We often struggle to ‘find time’ in our busy lives for self-care. This is especially difficult for parents who juggle multiple balls and are so busy caring for others, that sometimes caring for ourselves doesn’t come as naturally. Even though we know self-care is important, it can seem like a luxury that we cannot afford and repeatably drops to the bottom of our To Do list.
Below are seven helpful tips to help you find time for self-care. We all need a little ‘me time’!
1. Make yourself a priority.
Commit to yourself that you are going to consciously and deliberately make self-care a priority in your life. Acknowledge that your busy lifestyle or mindset is not healthy and that you need to get serious about becoming less busy. The following affirmation might help you remember this: “Self care is just as important as every other item on my To Do list.”
2. Cull your To Do list.
Look at your To Do list with fresh eyes – not with the intention of adding items, but with the intention of removing items. Make a conscious effort to drop some balls, so that you can pick up the self-care ball instead. What can be let go of today so you can achieve your own personal needs?
3. Practice saying “no”.
Stop responding with an automatic “yes” to every request. It can help to create a ‘buying time’ script, where instead of immediately saying “yes” or “no”, you tell people how busy you are and that you need time to think or check your schedule before responding. This buys you time to formulate a more considered response.
4. Ask for help.
Start to actively look for areas in your life where you can ask for help. Identify who can support you (i.e., loved ones, colleagues, or professionals) and how they can help you. Give yourself permission to spend money on this, if required – it will be an indirect investment in your health and happiness.
5. Introduce quick bursts of self-care.
Write a list of self-care activities that only take five minutes. For example, when it comes to physical activity, you could set reminders in your phone to take a moment to do alternating exercises (e.g., squats, lunges, pushups). Get your children involved and make it fun – chase each other, squat while holding them, jump around and be silly. Make yourself exercise playing cards by writing different movements on paper, cutting them into cards, shuffling them, and drawing a few when you have a moment.
6. Be creative.
Start to actively look for ways to find time for self-care. For example, you could rally together other parents and organise a babysitting swap roster. Take an extra five minutes after a toilet or shower break to do some breathing or exercises. Say you’re going to bed early and read before sleeping. The more you actively search for moments to introduce self-care into your day, the more creative you will get at finding such moments.
7. Plan ahead.
For some, planning their week can help them squeeze self-care into their lives. Use a spreadsheet to plan meals, exercise, events and me time for each day of the week. Schedule self-care into your diary and make it a non-negotiable part of your day.
About the Author, Naomi Arnold: I am a life + wellness coach with a background in psychology, counselling and health. I help people like you live healthy, happy, balanced and purposeful lives. Like many of my clients, I’ve overcome body battles, career confusion, motherhood mayhem, people pleaser-itis, and paralysis by analysis, to grow and prosper in my own version of health and happiness. I have qualifications in psychology and life coaching, have previously worked as a rehabilitation consultant (psychologist), and have spent the past seven years employed as a Departmental Officer at the Australian Government Department of Health in subject areas including healthy lifestyles and weight, mental health, and drugs and alcohol.