8 Ways to Prioritize Self-Care
So I’m going to keep ‘balance’ the theme of the week and talk about self-care today. I was doing some work-related training last week and the instructor took some time to talk about self-care. Honestly, this is something that I think I (and other people) could use a little bit of work on. I have a full-time job, a commute and a dog. And if I struggle with self care after these responsibilities, I can only imagine how hard it is sometimes for people with families, kids, multiple jobs, and other commitments.
If we don’t prioritize self-care, we can have issues with stress and burnout. I don’t know about you, but that’s something I’d like to avoid! So, I’ve got a list for you of things to do to help avoid getting to the point of extreme stress or burnout.
1. Prioritize sleep
In general, I think people really don’t appreciate how important a good night’s sleep really is. Since I do shift work, the first thing I do when I learn my schedule for the week is figure out when I’m going to sleep. Fortunately, I’ve gotten good at sleeping during the day. So if I work nights and have to sleep until 4 pm to get at least 7 hours of sleep, I’ll do it. Of course, it’s not perfect and sometimes I have to sleep in 3 or 4 hour increments, but I do the best I can.
When I sleep well, it makes a huge difference in how I feel the next day in terms of energy and motivation. If I’m not sleeping enough, I’m tired, cranky, lazy and I crave sugar like mad. Needless to say, I prefer the days when I’m well rested!
2. Learning to say ‘no’
This one can be really hard for me. With both work and my social life, it can be hard for me to turn down invitations or opportunities. So I find myself saying yes to a party or to overtime when I know that I’d much rather be at home relaxing. It’s that FOMO – either on fun times or extra money on my next pay.
When I get asked to do something, I try to make a point of looking inward and being honest with myself about what I want to do. Do I really want to go out or come in for an extra shift? Awesome! If I don’t, that’s fine too – the world won’t end because I said no to something.
3. Making sure to have ‘me-time’
Friday night I found myself at home without plans. So, I took advantage – I caught up on some TV shows (almost done season 5 of Breaking Bad!) I took Atticus for a long walk, I took a bath, read for a while, and journalled. I woke up Saturday feeling refreshed and happy – just what I needed. I think people tend to fear time alone, but I think that taking time to reflect and get lost in our own thoughts is where we grow the most. And sometimes, we just need to turn our brains off for a while.
4. Make time for hobbies/past-times
Whether you love running, knitting, reading, yoga, blogging…make sure you make the time to do it! Without my weekly time blogging/reading posts, workouts, reading in bed, and journalling, I notice my happiness starting to decline.
So I try to make sure I have time for at least one daily, whether that’s a 20-minute gym session or ten minutes spent journalling before bed. Even a few minutes of engaging in my favourite hobbies makes me happy.
I’m a big advocate of alone time, but we need to interact with other people too! Whether you work a job with a lot of social interaction or not, it’s important to spend time with other people and talk about things other than work. Although face-to-face is ideal, even a phone or Skype call makes a difference. A ten-minute phone call with the bff, Chef-friend or my mom brightens my day, and I love grabbing dinner or going for a walk/active date with friends and catching up.
6. Eat healthy, nourishing foods (most of the time)
Taking care of ourselves means also doing so physically. Obviously, I don’t think we should strive for ‘clean eating’ 100% of the time, but I’m a big fan of the 80/20 rule. I try to make sure that most of what I eat is nourishing – veggies and fruits, lean protein, healthy fats and whole grains. When I eat well, I feel well. And of course, some desserts and fried foods make their way in there once in a while (or in the case of chocolate…on a regular basis) which is just fine.
7. Talk it out
Whether that’s with a friend, family member or professional, just the act of talking through whatever on your mind is incredibly cathartic. Even if the issue doesn’t get resolved, just getting it out there can make a big difference in your mood and make you feel like a weight has been lifted.
8. Take your vacation/sick/mental health days
That’s what they’re there for! It boggles my mind a little when, at the end of year, people tell me that they have unused vacation or mental health days. I’m all for giving it your all at work, but those days are there for a reason – take them! Even an extra long weekend every now and then can help you avoid burnout.
So there you have it – how to help you avoid extreme stress, burnout, and prioritize self-care. Have a good one!