When was the last time you thought about self-care – putting yourself first, in any given situation? If you’re like the majority of people, it’s probably been awhile. We tend to get caught up in the rush of a busy life and leave very little time to focus on our own self-care.
Between work, family, and kids it seems like there’s rarely a moment to breathe, let alone do anything simply to make ourselves feel good. When you make time for everything and everyone else, but leave no time for yourself, it will eventually leave you feeling depleted and empty. Self-care is an important component in your overall health – mental and physical – and it’s important that you find ways to make it a priority, no matter how busy you are.
The good news is, there are several ways that you can adopt healthier habits and start putting yourself first for once (and it doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time). Here are some simple ways that you can begin putting yourself first and make self-care a top priority – let’s dig in!
1. Practice Self-Reflection: Getting in touch with who you really are and what you want is a great way to begin making self-care a priority. Self-reflection gives you the opportunity to really evaluate your life – your thoughts, choices, attitudes and behaviors that have brought you to your current situation. If you’ve been putting self-care on the backburner, you could start to ask yourself questions like, “What is a choice I can make this week based on my needs alone,” or “How can I be more intentional with my time today?” You don’t have to spend a lot of time on this – 5 to 10 minutes a day is all you need to start. Once you begin reflecting on what is really important to you, making yourself a priority will be a much easier process.
2. Say No: Setting boundaries and learning to say no more often is probably one of the best things you could ever do. It allows you to get back in the driver’s seat and have more control over your own life. We often say we don’t have time for self-care because we are so busy, however, that’s only because we’ve said yes to everyone else’s demands. Instead of filling up your schedule in this way, start saying no to mundane tasks and leave more time for what you really want to do. You’ll start to see that you do have time to read that book or see that movie or take a much needed bubble bath. No is a full sentence and it works wonders on helping you make self-care a priority in your life.
3. Put Yourself in Time Out: One of the best things you can do when life gets overwhelming is give yourself permission to take a break. It’s so necessary to allow yourself a breather so you can collect your thoughts and work through problems in a reasonable way. Simply take 5 minutes to walk away from your desk. Step outside to breathe some fresh air. Lock yourself in the bathroom. Put your headphones on and blare your music or find an empty room in the house and sit in silence. If you have problems making time for breaks, there are plenty of free apps you can use to help you schedule in a “time out” session every day.
4. Artist Dates: Have fun with your inner child and take yourself on an artist date. As we become adults, we seem to stray away from the things we loved most as a child. Think back to when you were little. What did you enjoy? Writing, painting, sketching, acting, reading? Get back some of that magic and make time to just play and be messy. Go see a movie you’ve been wanting to watch. Pick up a book and read. Try that new yoga class. Get yourself a canvas and some paint and create a masterpiece. Do what it takes to get your creative wheels spinning and allow yourself time to reconnect with the things you really love.
5. Take a 15-minute walk: Making the time to take a walk every single day is one of the simplest ways to prioritize self-care in your busy life. It’s a great way to reduce stress, lighten your mood and just make you feel better. Plus, walking is a natural energy booster – no caffeine needed. Take 10-15 minutes out of your day to step outside and breathe some fresh air. Without your phone. Taking a digital time out during your daily walk allows you to be more in touch with your thoughts. You give yourself the opportunity to be fully present and notice things you would have otherwise missed while scrolling mindlessly through your phone.
6. Spoil Yourself: How often do you neglect your own needs, because you’re too busy saying yes to everyone else? Probably too often. It’s time to start saying yes to a little indulgence once in a while just for fun. It doesn’t have to be anything that breaks the bank – just take a little time out for YOU. Treat yourself to a good book or a relaxing massage. Buy yourself your favorite snack and eat it with zero guilt. Take a short road trip and explore someplace you’ve always wanted to go. Try a bold new lipstick. Blast your favorite music and have a dance party in the kitchen. Put your needs first for once and make spoiling yourself a priority.
7. Learn Something New: You should never get to a point where you stop learning and setting new goals, especially with the unlimited amount of resources at our fingertips today. Plus, giving yourself the gift of knowledge is one of the best things you can do. What is something you’d like to learn? Write out a list of things that interest you and research online courses, books, videos, etc, that will allow you to expand your knowledge on that given topic. Maybe you want to learn more about the Civil War or begin hand-lettering things for an Etsy shop. Whatever it is, you can find a course out there and start learning something new today.
8. Social Media Detox: Technology has become our lifeline to the world. We rarely spend a moment without our phones and mindlessly scroll social media to fill up our time. In fact, we tend to spend more time scrolling through the highlights of other people’s lives than we do on our own self-care. It’s time to put down your phone for once. Take a break from social media and allow yourself to be fully present. Take note of how much time you spend on social media each day. Set boundaries – only allow yourself to check social media at certain times of the day. Turn off your notifications. Schedule downtime on your phone so you won’t be tempted to peek. Social media addiction is a very real thing and can negatively affect your mental and physical wellbeing.
9. Make Time for Connection: Allow yourself to connect with people but not on Instagram or Facebook – live, in the flesh, real people. As human beings, we need connection in our lives and sometimes that takes being very intentional with our time. Make an effort to get out of the house and do something that makes you feel good. Allow yourself the time to laugh, explore and have fun with others outside of normal daily life. Try volunteering at an animal shelter or soup kitchen or re-connect with someone you haven’t talked to in a while. Go on a much needed date night with your spouse or get together for a girl’s night out (or in) and catch up with old friends. You’ll be giving yourself some much needed time away and a chance to recharge your batteries.
10. Spend Time Alone: On the flip side of the coin, spending time alone is important when prioritizing self-care in your life. We all need it. Life is hectic and we rarely give ourselves a moment to slow down and recharge, let alone be by ourselves when doing so. When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, on edge and anxious, you need to reflect on what your body may be telling you. Spending even a small amount of time alone each day can help clear your head so you may achieve a mindset shift of meaningful and measurable proportions. It allows you to be present with your own thoughts so you can tune in to what you truly want and need.
11. Journal Your Thoughts: Pick up a notebook and pen and start getting real with your thoughts. We don’t spend nearly enough time doing this. Our minds become cluttered with the chaos of daily life and we lose touch with ourselves in the process. Start your day with a quick journal entry. Let your random thoughts fly on the pages and let go of the idea that it has to be perfect. Write down your wins, your worries, your mess ups and everything in between. Start each day with a clear head – you’ll feel so much better when you do.
12. Plan Your Meals: Meal planning is a great way to get organized in the kitchen. It takes the stress out of wondering what’s for dinner and can also save big bucks on the grocery bill. Pick one day a week to plan out your meals, make a grocery list and go shopping.
When you already have a list in hand, you won’t be tempted to throw random things in the cart as you walk the aisles. You’ll also be more likely to make healthier choices when you plan ahead and know what you’re going for. It takes the guesswork out of mealtime and gives you much more control over your health and nutrition.
There are so many different ways to incorporate self-care into your life and it’s one of the best things you can do for your overall health and happiness. It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort, just a commitment that you are going to start showing yourself more love, simply because you deserve it.
Be patient with yourself through the process. Through small, simple steps each day, you can transform into the best possible version of yourself and begin changing the course of your life. Putting yourself first will pay off in untold ways throughout the course of your lifetime.
Live your truth. Express your love. Share your enthusiasm. Take action towards your dreams. Walk your talk. Dance and sing to your music. Embrace your blessings. Make today worth remembering. ~ Steve Maraboli
I’m bestselling USA Today and Wall Street Journal author Connie Ragen Green, embracing self-care and the concept of putting yourself first in every way. I believe we can best serve others by becoming the best version of who we are on a deep level, and then leading by example with the action habits we challenge ourselves to achieve with our goals and dreams.