If you’re anything like me, you struggle not to cringe internally when you hear the phrase “self-care”. Self-care is kind of a buzzword these days – but behind the trending hashtags and best-selling books is an important, healthy habit we should all be practicing. As entrepreneurs, we have a lot on our plates. The responsibilities of running a business along with other life responsibilities (a partner, kids, pets, a 9-5 job, etc) mean that we’re extra vulnerable to stress and burnout. With the start of a new year (and a new decade!) comes the determination to set new goals, try new things, and make changes to our lives. Let’s take a second to chat about how you can set a realistic, sustainable self-care routine for 2020.
What Is Sustainable Self-Care?
Self-care is, simply, taking care of yourself – body, mind, spirit. It means taking steps to identify your own needs and making an effort to meet them.
The American Psychological Association defines it as: “providing adequate attention to one’s own physical and psychological well-being.”
Practicing self-care is a proven way to reduce stress, improve both physical and emotional health, and reduce the risk of burnout.
When you have big responsibilities, such as a business, a 9-5 job, kids, a partner, or pets, it can be easy to either forget or choose not to take time to meet your own needs. There are all sorts of excuses out there for why someone doesn’t practise self-care. If I’m being honest, I’ve probably used most of them!
Some of the most common barriers to why someone may not practise self-care are pretty big ones – the lack of time, money, or energy. These barriers vary greatly from person to person, and while there is no easy answer to overcoming any of those, I hope that this post helps people figure out how to take care of themselves with whatever resources they have available to them.
What Self-Care Isn’t
Self-care doesn’t mean self-indulgence.
Racking up a ton of credit card debt, feeding into addictions, or creating unhealthy habits are all things that can be disguised as “self-care” but are really destructive. Self-care shouldn’t add more stress to your life!
The definition of what is and what isn’t self-care can vary greatly from person to person. Something that may be a self-care activity for one person may be a huge source of stress for another person – and that’s totally okay! Don’t ever feel like you have to practice a certain type of self-care if it isn’t your “thing”. Find what works for you!
Creating a Self-Care Routine That Works for You
At the beginning of the year, it’s easy to be all gung-ho about implementing big changes in our lives. But – let’s be realistic. How many of those huge changes actually stick?
Instead of jumping headfirst into a completely new self-care routine, choose one or two small things you can work into your current schedule. Make a list of all the things you enjoy doing. Think about activities you can do with others – with your kids, with your partner, with your pet(s). Make adjustments to the activities you think you “can’t” do for one reason or another – if going to the gym is out of the question for you, try downloading a workout app. If getting monthly pedicures is a little too lavish for your current lifestyle, try buying a few new bottles of nail polish. Make it work for you!
And finally – ditch the guilt. We’re often made to feel like taking time for ourselves is “selfish” – but it’s really not. Hire a babysitter. Ask your parents (or sibling, or friend) to watch your kids or pet so you can have some time alone. It’s okay to need some space, and it’s OKAY to spend time (and money) on yourself.