Taking time for “self-care” has not always come easily for me. In fact, I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for pretty much all of my adult life, and it’s taken a lot of trial and error to find the things that work best to keep me healthy.
While I have mental health providers to manage the medical and therapeutic components of my treatment, I have full control over what I do on a daily basis to keep myself well. Here are five of my “golden rules” of self-care – hopefully they’ll help you out, too – especially during this holiday season!
1) Take a shower and get dressed every morning.
This is something that’s so incredibly simple, but it can have a tremendous effect on how your day goes. I know when I am freshly showered and wearing an outfit that makes me feel great, I feel I can take on the world – and then some!
I’m always more productive (and happier!) when I take the time to shower and get myself ready in the morning before I start working. It puts me in a more professional mindset and prepares me for the day.
2) Do some kind of physical activity every day.
Just do something to get your body moving – it doesn’t have to be anything major like a full-on workout (unless that’s in your plans, of course). You just need to get up and MOVE. Even a brief walk around the block counts!
In fact, taking walks is a great way to generate more ideas and get some creative work done. There’s something about letting your mind wander while being physically active that makes the creative juices in your brain extra potent. You’ll be surprised with what you’ll come up with on your walks!
3) Plan out a deliberate morning and evening routine – then stick to it.
I know I always feel better about my days when I am mindfully following my morning and evening routines. They’re not complicated – they simply provide a bit of structure to the beginning and ending of my day.
In the morning, I typically get up before the spouse and kiddo wake up, have some coffee, and plan out my workday. In the evening, I review what I’ve done that day, sketch out some ideas for the next day, journal, meditate, and go to sleep. Easy peasy!
Find out what works for you and try to keep it consistent. It’ll go a long way toward reducing the overwhelm that’s so common among entrepreneurs.
4) Get plenty of sleep.
Speaking of sleep, GET SOME. Get a lot of it. Do not skimp on sleep. There’s always going to be “one more thing” that needs to be done, but don’t give in to it. You need sleep more than you need just about anything else. Getting enough sleep is the foundation of self-care – treat it as such! [Rant over.]
5) Let it go.
Some days, things are just not going to go well. No matter what you try to do, you won’t find your rhythm, and nothing will “gel.” This happens to everyone – not just you, believe it or not.
On these days, LET IT GO. Acknowledge that it’s not going to be a productive work day, and move on. Engage in some self-care practices instead: journaling, exercising, treating yourself to a massage, getting out of the house, even indulging in a good ol’ Netflix binge (as long as this is an occasional treat).
You’ll feel much better if you just allow yourself to have the occasional “off” day and get back at it the next day rather than trying to ram yourself through the mental/emotional blocks when it’s just not worth it. If you give yourself the mental space to unwind a bit, chances are excellent that you’ll feel much better tomorrow, ready to dive back into your work.
If not all of these tips resonate with you, that’s totally OK. I don’t expect them to. You’ll need to figure out what works best for YOU in terms of self-care, but hopefully my list gave you a jumping-off point.
No matter what you do for your own self-care, you must make it a priority for it to work. To do that, you’ve got to make yourself a priority. After all, self-care isn’t really self-care if you’re not prioritizing yourself! Start by putting yourself first – yes, ahead of work – and then experiment with what habits and routines make you feel balanced and aligned. In time, you’ll discover the right habits and routines to put into practice that will keep you at your best.
Got any additional tips that I didn’t cover here? Put ‘em in the comments – I’d love to hear what works for you!