If you are at all active on social media, you’ll have heard talk about self-care. It’s a trendy topic. The problem? Recreating an Instagram worthy self-care moment completely misses the point. The extra full bathtub with luxury bubbles and a perfectly placed glass of vino might look pretty, but your bathwater is going to be lukewarm by the time you get a good shot. (Have you seen this article about the Instagram “influencer” who racked up $10k of debt attempting to grow a following? I guess she got famous after all, but for all the wrong reasons!) Instead, how about you forget about impressing other people, and embrace the real intent of self-care.
Everyone is so busy, and a super-packed schedule has become a badge of honor representing success. Because of that, it’s so important to set aside a few moments every day for yourself. It can feel impossible to find the time, but giving your brain a chance to chill out will leave you feeling more refreshed and with more energy to take on the rest of your tasks. I know when my calendar feels overwhelming, the first things I eliminate are those that are just for me. We have to start making ourselves a priority instead of getting caught up trying to please other people. Trust me — you’ll be a better employee, spouse, parent, whatever if you just take care of yourself. I know you’ve heard that before, but it’s always worth repeating.
Allow Yourself to Check Out
The whole point of creating a self-care routine is to reconnect with yourself. That means shutting out any outside influences. Put away your phone, turn off the TV, shut down your laptop — instill a no screens policy. I’m as guilty as anyone for wasting time scrolling through Twitter. I even have a hard time focusing on a TV show without picking up my phone. It’s a bad habit — I’m not sure how many times I’ve had to get my boyfriend to catch me up on a TV show because I was distracted by my phone. It’s a lot, and yes, it drives him crazy!
That obsession with social media kills productivity but also leads to negative feelings. All of us have felt jealous or inadequate when comparing our lives to the curated ones we see online. We know people are only showing their highlights, but it’s too easy to get caught up in that world. Giving yourself a chance to disconnect and point that focus inward will act as a reminder that your life isn’t so terrible.
Self-Care Shouldn’t Cost You Anything
Despite what Instagram and Pinterest might tell you, you don’t need to spend a dime to create a self-care routine. Sure, you could go on a trip, spend a day at the spa, or go on a shopping spree. But while spending money can seem like an easy way to make yourself happier, it doesn’t always work that way. The mood boost of buying something is short lived and, if you’re doing it too often, can result in stress from mismanaged finances. The more effective way to participate in self-care is by establishing a daily habit, turning to frugal experiences that you can keep going back to. Not only will this have long-term benefits, it will also be better for your wallet.
It Might Feel Like a Chore
There’s this idea that self-care is supposed to be a treat. That’s not entirely true. It’s more like exercise or meal planning; you might not always enjoy doing it, but the long-term benefits make it worthwhile. This is especially true when you’re just getting started. We’ve all been there, right? The toughest part of starting a diet or regularly going to the gym is always the first couple of weeks. You’ll be tempted to skip out and hit next on your Netflix binge, but if you commit, it will get easier and become a part of your routine — you’ll start to miss it if you skip a day or two. Remember that when starting out with your self-care practice. It won’t always be something you want to do; sometimes, you’re going to have to force it.
If you’re having a hard time coming up with ideas, I’ve got you covered with five suggestions:
- Start a daily yoga practice: I’m a big fan of Yoga with Adriene, and her 30-day challenges make it easy to fit it yoga into your schedule. Sometimes I find it hard to get myself motivated, but I always feel more refreshed after even just 15 minutes on the mat.
- Curl up with a good book and a cup of tea: I love to read but find that I often turn to the TV to fill my free time instead of picking up a book. Nothing against TV, but reading is better for you. It’s more relaxing, and also gives your brain a workout. When you find yourself reaching for the remote after dinner, why not try picking up a book instead?
- Take your dog for a walk: This is like self-care and critter care all rolled into one. Walking solo gives you a chance to catch up on your thoughts without any distractions. The added bonus is getting to see how excited your pooch gets when you pull out their collar and leash; it’s an automatic mood booster. Don’t have a dog? Borrow a friend’s, or just head out on your own. There is something about fresh air that makes every seem a little more clear.
- Give meditation a shot: I have to admit, I haven’t jumped on the meditation bandwagon. I struggle with the whole shutting down your mind thing. Other people love it, and it’s one of the least time-consuming self-care practices you can adopt. If you want to give it a go, take a look at Headspace. You can sign up for free, and they even have a Spotify playlist with guided meditations.
- Get your creative juices flowing: Many of us have a creative side that doesn’t get activated very often because of what we do for work. If that sounds like you, then finding a creative hobby might be the perfect way to practice self-care. This could mean picking up one of those adult coloring books, learning how to knit, or starting a bullet journal.
How do you participate in self-care? Do you have any tips or routines you’d like to share?
Sarah is a Canadian blogger at Smile & Conquer, where she writes about money and all things personal finance. She has been working in the world of finance for almost a decade and uses that experience to help other millennials get smart about their money.
Tiny Ambitions is the online space where blogger Britt shares her tiny, but wonderful, life. Britt is a minimalist, a simple living advocate, and a tiny house enthusiast.
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