Listen- “full-time job” is a term I kind of hate, because it implies that your time is full of work, when in fact your life has so many other facets and dimensions to it.
You know what is a full-time job? Taking care of yourself. Most of us are kind of underemployed in that department, but it’s true. Practicing self care is a form of wellness that, while it shouldn’t take up every waking moment, should be something we practice in a measured fashion every day, no matter how hectic our 9-5.
Regardless of your working schedule, you can try some of the tips below to make self care work for you, and not the other way around.
Leave work at work.
In my role as PR coordinator at a local music festival, I took work home with me every. Single. Day. I never knew how damaging it was, and was always running around like a crazy person because I never actually once stood up and said, “You know what? I’m leaving for the day, and I’m not going to bring this circus home with me”.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to separate those two “selves”, as it were. The best thing I ever did for myself was firmly refuse to even think about logging into my email when I got home from my current job, let alone perform tasks or write content. I don’t view my home as a kind of hostile territory anymore- which has actually helped my relationship, and created a renewed interest in healthy cooking and fitness (without which, I wouldn’t be here talking with you)!
Let yourself be selfish.
So many of us fill our free time with obligations to other people. If you would rather put your feet up, order a pizza, and binge Queer Eye until the small hours of the morning than go to so-and-so’s game night, you do you, fam. The last thing you should do is focus so hard on pleasing others that you don’t take into account what you actually want.
You don’t always have to invite your girlfriends or significant other to come with you to stuff, either- sometimes it’s good to branch out and have hobbies and interests that are exclusively yours. Try out that new dance class at the local gym, or maybe pick up that novel you were too busy/afraid/who even knows to finish.
Focus on small, frequent things.
I used to pin all my efforts on one singular “treat” that I considered to be self care. What I found was that keeping this incentive above my own head didn’t actually make me any happier or less stressed, and that in fact during the long stretches of time in between when I would actually do nice things for myself , I was the most miserable I had ever been. Clearly, something wasn’t working.
I read somewhere earlier this year that a good rule of thumb is to stick to tiny acts of self care performed often throughout the day-that way, self care becomes something you practice in small ways all day long instead of struggling towards a distant reward that ends up left by the wayside.
A great motivator for me has always been setting goals for myself. You know, rise to the challenge and whatnot. No matter how you look at it, given the right personality type it’s one of the best ways to establish new habits, try new things, and achieve stuff that is going to make you happy and energized, setting you up for more positive things in life.
Try for that 5k, summer reading challenge, or clean eating cleanse- just don’t forget to celebrate the smaller milestones along the way (they are every bit as important as the end goal).
Find what works for you, not someone else.
Like many things in life, what works for some will not work for others. In other words, don’t let Instagram dictate your self care practice. Too often, I cruise self care and wellness hashtags and see the same regurgitated spiel that seems more and more disingenuous the closer I look at someone’s profile, and I honestly have to wonder- is any of this actually helping, or are people just copying one another in an endless feedback loop trying to become the kind of self care guru that gets tons of likes, comments, and follows?
My philosophy is this: if it works for you to keep a daily journal, practice aromatherapy or meditation, or be one with the universe, you do that. But please don’t do it because it’s a popular trend or you think people will give you kudos for it. I just don’t think that’s healthy, and for sure isn’t real self care.
It can be hard to juggle everything life throws your way, but making yourself a priority is not only right, it’s necessary. There’s just too much going on in your life and in the world to throw your mental and physical health to the wayside.
Got any favorite self care tips? Let me know below!
Keep it real,