Online, there is an often-shared meme about meditation that goes something like this… If you’re too busy to meditate for 20 minutes, then you should sit in meditation for an hour. But the same can be said for all kinds of self-care. Because the better you take care of yourself, the more prepared you’ll be to deal with all that life throws your way.
The craving for self-care often begins as a quiet, niggling whisper – feeling average or sluggish in the mornings, relying on coffee to kickstart your day, a lacklustre or troubled complexion, puffiness or dark circles under your eyes, an unusual lack of motivation or enthusiasm for things that would usually feel easy. But gradually, those whispers get louder. If you’re too busy to hear them, however, your body may start to shout ‘slow down’. One way or another, the message will eventually become loud and clear.
Self-care does not just happen. You need to carve out time for it. Schedule it. Commit to it. But the good news is a little self-love can go a long way. And it does not take as long as you think.
Here are some simple ways to weave self-care into your super busy life…
Rise an hour earlier to make time for yourself… Dry body brush, take a long bath, stretch or foam roll, dance to some upbeat tunes, write in a journal, sit up in bed and meditate, or just breathe. It doesn’t matter what you do – just do something for you. Everyone else can wait a little while.
Move your body every day… Pop your workout gear next to your bed the night before (or wear your gear to bed if that helps!), arrange to meet a buddy at dawn, stream an online yoga class, buy a gym pass or simply walk to work. Taking the stairs at the office also counts as movement and self-care. The key is to find something you enjoy and put it in your calendar. Remember, every little bit counts so commit to moving your body daily.
Rest and reset… Working hard and working out sometimes claims all our attention. But often, the magic really happens when you do nothing at all. Schedule rest days or active recovery sessions in between challenging workouts so you don’t overtrain or invite overuse injuries. A gentle walk, yoga session or massage can help clear lactic acid from your muscles as well as giving your mind time to slow down and reset.
Embrace JOMO (the joy of missing out)… Take a look at your social calendar and don’t be afraid to say no to social events or people who do not bring you joy. As the weather cools down, allow yourself to be beckoned indoors for more soothing rituals.
Plan your meals… When you eat better, you feel better. Take time on the weekend to plan your menu for the week ahead and spend some time in the kitchen preparing a few basics. Make nourishing bone broths or soups, granola, chia puddings or healthy bliss balls – you could even pre-chop your smoothie ingredients. By arming yourself with a fridge full of nutrient-dense food, you’ll be ready for whatever the week throws your way.
Find your flow… Social Saturday, Self-care Sunday, Friday Funday, Tucked-In Tuesday (when you go to bed super early) or Unwired Wednesday (when you ditch social media for the day) – build your week upon restorative rituals that you and your body can look forward to. Consciously ebb and flow like the tide and tune into your intuition so you know when you need to retreat into your own space. Allow the rest of the world to be switched on 24/7, while you discover the rituals and rhythms that work best for you.
Take your time… When it comes to self-care, be prepared to spend some time trying new rituals and exploring what feels right for you. Forming new habits takes time, but once you find a few things that make you feel good, commit to doing them daily until they become second nature. You could try adopting one new self-care habit each week – by the end of the year you’ll have added 52 tiny rituals to your life that ultimately change your big picture for the better.
What is your favourite self-care practice? How do you carve out the time for self-care?