• Priorities Part 5: Self Care

    self carePart 5 of the Priorities series is going to focus on self-care. (If you haven’t read the previous posts, I’ve provided links at the bottom.) Perhaps self-care is one of the priorities on your list. If so, this post ought to help. If not, you’ll still need it because you won’t be as successful in reaching your goals if you don’t take good care of yourself.

    Self-care is one of the most important things you can do for yourself, and there are a lot of blog posts out there giving you lists of things you can do for self-care. There’s nothing wrong with those lists… I’ve even written a few of them myself. But when you’re delving deep into what it takes to prioritize the things that are important to you, you also must do the same thing with self-care.

    What Exactly IS Self-Care

    Without some form of self-care you’re not going to make any of your priorities happen. But what constitutes true self-care? Well, the answer is as unique as you are. It might look like a weekly bubble bath with a good book and a glass of wine, getting more sleep, spending less time doing house or yard work, learning to say no, or learning to delegate. It might look like something else entirely. This post is intended to help you find the self-care that’s right for you.

    The first thing you need to figure out is how you recharge.

    Making sure you take time to recharge each day and/or week is the first step in any self-care plan. Do you recharge:

    • When you spend time alone
    • When you hang out with friends
    • When you listen to certain types of music
    • When you read certain types of books or magazines
    • When you engage in certain activities like yoga, meditation, gardening, knitting, hiking, walking/running, biking
    • When you spend time in certain environments like the woods, water, parks, gardens, or just nature in general
    • Some other way

    How Long Does it Take?

    Next you need to figure out how much time you need for each of your recharging activities.

    Many recharging activities can be done in less than 5 minutes. Some of the ones I like to do when I don’t have much time are: specific mindful breathing exercises, meditation, listening to a specific song, spending time outside, or doing a single yoga pose. The beauty of anything you can do in 1-5 minutes is that you can do it several times a day and get a bunch of mini charges or, if you have the time, it can be done for a much longer time to get a full recharge all at once.

    Some activities require a larger chunk of time, and simply aren’t conducive to quick, mini recharge sessions. Instead, they’re best suited for longer periods before or after work and your days off.  Your best recharge plan will include some of both.

    What Else Do I Need to Consider?

    Recharging your energy and spirit is all well and good, but you also need to know what you’re doing (or not doing) that drains it in the first place. Only you can answer that question, but some common things include:

    • Housework
    • Yard work
    • Overcommitting
    • Micromanaging
    • Meetings
    • Errands
    • Something else

    Yes, house and yard work are necessary but many of us set the bar for them too high and practically kill ourselves attempting to reach our unrealistic goals. I once knew a woman who cleaned her entire house from top to bottom each day, in addition to working a full time job outside the home. She was stressed to the max, resentful, and generally unhappy but couldn’t see how she was contributing to her own upset.

    Whatever the reason is that you do too much doesn’t matter. What matters is that you recognize that the world won’t end if you don’t join one more committee, that you don’t have to be able to eat off your floors, that nobody’s gonna die if the dishes sit on the counter for an hour (or until tomorrow) while you spend some quality time with yourself and/or your family, and that if it’s not actually dirty it doesn’t need cleaning. You might also remember that the house won’t collapse if someone else loads the dishwasher, even if they load it differently than you would. If you can’t stand seeing it loaded differently, leave the kitchen when they do it… that’s what I had to do (for a very long time) when my husband took over doing the dishes. You know what I discovered? The dishes still get just as clean no matter which one of us loads the dishwasher. You know what else? I’m less stressed, and have more time for self-care, because I don’t have to do the dishes!

    A Twist on Traditional Self-Care

    Many of us, myself included, tend to think of self-care as taking a break from all the day-to-day mundane tasks that we find ourselves committed (or overcommitted) to. And it is. But what if I told you that self-care might actually involve some of those tasks after all?

    Now, I’ve never been the type of person who cleans my house from top to bottom every day. Just ask my mother. But I’ve always cleaned it well. Over the years, however, I’ve realized that the house will not fall into eternal chaos if I let the dishes sit until the next day or if I wait to do the dusting until I actually see some dust. (Or can maybe write my name in it. Whatever.)

    But sometimes, especially when I’m super busy and things around the house are getting cleaned less than normal, housework becomes part of my self-care. This seems counter-intuitive, I know. It took me a long time to make this realization, for that very reason. The thing is, when the state of the house stresses me out, typical self-care activities become a stress as well. I’m sitting on my backside reading a book (or meditating) but not getting anything out of it because I know how badly the bathroom needs to be cleaned. Now I’m not only stressed, I feel guilty on top of it all.

    So, when I’m super busy some of my self-care involves doing one bit of housework per day. It’s amazing how much better I feel and how much more effective my other self-care is when I’m not stressing out over the state of my house.

    Now it’s your turn. Take some time to consider the right self-care regimen for you. Choose some short activities that will give you a mini recharge as well as some longer activities that will give you a full recharge. If you feel like it, I’d love you to share in the comments an insight that you had into what your own self-care needs to look like, or one self-care item/activity that you plan to begin using a daily or weekly basis.

    Oh, and if you found some value in this post won’t you share it using the handy buttons below?

    PS – here are the first four posts in the series in case you missed them:

    Setting Priorities to Reduce Stress

    Priorities Part 2: The Cost Benefit Analysis

    Priorities Part 3: What Needs to Change?

    Priorities Part 4: Resources and Limitations

2 Responses so far.

  1. Sherryl says:

    My snippets of self care: 1) my Facebook newsfeed – scrolling quickly past politics 2) browsing any IKEA catalog 3) stepping outside and taking a few deep breaths. 4) reviewing my to do list which reminds me I am aware of what is coming. 5) doing dishes – with lavedar vanilla dish soap 6) paying for an extra night in a hotel at the conclusion of a business trip so I don’t have to take the last flight out or drive in the dark

    • Michelle Doetsch says:

      Those are all great bits of self-care. I love the scented dish soap! What a great way to make a necessary task more pleasant and relaxing.