How You Can Finally Have More Energy & More Time
I love this definition of self-care: “Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook.”
I almost overlooked my need for self-care over Memorial Day weekend, and if I’m being completely honest… I fell off the self-care wagon last week.
I’ve been going non-stop lately. I work for a cloud-based tech company, so we’ve been pivoting since the start of the pandemic, and I’ve also been spending more time than usual on my coaching business.
As a result, I’ve put some new self-care practices in place. My morning routine sets the tone for my day, and my afternoon practice helps me reset and recharge at the time when I typically need it most, so I have the energy to finish the workday.
But last week, I started skipping my morning routine and daily 3 pm self-care practice, because I “didn’t have time” or “didn’t think I needed it.”
It’s way too easy to make excuses.
I started getting irritable and grumpy. I wasn’t as motivated, so I also wasn’t as productive. Everything took longer to do… and I finally realized that I don’t have time not to practice self-care.
Getting Back on Track
Since we weren’t traveling over the long weekend, I wanted to take advantage of the extra day to write a blog or start in on one of the many ideas I have… but I knew that I needed to reset, recharge, and get back on track.
What I didn’t know is what that was supposed to look like, so I winged it. And that worked wonderfully.
I’m a planner, so this was a new approach for me—but I didn’t really have a choice. The things that give me the biggest reset are all outdoors: hiking, paddleboarding, sitting outside and reading. On Monday, I knew the weather was going to be 85 degrees and muggy, so anything outdoors was going to be out of the question after 10 am.
I got up early to paddleboard, which helped clear my head, and I did my full morning routine when I got back.
Then, I started doing the next thing I felt like doing. I took my time making a nice breakfast, instead of rushing through that like I usually do. I journaled, read a book, did my afternoon self-care practice, and focused on being present all day long.
By dinnertime, I had more energy and felt more relaxed than I have in weeks. And I’ve been consistently doing my morning and afternoon practices every day this week, to get back into the habit.
Why Self-Care Is So Important
Self-care may almost seem like a luxury, and one that you just don’t have time for—or deserve, because there are so many other pressing things on your plate that you have to get done.
But as I realized last week, the reality is that you don’t have time not to practice self-care. This is how you can become more productive, finally have more time and energy, and show up as your best self, at work and at home.
We can’t be as productive when we’re running on fumes, rushing from one thing to the next until we collapse into bed at night. When we wake up to do it all over again, we still feel exhausted because we didn’t give ourselves the time we needed to wind down and recharge.
And the thing is, so few of us even think about self-care until we’re on the edge of burnout.
Here are three strategies that you can begin using today to change this.
What Does Self-Care Look Like For You?
The way each one of us recharges is unique, and this practice begins by defining what self-care looks like for you.
What’s at least one thing that helps you let go of your day, unwind, and reset? What is the one thing that recharges you and gives you energy, every time? Begin carving out time to do this every single day—even for just five minutes.
Starting small is the best way to make sure this becomes a habit.
Develop an Internal Self-Care Meter
The next step is to learn how to spot the early warning signs, which are equally unique.
Begin with this question: are the most important people in my life getting my best or having to deal with my worst? This applies to both your personal and professional worlds.
We tend to take our stress out on those who are closest to us, and this is a big, bright, frantically waving red flag.
The people we care about the most are what fill our lives with love, meaning, purpose, and fulfillment. Creating awareness around the way we’re treating them is a great place to start developing an internal self-care meter.
This strategy is one of the reasons I knew I needed to take Memorial Day completely off and relax. I’d been a bit grumpy all week and was becoming pretty unpleasant to live with. I was continually apologizing for taking my stress out on my husband, and that’s never fair.
I’m typically a pretty happy, positive person, so I know that when the crankiness starts to creep in, I need to take a step back and turn inward.
This time, it didn’t take me too long to figure out what was going on: I was skipping my self-care practices.
I have a morning routine that I love, and it sets the tone for my day. If I don’t do it, my entire day feels different.
I also have a daily calendar reminder set for my 3 pm self-care practice. This is the time that I’ve realized I start nearing burnout during the workday and need to recharge, but I’d been ignoring my reminder—along with the toll this was taking on my marriage and my mental state.
I needed an entire day to get back on track, reevaluate how I was spending my time, and figure out how to build more downtime into my day.
The key here is to learn how it feels when you’re getting close to that unhealthy, over-tired state and then use this information to do these two things:
- First, look for patterns that can give you an accurate indication of the time of day you should begin putting self-care into practice
- Second, commit to practicing self-care in those moments, so you begin giving yourself permission to rest and recharge before you get too close to an introvert hangover
Make Self-Care A Top Priority
We are so busy all day long, but with what? How often do we stop and take stock of how we’re spending our time—and our energy? When is the last time you strategically mapped out your day instead of moving through most of it on autopilot?
We all get comfortable in our routines, and this makes it more difficult to question whether this is actually the way we want to live our lives. We begin accepting the fact that we’ll always be tired, never have enough sleep, and constantly be running on fumes.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you’re ready to make self-care a priority, begin to redefine the role it plays in your life. Choose one thing that helps you reset and recharge and pay attention to the warning signs, so you can put it into practice before it’s too late.
Make a habit of turning inward, checking in with your body and mind to evaluate what you need.
Read this ebook for more strategies that will help you balance your drive with self-care.