September has been deemed National Self Care Awareness Month, meaning it's a great time to reflect on your current habits and to set some new goals related to your physical and mental health. In fact, late September coincides with the Fall Equinox, a time of year that represents gratitude, letting go, and celebrating the harvest. So why not celebrate yourself, too?
Your ideal way to spend "me time" might look pretty different from someone else’s. Perhaps you feel recharged after meditating, exercising, treating yourself to an at-home spa night, spending time with friends, getting extra sleep, or expressing your creativity through drawing, painting, or writing.
No matter what types of activities restore your energy and light you up most, it's important to consistently set aside time to take care of yourself. Your body, relationships, and productivity at work will thank you for it!
Ideas for Practicing Self Care
1. Ask yourself what you truly enjoy
When's the last time you checked in with yourself to figure out what you really love doing? Many of us live such busy lives, with long to-do lists and loads of obligations, that we seldom sit down to brainstorm ways we can destress, unwind, and recharge.
If you had the whole day to yourself with no obligations to others, what would you do?
Don't worry about trying to impress anyone or sharing your whereabouts on social media, but rather think only about what brings you happiness. Make a list of several things that you genuinely find to be fun and rewarding, and then prioritize fitting these activities into your weekly routine. You might even be able to do some of these things at work while you have a short break, such as walking outside, meditating, or reading. (And for a simple, yet effective way to maximize your well-being during your workday, try the AdaRose Work Break in a Box!)
2. Schedule your day
Now that you've pinpointed several sources of joy in your life, it's time to get organized so you can maximize your time. By writing out a daily schedule and sticking to it, you're better able to accomplish important tasks while also squeezing in some fun and relaxation.
Start by writing down key projects and requirements you must adhere to and choose times to accomplish them. Next, plan when you'll be able to eat and take short breaks from your work. Make sure to add in time for commuting to work or elsewhere, if applicable.
Next, pick a time slot to exercise or move your body, such as by taking a walk, going to the gym, or attending a fitness class (even if it's from home).
Finally, determine what time you ideally want to get up every morning and go to sleep at night, keeping in mind that you need about 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
Your day is now mapped out. With the time you have left in between tasks, find ways to fit in some of the self care activities you chose above, such as visiting a friend, gardening, or playing with your pet.
3. Find ways to move your body
Some people genuinely love to exercise and need little motivation to do it, while others require an appointment, trainer, or program to keep them on track. Even if you fall into the latter group, chances are you love the way you feel after exercising and taking care of your body.
Pay attention to the perks that exercise provides you, such as a boost in confidence, energy, strength, focus, and even enhanced creativity and capacity to solve problems.
4. Set boundaries (it's okay to say no!)
There are plenty of people who ask for our time and energy that we'd prefer not to give it to.
If a jam-packed schedule leaves you feeling anxious or wiped out, it's time to cut back on events and projects that aren't essential, such as social meetups you're no longer interested in or activities for your kids that they wouldn't necessarily miss.
You might also benefit from delegating certain tasks that aren't truly your responsibility. Consider talking to your spouse, kids, boss, or coworkers about ways they can help if you're feeling overwhelmed.
5. Give yourself time to play
As mentioned above, a well-thought out plan for your day serves many purposes. Still, it can feel refreshing to have time set aside to do absolutely nothing, or to make a spur-of-the-moment decision about what you'd like to do.
If possible, leave yourself about 30 to 60 minutes everyday to be spontaneous and play in whatever way caters to your current mood. You might use this time to get outside and lie in the sun, meditate, window shop, or take your kids to the park. Even napping or watching TV can be forms of self care if they are done intentionally to help you relax.