Which hat are you wearing right now? Employee? Community volunteer? Caregiver? The ride-or-die girlfriend? Nothing’s wrong with being many things to many people. But sometimes, your life needs to center on you. Let’s talk self-care.
Self-care simply means engaging in the activities that you find enjoyable, relaxing, and replenishing. Me time.
Let’s be real: Life’s to-do list is vast, even if you only wear three hats. You’ll rarely get it all done, and done well. The person on the list often forgotten is you – daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.
And it’s too bad, because here are just some of the benefits of self-care, touted by stress management experts:
- Lowers the risk for depression and anxiety, hypertension, heart attacks, and other heart-related problems.
- Lessens your chance of, get this, catching a cold.
- Helps improve sleep, reduce migraines and boosts your self-esteem.
- Helps eliminate feelings of resentment toward those you care for.
In essence, by taking care of yourself, you are able to be a more fully present individual, partner, caretaker, and businessperson.
So how do you integrate this into your life?
Find 15 minutes. You have it. Log off of Facebook, Instagram, or other social media sites for 30 minutes, cut your time in half and engage in self-care for 15 of those minutes. Read a book or magazine, workout, go for a walk, or use it to re-focus yourself on another task you need to do.
Leave 15 minutes earlier. Before you go into work, go into school to pick up the kids, take a little me-time in the car. If you have young children, you’ve probably seen other parents in the parking lot just sitting in the car hanging out (most likely reading emails, texts, or scrolling Facebook or Instagram) before going in to get their child. That’s called a break.
Sit in silence. With so much hustle and bustle going on around us, it’s easy to become accustomed to the white noise of the world. Be still – still your body and your mind. Embrace the peace that is silence!
Just leave! Listen up moms. This is a hard one because it flies in the face of “mommy guilt” (this happens even with older children). But whether the kids cry at the top of their lungs or you’re afraid your home will become chaotic, or you dread the anticipation of having to clean up the mess upon return, taking care of yourself is worth it. Trust and believe the house will still be standing and life will go on without you – for a couple of hours at least.
Get help. Consider hiring a cleaning service or even a sitter. Now hear me out on this one! Think about how much you might spend going out to eat with your family or even grabbing takeout once a week because you don’t feel like cooking. Consider cutting one of those activities out and boom, you have a little extra cash for reprieve.
If you decide to go the sitter route, you don’t even have to leave the house. Have someone come in for 1-2 hours and you can go upstairs or in a room and just be. It might be weird at first, but in no time your family will get in the groove of the arrangement.
Regardless of the route you take toward self-care, what is most important is that you start developing a viable plan that allows you the necessary time to take care of you.
Asha Barber-Sutton is a PhD by training, mom by nature, and wife by choice. You can find her lecturing to America’s future leaders.