Self-care is not selfish or soft. It is a practice that contributes to our strength and overall sense of well-being, in other words, our resilience. I’m not referring to massages or pedicures, which are healthy pleasures, but instead doing the things we know we need to do and resist for a number of reasons.
Here is my list of 19 things I am practicing in 2019. These self-care practices won’t necessarily give you more to do, but a different way of doing it.
- Arrive early.
I normally show up to my yoga class, lunch date, or hair appointment right on time, which can turn into a few minutes late if anything unplanned arises. I now arrive 5 minutes early by departing 10 minutes early to allow for traffic, weather, and missed turns.
- Postpone your yes.
If you have trouble saying no to certain things or people, especially when you are caught off guard, postpone your yes to anything that commits your time and energy. I now say, let me get back to you, and check in with my calendar, bank account, and gut.
- Make the call.
While we need to postpone our yes for self-care, we also need to make the call to the dentist, bank, or any other person that may be uncomfortable. I make a minimum of one uncomfortable call a day.
I have an ambitious and ongoing to-do list, but I prioritize my top 3 action items every day. I tackle the most important first (which are often the most challenging) when my energy and hopes are high.
- Find your tribe.
We are the company we keep. I seek out and hang out with people I admire, connect with, and am stimulated by, in other words, people who I aspire to be more like.
If we don’t ask, the answer is always no. I ask more questions, make more requests and start thinking in terms of what if…wouldn’t it be great…I would love to…
- Be kind.
There are many simple ways to practice loving kindness every day. I smile more, let a stranger ahead of me in the grocery line, compliment a colleague, and send written notes of appreciation.
- Track it.
There is no better way to be accountable for our behavior than by recording it. All the behaviors I want to improve upon like my sleep, finances, or writing, I document it to hold myself honest about what I’m really doing.
- Sleep more.
Sleep is the number one behavior skill that contributes to our resilience and affects everything from our immune systems to our mood! I go to bed 30 minutes earlier than normal which requires both planning and discipline on my part.
- Invest in personal and professional development.
We can always learn more about our ourselves. I schedule at least one enrichment experience a quarter (retreat, class, conference) to help me grow personally and/or professionally.
- Get help.
I have many areas I can use help in and two top ones are technology and organization, which of course are related. I consult with the younger generation in our family (grandchildren and children) on how to use my iPhone and Apple watch to their full capacity and organize folders in my computer so I can actually find things!
- Say thank you and I’m sorry.
These two phrases are sadly underused in our busy culture. I use them generously to feel better about myself and to help the person I say them to feel better too.
- Schedule dates.
Julia Cameron called these artist dates, where you schedule time with yourself to pursue an interest. I schedule time for myself to take dancing lessons, visit a flower shop, or update my bucket list.
- Finish something.
Do you have a list of abandoned projects unfinished or not even started, as I do? I commit to finishing my book on resilience and getting our house painted inside and out this year. (deadlines to be determined)
- Be persistent.
The more we practice, the more we practice. I establish routines and schedules that support me to show up the way I need to practice self-care.
- Celebrate wins and losses.
It’s easy to celebrate our wins when things go well, but to practice self-care, we also need to celebrate our losses. When things don’t go as planned, I catch myself so that I can learn and grow from it.
- Take responsibility.
Every choice I have ever made reflects exactly where I am today. I empower myself by taking responsibility for every situation in my life because I am the only one I can change.
Self-care is a practice, not perfection, which is why so many of our good intentions are abandoned. If I fall off and miss a day, week, or month, I accept it and begin again.
Yes, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, but the second best time is today! Leave 10 minutes early for every appointment, make that call you have been avoiding, or go to bed 30 minutes earlier, all to feel better about yourself. Start with one practice and begin today.