When we’re busy, self-care can be one of the first things to drop off the end of the ‘to-do’ list. It’s very easy to think it’s not important and that there are other things we need to do first.
However, self-care is important. Without it, we burn out quickly. We can’t give our all to our families, friendships and occupations if we have nothing left to give. Self-care gives us time to regroup and recharge.
Nail The Basics
Self-care is often presented in the form of fluffy bath bombs and sparkly face masks. But on a basic level, self-care is about taking care of ourselves.
It’s about trying. Trying to shower when we need to. Trying to eat a balanced diet. Trying to get enough sleep (ideally at around the same time each day). Drinking enough fluid. Breathing a little fresh air, even if it’s just opening a window. Taking our prescribed medication at the right times. Keeping our living areas relatively clean and tidy. Maybe fitting in some exercise – even if it’s just taking the stairs instead of the lift.
It doesn’t need to be anything elaborate. And we don’t need to do it all at once (that can feel near on impossible, we know!). But trying to fit in the basics is a great place to start. They give us a solid foundation to work from.
Nobody is perfect. When we are busy, we sometimes put extra pressure on ourselves. We expect ourselves to be perfect in every aspect of our lives, despite juggling lots of different things. Ditching this pursuit of perfection can reduce the amount of stress we feel. It can also free-up some time to do other things.
Block It Out
Self-care is important so we need to prioritise it. To stop it from entering ‘not enough time’ territory, we can try blocking it out in our diaries in the same way we would with an appointment. It can be in a personal diary, or even in a shared diary. We don’t have to put what it is, just label it ‘personal appointment’. Writing it down rather than having it floating around our heads can help to hold us accountable. It can help us to keep the time blocked out, rather than filling it with other bits and bobs and thinking ‘it doesn’t matter’.
Give Yourself Time
Busy people often have a habit of giving themselves five minutes to do a 10 minute job. This can lead to us feeling super stressed and never quite doing tasks as well as we might like to. It can help to try and allow a little more time for stuff, even if that means that we get less done.
This could include things like waking up with enough time on a morning to get dressed and eat breakfast before work. Planning our journeys in advance so we’re not blowing a fuse every time we hit a red traffic light. It’s about valuing ourselves enough to take the breaks that we’re entitled to at work, rather than working through them.
We will probably get more done overall if we allow ourselves enough time to do the things we have to do. On top of that, it could help us to feel less stressed.
Learn Your Limits
We all have limits. Depression can reduce the amount of energy we have, and increase the amount of energy required for everyday tasks. It can also cause our boundaries to become a little wonky. Learning our limits and learning to respect those limits can be very tricky and take a lot of trial and error. However, it can be one of the most important acts of self-care we aim for, especially when we’re busy. We won’t always get it right. There will be times when we are completely burned out and when we push ourselves too far. But over time, we can begin to learn what our limits are, and become more comfortable respecting those limits.
Little Sparks Of Happy
There are little things we can do throughout the day which make us smile. It doesn’t need to be anything big or time consuming. It could be things like buying our favourite sandwich at lunch, trying a new flavour of tea, having a photo of happy times in our wallet or on our desk. Blasting our favourite music in the car, kitchen, or on our commute. Or wearing clothes we feel comfy in. None of these things take much time, but they can all bring a smile.
Time To Recharge
No matter who we are, we all need time to regroup and recharge. Different people will do this in different ways. Some people will have quite active recharge time. We might craft, or play sports, or go out with friends. Other people prefer slightly quieter recharge time. Reading a book, watching TV, or doing puzzles.
When we’re busy, quiet time can be one of the first things we stop doing. However, nobody can spend their whole lives at 100mph. We burn out very quickly. So, although this recharge time can often feel unnecessary and a waste of time, it’s actually really important to try and fit it in.
Let Yourself Feel
One thing that busy people are excellent at, is avoiding feelings. We busy ourselves up so that we never have time to think or feel. We run from our thoughts and feelings, put our hands over our ears, sing ‘lalala’, and tell our brains we are not listening.
As much as sometimes we do need to distract from difficult and uncomfortable thoughts and feelings, if we never let ourselves feel them then they will build up. We need to try and let ourselves deal with them in small, short bursts.
Let It Out
We all need ways of getting all the rubbish clouding our minds, out of our heads. Some people will find writing helpful. Others might find talking, painting, running, making lists, saving quotes, or something else to be most helpful. We might have to try a few different things before finding something that works for us.
Ask For Help
We all need help sometimes. Whoever we are. Whatever we have going on in our lives. We all sometimes need help from others, or need to delegate to others. Asking for help can be a real challenge, but there is nothing shameful about it.
Fun is important! It’s another thing that can go out of the window when we’re busy. We feel as though we don’t have time to have fun. But having fun lets us relax, de-stress, laugh, catch up with friends, and enjoy ourselves. It’s a vital part of keeping us mentally healthy.
However busy we are, whatever is going on in our lives, we are important. There is help available if we need it. Sometimes we have to put ourselves first. We deserve to feel safe and cared for. We deserve to look after ourselves. It’s important that despite our busyness, we make time to do that.
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