I’ve never been particularly good at taking care of myself. It has always been second nature for me to take care of other people and do everything I can to make them happy, but I’ve realized that in doing that, I have really neglected my own well being. I think there is definitely a happy medium – I don’t want to say “screw you” to everyone else and be straight up selfish, but I do need to do things for myself sometimes, even if it’s as simple as saying “no” every once in awhile. With the new school year starting in just a couple of weeks, I need to focus more on making time for self-care.
Here are seven things I do to take care of myself:
- I try to do some kind of personal development every day. I started out by reading a couple of books – You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero and I Am That Girl by Alexis Jones. As much as I love reading, though, it can be hard to find the time, so I have started listening to a couple of podcasts when I can fit them in – Chalene Johnson’s “The Chalene Show” and Lewis Howes’s “The School of Greatness.” They are seriously inspirational! I have a couple more books on my radar (including Mindset by Carol Dweck, as I’ve been trying to use her philosophy with my students a lot), but I’ll probably stick with the podcasts as well.
- I try to exercise regularly. Let me tell you, I am about the least athletic person you will ever meet – I have been hilariously bad at every single sport I’ve ever tried. I also find it really hard to motivate myself to actually leave the house and go to a gym to work out, so I’ve turned to running and workout DVDs. I have run the Dogfish Dash for the past couple of years, and am running it again this year – it’s 8 kilometers, so just under 5 miles. Of course, every year I sit on my butt all winter and spring so every year I have to re-train myself for it, but thankfully I found a great 8K training plan I’ve been following. I find that having a race I’ve signed up for (and paid for) helps motivate me to actually make sure I can run it. When I want to do a different type of workout, I still break out good ol’ Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred occasionally, or pop onto Beachbody On Demand and choose one from there. I love the 21 Day Fix workouts, as well as the yoga program for when I need some extra stretching. I’d like to try some of the other programs, but I think I need to get back into better shape first! During the school year, I make it a nonnegotiable to work out right when I get home, before dinner. I schedule it on my calendar and lay my workout clothes on the bed so I can’t just crawl into it for a nap. Silly, but it works!
- I try to eat mindfully, and try to put good whole foods into my body as much as possible. I LOVE food, especially cheese and bread, along with wine and craft beer, and… well, pretty much everything that is not so good for me. However, I also love it when my clothes fit and I feel energetic! For me, the answer is moderation. I don’t believe in completely eliminating a food or food group that you love, because it isn’t sustainable and honestly, it just sucks. I’ve done a lot of calorie counting in my past, but I tend to get way too obsessive and anxious about it. Now, I just try to be mindful of what I put in my body. I allow myself “treats,” but I do not “cheat.” It’s only a slight change of perception in the terminology, but it makes a huge difference. I also try to cook at home as much as possible – I love to cook, and restaurant portions are mind-bogglingly high in calories a lot of times!
- I make time to be creative. This isn’t necessarily going to apply to everyone, but I was a very creative person in the past, and I have really let that side of me fade away. I love creating, whether it’s lettering, sketching, painting, woodburning, crafting, or singing. I know those are super varied interests, and I am certainly not an expert at even a single one of them, but they are relaxing and sometimes even produce something worthy of display!
- I preserve and cherish down time. I am an introvert, and I absolutely crave down time. Nothing makes me more anxious than a day full of one event after another, and nothing is more peaceful than a huge chunk of time with nothing planned. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with people and doing fun things, but I need time alone to recharge.
- I take Epsom salt baths. To me, taking a nice hot bath with a good book and a glass of wine under the soft light of the chandelier is the ultimate way to relax. (Yes, I have a chandelier in my bathroom!) I have a couple different kinds of Epsom salt (lavender to help me fall asleep, and eucalyptus to soothe sore muscles), and choose depending on my mood.
- I have a monthly massage membership. Okay, this one can be a bit pricey and probably not doable for everyone. Honestly, though, I’ve found it to be 100% worth the money. I don’t have a lot of money to “play” with, as I’m trying to get rid of my remaining debt, but this is something I am completely comfortable investing in. I go to Massage Envy, so it’s not as expensive as it could be, and I’ve had a wonderful experience every time.
This is far from an exhaustive list, but these things really do help me be a better me. When I am happy, relaxed, and recharged, I find pretty much everything is easier and more enjoyable – even work!
What do you do to take care of yourself?