How often have you heard those words or something similar? I know I have heard and said them more times than I can count. The problem is no one ever seems to give you anything concrete that you can actually DO in order to accomplish that goal.
"Take care of yourself. "
"Make sure to take time for self-care."
"Take care of you first, or you won't be able to take care of anyone else."
And really that is what we need to make it a goal. Instead of thinking of self-care as another thing on our to-do list it is really important to rethink and reframe it as a goal and an accomplishment. For some reason, our society has thought of self-care as a luxury rather than a necessity. Because of that social stigma it takes some time to reframe the thought process so if we think of it as an accomplishment to actually participate fully in self-care it becomes a positive activity rather than a dirty little secret or "guilty pleasure."
There is no guilt in taking care of yourself. You don't feel guilty when you take care of others and you owe yourself the same courtesy, so start TODAY, make it your goal, and you will be sure to follow through.
Start your day with an intention.One great way to do this is to find a mantra for the day or the week. You might also want to choose one that is a "fall back" for days or times you are just too overwhelmed to think straight. It happens, to all of us, at some point so being prepared with a back up plan and knowing it is in place gives you that much more peace of mind.
Meditate for just 2 minutes.This can mean repeating your daily mantra, just sitting in stillness and trying to clear your mind completely or it might mean practicing deep breathing excercises. Mix it up and do which ever you feel you need in that moment or combine them all.
Start a gratitude journalThis can be done on your computer, phone, tablet or in an actual paper style journal. Do what makes sense for you. It does not matter if you want to use crayons, pretty papers, pencils or markers or if you simply add to a list every day on your phone. The only thing that matters is that it is something you will use.
Use an alarm to remind you to set time aside to do this until you begin to remember all on your own. And don't worry if you never remember to do it yourself and need that reminder every day. All that matters is that you do what works for you. I found that after 100 days I was doing this throughout my day and that I no longer needed the journal.
I started my journal 4 years ago and still find myself adding to it daily. Some days are harder than others but there is always something to be grateful for if I just think about it.
Find a way to move your body that is both within your capabilities and that you enjoy. There is no sense in doing too much and then regretting it and if you do not do something you actually like you will find excuses to avoid it. Yoga, walking, and stretching are some things that I like to do and that have helped me with pain management. Each of us is different and needs to work within our own capabilities. Forgive yourself for what you cannot do and do what you can.