Are you burning the wick at both ends? It seems that more is required of us these days. We’re expected to do all the things and do them well leaving little time to practice self-care.
Unfortunately, self-care is something that ends up on the bottom of our lists (or not on the list at all!)
But what if I told you that your life depends on practicing self-care? – because it does! I’m not being dramatic. Keep reading and you’ll find out why.
What is self-care?
In short, it’s any activity that you do to improve and take care of your physical, mental, and emotional needs.
Why is self-care important?
Self-care is crucial to our overall well-being. It’s what keeps our cup full and feeds our mind, body, and soul. When we don’t practice self-care, we feel depleted and it can lead to a host of physical and mental health problems. We also can’t show up for others if we don’t show up for ourselves first by practicing self-care!
I’m going to be upfront with you – this post is as much for me as it is for you. If truth be told, I haven’t been as consistent as I previously was with my self-care routine and I’m feeling it mentally and physically. Specifically, my meditation practice is currently super spotty but I still get plenty of physical activity.
As you can see, I’m not some self-care guru that is 100% consistent but it’s not something I totally neglect.
If you’ve read my previous posts or visited my site, you know that I have a master’s in social work and trained as a therapist. As a trained mental health professional, self-care is something I value and understand the importance of.
My best hope is that I can help you understand why self-care is so crucial and motivate you to make it a priority. I’m so excited to be doing this challenge with you!
How often should self-care be practiced?
DAILY! Yes, I’d said daily. Self-care is NECESSARY and works best when practiced EVERY DAY.
This post will show you that it doesn’t need to take a big chunk of time. In fact, you can reap HUGE benefits from practicing even a few minutes of self-care.
Why do we neglect self-care?
If self-care is so important why is it that we often don’t make it a priority?
As a mental health professional, I’ve heard MANY reasons why self-care isn’t at the top of the to-do list or totally non-existent on the list.
Some of the reasons I’ve been told include the belief that self-care is selfish, little or no time, it’s for rich people (yes, I’ve heard that one!), it’s expensive, too much discipline is involved, don’t know how, I have to take care of others (kids, friends, family), etc.
Let’s touch on the “taking care of others” reason because it’s a popular one! We’re so busy showing up for others that we often don’t show up for ourselves.
I want you to ask yourself this question – what would your life look like if you showed up for yourself? Don’t take this question lightly because it’s an important one.
What if you started to put some effort into making things happen for yourself that would take your life to the next level?
It all starts with self-care and let me tell you why – caring for yourself impacts every area of your life and holds the key to a successful future and life that you desire.
Running on fumes and treating ourselves physically and mentally as if we don’t matter is a PERFECT recipe for burnout, depression, anxiety, resentment, damaged relationships (should I keep going?). How in the world will that create a meaningful, desired future for yourself?
Treat yourself as if you matter by practicing self-care and you WILL create a fulfilled and bright future for yourself. You’ll have the energy you need to create the life you want and crush your goals. Additionally, you’ll be able to show up for others in a more present way.
The 8-day self-care challenge
For all the above reasons, let’s start this 8-day self-care challenge together. I’m so excited to do the challenge with you to get myself fully back on the self-care wagon as well.
So, why only 8 days? Because starting a new habit and/or getting back on the wagon can be hard and I don’t want it to feel overwhelming for us.
There’s a lot of 30-day self-care challenges out there but let’s not bite off more than we can chew. I want to set us up for success and 8 days seems like a reasonable place to start.
If you’re totally not feeling a self-care technique recommended in the challenge, please feel free to replace it with something else. I want you to feel motivated to participate and comfortable by doing what feels right to you.
Create and write down 3 affirmations on a post-it note. Let’s place them in 3 areas of our homes where we will see them often.
A great place to put affirmations is on the bathroom mirror since it’s one of the first places we see every morning. Stating affirmations in the morning before going out into the world will set a positive tone for the day.
The most powerful affirmations are in the present tense and start with “I am”. It’s also important to try to be as specific as possible and say them aloud to yourself.
These things help create the feeling that you already have what you want, which sends a powerful message to your brain to go get whatever it is you are affirming.
Let’s get creative with our affirmations and believe that nothing is off-limits for ourselves. No matter how crazy we might think the goal is, if we can think it we can have it!
Here are some examples of affirmations:
- I am joyous that my mind, body, and soul are nourished
- I am smart, accomplished, and achieve whatever I set my mind to
- I am a gifted ___________ (fill in the blank – for me it’s “writer”)
- I am grateful and joyful for the promotion at work
- I am ecstatic that I have achieved my goal of being a full-time blogger making $100, 000/year (this is currently mine!)
Limit or unplug from social media for the day
Unplug from Social Media for the day – or at least limit it and be mindful of why you are using it. If we’re using it to creep and compare that’s not being mindful.
If we’re using it to connect with family who live far away (my main reason) or for work, that’s a responsible reason to hop on FB or the gram – BUT do it in moderation for this one self-care challenge day!
Tomorrow we can scroll our hearts out but hopefully, today will motivate us to continue being more mindful of our social media usage.
Today lets commit to spending a reasonable amount of time (10-15 minutes) a couple of times for the day. So, maybe 20 – 30 minutes in total. Seems doable, right?
Perhaps that sounds like a lot for some of you but I spend way more than 20 minutes a day on social media. I know I’m not alone.
I can think of a million different ways I could spend that valuable time.
Here are some recommendations:
- Connecting with family or friend IN PERSON
- Goal Planning
Do some form of physical activity
I get it, your day is LONG and you have minimal time. If you can fit in a lengthy workout today than great! If not, don’t fret because I’m going to give you some examples of ways to get your endorphins flowing that can be done in a jiffy!
I’ll be honest in saying that this one is easy for me. I LOVE getting my workout on but I know it’s not everyone’s jam.
If physical activity isn’t a regular thing for you, PLEASE don’t skip this self-care challenge today! I can’t stress enough how crucial physical activity is for overall well-being.
Give it a go! I promise some of the recommendations are easy and short!
Ideas for a quick endorphin boost:
- Run in place for 5 or 10 minutes
- Go for a walk on your lunch break for as long as time permits
- Do 5 minutes of sit-ups or if you have a bit more time, check out some short workouts on YouTube (my absolute favorite is Fitness Blender – they have some effective 5-10 minute workouts)
- Do as many jumping jacks as you can
- Do a 5-10 minutes legs workout, again you can find these on YouTube by searching for Fitness Blender
Let’s be grateful today! When caught up in the daily grind it can be hard to remember to practice gratitude. It’s also when complaining creeps in. When I feel overwhelmed, I catch myself complaining – a lot!
Can you relate? It’s hard to practice gratitude when it feels like we have too much on our plate.
BUT practicing gratitude is a BIG game changer for our overall well-being. Studies show that those who practice gratitude are happier and who doesn’t want that for themselves?!
Other reasons to practice gratitude:
- Improves relationships
- Boosts physical health
- Enhances empathy
- Improves mental health
- Boosts resilience
Ideas to practice gratitude:
- Write down 3 things you’re grateful for every day
- Commit to not complaining
- Gratitude meditations
- Write a thank-you note to someone
- Do your errands with gratitude
Nourish your body with healthy food
Today let’s respect and care for our body by giving it the food it needs to feel good. Nourishing our body with healthy food is crucial for our physical AND psychological well-being! When our body feels good, we boost our psychological health.
I get it, it can seem hard to eat healthy during busy days. Hitting up the drive-through or grabbing something from the vending machine at work is fast, cheap, and easy!
However, there are lots of foods that can be just as quick and will give us the fuel we need to perform at our physical and mental optimum.
If eating healthier for an entire day feels too overwhelming, it’s ok! Meet yourself where you’re at and choose 1 or 2 healthy snacks you can replace the typical unhealthy snack with.
Ideas for quick healthy foods:
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Pre-cut carrot sticks
- Easy types of no cut fruit (apple, banana)
- Drink more water (not a food per se but crucial!
No screen time for the night
Let’s skip the tube for one night! I can hear you now saying UGH! I’m saying it too BUT I think this is an important one to try. It’s only for one night!
We’re often frustrated that we haven’t achieved this or that but it’s crucial that we look at where we’re spending our time.
What goal are you putting off because the new season of Sex Education or The Bachelor (insert your binge guilty pleasure) came out?
What if we took just ONE night to write out our goals or worked on that goal we keep putting off? What would our life look like if this turned into a habit?
Make no mistake, goal setting is 100% self-care. When we set goals for ourselves, we are investing in our future!
Get your social on!
If you can’t commit to doing this exactly on day 7 of this challenge swap it out for one of the other days. Being social is crucial for our psychological well-being.
Loneliness is a sure way to feel depressed. Having consistent social time and building a support network is extremely important so make the time!
Being social doesn’t need to take a long time or be some big night out to reap the benefits of this act of self-care.
Below you’ll find some ways to be social. A few of them can be done quickly but are still effective.
Ideas for social time:
- Dinner with friends
- Sign up for a class of your choice
- Lunch with a coworker
- Pick up the phone or video chat with a friend or family member
- Start small conversations throughout your day with those around you
- Say hello or smile at a stranger (this might feel uncomfortable, but it works!)
Congrats!! We made it to day 8! (I’m giving you a virtual hug right now!). Today let’s practice a self-care technique of our choice!
Here are some ideas for inspiration:
- Take a relaxing bubble bath
- Take yourself to dinner
- Spend time in nature
- Give yourself a big hug and celebrate yourself for sticking with it!
If you enjoyed this post you may also like my post, Meditation Made Simple