Women often occupy caregiving roles; 27% of women are stay-at-home moms, 61% of caregivers are female, and even women that aren’t in these dedicated roles still spend much of their time caring for others.
With so much focus on those around us - our children, our parents, our friends, our siblings, our spouse - it can be easy to spend less time caring for ourselves. With that in mind, we’re sharing some tips on how you can nurture your relationship with yourself and tend to your own needs.
We give you permission to do nothing.
That might sound a little silly (or maybe impossible), but it’s important to take time to truly relax, even if it’s just for a few moments. You’ve probably heard it before - you can’t pour from an empty cup. If you’re go-go-going all the time, your cup will be empty. You’ll have nothing left for yourself - or for family and friends. Consider if you might benefit from treating ‘doing nothing’ like a habit, by incorporating it into your day. Here are a few ideas for when and how you can fill your cup by pausing to rest:
- When you finish your workday, close your computer or walk away from your workstation. Before moving on to the next task, take five deep breaths in and out.
- When you get up to use the restroom or refill your water, take a moment to pause and soak up some sun - either stand by a window or step outside. Close your eyes, roll your shoulders back, and relax for a few moments before returning to your task.
- When you’ve finished a project or a portion of your work for the day, and it feels like a good place to stop, close your laptop and then close your eyes and just sit for a moment. Scan your body for anywhere you might be holding tension and take a few deep breaths into that area of your body. Visualize the tension releasing.
Ditch the guilt.
Does just the thought of ‘doing nothing’ trigger feelings of guilt for you? Taking time to care for yourself or do nothing might sound selfish to you. We suggest reframing that mindset, and over time, you’ll hopefully feel a shift in your thinking pattern. Instead of thinking of “me-time” as indulgent, think of it as a necessity. It’s just as important - you’re just as important - as the other commitments in your life. You matter. Put yourself first, even just for a few moments. Come up with a standard response you can say (out loud or in your head!) when those feelings of guilt show up. Maybe you respond by saying, “I care for others by caring for myself,” “I deserve to feel cared for,” or simply, “I value myself.”
Over time, ignoring your own needs may compromise your mental and physical health, your happiness, and even your job performance. Keep these long-term consequences top of mind. For instance, your children might need you to feed them and take them from point A to B; they also need you to be healthy, energetic, and loving in the long run. Once you're able to strike a balance between your work and personal life, you might actually be more productive and creative.
Seek a swap.
There are only so many hours in a day. You may be thinking, “Self-care sounds great, but literally - when?” It’s fair - you’re busy! We get that. So start with a simple mental scan of your day, or if that’s too tough, spend time over the next week noting what tasks you can swap out. This may mean delegating to someone else (AKA asking for help!), eliminating the task altogether (hello endless Instagram scroll), or resetting your expectations. Ask yourself three questions: Can someone else do this? Do I want to be doing this? Do I need to do all of this? If you find anything that you can delegate, ditch, or diminish, look to insert a moment of self-care, even if it’s just for five minutes!
Get back to the basics.
If self-care is still sounding too unrealistic, simplify! Realistically, self-care is about taking care of your body and mind so that you can be the strongest, happiest, best version of yourself. If you’re feeling stressed, ask yourself if you’ve had enough sleep, if you’ve been eating nourishing meals, or if you’ve been moving your body. If the answer is ‘no’ or ‘not as much as I intended,’ find a small way to improve in one of those areas. Maybe you head to bed five minutes earlier, start your day with a balanced breakfast, or take a stretch break between meetings. Start small, and start simple! That momentum of making a small change will carry you farther than you realize.