"As soon as I [insert something that you're prioritizing over yourself], then I can take care of me." We all have jobs, bills and responsibilities, but self-care is not only an act of kindness toward yourself, it's also a necessary component of life now. We're constantly being bombarded with negative images and narratives. How are your body and mind supposed to cope without a concerted effort on your part? Here are a few tips to minimize the self-care struggle.
Have self-care clarity
To me, self-care is regimented mani-pedis, leisure reading and making sure I drink enough water. I don't always succeed at consistently participating in my definition, but I'm clear on how self-care is defined for me. When you hear the term 'self-care' do you struggle not to draw a blank? Take some time to clearly define what it looks like to take care of yourself. Write it down and refer back to it. Before you can start the journey of self-care, you have to know what it is for you.
If leisure reading is your thing, put time on your calendar every day or every weekend (and reminders) for when you're going to read, how much, and for how long. This will help you stay accountable to taking care of yourself. After a while, self-care won't feel so much like a job, but at first you need to build consistency around checking in with yourself.
Remember it's ok to say no to others (and prioritize yourself)
Constantly taking care of others, and prioritizing their needs over yours will raise your self-care struggle 100 fold. It's true that relationships are important, and we need people in our lives, but we also need ourselves at our best. If you're so busy trying to please your boss, your co-workers, your family, your friends, your spouse, your church family, your book club, and the places you volunteer, when will you ever find time for yourself? Practice saying "no" in the mirror. Soon, it will roll off of your tongue.
Keep a positive attitude
You know what? This one is a struggle for me. I often think that there are so many moments and reasons to be mad. Then, I remember that my anger isn't solving any problems. My negativity isn't bringing me any closer to happiness. In fact, my negative attitude will have an adverse affect on my mental and physical health! Sometimes, just checking yourself when you find your attitude becoming negative can open up the space for self-care.
Party animals, serial networkers, workaholics, I'm talking to all of you. I know that you might think your social and career status is the end all-be all, but turning down will actually help recharge you toward your best self. However real you feel the turn up is, so is the turn down. Wearing yourself too thin is antonymous of self-care. Have you forgotten how to unplug, be still and relax? Engaging with the turn down will certainly minimize your self-care struggle.
If you're struggling with self-care, it will help to reach out for support. When others offer suggestions, stay open-minded. A friend who regularly practices yoga recommended me trying it as a form of exercise and relaxation. Because I scoffed at the suggestion in my mind, I have no idea how transformative it could be for my mind and body. I did take a suggestion about meditation from a friend, finding that the relaxation and clearing of the mind that accompanies often turns into greater focus when I do return to the melee of my day. Even if your friends who are self-care masters make suggestions that you find strange, try them at least once. You never know how they will contribute to ridding yourself of the struggle.