“To love oneself, is the beginning of a life-long romance” – Oscar Wilde
I turned 27 about two-three months ago and one of the biggest battles that I have waged with myself, and still constantly struggle with is, loving myself. Some days, I just get on my own last nerve and that’s okay. I’ve come to accept who I am as a person for the most part and even though I accept myself doesn’t mean I always act in my own best interests. Half the time I’m so busy running to the finish line and trying to do everything, that I simply don’t take time to care for myself.
Taking care of yourself, is one of the first steps to being genuinely happy, but it’s also been shown to help you perform at a higher level mentally and physically. So as a birthday present to myself, I told myself I would start taking better care of ME. And that’s being going TERRRIBLEE, so far.
Last month alone (October), I spent time in Kansas City (MO), Columbus (OH), Cincinnati (OH), Denver (CO), Montreal (Canada), Houston (TX) and of course in and around the San Antonio/Austin area because sometimes I get to be at home. All this travel, with most of it being for work, really started to take it’s toll on my own health. Add in tons of work stress from deadlines and projects, allergy season being in full swing (helloo cedar fever!), attending weddings, family events, and running not one but two half marathon. I was plain wore out and my body was starting to revolt.
Last week during the Thanksgiving holiday, I was able to take some well deserved time off, which really helped me to unwind (aka get some actual zzzzs) and turn my attention on myself. Because there is only one you, and who better to take care of YOU than yourself, right?!
In an effort to refocus on my birthday gift to myself (ie, giving myself a little more self-care), I picked out 10 things to focus my efforts towards. And since we all probably need a little more self-care in our lives, I’ve compiled them below. I personally don’t have the time to do all 10 of the items every week but just picking one or two of this options a week have quite literally helped me keep my sanity, and they might be just what you need as well.
- Take time for yourself: I know, I know, we’ve all been told this, but this simple piece of advice has helped me tremendously. So here’s what you do, take one day a week and dedicate it to yourself. I don’t necessarily mean take the whole day to lay around in bed and do nothing, but dedicated one day a week to taking care of YOU or doing something for YOU. This could mean, doing something as big as a Spa day or as small putting on a face mask and just zoning out for 20 mins. Personally, while I love a spa day, I do my best to dedicate one day where, I don’t havvvee to be productive. Since I normally leave my Sundays for ‘self care’, I don’t beat myself up over taking a 4 hour long nap through the entire afternoon football game I don’t care about (sorry, not sorry). Or I’ll let myself lounge in my recliner to finish a book I’ve been trying to finish, instead of going to the gym. At minimum though, because we all know how busy life can be, a short bath with a lavender scented candle and a bath bomb will do the trick for me.
- Stop beating yourself up. I’m terrible at this one. I’ve been competitive from birth, and not being the absolute best at anything kills me. But it’s not just winning that I need, it’s more a need to prove to myself that I performed at the very highest level my body or mind would let me. If I was aiming to run 5 miles in 50 minutes and it ended up being in an hour, you can bet that I’ve already picking apart everything that I could have done better instead of focusing on that fact that I just ran 5 miles. I don’t need constructive criticism from other people, because I’m probably more strict with myself than any of my critics. But in an effort to love myself more though, I’m trying to block out the negative comments the little voice in the back of my head yells at me. Instead, I’m learning to focus on the positive side of things. I didn’t run as fast as I wanted too but at least I can run, and at least I did it. In the grand scheme of life, it doesn’t matter how well I do something. It only matters that you did it.
- Learn to say No, and I don’t mean on small things like helping your parents with a chore or doing the extra project at work. I mean the ‘Fun’ things. I have this huge fear of missing out on life, or not living my life to it’s fullest. It makes it hard for me to say no to attending parties, events, any type of social gathering. It can be hard for me to even enjoy myself at things, because I’m constantly worried about making it to the next event or thinking of all the things I have to do. Newflash! You don’t have to do everything! I say that mostly for my own benefit, let’s be real. If I say it enough maybe it’ll finally sink in, right? Because in the end, what is the worst that is going to happen if you don’t go to you work friend’s kid’s 5th birthday party or you skip a happy hour?
- Drink you water. Our bodies are roughly 60% water. Water is what gives us life. and hydration has a major impact on your energy levels and brain function. It helps keep your stomach under control. It helps your skin to glow, and if you’re a bored eater like me it’ll help you stop that! I aim for a gallon a day, but I also sit next to the bathroom at work. I’m not saying you should drink a gallon a day, but make sure you are getting in your H2O, your body will thank you.
- Invest in yourself. Mentally. Physically. Financially. There is only one you, and while you might have a loving supportive family and great friends, only YOU will always be there for YOU! Think about it, you can’t divorce yourself, you can’t decide you are a big jerk and choose not to spend time with yourself. You are stuck with you, whether you like it or not, and you’re not always going to like that. But the least you can do for yourself is invest in your present and your future self.
You don’t have to be the fittest person on the planet, but you should try and go for a walk after dinner.
You don’t need be a penny-pinching grump, but you should at least put what you can afford into a savings account for emergency or as a fun budget. You need to start saving for retirement now, not 20 years from now. Whether that is starting a 401(k) with your company (for more info on 401(k)s see my blog post here), or opening your own IRA account. You don’t need to put a lot away but put something, please. It makes me a little strapped for cash sometimes, but I still put 6% into my 401(k) every check and an additional $50.00 a month into a separate IRA I have. It’s not a ton of money but I’m doing it.
You don’t necessarily need to book a shrink once a week to take care of yourself mentally, but you should take 5 minutes a day to check in on yourself and make sure you are hanging in there. You check in on your friends and family to make sure they’re doing okay, so shouldn’t you also check in with yourself?
Invest in YOURSELF, your future self will thank you.
- Read Something. Read a novel, a bible, a comic, the newspaper, or even a magazine. I don’t care what it is you read, but please read something, anything, at least once a week. Your brain will thank you.
- Get your sleep. I have the worst sleeping habits, I’ll admit it. Always have. I just think better when the sun is down and I’ve never been a person who needs a ton of sleep. That mixed with some chronic pain make it difficult to both fall asleep and stay asleep. For years this didn’t really matter but as I’ve gotten a little older I find my ability to focus starts to dissipate when I get tired so getting restful sleep makes all the different. I won’t go into all the ways I make sure I get enough sleep, but find out what works best for you and stick to it. Don’t make excuses why you’re not getting enough of it, identify the issue and fix it. I know that’s easier said than done, but if I can become a better sleeper, you can at least try to get more sleep.
- Laugh More. Laugh at yourself, read a funny book, or just go hang out with your funniest friend. If you for some reason don’t have any funny friends, hit up Netflix and watch Iliza, Ali Wong, or Bert Kreischer. Laughing increasing your endorphins and as Elle Woods says, ‘Endorphins make you happy’.
- Get your heart rate up. To go along with our Legally Blonde reference noted above, exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy. Some scientist say that happy people are more likely to live longer and lead more fulfilling lives. Outside of the ‘high’ exercise gives you, it also helps with you cardiovascular help, weight, and in my opinion helps you keep a positive outlook on life. No need to get crazy though, a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day will do just fine. Mix that with some fresh air and you have the perfect combo to help keep your mind clear.
- Be Kind. Be kind to your colleagues, your family, random people on the street, and most of all be kind to yourself. I read somewhere once (don’t ask me where, this isn’t an academic article, and I’m not about to include citations), research has shown kindness to yourself and others increases our well being. It can lead to greater life satisfaction, happiness, optimism, and help us connect with others better. It can also help decrease anxiety and depression. Besides, being kind simply makes you feel good and don’t we all just want to feel good. After all are we not all just trying to life our best lives?
Remember that what self-care means and looks like is completely personal, but what I’ve listed out are things I am trying to do for myself and maybe these will work for you.
So take what resonates with you—and skip the rest. Take what you need, and focus on your well-being in a way that works best for you. After all, it’s easy to make yourself an afterthought but it’s so very important to remember that you should be your own priority and you should treat yourself as such!
What are you favorite ways to show yourself a little love? Comment below and let me know!