Choosing self-care is hard. Building self-care habits is even harder.
Especially if you are a wife, or a mother, whose main job every day is caring for other people. Sometimes self-care can seem indulgent (and not in a good way).
The more you ignore it, the easier it becomes to tell yourself you don’t need time to yourself. You don’t need to treat yourself. You can’t afford it, you can’t find a sitter, you can’t spare the time etc.
The problem with ignoring the fact that we all need self-care habits, though, is that no one ends up winning.
When you take the time to build strong self-care habits, you sow value back into yourself. You effectively speak life to yourself.
Since it is so difficult to choose self-care, I’ve come up with 3 keys you can use to help you begin growing self-care habits right now. And, with repetition, choosing self-care will get easier.
Buy 1 thing for yourself at the store
The next time you find yourself at the store, choose something that you’d really enjoy. It can be anything. It could be as simple as a magazine you used to read but haven’t in awhile. Or as indulgent as a pint of your favorite ice cream. Or something seemingly silly, like a new washcloth for you to use when cleaning your face at night. You pick. Just pick something.
Don’t want to spend money? Shop your house
You can still run with the above habit even if you don’t want to spend money. Instead, shop your house. Here are some ideas:
- Go over to your bookshelf that’s been languishing and choose a book to read a chapter in
- Find your magazine stack and pick one you could flip through
- Open up your bathroom drawer or cabinet and find that face wash you bought awhile ago, and give yourself some time to enjoy it
- Paint your nails with nail-polish you already own
- Do your makeup
- Put together a delicious snack from a recipe you pinned months ago
Use what you bought (from the store or your house) – guilt-free
Now that you’ve bought something, you need to actually use it. So many times – and this goes for me too – we will treat ourselves to something then feel guilty using it! Don’t feel guilty. You wanted it, you bought it (go you!), now set aside some time to use it.
It doesn’t have to be a lot of time. It could just take 15 minutes out of your day to read a few pages of that magazine, or wash your face without feeling like your skin is being scratched by your old washcloth, or a few spoonfuls of your favorite ice cream after you get the baby down for her nap.
The point here is to own the fact that you wanted something, and just enjoy using it. If you feel guilt starting to creep up, telling it to take a hike. You’re just spending 15 minutes or so on yourself, and certainly you can spare that.
Write down what you felt
Now that you’ve taken a little bit of time and indulged in yourself, grab your phone, or a notebook, or a random piece of junk mail and scribble down a few thoughts on how it felt.
Did you still feel guilty even though I said not to? Did you have fun? Did you worry about life when you know you should have been focusing on that moment? Did you find yourself interrupted by tiny people and unable to actually finish what you had started? Whatever happened, whatever you felt, write it down. Don’t think too deeply, just get your thoughts out
Choose. Act. Assess. Repeat.
These are the keys to building healthy, repeating self-care habits: choosing something, acting on the choice, assessing how it worked/didn’t work/what happened and then repeating it again.
Once you’ve done this a few times, look back at your assessment and see if anything has changed. Did it get easier to take time for yourself? Did you start letting go of that guilt? Did you discover something new you liked (or surprise yourself by learning you don’t enjoy something you used to anymore)?
Remember: it isn’t easy to choose self-care, but it does get easier with repetition. Repetition leads to habits. Habits lead to change of mindset. And a change of mindset can lead to any number of wonderful possibilities. What are you waiting for? Go find something for your first self-care exercise.