Have you ever heard the saying that you can’t fill a cup with an empty pitcher? If you think about it, it’s true. Now, imagine you are the pitcher, and all of your responsibilities are the cups. You can’t possibly do it all and meet everyone else’s needs until you take care of yourself. It’s not selfish to practice self-care. It’s smart.
How does self-care connect to mental health? The two go together hand in hand. When you are doing things to take care of yourself, whether that is eating better or taking a long hot bath, you are improving your overall well-being. And that is good for your mental health.
Self-care is described as anything that helps you feel better. That might be physically, mentally, or emotionally. It’s not one size fits all. What we do for self-care differs, but as long as we do it, it matters. Other than the examples given above, you might consider adding physical activity to your day or meditating. Perhaps your self-care routine includes reading before bedtime. Any of these ideas are fantastic.
With our busy schedules, carving out the time for self-care might be a bigger issue than figuring out what you would like to do with that time. Unfortunately, that is often the biggest problem. We tend to think we’re too busy to take time for ourselves until something happens where taking care of ourselves is our only option. When we practice consistently, the chance of that ultimatum coming is less.
Taking care of yourself starts a little bit at a time. You’re not going to wake up tomorrow morning and decide that today is the day. Rather, before you go to bed tonight, think of one self-care activity you can do tomorrow. Maybe you’ll start by eating a healthy breakfast or getting up ten minutes early to stretch. After a few days, add in another activity. Before you know it, you’ll have added three to four activities each day and feel more refreshed and focused.
Don’t let the time trap guilt you into not completing your activities. If you’re worried about that, schedule your first few activities when you’re least likely to be interrupted. Trying to meditate when the kids are normally waking up most likely won’t work. If you find yourself forgetting to complete your self-care, set the alarm. Once you’re in the habit, you’ll find yourself looking for little pockets of time to care for yourself.