Let’s start by being really honest. I’m someone who works hard to prioritise self-care every single day, but that doesn’t mean it comes easily. I considered not writing this post because I don’t feel like an expert on the topic, but I do know what works for me. Who better to hear from than someone who can relate to it being challenging, rather than telling you it’s really straight forward and easy?
Self-care became a huge priority in my life last year. Here’s what happened…
I was going through a challenging period in my corporate job, and had seen a lot of people being made redundant around me due to a tough economic climate. Add to that the fact that my coaching business had started to ramp up, I was studying, it was the busiest time of year in my work (September) and on top of all of that we were moving house. I was also going through some huge internal transitions, and was spending a lot of time questioning absolutely everything I thought I knew to be true. Cue: excessive overwhelm and near burn out (disclaimer: I’m not fully sure how to officially define burn out, so I won’t use that word. But it was certainly the closest I’ve ever felt to experiencing it).
I felt like a total failure. Like I couldn’t keep up. Like I wasn’t tough enough. That I didn’t have what it takes to keep going and complete the work.
If I’m honest, it had been a trend throughout my life to that point. I would go all or nothing at something, and then somewhere in the middle find myself completely rundown.
I know I’m not alone in this. I’ve had many clients experience the same stories and emotions. Our egos absolutely love to create this cycle.
Telling us we aren’t good enough.
Telling us it’s all our fault.
Telling us we need to keep working harder, when often it’s the exact opposite that we need most.
And you know what, as simple as it sounds, the little rituals below were the things to get me back on track. They were no big bright, shining lights of wisdom and aha moments. It was the small, one-foot-in-front-of-the-other steps that made all the difference.
Here are three small things that, when done religiously, can keep you on track and able to avoid working yourself into a state of exhaustion.
1. Work out which self-care activities give you energy
Self-care and energy are not mutually exclusive. It’s really important to know where you get your energy from so that you can ensure you’re making time to do those things. It’s amazing how us Type A personalities can sacrifice all our personal joy to focus on achieving our latest project.
I’m an introvert with an extroverted personality, but I get my energy from being ALONE rather than spending time with people (you can find out what you are here). Because I spend a lot of my day around others, I spend a lot of time decompressing. I will say no to dinners, social gatherings, events and more just to make sure I get the alone time I need. It’s become as important to me as brushing my teeth.
Here are some of my favourite self-care activities that I’ll do in that ‘decompression’ time. Some normal, some very weird:
- Dancing around my living room with Beyonce turned up really loudly
- Sitting on the couch, with the door wide open fresh air, closing my eyes and taking a few deep breaths
- Walking outside to the beach or the park and sticking my feet in the sand or grass
- Going to bed an hour early to read
- Listening to podcasts in the car or on those aforementioned walks
- Having a glass of red wine with Chay and talking about our days and dreams
- Watching Sex and the City while eating salted caramel dark chocolate in my pyjamas and a face mask (alone, obviously)
- Soul-nourishing conversations with girlfriends over coffee, a wine or a walk
- Journaling in the early morning while the world is still asleep, with essential oils burning, candles on and meditation tunes in the background
- Doing a spin or yoga class
Jot down your own list and experiment with doing each of these activities. How do they make you feel? If the answer is that they make you feel like you’re present, back in your body, relaxed and more joyful – do more of those. You want to feel like you’re being infused with energy, rather than depleted.
2. Carve out the time to do those things EVERY SINGLE DAY
Doing the list and referring to these things every now and then simply isn’t enough. These activities need to be scheduled into your calendar every single day. I talk more about my process of scheduling my week here, and always make sure that I have time for at least one of the above activities. If I have jam-packed days where I don’t take care of myself and run from one activity to the next, not only do I face exhaustion at the end of it all but I become irritable, frustrated, grumpy and generally not a pleasant person to be around.
Carve out your schedule for the week and put your self-care activities in your diary. No matter how big or small they are, they should be prioritised.
3. Schedule the bigger breaks
The reason I was inspired to write this post is because I spent this last weekend down south doing a whole lot of nothing. We packed up the 4WD, set up camp at our favourite spot by the sea and spent two days in mama nature. I even didn’t pack my laptop! Wild, right?
I forget just how much these small getaways nourish our souls and bring us back to earth. When we take the time to look after ourselves we are lighter, more playful and can approach each day with a much clearer understanding of what is really important to us. Our entire world isn’t going to crumble just because we don’t answer our emails for two days. In fact, we are going to be better equipped to serve those around us if we are our best selves.
When was the last time you closed the laptop for the entire weekend? Or took a longer break where you switched off from work or your business? If the answer is more than three months ago, then it’s time to get something in the diary stat. In addition, start to plan forward and block out weekends (even if it is just two days) that you can spend entirely on self-care and rejuvenation.
As we start planning for the new year, ask yourself- how can I add in more self-care to my life for 2018? I’d love to know your responses!