Self-Care + Self-Improvement Beyond January
In one way or another, self-care and self-improvement are always at the top of our list at the start of a new year, new month, week, or even day. From big things like, “Today is the day I am going to find a time for that vacation I’ve been wanting to go on…” to little things like, “I WILL wash my hair today!” However, big or small, they are often times the first thing we allow to get bumped down a notch when something else comes up.
Maybe you deem something else more important, and your self-care and self-improvement will have to wait because that seems like the “responsible” thing to do. Maybe you simply feel selfish or fear looking that way to other people, if you were to go to that yoga class you signed up for rather than join your team for happy hour...even though you have been looking forward to it all day!
At the risk of using a well-worn analogy, there is a reason flight attendants tell you to put your own oxygen mask on before trying to help other people.
Not only are self-care and self-improvement not selfish nor irresponsible, but they are also important and meaningful for both your mental and physical health. You cannot be any source of help, joy, or provide top quality work if you are overly tired, overworked, and overcommitted.
Make Progress on Many Levels with Self-Care
You will prevent overload and burnout. We have all been there. That gut wrenching feeling when you have packed on too many commitments, projects, and events for weeks on end. In the midst of being “productive” you haven’t scheduled even a moment for yourself. You shouldn’t be surprised when you feel like giving up or you are so stressed out you that have actually gotten yourself sick!
Making time for self-care will reduce the negative side effects of stress. Stress can break down your mind and body. Taking even an hour of each day for yourself or implementing small self-care strategies over the course of each day will allow you to keep your stress from taking over so you can function at full capacity.
Self-care will get you refocused. Walk away and come back. Give your brain time to refocus on something else. Relax and reboot so you can come back to a problem or task with fresh eyes and a clear mind.
Many times, self-care is used as a reward system. I firmly believe this is not the best way to go. Rather, I believe small practices of self-care should be implemented into your daily practice. Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean that you still can't give yourself a larger “prize” as a reward later on!
5 Ways for Making Self-Care Part of Your Routine
- Make time for 30 mins - 1 hour of exercise a day. Yes, you can. Find ways to hold yourself accountable by hiring a personal trainer, signing up for classes ahead of time, joining an online challenge, or finding yourself an equally committed workout buddy. It doesn’t matter when you get it done during your day but get in it. A morning pick me up, a lunchtime sweat, an evening wind-down. Spending time in your body and out of your head will not just make you physically stronger and de-stressed, but more times than not, you’ll find yourself mentally more resilient and happy as well.
- Eat well and stay hydrated. This can be a tough one, but one that you will be able to reap benefits from immediately. Junk food can feel like a reward and healthy foods can feel like punishment. However, the mental and physical side effects of eating clean meals, filled with whole foods, will leave you feeling more energized and excited to be up and moving around instead of dragging your feet. While I personally do not prescribe to “meal prep” I do love my “food prep” and it takes me about 1 hour every Sunday. I cook my meats, fish, potatoes, rice, and veggies for the week. Basically, anything that would regularly take me 10 mins to prepare. This way I have no excuse to spend extra money by ordering in when I can easily just heat something up.
- Keep a journal. The good things, the bad things, the ideas, all of it. I have found that this helps not only my motivation, but my stress and anxiety as well. I don’t let this become a dump journal (although sometimes that feels so good too!) but I make sure to acknowledge the things I am grateful for that day too. The creamer in my coffee being lactose-free and low cal that isn’t made from chemicals? GRATEFUL. My boyfriend doing the dishes and cleaning the oven? DOUBLE GRATEFUL.
- Plan time with loved ones. Can you meet up with one important friend for an hour this week? Even better, can you turn that time with your friend into one of your self-care practices? Try a new restaurant, bring them to your favorite workout class, invite them over for tea. Think of this as one of your small “breaks” during the day. Sit and listen to what they have to say. Grow your friendship and take your mind off your to do list.
- Protect and honor your schedule. THE BIG ONE. Learn to say no to the things in your life that are going to overwhelm and exhaust you. Say no to things that you did not plan for, do not feel excited by, and cannot find how they add value to your life and happiness. I cannot tell you how many workouts I have missed by joining after work plans (Shocker: They were unmemorable!) or how many unimpressive projects I have delivered by taking on far too many in the first place. It is not your responsibility to make everyone around you happy. It is your responsibility to do that for yourself.
Growing up a dancer Rae moved, learned, and worked hard every day. She loved using her mind and body in tandem and pushing them to their limits. When Rae decided she did not want to pursue dance professionally, she had to find something to replace that feeling of working hard and getting tangible results. This is where she found fitness. Going to the gym quickly became her favorite activity, and she found herself jealous of all the trainers who got to stay there and help others accomplish their goals and learn about their bodies all day. So she decided to become one of those trainers herself, earning a personal trainer certification through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Rae learned and took on all that she could, teaching pilates, bootcamp, and barre classes, all while building her clientele for personal training. She quickly learned that fitness and exercise was not a one-size-fits-all model, and pursued a functional movement screen certification to aid her in individualizing her clients and breaking down what they need for their specific bodies. Rae has worked with clients of all levels and fitness backgrounds, and loves to see each and every one come to meet their goals in their own way.
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