Get up, shower, get kids dressed/fed & off to school, work, make dinner, take kids to extra curricular activities, clean up the dishes, go to bed...Do it all again tomorrow. This descriptive list accurately reflects the majority of how my day is spent. When I took a step back from that day-to-day schedule, I started asking myself where did I fit in?
To get started on my own self-care journey, I kicked off this track by reading "The Extremely Busy Woman's guide to Self-Care" by Suzanne Falter. Below are the key takeaways that I had from this easy to read, relatable for everyday life, and knowledgable book.
First, Prioritizing self care requires you to do the following:
Identify how stressed out you are
Take 10 minutes and write down your typical day
Ask yourself, does your self-care truly support you?
Unless you take care of yourself first, you cannot take care of anyone else
The 5 basics to self-care
Understand your needs
Set "good" boundaries
Ask for help as needed
Build self-care into your day
Let's work on breaking down each basic step...
1. Understand your needs
[Exercise] Set a timer for 5 minutes and write about what is holding you back from greater self-care e.g.:
Lack of support
Limited financial availability to prioritize self-care, such as joining a gym or taking a yoga classes
Too many work priorities
Once you've written down what is holding you back from self care, next listen actively to your body. Close your eyes, put your feet on the floor, take three slow breaths and ask yourself "What do you need".
Now that you've identified what you need, we'll focus on setting "good" boundaries...
2. Set "Good" Boundaries
In order to set "good" boundaries, you first need to know when your boundaries are being violated...The emotions you feel when your boundaries are being violated include but are not limited to:
Frequently quick to anger, even over insignificant setbacks or minor conflicts
Resentfulness & general annoyance
Unable to protest or express a need
Weak & powerless
Or, you find yourself complaining to those who can't actually help you in a situation, such as peers or family members, because you don't feel like you can confront the people directly involved in the conflict.
[Exercise] Set a timer for 10 minutes. Look back on the last week and reflect on the scenarios where you felt a negative emotion come up. Ask yourself, what emotion did you feel? What boundary was being violated?
3. Ask for help
To gain the confidence to ask for help, you first need to identify why you avoid asking for help. Some examples of why we often avoid asking for help includes:
Assuming you know what the answer will be or that your ask is a burden on others
Convincing yourself "it's just this time"
Decisions to "deal with it later"
Dropping hints instead of communicating clearly (see bullet #1, people can't read minds and hints go nowhere)
Expectation of others to read your mind
Fear of career or relationship repercussions
Fear of looking "incapable" of handling the task
Here's how to make a powerful request:
Get clear on what you need
Once you are clear, write it down in a single sentence e.g.
"I would like to ."
"Would you please ."
Pick the right time to communicate your request
Keep it simple
[Exercise] Set a timer for 5 minutes. Look back on the last week, what are some examples of where you could have asked someone for help but didn't. Why did you not ask for help?
4. Take action
A key process to taking action is ensuring you're making conscious decisions.
The mistake that most of us make at such moments is that we don't take the time to make a conscious decision.
When faced with a request, oftentimes as humans we feel as though we have to have an immediate answer. This leads to making unconscious decisions and ultimately impacts our self -care. Below is a step-by-step process on how to make space in the request and thoughtfully reflect on the request, so that you can make a conscious decision:
Say "Let me think about this for a moment"
Asses what your immediate response would be
Pause and think about what's possible logistically
Decide if you want to do it
Ask yourself if it fits your values
Determine what this will cost you (both monetary or time/energy)
Ask yourself if there is a compelling reason to say yes.
Perfect does not exist
Good enough is just fine (and, it may be < you've delivered historically)
Mistakes ultimately make things better
Ask for help the minute you need it
There's plenty of time to get things done
Life is a process, so go with the flow.
Get Mad Responsibly
With the way the world is today, it's extremely easy to brush off your feelings towards situations where you feel as though you cannot give effort towards being upset. But, what most don't realize is that this process is one of the most crucial feelings to reflect on. In order for you to start your journey on getting mad responsibly, you have to own the feelings. Some of the ways to address these feelings are:
Walk away when you feel like you're about to explode (note: this requires self-control)
Check in and asses what's going on
Journal when your anger is unfamiliar or scary
If you're unable to work through the anger, get help!
Your anger is valid, it's a sign that your boundaries may have been violated or something is really wrong
Own it <-- !!!
Actively stop it before you lash out
Take responsibility in your part of getting mad responsibly.
5. Build Self-Care into your day
Below are some of the highlights that I found insightful to incorporating self-care into my day-to-day behaviors. This list is definitely not limited to what's there, nor does it apply to everyone. The key detail is finding what works for YOU!
A good nights sleep
Peaceful love, e.g. love in all relationships that is abundant, thriving, and free
Friends & Family you can count on
Great energy, examples of how to identify your energy:
How do you wake up in the morning, refreshed and ready to go?
Notice how you feel after eating certain foods?
Do you feel more tired at the end of the day?
Your healing journey
Giving your brain a rest
Meditation...Even for restless beginners
Feed your brain well, some examples of this could be:
Challenge yourself in new ways
Color or Doodle
Sing, play, or listen to music
Seek mental stimulation
Now that you have the strategy and tools to incorporate self-care into your day-to-day life, try this out. Don't over engineer the process or put strong guidelines on yourself. Start small, e.g. try this model for 1 week or only taking on one change at a time. Getting started is half the battle and you'll be glad you did.