Self-care is the new, popular buzzword of 2019, and for good reason. It’s important to take care of yourself, to actively put your needs first, and give yourself time to recuperate and re-energize in the wake of your extra busy schedule. But when you have a list of responsibilities as long as a CVS receipt or a team of people relying on you, engaging in self-care can be an extra source of stress or even guilt. And so begins an endless cycle: we guilt ourselves into practicing self-care, but we end up spending the whole time feeling guilty over the unchecked boxes on our to-do lists. Now, this doesn’t mean that we should kick self-care to the curb, but what it does mean is that we should find ways to make self-care work for us in ways that won’t leave us feeling more weighed down than before. Here are some things to keep in mind.
1. Do your research. Before you decide to get started with a detailed self-care routine, do a little research first. This involves sitting down to examine what relaxes you and what makes you happy as well as using online resources to discover some self-care techniques you might not have thought of. There’s a lot of information out there about what self-care is and what it isn’t, but what works for someone else might not be a stress-free activity for you. When practicing self-care, you’ll undoubtedly minimize any potential guilt if you’re engaging in practices that won’t make you feel like you’ve wasted your time.
2. Debunk the myths. It’s true that self-care can involve meditation, a day at the spa, a lounge session by the pool—essentially, a time where you allow yourself to do absolutely nothing. The thing is that, for some people, doing nothing is a mega-source of stress. If you unwind by being active, do that. Self-care doesn’t mean that you have to do nothing; it means that you’re doing something for yourself. If that means writing that book you’ve been meaning to get to, fixing up that old car, or taking time to garden, don’t feel bad about working so long as it’s work that you want to do. If you feel guilty when you’re not being productive, then be productive!
3. Schedule your self-care. Actively planning a regular self-care routine can help alleviate some of the guilt that may come with it. If you wait until you’re about to burst and then decide to just drop your responsibilities and commitments in the name of self-care, it’s not going to feel constructive. Instead, give yourself time to plan so that you can address your commitments ahead of time or even let others know that you won’t be available during the time you’ve allotted for yourself. In this way, you’re working alongside your responsibilities and won’t feel like you’re shirking them when you take time to focus on your needs.
If your self-care routine is tarnished by guilt, reexamine what you’re doing so that it becomes the stress-free practice it was always meant to be.