Many of us are guilty of putting others first and completely forgetting to look after ourselves. While this works in theory, thinking: “But I’m ok so why shouldn’t I help others?”, it is not necessarily sustainable. It is important to think of ourselves as a jug of water. We can give and give while our jug is full, but sometimes we need to stop and leave it out in the rain to replenish before we can offer any more. This is when taking time to yourself comes in and you need to put yourself on your priority list in order to fill yourself back up (read more here why you need time for yourself). This may be through calming practices, exercise, indulgence or simply seeking joy, but whatever it is that fills your jug, make sure you keep adding it into your routine so you don’t forget about it!
Here we put together some tools and ideas for you to use when you need to take a day for yourself, putting yourself as number one on your love list. Taking a full day out to practice some self-love is amazing as it really enables you to give yourself your all, without trying to squeeze it in between all the other chores and routines that normally fill your day.
Create A List Of Things That Spark Joy
The first thing to do when planning a day for yourself is to write down a list of things that spark joy within. This can be absolutely anything that helps you feel happy and calm at the same time. Rather than seeking out the joy of a new handbag purchase (a temporary endorphin high), try instead to figure out activities that you can do on a regular occasion that you love. This could be singing, dancing, cooking, baking, doing yoga or having a bath.
Once you have created a list of self-care practices it’s much easier to put these into your routine when you get the chance. You might also want to find an accountability buddy who ensures that you stay on track with your self-care goals. The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) found that having an accountability appointment with someone increases your chance of success by up to 95%, so why not tell your partner what self-care practices you hope to do and they can check back later to make sure you didn’t move yourself down your priority list!
Figure Out Where You Waste Time
Secondly, you’ll want to work out where it is that you waste time during your day. Of course, there are certain things that we have to do each day, like going to work or looking after the kids, but there may be times that we simply waste watching TV or scrolling through social media. It is these actions that can be replaced with self-care which will allow you to feel more connected with your inner self and more balanced in your daily life.
If you can manage to clear your calendar of unnecessary engagements for a day then even better!
Create A Morning Or Evening Routine
Creating a morning or evening routine is a good place to start when incorporating self-care practices into your life. This can be as simple as getting up, doing a two-minute meditation, reciting positive mantras and not looking at your phone before breakfast. Once you start to practice these on a regular basis, you will begin to see the benefits they bring.
A morning routine sets you up well for the day, ensuring you start with a positive mindset and an attitude of gratitude. Similarly, an evening routine allows you to wind down before going to bed, a vital part of ensuring you have a restful sleep!
After practicing this for a while you’ll realise how great it feels which will hopefully persuade you that taking time for yourself is noble and loving, rather than selfish or narcissistic.
Take Care Of Your Body
Taking care of your body is another great practice to get into and it is a must for a day of self-care. This looks different for everyone so don’t feel as though this has to mean enduring a sweaty workout or manoeuvring into advanced yoga postures (although these are wonderful if that is what your heart desires!).
Taking care of your body can include focusing on your breath (ensuring you breathe deep into your belly), eating healthy meals, drinking plenty of freshwater or partaking in exercise that suits you.
Whatever you do, make sure it comes from a place of love rather than a place of duty. As soon as you feel like you are exercising because it is a chore to be ticked off the to-do list, then you’ll lose the benefits it will bring to your mind and soul.
Pursue Your Passions
One way to really put yourself at the top of your priority list is to pursue things that you love doing rather than things you need to do or that others want you to do. These things are your passions.
Your passions may include gardening, arts and crafts, playing music, walking outside in nature or reading, but whatever you do, do it for the love. Tell your friends and family that you won’t be available and simply put all your time and effort into following your passions. You’ll be amazed at how much joy this brings compared to doing something you feel your ‘ought’ to do!
Listen To Your Heart
Self-care practices are unique to each one of us and our choice of activities may be different on different days. The important thing is to listen to your heart and do what it is asking. Some days this may be enjoying a high-intensity workout while on others it may be unwinding in the bath with a glass of wine and a candle or two!
Our true inner voices are usually a lot quieter than our loud egos so make sure you listen intently to figure out what will really make you feel good.
Putting yourself on your own priority list may include treating yourself to things that you don’t normally get to enjoy. This might be having a lie-in when the kids are away, indulging in a square or two of chocolate, going out for a massage or simply kicking back on the sofa with a good book.
In order to really receive the benefits of these treats you’ll need to let go of any feelings of unworthiness or selfishness and allow yourself to realise that you also deserve some me time!
Journaling is a fantastic practice that can help you ground and figure out why you feel a certain way about an idea or situation. Our daily lives are so busy that it’s sometimes hard to pause and analyse things, so taking time out to sit down with a pen and paper can often be really enlightening.
It’s nice to create a safe, quiet and relaxing space in which to journal, perhaps surrounding yourself with your favourite crystals or lighting an incense stick before starting.
If you manage to take a whole day to yourself, it may be interesting to journal a few times throughout the day to see how your thoughts and feelings change when intertwined with self-care practices.
Practice Mantras And Speaking Kindly To Yourself
Last but by no means least is the art of speaking to yourself as you would your best friend. We are often guilty of reserving our positivity and love for others which then only leaves bitterness and criticism for ourselves. Instead of berating yourself for things you haven’t achieved, recite positive mantras and phrases to yourself that remind you how wonderful you are. This can be difficult at first as for most of us it’s not our normal mode of conversation with our inner selves, but the more you do it the easier it will become.
Me time is not something you should feel guilty about, and it is not selfish to show yourself love and gratitude. Just as you would dedicate time to work, relationships and social events, don’t forget to dedicate time for self-care too! The more you do, the calmer, fulfilled and grounded you will feel, which will only help to improve the other areas of your life.
Do you feel you are able to put yourself first? Or do you think getting away to a retreat is the only way you’ll truly be able to take time for yourself? Let us know in the comments below.