Picture this: You have a paper due on Sunday along with two other assignments. You’re trying to “work” from home, which involves sharing a 3-bedroom home with five people all who are relying on the same internet connection. Your to-do list is too long, and your schedule is packed. So, what do you do? You stay up late to work on your assignments when the house is quiet. You cancel your Zoom chat with your friends and bail on the online Barre class that you were going to take—all to make room for things that you must do. But really, what you need to do is the thing that will sustain you and keep you healthy for the long haul: practice self-care.
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One of the common misconceptions about self-care is that it is a luxury or an indulgence. Self-care is not just an expensive trip to a spa or engaging in retail therapy. Self-care is taking care of ourselves in ways that are vital to our mental and physical wellbeing. I often compare it to how they tell you to react on a plane in an air pressure emergency: put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others. You do this because if you don’t get the oxygen you need you won’t be able to help others anyway. Engaging in self-care is just as important and, if you want to be a good parent, friend, or employee, you need to take care of yourself first.
Not a One-Size-Fits-All Solution
To begin, you need to think about what activities are best for you because self-care does not look the same for everyone. Some people feel best after getting in a workout while others might need to linger in bed and watch a movie. Is it chatting on the phone with a friend, or taking a bath in complete silence? Cooking a healthy meal with your partner, or getting a special fast-food treat? You need to think about what refills your proverbial cup. What will help you relax and recharge? Self-care is about being kind to yourself and putting you needs above all else for a period of time. Then, and only then, can you be the best version of yourself for the people in your life.
How to Make Time
One of the biggest barriers that people cite for not engaging in self-care is time. Here are some tips for making room in your schedule:
1. Schedule and prioritize.
Treat your self-care activity just as you would any other essential obligation.
2. Set realistic goals.
If time is tight, try to be flexible with the activities you are planning.
3. Learn to say “no.”
This is a hard concept for most people to grasp. Consider whether an activity is adding to your energy or depleting it.
The most important takeaway? Be kind to yourself. All you can do is your best.