Good morning, sunshines! Today's post is dedicated to something that, when you think about it, seems easy to do, but then when you really consider your life and realize you actually don't do it you're like, "oh, I guess that isn't easy?" But then, after we internet-chat about it over our coffee, you realize that, "wait, that IS easy!"
Do you follow?
Welcome to the easy-but-hard-but-easy world of self-care.
In social work school, our professors excessively warned us against the mythical and dreaded "burnout." Social Work professor Lisa Butler talked to Social Work Today about burnout, describing it as "work-related feelings of hopelessness, emotional exhaustion, and being overwhelmed, [that] may result from work environments that involve excessive workloads and little support.” She warned that burnout can lead to negative consequences, including feelings of depression, anxiety, anger, and low self-esteem.
The antidote to burnout is the much buzzed about concept of self-care. Self-care is the act of doing something positive with the intention of nurturing your mind, body, and/or spirit.
We should practice self-care every day. I mean, I guess I would say that, since it's sort of the central message of this blog. But the awesome thing about self-care is that it's something you can easily do every day -- as long as it's salient in your mind.
This idea became clear to me the other day as my Gratitude App alarm went off. Every day at 8:30pm, my phone chimes and I receive a notification that reminds me to update my app with 5 things I am grateful for. And you know what? This has been an incredible help to me.
Life is busy. Things come up. Our minds wander. This leads to just forgetting things -- even things that are important to us. I have been able to keep up with my daily gratitude practice better than I ever have because I have a daily reminder set to do so.
So why not do the same with self-care? My suggestion to you is this: make a self-care calendar.
Google calendar is accessible through your email on your desktop and also through your phone, so this is an ideal platform. Click the arrow next to "My Calendars" and click, "Create New Calendar." I titled mine "Self-Care" because I'm like, very creative.
Now, just fill in your calendar and start the self-care planning! Here are some ideas about managing your self-care time:
- Plan a week in advance. This will allow you to choose self-care activities that might be particularly relevant to you that week, or may cater to your recent interests (for example: if you're in the middle of reading a great book, you might want to schedule in more reading time than you would when you are between books).
- Consider your daily schedule and pick a time of day that is realistic and not stressful. For me, this is sometime after dinner but before bed.
- Set an alarm to ring during your allotted self-care time. After a while, the hope is that self-care will become a habit, no alarm needed. But until then, there's no shame in setting a reminder to take care of yourself!
I know all you spontaneous readers are rolling your eyes, and my planning ladies are already opening a new tab to let the scheduling begin. But to the spontaneous, I say hear me out: you can adjust this to your own liking. If you don't like the idea of writing, "Monday, 8pm: Take A Bath. Tuesday, 8pm: Journal," etc., you can simply pick 7 things that you want to do that week and allow yourself some agency in deciding what to do on each particular day. That way, you can be spontaneous while also being intentional about your self-care activities.
It's also important to remember that these self-care activities don't have to be challenging. If you know that you have a busy day ahead, your self-care can simply be to meditate for 10 minutes. If you are hanging out with a friend in the evening and are worried about fitting in your self-care time, don't worry -- that IS self-care! I even think that watching Netflix can be self-care if you are watching a movie that causes you to learn, reflect, laugh, or be inspired.
Sometimes it's okay to put yourself first. Necessary, even.
If you're not sure where to start with all of this, the internet has a ton of awesome suggestions, including this list of over 80 self-care ideas!