How do you take better care of yourself when you don’t have time? It’s a challenge to fit everything in, and too often, despite good intentions, self-care (the stuff that fuels us, helps us function better, and our life run more smoothly) ends up disappearing from our schedule.
I know I’d feel better if I . . .
. . . got more exercise.
. . . ate a healthier diet.
. . . spent more time with friends.
. . . took a yoga class…wrote in my journal more regularly…took time for myself.
Most of us know that we could do a better job at taking care of ourselves. The challenge is making it happen when time is such a valuable commodity.
How do you take better care of yourself when you don’t have time? Here are some strategies that help:
What exactly is this better care you want to take of yourself? Make sure you aren’t busy berating yourself for whatever it is you aren’t doing and that you have a very clear picture of the self care steps you intend to take.
Think small (doable) and concrete. Examples might be: I will drink 64 ounces of water each day, I will do a yoga routine instead of losing myself on the internet before bed, I will make sure I schedule a date with a friend each week.
When you’re trying to create a habit or fit something new into your busy routine, it’s helpful to have as many things as possible that remind you of it. It’s also helpful to create a system that allows you to schedule once and then make fewer daily decisions about how and when you’ll take the time you need. For instance, it might be easier to sign up for an 8 week scrapbooking class and know in advance when you’ll be setting aside the time for your hobby rather than having to create the time each time you want to scrapbook.
Consider how you could create some ongoing structure around your self-care. Create a system that reminds you when you’ve committed to taking better care of yourself. For instance, schedule walking dates or program your daily deep breathing time into your phone.
Underscore the value
Why are you doing this again? The question is guaranteed to come up when keeping your commitment to self care is inconvenient and a challenge.
Be clear from the beginning about exactly what’s motivating you. Why is it important to make caring for yourself a priority? What’s the cost of not creating the time and the care for yourself? Be concrete. “Because I should” is not an adequate answer. We follow through on our goals when we have a really juicy, compelling reason for doing so. When you find yours, write it down and put it somewhere where you will be reminded of it frequently.
Savor and cherish
You may not have all the “me time” that you really need. You may have to make compromises or fit things in a less than optimal way. That’s how it works for most of us. The thing is, it only works, if you savor the time that you do have.
Whether you have five minutes or an afternoon, make sure you are present for the time that you devote to yourself. You may be such a dedicated multitasker that this is a challenge, but you won’t get the bang from your buck if you’re busy checking your email while you listen to the relaxation tape or stressing over work in your bubble bath, or constantly responding to texts during that phone call to a friend.
You’ll only really taste the perfect chocolate truffle if you’re paying attention—if you show up and focus all of your senses, let it melt in your mouth and taste it with complete awareness. It’s like that with self care too. Let yourself absorb and benefit from whatever amount you are able to give yourself.
Factor in accountability
You’re a busy lady. How are you going to keep this new habit and priority on your radar when life gets even busier? Who or what will help you get back on track when you veer off course (most of us do)? Who will remind you of your vision and its value when you are feeling grumpy or stressed or discouraged? Who or what will help you show up for yourself when you aren’t really feeling it and who will believe in you when you don’t?
Accountability is a missing link in the action plans of many busy women. Factoring in this one piece can make a huge difference in your ability to implement and follow through.
Want to join me in a step-by-step journey for building lasting self-care, and habits that work better than overeating? The Emotional Eating Toolbox Program shows you how to fill in the missing pieces and create strategies and approaches that last.
“What has changed as a result of participating in this program? My whole way of thinking about weight loss and self-care! Tiny steps make big things happen . . .I absolutely recommend this program. It is just such a big change to the traditional way we as a society approach weight loss. This is perfect for the person who is ready to make real change and not feel guilty along the way.” – K. Emotional Eating Toolbox Participant