Let's get real about self-care. If you Google "self-care t-shirts," you'll see everything from motivational quotes to "mac and cheese is self-care" to "self-care isn't selfish."
PsychCentral.com defines self-care as "any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health."
Does that justify a second serving of ice cream or binge-watching Netflix all day? It can, and it can also take the form of turning your work email off on the weekend or eating lunch away from your desk without the distraction of social media.
We often ask participants in our training programs to list 10 things they do for self-care. Go ahead and try that right now. Pause your reading and actually write down 10 things you do to take care of yourself. No, seriously, go write them down...
It is often the case that we cannot come up with 10 right away. Maybe it's because when put on the spot, all of a sudden our minds go blank. Or, maybe it's because we have been conditioned to not put ourselves first, such that the list of everything we do for others is far longer than the list of things we do for ourselves.
Dr. Kristen Neff, "a pioneer in the field of self-compassion research," says "...most of us are already quite skilled at being kind, understanding and compassionate to those we care about. To realize the benefits of self-compassion, therefore, all you need to do is turn around and apply those same skills toward yourself. It's easier than you think, and it could change your life." What a radical idea, however, we have been accustomed to some societally derived mandate that dictates that we must take care of others before taking care of ourselves. The airlines have it right — they instruct us to put our own oxygen mask on before helping others. The only way we *can* help others, is if we have enough reserves in our virtual compassion repository to give.
Self-care is a critical part of a comprehensive well-being strategy, and mindfulness is one of the tools that can help you achieve your self-care goals. Making mindfulness part of a self-care strategy can reduce stress and increase your resilience. If we know that it is so beneficial, why is it so hard to incorporate it on a regular basis? Behavior change is hard! Creating new habits takes time, discipline and motivation — something a little more personal than, "I know it's good for me, so I should practice mindfulness."
This month, we invite you to join us on this journey of self-care and notice what happens when you take a few mindful moments each day. Take a few moments now to fill out this blank calendar using our self-care suggestions or your own ideas, and then hang it somewhere you will see it every day. You could even put the daily challenges into your calendar to remind yourself to prioritize self-care each day. When you do, remember to pause and notice what comes up for you. Remember, whatever arises is okay! Acknowledge that and keep at it.
You could also print the list and pick one thing every day when you wake up. Or you can check our social media, where we will be sharing reminders every day. We'd love to hear how the challenge goes for you, so remember to tag us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn!