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Self-Care: What to Do When It Feels Like Another Commitment

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A few different approaches can be taken when it comes to self-care. I’ve probably read two dozen articles titled something along the lines of “10 Tips to Prioritize Self-Care,” and while they’re always super helpful, I actually find myself becoming more stressed by reading them! The irony is that the number one item on the list is usually “Don’t stress,” but that’s so much easier said than done!

Here are the top suggestions on how to implement self-care:

  • Keep a daily gratitude journal
  • Take time daily to go without your phone/social media
  • Spend a few minutes outside relaxing
  • Prioritize your sleep
  • Eat healthy meals
  • Create a cozy space for yourself
  • Exercise a few times a week
  • Create a nighttime routine for relaxation
  • Enjoy a hobby

This list is amazing, honestly. Who doesn’t want to live a better life and take better care of themselves? I’m the first in line to sign up for that!

Not everyone is like me, but chances are if you read a list of 10 things that you need to improve on or habits that you need to enact for a better quality of life, your anxiety begins to mount. How am I supposed start exercising and meal prepping and doing yoga and get 7–8 hours of sleep simultaneously? I work full time and have other responsibilities when I come home—and I’m not even married or a mother. I’m totally overwhelmed by trying to add self-care into my day, and it’s supposed to be a reprieve from my normal stress!

So how do we actually take care of ourselves without feeling the weight of another thing to do?

Sometimes the best we can do is apply a facial mask and light some candles after a long day, and hey, that’s definitely a step in the right direction! Let’s be honest, for some of us that’s all we feel like we can snag between office deadlines and teething babies and volunteering at that event we said yes to three weeks ago before we knew we’d have family in town. Life is like that, which is why we need grit and grace to make it through.

Maybe it’s a luxury that we feel we can’t afford, but I’d like to think that self-care is more than just squeezing in five minutes to go to the bathroom in peace or lighting a candle while we continue running feverishly around the house. To me, self-care means creating boundaries and balance in our everyday lives that keep us from feeling crazy burnt out all the time. Self-care is learning to say no to “just one more” commitment because we’ve already said yes to the three commitments that were presented to us last week. Self-care is giving yourself the same grace when you mess up that you’d give to your best friend. Self-care might be choosing one thing per day to do differently—maybe you didn’t make it to the gym but you took time to eat a healthy meal, or you didn’t have time to journal your gratitude while diffusing essential oils (I recommend a lavender/eucalyptus combo) but you went to bed earlier than normal and got the full recommended 7-8 hours of sleep. Self-care might be as simple as us taking care of ourselves, which will mean different things for different people. What self-care shouldn’t be is another effort we feel like we failed at when we can’t do it all perfectly at once.

The biggest trap we can fall into as ladies is, once again, trying to do it all and be perfect at whatever we do. We’re constantly fighting off expectations to be the best woman, the best mother, the best employee, etc. According to The Huffington Post it takes about 66 days before a new behavior (or habit) becomes automatic.1 That means anything new you add into your schedule would have to be intentional and therefore an effort on your part. It’ll take a little time to craft a life that prioritizes self-care, and that’s okay! All good things take time.

Be good to yourselves, ladies. We spend much of our lives giving grace and allowance to others, so let’s make the effort to extend it to ourselves too! Self-care is terrifically important and widely neglected, but incredibly worth our time. It’s an effort we should prioritize, because we’re busy ladies and it’s impossible to give to others if we don’t have any reserve for ourselves.

What self-care shouldn’t be is another effort we feel like we failed at when we can’t do it all perfectly at once.

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Image by Hernan Sanchez.

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Stephanie loves eating sushi, searching for pugs during her runs in the park, and learning to grow into the woman she's made to be.

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