In our go-go-go and always-on world, sometimes it feels like you can't take a break. You're expected to answer emails and texts right away, and make the most out of every day while also nourishing relationships with your family, children, and friends. Often, you end up putting yourself on the back burner.
If you do find yourself with a few minutes to unwind and use some self-care tips, you may feel guilty. Or maybe you're afraid that others will think you're being selfish. After all, shouldn't you be doing something productive? Isn't there someone else you should be taking care of first?
Unfortunately, not taking care of yourself can lead to feeling burned-out, run-down, or overwhelmed. After all, there's a reason flight attendants tell you to put your own oxygen mask on first before you assist others in the case of an emergency. You can't help others when your body isn't getting enough oxygen or functioning at full capacity. When you take care of yourself first, you have more capacity to be a better partner, parent, friend, sibling, and coworker. Here are four self-care tips to help you start taking care of yourself and finally let go of feeling guilty:
Check in with Yourself
Take a moment to check in with yourself and acknowledge your own needs, feelings, and limits. This can be a mental note or a mantra that you write down in a journal. If you do feel guilty or selfish, acknowledge these feelings and gently place them to the side. While your inner critic may be barking loudly, remember, it's not selfish to tend to your own mental, emotional, and physical health.
Identify What Nourishes You (and What Doesn't)
Make a list of the things that make you happy. These activities can be as simple as stargazing, coloring, or listening to a podcast. If you're having trouble, think back to the things that made you smile when you were a child. Be sure to also take note of the things that leave you feeling depleted, and try to remove them from your life as much as possible.
Start Small and Find Your Own Way
You don't have to drop a wad of cash to take care of yourself. Go for a walk, head to the gym to exercise, take a nap, meditate for a minute, or have a five-minute dance party by yourself. Remember that self-care methods that work for others may not work for you, and that's fine. Your idea of self-care doesn't need to mirror anyone else's list.
Make It Consistent
Taking care of yourself is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It's not a one-time deal like a once-a-year massage or vacation. Regardless of which methods you choose to try, make sure you practice them consistently and incorporate them into your daily routine.
By practicing self-care, you'll be able to take note of your own physical, mental, and emotional state, and recognize when you need to press pause. Not only will these tips help you develop ways to manage stress better, but they can also benefit your relationships and overall well-being. And to be clear—self-care isn't the same as being self-indulgent. Next time you head out for a run or opt to stay at home instead of going out for the night, don't feel guilty. You're not being selfish. You're simply putting on your oxygen mask first and taking care of yourself.