by Karen Doniere | Featured Contributor
With the New Year comes the expected, beloved, and somewhat dreaded New Year’s resolutions. While there’s nothing wrong with making resolutions, it’s time to be more intentional with your goals. Instead of making several resolutions that may or may not drift by the wayside by January 31st, you should focus on creating a few achievable goals, or even a plan. I’m referring to a self-care routine. I’m an advocate for maintaining my mental and emotional health by often engaging in renewing self-care activities. I’d also appreciate it if you’d join me in the struggle. But first, let me explain why following a self-care regimen has been a struggle for me.
Like many ambitious and hardworking women, I’ve often put myself last on the to-do list. When there’s so much to do, it’s hard to figure out how to schedule that manicure, or to find time to enjoy a favorite TV show. A few years ago, I barely did anything nice for myself or hung out with friends. Sadly, I rationalized that I couldn’t do any real self-care due to time constraints, parenting two small children, managing household chores, and dwindling financial resources. As a result, I became easily annoyed and more cynical. Let’s face it, I missed a lot of quality time alone, and with good friends. I want to help you avoid the same mistakes so you can feel your best, and achieve more of your goals from this moment on!
1). Decide what your new self-care goals will consist of.
Do you want to go to bed earlier to get eight hours of sleep every night? If so, what do you need to do to make that happen? Perhaps you need to allow enough time to wind down with warm tea or soft music. Or, maybe you need to allow enough time to read, enjoy a glimpse of social media, and prepare for the next day so you can be in bed earlier. For example, throughout November, I’ve challenged myself to be in bed between 10:00 – 10:30 pm so that I can rise at 5:00 am, and be ready to conquer my day. It means that I have to do the prep work such as fix my lunch and mid-morning snack, get work clothes and accessories ready, and fill my tote bag with projects before I can even get into bed. Then, depending on what time it is, I’ll have a few minutes to read or check social media.
If you’d like to exercise more, start a girl friends potluck, or a book club to connect with like-minded women; it’s as simple as saying it, writing it down, and breaking the necessary tasks into smaller, doable steps. And, one of the most important tasks is to schedule your first fun activity. Download my latest eBook, 3 Steps to Creating the Perfect Self-care Plan, to help you gather your thoughts, and create a fabulous self-care routine. Click the image!
2). Create a plan.
Realizing that self-care looks different for every woman, and no one has the right to dictate what your self-care routine looks like is an important aspect of taking your self-care serious. It’s really about being present and renewing your spirit by engaging in something fun, relaxing, or beneficial. And, getting eight hours of sleep or more is very beneficial for your mental and physical health. What’s fun and relaxing to one person, may be repulsive and boring to someone else. You may like doing free activities, whereas I may enjoy doing a plethora of free and paid activities to renew my spirit. Thus, decide what you want to do for your personal self-care time, and find out as much about it as possible. Do you want to exercise, journal, take a craft or dance class, or learn something new? Check your local Internet listings for a community calendar with low cost or free activities.
As a creative, I find it hard to narrow my focus to only one thing because I love trying new things. I want to take cooking, painting, and knitting classes, and rekindle my interest in sewing and modern dance.
3). Make it happen.
Now it’s time to actually put your special activities on the calendar and make your family and friends aware of them. How often will you do them? Weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly? I think placing them on the calendar makes the activity official, and informing everyone helps them to understand how important your self-care time is to you. It’s also important not to let anything except a brief illness, or a true emergency stop you from doing your activities. Initially, your family or friends may feel slighted if you’re going out to do something fun or relaxing without them. But, the more you stick to your plan, the more receptive and supportive they’ll become.
If you’d like to take a sewing or exercise class that meets twice a week, simply remind everyone a day or two before the class, ask for additional support with household chores or errands, and literally run out the door to renew and recharge your spirit. Another alternative is to invite a family member or friend to join you for one of the sessions.
Although many of us lead very busy lives, we can make the time to take care of our mental health by engaging in relaxing, enjoyable activities. We can focus on revving up our self-care game in 2016 by renewing and recharging our spirit in order to feel our best, and slay our goals. What renewing self-care activities do you plan to enjoy in 2016?
Karen enjoys volunteering at her local domestic violence shelter, where she assists clients with polishing their resume and job interview skills. Her favorite titles are wife, and mom to three amazing young adults.