Our lives are super busy, from appointments to running errands to the kids’ soccer practice and so on. We have a tendency to live life at one thousand miles an hour, and it’s all too easy to convince ourselves that taking time for self-care is selfish or unnecessary.

Self-care by definition is none of those things, and it can actually provide you with increased stamina, greater mental clarity and stronger resilience in getting through daily challenges and routines.

What is self-care?

You might picture bubble baths, candles and cozy books next to the fireplace, which certainly can be forms of self-care, but it’s much more than that. Self-care is prioritizing time to make sure your needs — physical, mental, emotional — are met. If your needs aren’t met, how are you going to be able to effectively meet the needs of your children, coworkers or peers? 

Self-care is somewhat relative, it’s important to take the time to figure out what rejuvenates you. It could be: going on a hike; investing in art supplies and DIY-ing some kitchen decor; or it might be a slow morning, complete with Saturday cartoons and a homemade breakfast.  

If it’s not, and if you can’t seem to find your thing, here’s a brainstormed list of some self-care activities you can incorporate into your day without interrupting your schedule.

Speak kindly to yourself 

Have you ever tuned in to your internal voice and realized how cruel it can be? You wouldn’t tell a coworker they’re an idiot because they didn’t check the tray and accidentally ran the copies on pink paper. Nor would you use the same tone with your roommate when you’re beating yourself up for not taking out the trash on time. 

Would you use those words with your kid when you’re chastising yourself for leaving the dog in the crate too long? Chances are, you wouldn’t. 

We have sky high expectations for ourselves and the tone we take towards ourselves when we slip up can be cruel, unhelpful and downright discouraging. One sure method of increasing self-esteem and practicing self-care is through altering the tone of that inner voice. 

For example, “You’re not a failure because you left the car on empty; you had a screaming baby in the backseat and were intently focused on getting home.”

It’s as easy as that, and it seriously helps ease up on any potential guilt-tripping.    

Delegate what’s on your mind 

When you feel overwhelmed with the pressures of a busy day, take the time to ask yourself how necessary is it to accomplish every single one of these tasks? If some things can wait until the next day, don’t force the issue all in one day.

While procrastination isn’t what we’re recommending, prudence exists in delegating the load on your mind. It might be better for your productivity overall to separate out your to-do list over a few days. This gives you the time to complete each task well, lowers the risk of mistakes due to multitasking and opens up time in the day to rest. 

Listen to music 

Sometimes just taking five minutes to listen to a few favorite songs gives you that mental break you needed before starting on your next tasks. If you find yourself motivated by music, consider playing it in the background while you complete your to-do’s. 

Music can put you into a good mood and can transform chores like making dinner or folding laundry into something more enjoyable. 

Say no

You may be thinking, “How can you expect me to practice self-care, I’m way too busy.” And this brings us to our next point — saying no

In an effort to please everyone at all times (which, firstly, is not your job), we get roped into saying yes to everything — staying late at work, carpooling, RSVPing to a baby shower — when we would’ve preferred to politely decline. Have you ever stopped to consider the fact that constantly saying yes is actually hurting your mental health? 

Saying no doesn’t make you a bad person; in fact, it is quite the opposite. By being in tune with yourself and your needs, you effectively take care of yourself when you decide it’s best to say no to a certain situation. 

So instead of trying to cram in one more thing or guilting yourself for leaving work on time while everyone else is staying late, applaud yourself for being confident in recognizing and taking active steps to meet your needs.

Take time to consider therapy  

Some people, sadly, view therapy as a step backwards, but therapy can actually be a vital step in the direction of self-care. Attending therapy doesn’t mean you have undergone a traumatic event. People meet with counselors for everything from struggles in the workplace, to trouble with parenting responsibilities to challenges at school. 

Some things are difficult to handle on our own, and having an uninvolved third-party to talk with can offer incredible benefits to sorting out the thoughts circling your mind. Not to mention the fact that counselors can offer additional guidance and strategies when it comes to delegating what’s on your mind.  

Saying no to creating time for yourself and increasing self-esteem through a healthy inner monologue is perfectly fine, and one of the easiest forms of self-care for you.

Reach out today

If you are interested in the additional benefits of counseling for self-care and all areas of mental health, contact Pyramid Walden at 301-997-1300 today.