If selfcare sounds like another item you need to put on your to-do list, it’s because it is. It sounds counter-intuitive (or ironic?) that the thing that’s supposed to help us step away from the stress of our to-do lists end up being a must have item on our to-do list. But until selfcare becomes second nature, we need to make an effort to practice it. The risks to your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health is not worth excluding selfcare from your already-long to-do list.
I have been practicing selfcare ever since I realized that I was suffering without it, but there are still seasons in life when I don’t realize I have been all work and no play (so to speak) until my stress levels have sky rocketed.
Last February, I went back to school. For those few months, I was focused on school and work that when I watched a movie in a theater when summer came around, I realized how much breathing room my soul needed.
We forget. It’s as simple that. We forget to breathe. We forget to relax. We forget to take care of ourselves. The reason we forget is just as simple: we don’t have time.
I believe we make time for the things we want to make time for. Someone once passed his work responsibilities to me because he “didn’t have time.” Well, I was a full-time commuter student attending two different schools with two jobs plus ministry and family responsibilities to juggle. I didn’t have time either. Nobody really does. We only find time by making it, and we only make it for the things that matter to us.
If selfcare matters to you, then you will find a way to make time for it. But there are ways to help you out with that.
The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You by Jessica N. Turner is a great book that helped me realize what hours in the day I have for myself. It’s a great book for anybody, even single women without children and with non-office hour jobs like me. For people who may seem like they have all the hours in the world (we don’t, it just looks like we’re not busy). Fringe hours are hours you didn’t know you had, hours you can use on yourself.
Another way to find time for selfcare is to reevaluate your work days and hours. I’m a night owl. I do great work later in the day. When I used to wake up early to “get more work done,” I realized that I would spend the entire morning doing things other than work. Errands. Chores. Emails. Anything I can do with only half a brain awake, because in the morning, that’s how I am.
So I made a shift, just to try it out. Instead of sleeping early to wake up early, I slept in to wake up late and work later in the day, even through the night. I was happier, less stressed, and had better work results. I did my errands in small chunks throughout the week instead of wasting entire mornings five days a week, and was able to find time for selfcare in the process.
Can you shuffle your work hours around? Can you shift your work days around? If you can, why not give it a try?
Take it one small step at a time. It’s easier to incorporate selfcare into your life if you start start with something small. Here are some ideas. Pick just one and try it once a week or once every two weeks (whatever you can make time for):
- Drink a glass of wine after everyone’s gone to bed.
- Take a walk/jog around the block.
- Sit on a bench in a park and just breathe the fresh air (maybe people/nature watch).
- Literally stop and smells the roses or whatever flower you see as you walk from the parking lot to your office
- Take 5 minutes to read the day’s devotion in the First 5 App
- Attend a drop-in dance or yoga class at the local gym or community center
- Watch a movie in the movie theaters
We make time for what matters, and I hope that selfcare matters to you because it matters to your health.