Everyone seems to be talking about self-care lately; what it is, why it’s important and how to do it. Given the human reputation for selfishness, it seems counter intuitive that we must be reminded to take care of ourselves. However, the older you grow, the more responsibilities you have. Sometimes you are so busy chasing that paper, caring for your family and attending to all the responsibilities that come with adulting that you forget to take care of yourself. Many of us are working long hours and surviving on close to no sleep. With everything that we must attend to, self-care might feel like just another unnecessary task on your ‘To-do’ list.
It goes without saying that approaching self-care as if it were a chore will only achieve the opposite of what it should. Self-care activities are meant to refresh you, fill you up and give you the mental and physical strength you need to tackle everything else in your life. Self-care keeps you healthy; mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. This looks different for everyone, which is why it is important to find what works for you.
Ultimately, you know best what it is that ‘fills your cup.’ For instance, a salon day is a widely touted form of self-care for girls, but that is not the case for me. Going to the salon for me feels like a real chore. Sitting for hours just to get my hair, nails and whatever else that needs to be groomed, done when I could be at home relaxing on the one day, I am off work is definitely not my version of self-care.
The trick is in knowing what suits you as an individual and doing that. So, what I share today are a few general ideas to promote self-care.
1. Make a list of what fills you up and what drains you.
Self-care can only be effective if you know what refreshes you and what doesn’t. Make a list of things that make you happy and/or calm you. If you don’t know where to start, you can borrow ideas from your friends and family, but always remember that what works for others may not work for you. Do not be afraid to try new things, and to discard them if they are not for you. Making a list for myself really helped me know the things that drain and leave me feeling depleted rather than refreshed.
2. Block out time for yourself.
Once you know what self-care looks like for you, realize that will not just happen. You must intentionally plan for it. There are countless things that make demands on our time; family, jobs, friends, church, all of which are good things, but if you do not carve out time to refill your cup you will be left feeling drained, and subsequently this will affect every area of your life. Be intentional about making time to focus solely on yourself, and that will make you better equipped to face all your other responsibilities.
3. Make everyday chores more pleasurable.
Having time to focus on yourself does not mean that every other chore outside of that should be painful. Find ways to make your daily chores easier and more pleasurable, to reduce stress. You can listen to your favorite podcast or audio book while you fold that laundry. Brew yourself a cup of tea and put on some soothing music as you work late to beat that deadline.
4. Do one relaxing activity daily.
Our days are hectic. You are up early to prepare for the day and try to beat the traffic jam and from then on it is one activity after another. It is a good idea to relax at the end of the day and ease into the evening before going to bed. Exercise for 30 minutes at the end of your day or take a walk and get some air. If you work at a desk all day, stretches are a good way to loosen up your muscles. Do something that allows you to breathe and relax your mind and body.
5. Care for your body.
Young adulthood is a time when most people feel invincible. As we work to secure our future, many of us push our bodies to the limit. While you may not feel it at the time, you will pay for this later in life. Invest in your body by looking after it in your youth. You will only be able to keep working and care for your loved ones when you are healthy. Eat all your meals and make them healthy. Drink loads of water, get enough sleep, take naps when you can, take your medical check-ups seriously. Do as much exercise as possible. This doesn’t only mean going to the gym. You can opt for the stairs instead of the lift. Get up and walk around your office building every hour or two. Take a walk to the restaurant for lunch instead of ordering in. Pack your workout clothes and walk or cycle to and from work. Take care of your body now and it will take care of you in your old age.
6. Care for your mind.
Do things that will keep you in the right state of mind. I personally love journaling and praying. It keeps my mind in check when I’m able to articulate what is going on in my mind and heart, pray about whatever could be troubling me and not have it all cooped up in my mind.
If you realize that social media causes you anxiety, limit your time online. Acknowledge negative thoughts and work through them instead of ignoring them. Talk to trusted friends and family or a therapist.
Learn new things outside of your field to keep your mind sharp. Read everything you can get your hands on! Whatever works for you, care for your mind just as much as your body.
Self-care is not self-indulgence neither is it necessarily about splurging on oneself (if this is your idea of self-care though, that is fine too). It really is as basic as it sounds; taking care of yourself. It is important to make yourself a priority too so you can ably care for those around you and attend to all that you are responsible for.
Yunia Kazibwe is the founder of Adulting Out Loud. She is a wife, and mother to an amazing little girl. When she is not writing for the blog or recording for the podcast, Yunia loves spending lazy days with family, watching movies and catching up on a good series. Though she doesn’t currently have one, she loves cats.
Yunia prefers texting to phone calls, enjoys taking walks, and her favourite snack is popcorn. She often plays pranks on people, and only stops laughing to catch a breath.