When I was a teenager, self care inspired daydreams of a future life where I would spend hours laying on a chaise lounge donning a silk robe, painting my toes, all the while gossiping on the phone over a bowl of chocolate covered strawberries.
Turns out, real life involves a lot less 2000’s era dream montages than I expected, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t carve out some me-time anyway! It just looks a lot different in the busy, yet wonderful life I’m living.
With over 40 million adults in the U.S. suffering from mood disorders or anxiety, I would say self care is now as important as ever. How and when we do this is different for all women. Here are a few ways you can make the absolute most of the precious time we get to ourselves.
Women have been taught the bad habit of feeling guilty about doing things for ourselves. Take a look at the stigma placed on things like magazines, reality TV, UGG boots and pumpkin spice lattes; we get criticized for the simple act of liking something! When it comes to self care, your first job is to remember that this time is only about you. Engage in purely self-serving activities that make you happy! Make a list, if you wish, and weigh out some things that you truly like to do when you’re alone.
Too often our personal time is the first thing we axe. Or the thing that never takes precedence to begin with. If you want to reap the mental health benefits, you have to be deeply protective of your time to yourself. Finding balance in your life can start by creating monthly or weekly plans in your calendar. Make it very intentional that you will not be busied by other projects at this time. Think of it like going on a date with yourself. Would you cancel mani-pedi plans with your closest friend because your mom wanted you to come over and help her? No, of course not. Setting aside time for yourself shouldn’t be neglected.
I suggest a me-time ban on email-checking, social media scrolling, and texting. It’s distracting and invites self-criticism. Stuff your phone in a box somewhere and trust that whatever important communications are waiting for you will still be there when you’re done luxuriating in peace. Self care can include activities that give you the feeling that you’re doing good for yourself. Some of my favorite activities include cooking new recipes that are a bit longer or more difficult than my usual after work quick dinner. I also have found that for a lot of women journaling your thoughts, ideas or musings can be a great self reflective activity.
Not to be too new-agey about it, but I find that in almost all situations, I get the best use of my time when I set a goal. Try something specific, but not daunting, like, “unwind from that stressful meeting,” or “do yoga to loosen up my tight muscles,” or “consume so much hot chocolate and reality tv content that I can no longer move.” You’re welcome.
I find that if I schedule an appointment and pay for it in advance, I’m way less likely to skip out on my me time. Buying something sends a mental signal to yourself that you are worth spending money and time on. This might be a sad reflection on the intense value our culture places on money, but boy does it work. Book that manicure! Get that sheet mask you’ve been wanting to try! You don’t have to spend a lot of money on yourself to make it count.
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