We are in a generation that glorifies busyness. And I can admit to taking a part in this – I love telling people that my weekend was packed full of activities and side projects. I often feel inadequate if I don’t confirm that my graduate studies, side blog, and healthy lifestyle aren’t taking up 110% of my time. Is it wrong to be “busy”?
But we must stop feeling guilty for taking time out of our jam-packed schedules to actually take some solid self-care time. Time to not be “productive”, but to do nothing, to relax, and to enjoy the things in life that truly make our soul smile.
What is self-care?
Ideally, self-care should be a daily ritual that you incorporate into your lifestyle that is based on taking care of yourself; mind, body, and spirit. If this seems impossible to start doing, take baby steps. Pick one night (or morning, or afternoon, whatever you can manage), and dedicate that time to self-care a week. Self-care can take the shape of whatever you find that calms, rejuvenates, and restores you. Scroll down to find some of my personal faves and find what works for you and your lifestyle.
Why should I practice self-care?
Two words: mental health. This lifestyle of constantly staying busy has increased our stress and anxiety levels leaving us vulnerable to deteriorating mental health. Constantly feeling like we should be doing something puts our body is a constant “fight or flight” response, which means we soon start feeling like this anxiousness is normal, and makes it harder and harder for us to learn how to relax and stay present. How often have you been enjoying reading a book or out with friends and suddenly become preoccupied with your to-do list, or your agenda at work the next week? By carving out self-care, your body will learn that you have designated time to relax. This means you will become more focused during work time, and more present during your other activities.
Living in a fast-paced world of having to “do more”, I find that self-care has become my retreat from the busyness. It is my chance to take a step back, to breathe, and to take care of the body that so graciously carries me around all day. Not only is self-care important for everyone, but it’s a completely individual and unique experience for everyone as well. You do not have to care for yourself the same way that I do, but I do encourage you to sit down and make a list of things that could qualify.
So what do I like to do for my self-care? A lot of things!
I started self-care Sundays over a year ago once I got back from a three-month solo backpacking trip. It was my way to get some scheduled alone time to get ready for another week ahead. Sunday evenings involve a luxurious face mask, a hot shower, painting my nails, and reading a good book before bed. It isn’t anything too crazy, but it is a routine I can look forward to all weekend long.
The times I have traveled have been some of the happiest times in my life. I was free from schedules and appointments, and I fed my child-like curiosity of everything that surrounded me. In this way, I look for hidden gems within my own city such as new coffee shops or small parks off the beaten path. Exploring new nooks and crannies helps to feed my sense of adventure while letting me stay in the city that houses my work and social life. Try taking an afternoon to drive to a new neighborhood or explore downtown by foot. Bring curious eyes to your surroundings, and I’m sure you’ll find something you haven’t seen before.
Spend time with animals.
I have been a dog-lover my entire life, and have yet to ever own a pet. Dogs are amazing for out mental health as they often help keep us present, positive, and active with walks! I’m lucky to have a close friend with a new puppy who lets me walk her dog every Monday evening. Not only does this benefit her, who can now practice yoga dog-less in her apartment, but I get my puppy fix and some solid physical activity in every week. It’s really a win-win.
Self-care may seem daunting at first, especially if your schedule barely allows breathing room at the moment. But, I can guarantee that you have the ability to carve out some time if you understand that self-care should be a priority in your life. Taking the time now to care for yourself, to relax, and be present, will help you in other areas of your life and make you a more productive and enjoyable person. Give it a try and let me know how it goes. Sharing our experiences help make this life thing a little easier when we can all remind ourselves we’re in the same boat.