All summer long, my self-care has been pretty great.
It’s not perfect – it never is – but I’ve been exercising, eating well, and making time for writing and reading whenever I can.
It’s so easy during summertime! The weather is gorgeous, the days are long, and there are few demands on my time. Just keep these two children alive and semi-entertained. The best thing is that I don’t have to deal with the drive home at the end of the work day; that’s when I often find myself stopping to pick up an unhealthy snack in a stress-induced haze.
Now, however, the school year has started, and I need to find a way to incorporate self-care into my everyday routine. This is always my weakness when it comes to self-care – the maintenance. I’m great at taking a day off or a weekend to take care of myself; what I need is to develop strategies for maintaining good self-care on a daily basis, so that the stress and chaos of LIFE and OTHER PEOPLE don’t interrupt my commitments to being healthy, intentional, and present.
How do people do this?!?! My pattern is: excellent self-care, then stress out and crash and burn, then resume good self-care again. I don’t know how to take care of myself and then KEEP taking care of myself indefinitely.
However, I am hopeful. I’m refreshed after a great summer, and I now know that the key for me is developing a plan for self-care that is all day every day no matter what. It’s not about whether or not I go for a run. If I meditate before work and I run after work, but I spend the entire work day getting swept up in chaos and eating unhealthy snacks, then that’s not good self-care. And, let’s be real – when I don’t take care of myself during the work day, there’s almost zero chance that I’m going to actually go running or be a present and playful parent once I get home.
These are my tips for maintaining everyday self-care, which I’m going to test out and report back on midway through the school year:
- Plan ahead. Make sure you have healthy food available, at home and at work. Pick out your outfits ahead of time. Think about what’s coming – weekends away, late days at work, meetings at other schools – so that you can plan for it. YOU ARE NOT GOOD AT SELF-CARE ON THE FLY; that’s when you eat trail mix for lunch.
- Stretch and move and dance all day long! I don’t always have the time to exercise as often as I want. But I find that it is helpful if I just think of every moment of my day as a time to stretch and utilize energy. Like having dance parties with the boys! That’s not a workout routine but it’s definitely exercise. When I remember to move and stretch throughout the day, it helps me to not sink into a sluggish state, which then helps me to actually prioritize exercise when I really get the chance.
- Allow yourself time and space to think before you speak or act.
- Keep self-care at the center of your mind, your heart, and your life.
- Keep the Planning Central space clean and clear. There’s a desk in my living room where I like to keep my planner. I think of it as “Planning Central” – it’s the place I can go to when I’m dealing with my to-do list or my schedule. When I keep that space clean and clear, it’s easier for me to feel focused and motivated to stay on track.
- Maintain your recovery work. Go to meetings, write your daily gratitude list, do your daily inventory, and stay in touch with your sponsor. When you make these things a priority, the rest of your life (including mental health and daily self-care) seems to magically fall into place.
- Do a morning and evening check-in every day. I have a plan for my morning and evening routines that includes doing a little check-in with myself – a time to ask myself, Have you slowed down? Are you being intentional about your choices?
- Be RUTHLESS about making sure you have time to slow down and check in with yourself. Don’t let anyone else set your pace. And don’t let yourself get caught up in chaos – yours or anyone else’s.
- Whenever you get off track – AND YOU DEFINITELY WILL – just get going again as soon as possible. Without beating yourself up for being human, please and thank you.
I love this plan, and I’m going to check back in on it monthly.