Certified Stress Management Coach
Practitioner of Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT-Tapping)
Self-care is not self-indulgent! It's an act of self-preservation. – Audre Lorde
We all wear our "busy badges" so proudly that we sometimes forget that it's important to take breaks, eat lunch, or even go to the bathroom when we need to! Everyone experiences stress. That's why it's crucial to proactively create opportunities for quality alone time, including mental and physical rest so you can refocus and be more productive in the long run.
Here are five tips to help you develop a self-care practice to sustain you throughout the year:
1. Make the commitment to yourself to develop a self-care practice. You are worth it!
The thing is, we get so used to doing things in the same ways. We're actually more afraid to make changes than we are to live out our worn out routines – even if those routines cause us to feel ill, stressed, or overwhelmed.
What's at stake for you and your health in 2019 if you continue to live your worn out routine? Can you imagine what it would be like to wake up in the morning and not have it hurt when you get out of bed, or to feel more excited and full of energy for your day? Yes, it is possible when you start within and make the commitment to yourself and your well-being. As they say on the airplane: “Put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others.” One way to do that is to develop a self-care practice.
2. Set an intention for what you would like to gain from your self-care practice.
This is really about your why. What personal and professional goals have you set for yourself this year? And, how would carving out more time for you, via self-care, support you in achieving those goals? Think about what you would like to achieve, and how you would like to feel as you are doing so. It's important to recognize the connection between your physical, mental, and emotional well-being and your goals.
This is because they all feed off of one another. As the saying goes: “Your body doesn't lie.” When you act in ways that align with your intentions, you typically feel calmer and more focused because you're honoring your true desires and priorities. This is really important because today we're living in an age of staring at our screens, multitasking, and being on the go 24/7. Your inner self knows when you're on the right path and when you're not. When you set a positive intention for your health, you are more likely to take actions that align with that intention. And, when you don't, it's not about beating yourself up. It's about making shifts to course correct and get back on the path to the healthy state that you desire.
3. Choose self-care actions that motivate and inspire you
When deciding what self-care actions you'd like to take, it is important to think about what works best for you. What wellness or healing activities excite and motivate you? Everyone is different. For me, I personally like to meditate in the morning using guided meditations. It is my opportunity to get grounded, focused, and to start the day with a clear mind and perspective.
What would you like to do to help rejuvenate and refresh yourself – mind, body, or spirit? Here are a few ideas:
Listen to relaxing music
Go for a walk
Get a coloring book and color
Spend time in silence
Write thoughts in a journal
There are a host of different activities that you can take on – many of which don’t involve spending lots of money. The goal is to select activities that excite you the most so that you are more likely to continue doing them on a regular basis.
4. Schedule your self-care actions on your calendar
Decide when you would like to commit to doing your self-care actions, and then schedule those activities onto your calendar -- just like you would any other meeting or appointment. You can think of them as ME-TIME dates with yourself. Ideally, it would be great if you can carve out some ME-TIME for yourself every day. Even if it's just for one, two, or three minutes per day.
After you have developed your self-care routine, you will start to get into the rhythm of it, and soon it will be second nature. Right now, I don't have a meditation appointment on my calendar anymore. It's just something that I do. That’s because I've been regularly meditating for over five years now.
If this is a new self-care practice or habit that you're taking on for the first time, I recommend that you block out the time on your calendar, and plan to honor those appointments. When other meetings or commitments come up, make the effort to schedule them around your self-care. This way, you will retain your commitment to yourself and your well-being.
5. Monitor the impact of self-care on your well-being
As you continue on your self-care journey, begin to notice any differences in your mood, physical health, or even your relationships. For example, are there changes in your physical symptoms (e.g., pain or headaches) or vitality (e.g., mood or libido) based on your self-care actions?
There are also numerous apps that can help you check how different aspects of your health and self-care might relate to each other. I use a website called Chart Myself that includes over 500 charts and journals. It sends me a daily email reminder with a link to update my charts. I'm currently tracking my mood on a numeric scale, and I am able to make journal entries to recall any specific incidents that affected my mood, as well as any self-care actions I’ve taken.
What aspects of your health and well-being would you like to monitor? Wellness is a lifetime commitment. By monitoring your actions, you will start to see progress over time as you continue with your self-care practice. You will be able to watch as patterns emerge, giving you more ideas about how to improve your health and wellbeing.
My hope is that you will feel truly energized by your self-care journey!
Colette Ellis is an advocate for your mindfulness and wellbeing. She is a certified Stress Management coach and practitioner of Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT-Tapping).
She created Start Within Coaching (https://www.startwithincoaching.com/) because she believes that true mental health is a state of wellbeing in which a woman can realize her own potential, cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively, and make a contribution to the community. "Tomorrow," women of color will feel a sense of worthiness; they will know that their dreams, their health, and their overall lives matter.
As founder of InStep Consulting, Colette has traveled the globe facilitating personal growth and workplace wellbeing. Clients have transformed their organizations via her interactive seminars on employee wellness, leadership development, and team building. Colette is contributing author to Transform Your Life With One Call: America’s Top Life Coaches Reveal What You Need to Know. Her book Focus on Your Vision helps readers clarify priorities and optimize their work-life balance. As a co-host for Brooklyn Savvy TV, she facilitates substantive conversations about women’s issues.