Life. Ah. That ol’ chestnut. Has a habit of getting in the way sometimes don’t it? With the rise of people talking about the importance of self care reaching dizzying heights over the last few years, it also brings with it a bit of guilt, when we realise that we’re neglecting our own self care. Sometimes for weeks. Or when there’s a stressful event happening in our lives. Sometimes, we neglect it for months on end. And it can be hard to know how to bring self care back into your life when you’ve neglected yourself for too long.
But seriously, no shame here. I think we’re ALL guilty of neglecting our own self care, whether that’s physical, mental or emotional at some point in our lives. For me, it was when I was in the midst of the worst period of my anxiety disorder. I could barely function to get through the day, let alone have to think FURTHER about self care.
To me, getting through the day WAS self care.
Although of course at the time, that wasn’t how I saw it. At the time, it was living hell (more about that in my book, which you can pre-order here!)
Getting back on track with self care isn’t easy. Especially when you’ve neglected it for far too long. But it’s important. We literally live in a society where we need to be REMINDED to take care of ourselves sometimes… how sad is that? We’re so busy. There’s so much going on around us. We need to be doing all the things, all the time.
And it’s time to stop and reclaim our self care. You, yes, I’m looking at you.
Here are a few easy to follow steps on how to bring self care back into your life when you’ve neglected yourself for far too long:
Start small and start somewhere
Okay, so the hardest part? Is getting started. Which goes for just about everything in life that seems mildly daunting. So the fact that you’ve even STARTED, is worth congratulating yourself for. If you’ve done nothing even remotely “self care” related in perhaps months and the whole prospect is overwhelming, then booking yourself a full blown spa weekend with no phone, internet or communication probably isn’t the way to go.
Don’t judge yourself
And wherever you DO start, don’t judge yourself for it. If the ONLY act of self care you can manage at the beginning is a having a bath or saying no to that invite that you really don’t want to go to, then that’s fine. I have a habit of feeling guilty about everything (another post for another time) so learning not to judge myself when it comes to self care is hugely important to me. Your journey is YOURS, nobody else’s.
Schedule self care into your day
If you’re not used to self care then you’ll probably make some excuses. Don’t worry, we all do it. “I forgot”, or “I don’t have time”, being the most common. WELL, firstly self care can be nicely slotted into your day in the following ways:
- Reading on your commute instead of checking your phone
- Waking up 15 minutes earlier for the peace and quiet
- Limiting social media time in the evenings
- Expressing gratitude every night before bed
among many, many other ways that you can start re-introducing self care into your life that won’t take up a bunch of time. And by scheduling it into your day, putting it on your to-do list or blocking out time especially for YOU, it’ll give you that little nudge and remind you that it’s just as important as all the other stuff you have to do during the day.
Gather inspiration for self care activities
Pinterest is a great tool for this one as there are countless blog posts and pins on self care activities which cover more or less everyone’s different interests. Just because someone else finds going to a spa relaxing, doesn’t mean that everyone else will. With self care, it’s all about finding what works for you but if you’re struggling for ideas because it’s been so long, somewhere like Pinterest is a good place to start.
Note down what works and what doesn’t
And speaking of finding what works for you, this is a BIG one. Because not everything you try will make you feel relaxed or happy or better. This is one I’m currently working on now. As I work for myself and work from home, I find it difficult to find a balance between life and work. So I started giving myself full days off, cold turkey, no work. Sometimes no social media either.
And I’ve found that actually… that doesn’t work for me. When I have a day off and don’t HAVE anything to do then literally, I will do nothing. I waste my days. I nap all afternoon. And ultimately, I end up feeling like crap. So whilst yes, having a day off is an important part of self care, working it in a way that suits you is the most important thing.
So for me, I’ve started trying out half days instead. Giving myself a couple of days in the week where I work until midday and then stop. Which seems to be working out much better for me at the moment.