Self-care is all over the place these days. Whether it's discussed in the therapy or counseling world, when talking about physical health, or even overall "wellness", you can't escape hearing about basic tips to improve well-being.
As a therapist, what most people don't realize is that this is the number one area where most people skimp as soon as they become busy and overwhelmed.
For some reason, everyone has it in their heads that they need to be busy 100% of the time or they aren't "successful". Even in conversations with peers, co-workers and family members, there's a constant state of "one-upping" that happens when we talk about being busy. It's like a "right of passage" to being an adult.
What we don't realize is that this sort of lifestyle is NOT healthy. Being busy all the time leads to stress, anxiety, and eventually burnout.
Another thing that people don't realize is that self-care doesn't have to be $100 pedicures, shopping spree's or spa treatments. Basic self-care is easy, but it does take some reminders and practice.
So to avoid all that mess, here's some super basic tips to start taking care of yourself.
1) Stop People-Pleasing
You do not need to say "yes" to every single thing people ask you to do. This means sometimes saying no to working late, extra work projects and even the occasional work happy-hour. Guess what? If you're constantly involved in work-related activities, you're going to feel like you're working all the time. And then you're going to start resenting your job.
This also goes for social activities. Just because your mother's aunt's best-friend is having a BBQ doesn't mean you need to attend. I know a lot of people get stuck in the mentality that they have to do things, and they don't do anything because they really want to.
If you are constantly in the state of saying "Yes" to everything and regretting it later or feeling burned out, practice asking yourself this question before responding to requests, "Is this going to fill my cup or theirs?"
2) Make room for alone-time
This is a hard one, especially if you have roommates, kids, and/or live with a partner. Of course spending time with those we love is important, but we also need time to do what we need, which is sometimes different than what others need. For instance, maybe you love to read while your partner loves playing video games. Maybe you love spending time outside taking a stroll, and your BFF loves sitting inside in the A/C taking a long nap. Being alone for even a little time each day is important.
3) Make time for your hobbies
Just because you're super busy doesn't mean that can't make room for the things you love doing. It is especially common to let this go in newer relationships or new life-transitions, but this can also happen further down the line when habits and routines have been engrained for long periods of time. Make a list of a few of things that you love doing that you haven't done in awhile, such as working out, going to a movie, or cooking a real meal. Then pick one thing and add it to your schedule next week. It's crazy what even an hour doing something you really enjoy can do for your mental health.
4) Get enough sleep
I know you probably hear this all the time, but it's so important! One of the best things you can do for yourself is get into a really solid routine. Start slowly, and give yourself a pretty big window (e.g., two hour time-frame) to get to bed each night. Try to time it so that you will get between 7-9 hours of sleep, and stick with it. You will feel so much better in the morning.
And speaking of mornings.....
5) Eat breakfast!
I know it's super hard to get up on time as it is, but if you can complete step #4 and get a good nightly routine going, the next step is to give yourself enough time in the morning before you have to leave and make yourself something awesome for breakfast. You will feel so much more prepared for your day, plus you won't have the urge to check the clock continuously starting at 10:00am waiting for lunch.
That's it! I promise if you start adding in these 5 self-care steps, you will feel so much better. Plus, these steps are all free!
Courtney is a psychotherapist & owner of Revitalize Wellness Therapy, which specializes in Mental Health Care for Young Adults & Couples. For more information, contact Courtney at firstname.lastname@example.org or 507-421-0180.