Sam can’t catch a break. At work, the new boss is actively looking for excuses to fire her. At home, her husband recently lost his father and job, leaving him too depressed to leave his safe space on the couch, help around the house, or meaningfully engage. Sam is lucky to have a long-term and supportive best friend, but she’s a temporarily weakened version of herself as she undergoes cancer treatment and needs Sam’s help. Sam's parents live nearby, but they are in a pattern where she cleans their house and they voraciously judge her.
Sam is taking care of everyone other than herself. Rather than ever filling her own tank, Sam miraculously putters along on empty while becoming more resentful and desperate for change.
Sam would tell you that she needs to engage in self-care but can’t squeeze it in. And, even if she had the time, she’s spent so long ignoring her wants and needs that she doesn’t know how to take care of herself.
That needs to change, and Sam needs to prioritize herself.
Starting self-care starts here.
Who needs self-care?
Everyone! Especially those constantly caring for others. This is (ironically) because when a person stops taking care of their own body and mind, they become a less capable version of themselves and therefore are less able to help others.
What is self-care?
Self-care is any activity or behavior that leaves you feeling emotionally or physically healthy. We’re talking: reading or running, decompressing or dressing up.
Where should one go to engage in self-care?
Anywhere! You can do self-care in the privacy of your own home, at your place of worship, in a park, at a yoga studio….anywhere.
When should I do self-care?
Self-care is a proactive form of prevention and should be practiced daily, even when feeling good. Also, if you feel sad, lonely, overwhelmed, or otherwise blah, that’s a good time to do self-care.
Why should I make time for this again?
I’m so glad you asked. Self-care promotes cognitive flexibility, stronger relationships, and resilience. Further, people who engage in self-care experience enhanced self-confidence, increased productivity (some readers just perked up), and increased happiness coupled with reduced rates of anxiety, depression, and stress.
How do I start?
Pull out a calendar and schedule 15-30 minutes daily as “self-care time.”
Then write a list of enjoyable activities
Nonmovement Ideas: talking with friends, coloring, playing an instrument, journaling about your feelings, cooking for fun, deep breathing, lighting a candle and sitting in silence, power-nap, watching the sunset, taking a bath, going for a drive, listening to a podcast, cuddle with a pet, text a loved one
Movement ideas: wander through a park, stretch while listening to music, walk with friends, and shoot hoops.
Assign activities from above to each pre-selected self-care time.
Try it for a month, because change takes time. Then look back and smile at the difference in your thoughts and feelings.
Apply The Skills
Sam could earmark thirty minutes per day for self-care and pick the times in advance so she holds the time as an appointment with herself. During this time, Sam could go for a walk, chat with friends, maybe even just sit quietly and read. If she had this time to recharge, Sam might feel less desperate and increasingly capable of making healthy decisions.