Today, we are bombarded with self-care tips (both solicited and unsolicited) from virtually all sides. However, living the hectic lifestyle that the 21st century dictates, many of those tips are simply unrealistic. Still, even if you don’t have the time for elaborate spa sessions and lengthy workouts, you mustn’t neglect yourself. Here are a few ways to incorporate self-care into your life even if you don’t have much free time.
Redefining the concept of self-care
Social media has turned self-care more into an aesthetic trend than what it was originally meant to be. Self-care, in its most fundamental sense, is taking care of yourself, physically and mentally. It’s ensuring that being busy doesn’t result in unhealthy habits. And that when you don’t have time for yourself, you make time for yourself. It’s ensuring that what you do doesn’t actively work against you. Accept that making room for self-care is not selfish.
Allocate time for self-care
The modern world makes us believe that every moment we don’t spend productively is wasted. That is a mindset we have to consciously amend. They say that if you don’t make time for rest, your body will, and you don’t want it to get to that point. If there is no other way, you should allocate time for self-care—and it shouldn’t be the first thing you sacrifice when someone needs an errand from you. Signing up for a class—such as a yoga class—can be a great way to make self-care something that won’t get pushed and pushed.
Our bodies need water to function at their best, so it’s ironic just how often we forget to drink our daily recommended amount of this liquid. Luckily, this self-care habit takes virtually no time to keep up and won’t even take you away from your tasks. But to make sure you don’t forget about it while immersed in other things, you should fill a water bottle in the morning and always keep it within arm’s reach.
Do some stretching
When you’re stressed, you can feel the tension in your entire body. If you don’t have time for a long, hot bath, the next best thing you can do in a couple of minutes for some relief is some stretching. Stretch your neck after keeping your eyes glued to the screen for hours. Needless to say, this is important for the rest of your body, too, if you’ve been sitting for a long time. If you know a few yoga poses, they will come in handy. However, some good old stretching, even if done while sitting at your desk, is still more than nothing.
No time does not have to mean you have to completely forget about certain things, but it certainly means a need for prioritizing. Working smart instead of hard is what’s going to work here. If you simply have no energy for doing your makeup every day, make it easier for you by getting natural-looking eyelash extensions and perhaps having your eyebrows microbladed, if that’s going to make you feel better in your skin. If your mornings are always rushed, be sure to prepare your outfit for the day the night before. Making things easier for you is not cheating.
Listen to music
Another thing that will help you relieve some stress in a matter of minutes is listening to music. Take a 5-minute break and listen to your favourite song—it will improve your mood and boost your energy. There is a slew of studies that testify to the amazing power of music. It can even reduce burnout and help with depression and anxiety! Certain kinds of music are particularly good for relaxation. So, put on a classic playlist while you do something else, or try some Native American or Celtic tunes. Self-care can be as simple as putting your headphones on.
Day after busy day, it’s easy to lose contact with our friends and acquaintances for weeks or even months at a time. However, interpersonal relationships are what make us human—and make us feel human. Even just a short chat with your neighbour while getting home can improve your mood. So, try not to get alienated from the people in your life even when you’re busy. Do your grocery shopping with your friend to catch up if you have to!
Finally, understand that being available to everyone at all times is not healthy. It doesn’t leave you time to turn off and replenish your energy, leaving you exhausted and burnt out. Don’t let other people take control of your time, and don’t feel obliged to do every favour that comes your way. Draw clear boundaries, so your work time and free time don’t blur together. It’s best to let others know of this. Sometimes, you have to be unapologetic for your own sake.
If we don’t take care of ourselves, what do we have left at the end of the day? Prioritizing yourself is not selfish, and realizing that is the first step towards a better self-care routine.
Alison Pearson is an interior design student. She is a writer and designer, and her ultimate passion is art and architecture. She is also a bibliophile and her favourite book is “The Sound and the Fury” by William Faulkner. Follow her on Twitter.