When helping patients manage their weight, self-care is a topic that comes up daily. That’s because way too often women especially are great caregivers for everyone but themselves.
Taking care of yourself is not being selfish. It’s also a reminder that your health and happiness are worth the time and effort.
Self care can include nourishing yourself with regular meals and planned snacks, keeping yourself hydrated throughout the day, getting to sleep earlier or participating in de-stressing activities. It can also involve doing fun activities that you enjoy.
When you do things for yourself that bring more joy, peace of mind and balance into your life, you also start feeling better, have more energy and even cope better with daily stressors.
Instead of grabbing a candy bar for an energy boost late afternoon, maybe you sip some herbal tea with a planned snack or you get some fresh air outside and take a walk with a friend.
Or instead of plopping on the couch to binge watch a show at the end of an exhausting day, you hop on your home exercise bike instead while still watching your favorite show.
Though self care fills you up and can recharge your batteries, how do you make time for something when your day is most likely already overscheduled?
Here are 3 things you can start doing today to fit self care into your busy life:
1 – Cultivate self compassion
You’re already probably used to taking care of others – your children, an ailing parent, a friend or even your pet. Now it’s time to start treating yourself better too.
New research by Kristen Neff, PhD, author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, has unveiled the power of self-compassion to boost positive emotions and make you feel better. You deserve to be treated as well as you would treat a friend.
2 – Look for daily opportunities
Self care is not just for weekends! With that mindset, your weekend may end up being more eating and drinking than your body needs.
Instead, every day you can look for opportunities to do any of the following:
- take a deeper breath
- use a meditation app even for just 5 minutes; one of my favorites is Rest and Relax Guided Meditations
- walk in nature
- expand your music play list and listen to music
- pursue a hobby that brings you joy whether it’s playing guitar, dancing, reading or biking
- treat yourself to a spa day at home by soaking in a warm bath or get a massage
3 – Don’t go it alone
If you’re struggling being motivated or finding time for self care, you may want to ask for help.
Be specific such as, “Can you pick up the kids for me so I can get in my me time?”
Finding others who share your passions can also give you a motivation boost.
For example, if you feel you need more “zen” in your life, consider taking a meditation class.
Or if you’ve always wondered what it would feel like to try tap dancing or a Zumba class, now’s the time to challenge yourself in new ways.
If you don’t have the resources or time for a new class, find groups on social media that share your passion. It seems like Facebook has a group for everything hobby related.
Just like nothing in life ever stays the same, this holds true for self care too. As you age and approach different life stages, your needs and self-care activities will change also.
Be ready for it. And remind yourself that you’re worth the effort!
You can improve self care by cultivating self compassion, not leaving self care for weekends only and connecting with others who share your life passions.
Enjoy your health!
Robert Kushner, MD