When was the last time you made a date with yourself? Actually put it in your calendar and made time with yourself a priority? We often make plans with other people, but we can easily let slip spending time with ourselves, or at least time on ourselves. It might seem a little odd at first, but scheduling in time to take care of yourself can be necessary if we live the kind of lives that fill up quickly. Sound familiar?
Love is in the air - spread some of that sugar on yourself. Listen to yourself. If you need to turn off your phone for two hours and take a bubble bath, do it. If you need to pound out a 5 kilometre run after work, do it. If you need to go to the beach and just stare into the ocean for an hour, do it. Self-care looks different for everyone. Listen to your body and your mind, and do what is good for them. If you feel a whim, give it free reign until it has had it's fun, then stop and think for 90 seconds about whether it is a need or a want. Want isn't always the best option. What you need is really what serves you (and yes, we think that sometimes you can need chocolate).
Self-care is an ongoing practice. It helps to set yourself up with a good base. If you haven't considered this before, it's not too late. Communicating clear boundaries helps define what you need and how others in your life can respect that. This is important in all your relationships, especially intimate personal connections and with work.
Families are a great source of support to allow each other to take this time. Parents - you are a team, you are a solid source of strength for one another. It is so important to let each other know when you need a little extra help. You are both responsible for raising the new little humans you created, and you are both entitled to need your own space. So help each other out. If schedules are your jam, make one and try to stick to it as best you can. We know that every week might look a little different, but if the expectation is set then you're both less likely to skip out or forget. If less structure suits you better, make sure you are both comfortable communicating to each other when you need an all-alone time-out, and commit to doing what you can to make that happen. If you are a single-parent, lean on your friends and family for the help you need. You never know until you ask! Bonus: Your kids seeing you making these healthy choices for yourselves will instil those kinds of habits in them, making them happier, healthier humans.
Few things are more stressful than feeling like you always have to be available for work, leaving little room in your schedule to freely enjoy personal time. Creating a Work/Life balance is integral to making space for your mental health. Being clear with those in your workplace about what their expectations are for you will set everyone up for healthy, happy work and home time. With all the technology we have available to us these days, it is tough to be unreachable. Setting boundaries like only communicating about work via e-mail, or phone calls, not on texts, helps avoid blurring the lines between personal and work time. There will be periods when needing to be fully involved in work at most hours of the day is unavoidable, that is reality. When those instances arise, having already had the conversation about expectations will make it easier to address the times you lose track of your boundaries as they come up.
Chances are you know what you want your own self-care to look like. It could be one big item, or lots of smaller things. Sleep. Hug. Listen to music. Drink water. Move your body. Breathe fresh air. Wear clothes you love. Light a candle. Treat yourself to a little luxury, whatever that looks like to you. You don't have to splurge all the time. Set aside a few small favourite items, like the sustainably made bath soak or face masque you can't get enough of, or an outfit your feel especially comfortable or sexy in (could be the same one!), and make them part of your "self-care toolkit." Using products with natural ingredients that your skin can actually understand will leave you much more relaxed, and you'll feel good knowing you're not letting synthetic chemicals seep into your bloodstream. Having them on hand makes it much easier to carve out some spontaneous self-care for life's unexpected moments. As for the big splurges, save up for them and go for it on days you need a little extra, or make them part of celebrating achievements that you are proud of yourself for.
The hardest part of self-care for a lot of us, is believing we are worth it. We feel we could spend that time, that money, on someone else. We feel we could put it to better use. Maybe. However, being a cheerleader for yourself doesn't mean you have to compromise on being supportive of your loved ones. Your favourite self-care activities may even involve them, especially if quality time with your bests is high on your list of needs. Plus, taking care of yourself is one of the greatest things you can do for those who depend on you, so you can show up the best version of yourself that you know how to be.
Love yourself first.