I hear this all the time: “I don’t have time for self-care.” In fact, I say it myself… all the time. As a naturopathic doctor and a wellness enthusiast, I often find myself talking about self-care. It’s become quite the buzz word. It’s almost become another thing to add to the to-do list because that’s what everyone is doing right?
We tend to get wrapped up in the appeal of the word. Self-care can seem like it’s actually skin-care, or a spa day or setting aside hours to spend on pampering yourself. And although I love all of that, it doesn’t actually get to the root of what self-care really is. Having gone through many, many years of school, while also trying to manage a long-distance relationship, friendships and living a healthy lifestyle, I’ve learned a few things about self-care.
I used to set aside Sundays as my self-care day (#selfcaresunday anyone?). I would get organized for the week, put on a face mask or do a facial scrub, watch a movie and call it a night. But as I entered “the real world” after school, I realized that this just wasn’t cutting it anymore. What I learned is that no amount of skincare would make me feel cared for from the inside. Self-care is actually about caring for your heart. And you do, in fact, have time for it.
So what can you do to include more self-care time? You don’t need to set aside an hour for pampering, but you could adjust your meals this week to include something slightly healthier. Or you could choose to pack some healthy snacks on Sunday, so that you have things to grab when you’re on the go during the week. You could pause between errands or before you pick up your kids and get a tea from a coffee shop. Or you could move a task to tomorrow, or the weekend, when you know you will have more time. You could wake up 10 minutes earlier to read or listen to a meditation app. You could leave the dishes in the sink because it’s ok that you just don’t have the energy to wash them right now. You can choose not to workout today and rather use the time to spend with your kids/partner/pet or whatever makes you happy. Or you could schedule in a short workout that’s only 15 minutes at the end of the day so that you get in some movement. You can do whatever your heart desires, even if it doesn’t look like what everyone else is doing or what we are “told” is healthy.
Self-care doesn’t mean you have to carve out a bunch of extra time to pamper yourself and then stress about everything you are not doing. Self-care lies in your daily routine. In your daily choices. It actually happens when you choose yourself. When you choose your heart. When your heart wants to express something – do it. When you push yourself out of your comfort zone and then celebrate it – that is self-care. When you share something that bothered you with a friend – that is self-care. When you un-follow someone on social media that makes you feel like you aren’t good enough – that is self-care. When you sit with your emotions rather than avoid them – that is self-care.
Self-care is caring for yourself in whatever way that makes your heart happy. The small decisions you make every day can lead to long-term joy and fulfillment. Don’t wait until you have a moment to spare, because the truth is… you never will. There will always be something else you could be doing. So the next time you think you don’t have time for self-care – remember that it takes a second to change your perspective and even less time to make the decision to choose yourself. So just choose you.