Finding the drive, energy, and time to practice self-care seems impossible when you’re overwhelmed and overworked. Just the thought of adding one more thing to your to-do list makes you want to cry. In theory, you understand why it’s important. IRL, however, you have no space for self-care. Not one bit even if it’s a small bit of care.
Wrapping yourself in a soft blanket to scheduling your annual doctors’ appointments to receiving a facial and massage provide a wide range of activities that constitute self-care. It’s an overwhelming list that makes you feel selfish or overloaded from the pressure to take better care of yourself.
To help make things a little easier, think about what feels reasonable given your season of life and available energy. Self-care doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive. When you think about how you want to feel and factor in your season of life, you’ll find your self-care sweet spot.
Once you have an idea of what is reasonable for you, use the following three strategies to regain your motivation to act in your self-care sweet spot.
1. Connect with What’s Important to You
Now that you’ve identified your self-care sweet spot, it’s time to dig a little deeper. Namely, what’s your why? Why is it important to YOU that you take better care of yourself? I can come up with lots of possible reasons, but your answers matter the most.
Are you mentally, physically, or emotionally exhausted and overwhelmed? Maybe you or someone you know has had a health scare which concerns you. Or, your pace and productivity don’t align with the life you imagined.
Whatever your why, ask yourself “why” two more times — until you get to your feelings. For example, you might want more energy so that you can play with your kids. Why is this important? Because they keep asking me to play with them. Why is this important? “Because I will feel guilty, sad, and regretful if I missed having fun with them at this age.”
Here’s another example: you might want to eat healthier foods. Why? “Everyone says it’s important.” Why is this important? “Because I’m a smart person and I would feel dumb if I developed a health issue which could have been prevented with consistently eating healthier foods.”
Connecting to your deep-down why provides motivation. Post your why at home, in the car, at work, anywhere that will serve as a reminder and motivator.
2. Flip Your Mindset
When humans consider making a behavior change — big or small — they focus on what they’ll have to give up. Flip your mindset so that you focus on what you’ll gain. For example, if you want to walk 5 out of 7 days a week, you’ll have to do it during your lunch break. But you use that time to pay bills and catch up on household paperwork.
On the flipside, the physical energy you gain from walking will prevent your afternoon slump when your brain struggles to focus. Focus on what you’ll gain from regular self-care. Now that you think about it, gaining energy is more important to you than finding another time to take of bill paying and household paperwork.
3. Believe Self-Care Is the Opposite of Self-Indulgent
As a high-achieving manager, you want to take care of All. The. Things. You don’t want to be perceived as incapable. As a result, you put your head down and plow through everything you expect of yourself or that you’ve said yes to. I get it.
Ironically, you become selfish if you DON’T take care of yourself. The lack of care negatively impacts how you show up for people in ways that you’ve implicitly or explicitly agreed to. You compromise your capacity.
While my life experience bears this out, here’s what I know that’s even more important: you deserve self-care as much as any other human on the planet. I can think of no, zero, nada reasons why you aren’t worthy. You are deserving of self-care. It’s true.
Bonus: Lead by Example
If you’re ambivalent about what you deserve, you won’t stick with self-care. While this is serious, here’s a bonus reason to embrace self-care. If you don’t take better care of yourself, you lose the opportunity to lead your children (and others you care about) in practicing self-care. You can lead by example in your corner of the world, so more children and adults are happier and healthier.
Embrace your worth and the leadership opportunity to practice self-care.