Three Simple Steps to Better Self Care3 min read

Self-care has become some­what of a #buz­zphrase. What comes to mind for most people upon hearing it is a mon­tage of bubble baths, choco­late, and Netflix binge ses­sions. While I do not object to any of the pre­vious three, these are not the sort of daily care activ­i­ties that will help you to become an overall healthy and happy person. But, what will?

1) Say No More Often

Say no. Say it again. Say it without apolo­gies or expla­na­tions.

So many of us are people-pleasers. We do for others without pro­tecting our own energy and well-being. But, I’ll let you in on a little secret: you cannot make anyone (beyond your­self) happy. It simply isn’t pos­sible. This doesn’t mean you should stop being a helpful human, but it does give you full-fledged per­mis­sion to put your­self first.

Too tired to go out with your friend Friday night? Say no. Don’t have the mental energy for dinner with your in-laws? Say no. Would really rather not pick up that extra shift at work? Say no.

You do not owe anyone a cer­tain amount of your free time. So, take care of your­self before being there for others. Let’s be real; you can’t con­tribute much when you’re not oper­ating at full capacity anyway.

2) Give Yourself per­mis­sion to Rest

Once you have tackled saying no to others, you can begin to say no to the demands you place on your­self as well.

I am a crea­ture of schedule and habit. I meal-plan, make chore lists, and highly orga­nize almost every aspect of my life. For me, this usu­ally works out very well. But, there excep­tions to every rule, and some­times I cannot follow through.

Some days I don’t feel up to making a home-cooked meal or washing the linens, despite what my schedule says. Maybe I had a hard day at work, or my kid has been a handful, or maybe I am just emo­tion­ally spent and don’t want to do one more thing. In the past, I would bully myself into accom­plishing my pre-established goals and end up even more stressed out and exhausted.

Now, I pop in a frozen meal, change into pajamas early, and acknowl­edge that no one in my home is going to suffer from allowing the laundry to sit another day. And you know what? The next day I feel much more capable of func­tioning and com­pleting tasks. There is a sacred and healing art to not giving a fuck.

3) Build a Life You Actually Enjoy

This last one requires a bit of soul-searching, but can yield sig­nif­i­cant results.

What makes you happy? Do more of it. What makes you stressed? Do less of it. What makes you mis­er­able? Cut that shit out.

I know that in the real world things aren’t that simple. You can’t walk in tomorrow morning and quit your mis­er­able job. But, you can make steps towards being able to.

The truth is: no job, person, or activity is worthy of pro­longed and pro­found suf­fering. If some­thing is dimin­ishing you more than growing you, it does not deserve a place in your life.

Stop pouring your­self into sit­u­a­tions that drain you and instead invest your­self into what brings you ful­fill­ment and joy. Stop making excuses and start making moves. You should, at min­imum, like your life.

It is impos­sible to live a life which is com­pletely void of stress, but it is pos­sible to create one you don’t con­stantly need a break from. Start giving your­self what you need so you are more capable of giving your loved ones the things they want. You can still enjoy choco­late and bubble baths and Netflix, though. I promise not to tell.

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