Whether you’re in the throes of planning a wedding, or in the throes of motherhood, one thing I’ve learned as an adult is that self-care is non-optional! As we navigate parenting a toddler and a preschooler, as well as begin making plans for our own wedding (on top of working 2 jobs!), this is something I have to remind myself of on a weekly, if not daily, basis.
When I don’t take time to do things that I enjoy, things that fill my cup, and things that make me feel good, I can’t perform well in the arenas of my life. As we are constantly quoting to Charlotte “If you don’t get a good night’s sleep, you won’t be at your best” (A line from a great kids’ book that we love: “Toothbrush, Jammies, Man in the Moon… Why Is Bedtime So Soon?” by Nicole Tocco).
I want to be the best mom, the best partner, the best photographer, the best friend that I can be. In order to fulfill all of the obligations (to spouse, family, job, and friends), I have to make time for me, too.
What is Self-Care
Self-care is anything you do that fills your cup. This can look wildly different from person to person, and there are probably hundreds (if not thousands) of things you could do that would qualify as self-care. They can cost money (like a pedicure, getting a massage, or going on vacation), or they can be absolutely free (like having a picnic in the park, sunbathing, or taking a long bath). They can be planned out in advance (like going to a concert or a sporting event), or spontaneous (like grabbing ice cream at the store on your way home). Self-care comes in all shapes and sizes, and not all self-care fills us in the same manner. I recommend mixing up the different kinds of self-care so your cup gets filled with all kinds of goodness.
How to Incorporate Self-Care into Your Life
For me, the hardest part of self-care is actually MAKING THE TIME for self-care. When I’m going, going, going, it’s sometimes very hard for me to recognize when I’m about to burn out (and once I’ve burned out, it’s hard to fill my cup quickly enough to keep going!). Incorporating self-care into different parts of your life in different ways means that when things get crazy, you’re more likely to continue taking care of yourself rather than diving head-first into the craziness and burning out!
- Make self-care part of your routine. Having self-care built directly into your routine is the best way to make sure you get a little boost every day. Whether it’s a glass of wine with dinner, sitting down to read for 20 minutes, or taking the dog for a walk, routines are a great place to add a little self-care to your day.
- Pair an act of self-care with another activity. Elizabeth Craft (a Hollywood writer and producer) says on the Happier podcast that she pairs watching the Real Housewives with walking on her treadmill. She wouldn’t like walking on her treadmill without doing something else, and so she chose to pair it with something that she truly enjoys doing. This turns her treadmill walk (which would have been dreaded before) into an act of self-care. She’s taking care of herself and her body while also treating herself. Other ways to pair might be listening to a podcast in the car on the way to work or while walking the dog, or keeping a book in the bathroom to read only when you’re in there.
- Put it on the schedule. I know for me, especially, if it’s not on the schedule, it probably isn’t getting done! When I hear about something coming up that I want to do, and that would be an act of self-care, I make sure to put it on the schedule so I don’t forget about it. As an introvert, I’m also less likely to bail out at the last minute if I have a calendar square staring me in the face, reminding me that I originally wanted to go enough to write it down in the first place! Yoga and wine tasting night? Sounds good! Boysenberry festival? Going on the schedule!
- Don’t be afraid of spontaneity. Personally, I am not at all afraid of some spontaneity, but Jeremy does much better when he knows exactly what to expect before it happens. But when it comes to acts of self-care, sometimes we just have to grab it when the opportunity arises. Tonight Jeremy and I went on an impromptu walk (just the two of us!) while his mom played with the kids. A few weeks ago, I took the opportunity to go to the library BY MYSELF while Jeremy was at home napping with the kids. Little things like that can make a big difference.
- Have a self-care buddy. Acts of self-care do not have to be solitary pursuits. You can totally do things with friends and still fill your cup (and if you’re a mom, this is probably doubly true – especially if the only people you’ve come into contact with this week have been tiny humans and your spouse!).
Some of My Favorite Acts of Self-Care:
Everyone always seems to think taking a bath with Epsom salts and essential oils is the epitome of self-care, but I can’t honestly say I’ve EVER done that. While I’ve included a lot of examples of self-care all through this article, I thought I would end with a list of some of MY favorite acts of self-care. Who knows? Maybe you’ll like a few things on this list, too!
- Arts and crafts (Any of them. All of them. I’m not really picky!)
- Making popcorn on the stove and watching a movie snuggled up with my kids.
- Walking through Target, IKEA, Joann’s/Michael’s, or Home Goods with no intent to buy anything – just to look at all the pretty things.
- Going for a walk around the park (and maybe playing Pokemon Go at the same time…)
- Doing a puzzle
- Diffusing essential oils
- Using a pen that glides really nicely (my favorites are the G2 pens and gel pens!)
- A bouquet of flowers on the kitchen table
- Walking barefoot in the grass or on the beach
- I keep a sweet mint plant on the counter in my kitchen, even though I don’t actually cook with mint. I just like to sniff it sometimes.
- Falling asleep on the couch. Don’t ask me why, but I actually really like falling asleep on the couch way better than falling asleep in my bed…
- Taking pictures of my family (I spend so much time taking pictures of other people, I love spending a little time just photographing my kids being themselves!)
- Keeping a gratitude list or a happy list. A gratitude list is a list of things you’re grateful for. A happy list is a list of things that make you happy or make you smile. Very similar, and I have done both over the years (honestly, I prefer the happiness list, but you might like the gratitude list better).
Hopefully this gave you some ideas to get you started on your self-care journey (or to help give your current self-care journey a little boost of new ideas). Just remember: everyone’s self-care journey is different. Every self-care journey looks different at different points in time. Your journey will not remain static; it will grow and change as you do. Don’t get frustrated if you aren’t taking care of yourself as well as you should. Just take a deep breath, do a half hour of yoga or ten minutes of meditation, and try again tomorrow. Keep going! You can do it!
If you’d like to leave me a comment below, and tell me some of YOUR favorite acts of self-care, I would LOVE to hear all about them! <3