How Do You Make Time for Self-Care When You’re Constantly Busy? You start small, beautiful.
Start where you are, with what you have, and how you feel. Start with love.
The perfect self-care practice is different for everyone. That’s the beauty of it. Self-care is very much like a yoga practice - neither activities care about how you look or if you’re sad or happy or exhausted or furious. They don’t care if you’ve got 5 minutes or 50. They just ask that you show up.
I say we begin to treat ourselves the way yoga treats us, the way meditation treats us, the way self-care treats us. Make space for ourselves to actually feel our lives instead of rushing through them. And then being willing to listen to what emotions surface.
Our bodies tell us what we need all the time. We often know when we’re too stressed, overwhelmed, getting sick, dealing with a foggy mind, or turning into the Hulk. Those things are signs. Our jaws clench, our backs ache, our heads ache, our digestive systems shut down, our noses clog, our emotions heighten… Those things are asking us to pay closer attention. To examine the current state of our lives. To slow down and turn within.
When I say slow down, I don’t mean stop your entire life. I just mean take a second to question the way you’re doing things. If pushing so hard to reach goals (or maintain what you’ve already achieved) is leading you to exhaustion and burn out… maybe it’s time to take a look at your daily habits. To redefine your priorities. To dedicate 10 minutes in each day to take care of yourself, to do something that makes your soul smile. To do something that has no other purpose than to tickle your funny bone.
Take a second to question your intentions and see if they align with your wants and needs.
We can get so wrapped up in reaching for the stars that we forget to enjoy the view where we are.
Your life isn’t happening at the end of some goal. Your life is happening right now. All we have is tiny moment after tiny moment. Let yourself enjoy it. If enjoying your life moment by moment means that you get to your goal a little slower, so be it! At least you didn’t drive yourself insane trying to get there. And hell, who knows… maybe taking care of yourself, loving yourself, recharging your battery will help you get there right on time.
What if your priorities (non self-care priorities) are so pressing, so dire, so important that you can’t manage to squeeze in ten minutes for yourself? Give yourself five instead.
So much of our ability to love ourselves has to do with perspective - the way we frame the stories we tell ourselves means everything.
If our story is that we have to get to school on time and we have to stay at school all day and then we have to go to work for a million hours and then our feet are killing us and then we have to go home to a family we don’t spend enough time with, and we’re starving, and we can’t eat anything healthy or spend enough time with other humans because we have homework to do and an hour of sleep to get…
Yeah, you might just burn out eventually.
I’m going to be blunt with you guys. But I do it out of love.
Self-care is not optional. Self-care is an act of survival. It is absolutely mandatory.
The excuses don’t matter. The worries don’t matter. The fears don’t have a home here.
YOU have a home here. You are your own home. And you deserve to clean out the weeds in your front yard every now and then. Maybe you don’t have to hire a gardener. Maybe pulling out the weeds yourself is the self-care.
Let me be more clear. If a vacation isn’t within your self-care toolkit right now, give yourself ten minutes of something that makes you feel good. If you can’t dedicate ten minutes in the day to feeling good, then create an opportunity for yourself to feel good out of a something you already have to do.
So the time that you spend in the car on your way to work worried about if you’re going to make it there on time or not? Use that time to play your favorite song as loudly as you can and sing your heart out. Dance. Smile. Pretend to be Beyonce… or whoever! Play your favorite uplifting podcast and turn the lesson into a game for yourself. If the theme of the podcast was learning to let go of fears… see how many fears you can let go of throughout the day. Let that be an act of self-care.
When you’re having a conversation with your boss, tell yourself “This is a conversation I’m having for ME. This is my opportunity to be proud of myself for how I communicate.” And then take a minute to think thoughts of gratitude to yourself when you’ve finished talking.
When you’re doing homework that seems to last all night long, light a candle or turn on your essential oil diffuser. Breathe deeply. Give thanks for your breath. Give thanks for your intelligence. Give thanks for your teachers. Give thanks for your ability to learn. Smile at your textbook like it’s a long lost love.
In the shower, recognize how you’re feeling. Are you rushing? Has your breathing become shallow? Are you thinking about everything else instead of the fact that you’re in the shower? Focus on the present moment. Breathe deeply. Enjoy the scent of your soap. Visualize the water washing away your worries. Appreciate the massage of the water against your skin.
And if you’re not getting enough sleep? Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to figure out where the 25th hour of the day is coming from. If the time isn’t there right now… make sure you get the most out of the hours you do get. Get yourself an amazing pillow. Turn on a meditation app. Play it and close your eyes. Tell yourself this is your time to relax. This is your time to rest. This is your time to rejuvenate. You own those couple of hours of sleep. You snuggle that pillow knowing that when you wake up tomorrow, you’ve chosen to live an amazing life where you get to participate with so many people in so many different ways. You get to figure out more about what you like and what you don’t like. You get to move closer to your dreams. You get to take another 5 minutes to breathe deeply and smile.
Sometimes self-care is taking every minute you can to be completely tuned in and aware of your life. You think about the things your doing with a lighthearted energy.
You give yourself the credit you know you deserve. You do things for yourself that you wish others would do for you. Send yourself that sweet text message. Tell yourself you’re proud of what you’ve accomplished. Tell yourself you’re a badass woman who can’t be stopped. Tell yourself you deserve to rest without guilt. Tell yourself you can breathe because the world won’t end if you want to take a day off.
Even if something seemingly negative happens in your life, question the situation. Is there a way you can care for yourself in that moment? Is there a way to find the positivity in the situation? Is there a way you can find a space of gratitude to inhabit?
And if none of that is helpful… then I urge you to rethink what you’re doing in your life.
See, I’ve been there. I had the nights with no sleep that led into hours of a stressful commute that led into long days at school with work in-between classes. I had the nights that were filled with homework and guilt because I couldn’t be with my family, my loved ones… And at first it was all fine and dandy.
At first, I was proud of my ability to hustle. I felt like the hustle was proof that I was worthy. That I was doing my part. That all of the love and time people gave me was worth it. The hustle was proof that I wasn’t trying to let anyone down. That went on for a couple of years before I realized that lifestyle was not sustainable for me. For some people it takes months before their bodies or minds tell them to slow down.
Some people hustle themselves into the ground for decades. It took me a couple of years before I realized I didn't want to put my hustle, my ambition before my health and wellness.
Our culture has built such pride around this idea that we have to be a hustler in order to be worthy. But if that hustle is causing you pain? Sickness? If that hustle is making you get on the freeway with no sleep day after day? If that hustle is turning your stomach to knots? Then I’d venture to say it’s time to slow down.
It’s time to rest. It’s time to readjust. It’s time to put yourself at the top of your to do list.
There’s a quote that I love:
“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes a day, unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour.” - Zen Proverb
For me, all acts of self-care are also acts of meditation. Self-care calls for us to exist fully in the moment - completely connected to whatever activity we’re doing - in order to feel the love present within it. And I’ve found in my own experience that creating time for self-care means my life opens up in beautiful ways I never expected.
To me, it’s definitely worth the time.
I’ll leave you with a couple more quotes for when you need help turning inward to find your self-care solution:
“The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind.” - Caroline Myss
“Meditation is not something that should be done in a particular position at a particular time. It is an awareness and an attitude that must persist through the day.” - Annamalai Swami
“The mind is responsible for feelings of pleasure and pain. Control of the mind is the highest yoga.” - Swami Sivananda
“This withdrawal from the day’s turmoil into creative silence is not a luxury, a fad, or a futility. It dissolves mental tensions and heals negative emotions.” - Paul Brunton
“Some people think that meditation takes time away from physical accomplishment. Taken to extremes, of course, that’s true. Most people, however, find that meditation creates more time than it takes.” - Peter McWilliams
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