The more I pile onto my plate in a given week, the more I obviously accomplish — and I tend to pile on a lot. The caveat, however, is that the more I pile on, the less time I have to relax.
At least, that’s what I’ve been thinking lately. The truth is that I’ve still found little moments to relax throughout the day and week thanks to my regular acts of self-care.
My self-care routine
The more and more hectic my life becomes, the more important it is for me to practice acts of self-care, no matter how small they may be. Over time, many of these acts have become staples of my daily and weekly routines. They are things I refuse to give up or skip because I know they help me stay balanced and happy.
Exercise five day a week
Setting aside an hour every evening for fitness helps me clear my head of stress and serves as a reprieve from a day spent in front of a computer screen.
Walk my dogs in the mornings and evenings
Walking my dogs isn’t a chore at all. It’s something I genuinely enjoy. Walking them before work gives me a chance to wake up in the fresh air before heading to the office, and walking them in the evening is an easy way to unwind and calm down before bedtime.
Hike every weekend
I truly do hike every weekend, and I take my Sunday mornings and afternoons to drive to different trailheads and spend hours in nature because hiking helps me find balance. Nature soothes my soul in a way artificially-lit, air-conditioned spaces can’t. It makes me smile and feel at peace. My weekend hikes are the simplest part of my week, which I need in my otherwise busy life.
Give myself the night off on Fridays
Friday is my rest day in every sense of the word. No working out, no chores, no obligations. It’s the night my husband and I go out on a date or enjoy quality time in the comfort of our home. It’s a night for being lazy and doing whatever I want after a long workweek and before an adventure-packed weekend.
Though the word “self-care” may sound reminiscent of the word “selfish,” self-care is not about ignoring others and focusing solely on ourselves. Rather, it’s about knowing what we need to do in order to nurture our physical, mental and emotional well-being. By knowing what our needs are — and then focusing on meeting them — we’re able to be our best selves and are better equipped to take care of others in our lives.
Self-care is different for different people. I find exercise and nature relaxing, but you may find watching your favorite TV show alone or socializing with a group of friends to be calming. Regardless of what you enjoy and find bests relieves your stress, the point is to incorporate small acts of self-care into your daily and weekly routine.
Keep your self-care simple, especially at first, so you can easily make time for it in your schedule: Go to bed a half-hour earlier, take time to cook and enjoy a meal with your family, or put your phone down and refuse to check work emails after you leave the office for the day.
Practice these small acts and make them a habit rather than things you only resort to when stressed. Then continue to prioritize self-care and remember that doing so is important to your overall health and happiness!