How on earth are you supposed to find time to take a freakin bubble bath?
The one time you tried to meditate, you fell asleep because you’re chronically sleep-deprived!
If you hardly have time to eat, how are you going to manage to squeeze in an hour-long massage???
Sound familiar? I know the feeling!
You have things to do!
You’re a busy professional, bringing home the bacon, cooking it up, and serving it to hungry humans (and sometimes furbabies) who rely on you.
But let’s be honest. Self-love and self-care are necessary.
Just like on a plane, you are instructed that if the cabin pressure drops, you should place the oxygen mask on your face before helping anyone else.
Because if you’ve passed out due to lack of oxygen, how can you help anyone else?
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The same is true for self-care. You have to care for yourself.
Taking care of yourself emotionally is not selfish. You are not keeping resources from others.
The benefit of self-care is that by taking care of your own needs, you can better care for others.
With only 24 hours in a day, it can seem impossible to fit in time to give yourself the attention you deserve.
However, by making simple changes to your routine, you can squeeze a few extra minutes out of the day, or make the most of the time you have.
What do we all wish we had more of?
Define Self-Care: What It Is and What It Isn’t
Self-care can involve anything.
Doing nice things for yourself is restorative and helps to prevent fatigue and burnout.
So really, to keep your head on straight and handle your daily grind, self-care is freakin’ vital.
Anything you love doing that’s as simple as sitting down on the porch to have your morning coffee can be considered self-care.
It’s all about meeting your emotional needs and making you feel restored in your life.
Self-care is not being indulgent.
It’s not selfish.
And it certainly isn’t a waste of time.
It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. And it doesn’t take anything away from anyone else.
So let’s think of some easy ways to practice self-care that you might not even consider self-care.
Self-care Ideas To Impact Your Morning Routine
What are some things about the morning that stress you out? The way you start your day can affect how you feel the rest of the day!
So, start things off right.
1. Take your memory out of the equation.
Do you spend 10 minutes looking for your keys in the morning, only to make yourself late?
So you are stressed out when you get in your car for work. Then you have to sit in traffic, making yourself even more stressed out and tense?
Try this instead:
Put your keys in the same place every time you come home.
Make it a point to do this and actively put the keys in this spot. After a while, it will become a habit and you won’t have to think about it.
Then when you’re ready to go, you’re out the door with no issue.
2. Prep your clothes like you prep your meals.
Do you figure out what you’re going to wear for the day on the fly?
Have you ever gotten that dreaded surprise when you reach for your favorite shirt, only to find out it’s in the hamper waiting to be washed, or still at the laundry!
I’ve done that more times than I can count myself.
Instead, plan ahead:
Think of how much time you can save and how much stress you can save yourself if you just pick out what you’re going to wear the night before?
Maybe you could even plan what you’re going to wear the entire week!
3. Make rush hour work for you.
Is it rush hour traffic that gets you wound up? Fighting a nasty case of road rage on a near-daily basis?
This might be controversial:
If it’s the traffic that stresses you out, consider taking (gasp!) public transportation.
I know, I know. Only freaks take public transportation.
But think about it. Not only do you not have to get in that sea of cars, but you can also use that time to read that book you haven’t gotten around to, listen to your favorite podcast…
And if you live in a city as I do, you will likely save loads of cash on gas, and wear and tear on your car.
It seems icky at first, but if your job is accessible by public transportation, it’s something to consider.
How You Can Implement Self-care Into Your Work Day
4. Turn off the email notifications.
Do you get constantly bombarded by emails throughout the day?
That little ding that signals a new question, repetitive statement, or something that can really wait?
Consider this instead:
Every time your attention is taken away from the task at hand, studies show that it takes approximately 20 minutes to get back in your groove! What?!
Maybe that’s why you can’t seem to get anything done or have to stay late to finish work.
Every. Single. Day.
But by batching your emails, you can fly through that piece of spam or email that wasn’t meant for you, without screwing up your work rhythm.
5. Schedule your email breaks.
You could designate a time of the day when you check your emails.
As an example, I know that I am highly distractible (yes, most of us are), so I don’t allow myself to check email before 9 AM.
Then, my self-induced limit is to check emails every 3 hours after that.
If you find that you’re too important (I see you, Boss!) maybe you can do once per hour on the hour.
Or, no checking email before a certain time, or after a certain time, say, after you brush your teeth for bed.
6. Take time to breathe.
If you find yourself getting frustrated or stressed, stop, and breathe.
That sounds silly, yes. But when we get stressed out, our breathing gets more shallow and we tense up physically.
Take 10 full, deep breaths, and concentrate on making each one count.
Make an effort to fill your lungs and slowly exhale, counting to 10.
This slow, deep breathing is calming and a reminder to yourself that everything is okay.
You got this.
If something’s wrong, you can fix it.
If you can’t fix it, you’ll find someone who can.
You’ll start to feel yourself become less tense and more relaxed.
Better yet, you can make this a daily habit.
Add it in the morning or at night, or sometime during the day when you know, you’ll need it.
If you wear an Apple watch, it even goes off periodically to remind you to take these relaxing breaths.
The goal of self-care is to increase your resilience and fend off feelings of burnout.
Self-care During Your Day Outside of Work
7. Avoid the crowds.
Being stuck in crowds can wear on all of us at some point.
Who wants to spend half an hour standing in line to pay for necessities?
Try this alternative:
Run your errands during off-hours.
By far the worst time to run your errands is between the hours of 4 – 6 PM.
It seems like everyone in town is thinking the same thing: one more errand before dinner, or before heading home.
Try buying your groceries in the morning or the evening after about 8 PM.
8. Use your daily shower as a time to refresh your mind as well.
Do you rush through your shower? Just jump in, soap up, wash off and out?
You have it down to a science, I’m sure.
Instead, take the opportunity to reset and renew.
What do they say? You can take a shower of about a 10-minute duration before you’re using more water than a bath?
Well, make it a darn good 10 minutes. If there’s a body wash you love, then use it. Need some exfoliation, do it.
I don’t mean slap it on and scrub like mad!
Take your time and do it with care, like you’re in a spa!
Better yet, use some aromatherapy and take deep breaths while you lovingly use your Dial (Irish Spring, Dove, whatever…) to wash the day away.
Here’s another good one:
9. Get a jumpstart on bedtime
Are you the type that, like most of us, after dinner (or during–no judgment) plops down on the sofa for a little television.
Then you get so tired you have to talk yourself into getting up to brush your teeth, etc.
Half an hour later, you manage to do it, but now you’re wide awake?
Stop that -ish and do this instead:
After dinner, just hop in your PJs.
Do your whole routine if necessary.
Make sure your face is cleansed properly and put on your lotions and potions.
Then after your favorite show, you can just drag yourself to your room and get some beauty rest.
And speaking of beauty rest…
10. Go to sleep.
Get your sleep.
If you’ve ever been up all night then tried to drive a car, you know what I’m talking about.
If you’ve ever tried to put a treadmill, or an Ikea anything, together in the middle of the night, you know what I’m talking about.
You need sleep.
That’s an obvious statement, but it bears putting on the record.
I repeat, get your sleep.
Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.
The lack of sleep can increase your risk of heart attacks, diabetes, and depression, just to name a few.
And you certainly don’t have time for any of that!
To Sum Up Self-Care For Busy Professionals
Self-care doesn’t have to be anything major.
It can be anything that is meaningful to you and makes a positive impact on your mood.
At first glance, it may seem that self-care is something that you just don’t have time for.
But the benefits of self-care are improved quality of your daily life, increase resilience, resistance to burnout, and the ability to fight off chronic illness.
As an additional exercise, consider some of these questions as you figure out what it is that nurtures your mind and body:
What small things make me feel good, pampered, or indulgent?
What are the two things I can have or do each day to remind myself that I matter?
What are the self-care activities or items I need available to me to keep my mental wellness at an optimal level?
Self-care is necessary and important.
It’s not just a statement that you are important, but a method to increase your resilience.
By choosing to practice self-care, you can not only help prevent burnout but other chronic diseases as well.