At last glance, when I searched for the #selfcare on Instagram, there were over 36 million posts with that hashtag. It seems there are a lot of people practicing it, providing it, or both. Either way, it’s a pretty popular thing people are thinking about. I’d imagine if I looked on other platforms, there would be a similar result. And though the thought of self-care is often thought of for women, it is really a non-gender related concept.
With that in mind, we know that self-care is front and center in the minds of many. However, just because we think about it, does not mean we are doing it. Self-care is an action, not just a noun. It requires us to actively care for ourselves. What that looks like for each of us can be different. The way it impacts each of us can be different. One common thing is that most people have ups and downs in their consistency with their self-care. What if you had a way to be sure you took this seriously every day? No one can guarantee you will; however, here are some tips to help you along the way.
- What makes you cry or get angry? Both of these are examples of how something can really get under our skin and draw out our most passionate expressions of our emotions. Once you identify this, ask yourself why it makes you feel that way. Then, create a story that connects this to caring for yourself. If seeing someone harmed makes you cry…ask if your behaviors daily are harming you. If seeing someone treated unfairly makes you angry…ask yourself if you are being unfair to your body, mind, soul when you don’t take care of it.
- Smartphones are smart for a reason. How often do you look at your phone? This could be to take calls, visit social media, check email, or even create notes. There is a calendar function on all of today’s phones. Are you using it for meetings, events, etc.? Why not use it to schedule your self-care. This has to be a daily part of your routine. If you ignore reminders on your phone, support them by also putting a sticky note on your mirror, wearing a wristband reminder, jotting it down on your paper calendar daily. To build routines you must be mindful. Seeing this in your face regularly can help create a new habit in your brain to not only think about self-care but to do it.
- Wake up differently. What is the first thing you do when you open your eyes in the morning? I am a faith-based person so I wake up and express my thanks for another day. It’s a habit I chose to create for myself because it was important to me. For a long time, after I did that in the mornings, I would then immediately go for my phone to check my notifications. That daily perusal of social media could end up wasting about 30 minutes of my time each day. Some might say, but that social media browsing is relaxing. But after I just woke up, what do I need to relax from? It has taken some time to break the habit but now I try to wake up and start a different routine. This is something you can do to include your self-care. After a few weeks, it’ll be second nature to you.
- Are patterns really patterns if no one sees them? Part of emotional intelligence is about identifying our patterns of behavior. If no one notices them (including us) how can we see the impact? Some keep a journal to monitor their patterns. Some make notes on their phone, use sticky notes, or even just take a mental note. Start to identify what stops you from the daily self-care routine you'd like to have. Once you do this, PAUSE and find ways to create a new pattern that does not hinder your ability to take care of yourself.
Part of why we do what we do (or don’t) is based on the impact on the reward center in our brains. If we don’t see or feel a reward, it may not appeal, and if it doesn’t appeal we are less likely to continue doing it voluntarily. Basic human nature is something we can work with if we know how to. Think about the short and long-term goals of self-care. Find ways that matter to you to have this appeal to your reward center. Only you know what makes you tick. Pause and take time to do so in an effort to create better and more sustainable ways of taking care of YOU!