutter out of your bag.
One of those things will make you more annoyed that it’s still not lunchtime. The other will make you feel refreshed, organized, and a little more prepared for the day. You have more time than you think – it’s just a matter of using it wisely.
Accept That It’s Okay to Take Care of You
You’re busy. You’re going a million miles an hour in three different directions trying to get it all done and keep everyone around you happy. It’s so easy to look at the mess your life has become, think about self-care, and then decide: “This isn’t a priority right now.” And then not do it. But let’s stop and think about that for just a second.
When you say “Self-care is not a priority” you mean “I am not a priority” and that, my friend, should never be true. You have responsibilities and duties, friends that need you, stuff to do. But you won’t accomplish anything worth doing if you’re a stressed-out mess of a person. Going through the motions doesn’t do you any favors, and you deserve better.
So Now What?
Now comes the hard part. Instead of reading about self-care on the internet, I’m challenging you to actually practice it. Not starting next week, not starting tomorrow – right now. You’re reading blog posts. You’ve got a little time. So what are you going to do, right now, to take care of yourself? Commit to it by letting me know in the comments! If you’re feeling ambitious, tell us a bit about what you plan to do to this week to make your own life a little easier.