How To Practice Daily Self-Care (Even When It Seems Like Life Is Way Too Hectic)

self care
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You can't take care of others without caring for yourself, too!

Sometimes in life we focus so hard on getting things done for other people that we forget to spend time taking care of ourselves.

We’ve got goals to meet at work, time that we have to spend on the kids and their activities, attention for our spouses — and that doesn’t even begin to cover trying to find time for your friends, errands that you need to run, groceries you need to pick up … The list goes on, and it can all get a little overwhelming!

So how do we focus on giving ourselves the personal care that we need when everything else is screaming for our attention?

And what exactly happens to you when there isn’t anything left for you to give up and you just feel worn out?

Life is hectic, and forgetting to take care of yourself can be a slippery slope. It can seem right to devote our time to other matters instead of things that we want or need. It can seem like the sacrifices you make along the way are noble because they give your family or friends or even coworkers happiness. But how are you supposed to prioritize self-care when so many other things need to get done?


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We talked to several YT experts to find out from them just how we can prioritize getting our needs met — while not giving up on the things that others depend on you for as well.

Here are 4 ways you can help stand up for what yourself and your needs when you’re feeling overwhelmed by life and responsibilities:

1. Realize that your needs are just as important as other people’s.

"Don't defend your need for self-care. Consider other's needs as well as your own. Then, when you state what you need, be careful not to assume others are going to react negatively."

If you need something, don’t just assume that someone isn’t going to let you have it or tell you that it’s wrong for you to want it.

If you’ve had a trying day and would love to relax with a hot bath, don’t assume that mentioning this to your husband will result in him getting angry at having to take on responsibility for the kids that evening. The people that you love also love you and likewise want you to have what you need to feel better or healthier.

Assuming that their response will be negative might actually be an excuse for why you don’t speak up—because you fear reprisal. But oftentimes, this isn’t the case, and if you did say what you needed, those around you would likely try to help you achieve it, rather than shoot it down. Try telling someone what you need a little more often, and you’ll see that they’re often willing to be understanding!

Marie Zimenoff works with leaders who struggle to communicate their value. She is a leadership, career, and personal branding coach as well as a trainer of career professionals worldwide. Follow her on Twitter and connect with her on LinkedIn.

2. Figure out what isn’t healthy for you to do.

“Create a Won’t List. We’ve all heard of a to-do list, but a Won’t List is your new best friend.

Simply put the things on it that you do not ever intend to do that are causing you guilt, so that you can free up your headspace to enjoy the things that you will do. The Won’t List can contain everything from cleaning under your bed to making handmade holiday gifts from Pinterest to hosting a dinner party, and more.

We spend a lot of time agonizing over and thinking about things that we never really intend to do. The Won’t list will help you to stop feeling guilty about it while freeing up your headspace to spend time on the things you really will do.”

Sometimes, the best thing for our mental and physical health is just to not do something. Our best intentions can end up cluttering up our headspace and making us fret when there’s really no need to.

Yes, you promised to bring baked goods for your kids’ school potluck — but does that mean you’ve got to do the super complicated recipe you discovered online, or can you just add it to your Won't List and bring some easier-to-make chocolate chip cookies instead?

If you’re stressing about something because you set your personal bar too high, then reprioritize what needs to be on your list and make your goals more realistic. Sometimes just saying “no” to a complicated or difficult project will help you feel less stressed over a situation and ease your anxiety in general.

Gretchen Hydo is a professional life and relationship coach, keynote speaker, and nationally syndicated advice columnist. She has spent the past ten years working, hands-on, with individual clients, name brands, and notable companies, providing entrepreneurial tools, public relations acumen, and real-world practical advice to produce unprecedented results. Schedule a complimentary 30-minute session with her today and join her Shine on Purpose Facebook group.

3. Make a commitment to caring for yourself.

“Show up for yourself with deliberate intentionality by making daily accountable self-care commitments.

 In today’s technology-driven world where our minds are overstimulated with multi-tasking and constant distractions, the first thing you should do is schedule (actually put it on your calendar) 1-2 hours of priority self-care every day (yes, that’s right DAILY!). 

This could be to meditate, read, exercise, nap — think of it as a daily recharge to rejuvenate your mind, body, and/or spirit. The second suggestion is the “better before bed” exercise — inevitably, something in your day may not go your way. A simple method to turning that moment into self-care is to declare a betterment statement for the next day before bed: ‘Today, X happened that was challenging, but tomorrow, I am going to do Y to make it a better day.’”

You won’t always have the option to fill your needs meter all the way to the top, so it’s important to recognize little things that you can do in a given day to make your life a little easier and to make you feel a little better.

Self-care should be an important step in your daily life, so even if you have to spread it out over the day (journaling in the morning before work, meditating for a few minutes during lunch, reading instead of going on Facebook before bed), make an effort to show up for yourself and treat your body and mind with the same respect that you give to other people.

Desiree Maya is a change management consultant and life/business coach whose passion is to inspire personal growth, a balanced life, and conquering self-limiting beliefs. She consults and coaches a variety of clients nationwide. She is an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) credentialed by the International Coach Federation and an Expert at YourTango. Follow Desiree Maya on LinkedIn.


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4. Recognize appropriate times to get your self-care in.

"Self-care is not an all-day/everyday possibility. Choose appropriate moments to prioritize your needs. Ex. Schedule a manicure AFTER the big meeting with your boss, NOT during!"

Even the simplest events can feel overwhelming at times, like we’re doing something wrong or we’re feeling distracted by stress and trying to focus on the task at hand. But that doesn’t mean that just because you’re stressed at the moment it’s a good idea to drop what you’re doing and try to pencil in some self-care.

Re-focus your efforts on the task in front of you and then slip some time in later on to give yourself some “me time.” Otherwise, you might end up stressing yourself out more because now you’re not doing something else important. Desperately need a nap? It’s probably best to slip away for fifteen minutes during your lunch break instead of falling asleep at your desk while you’re working on that big project…

Chamin Ajjan, MS, LCSW, ACT is a sex therapist and the author of Seeking Soulmate: Ditch The Dating Game And Find Real Connection. She has been seen in Essence Magazine, Bustle, Mic, Glamour, Your Tango and more. Follow Chamin on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

5. Set smaller, do-able goals for your self-care.

"To get to your desired [self-care] goal you may want to explore what results you want and by when, put this date in your calendar.

Create small, easy-to-do daily tasks, that will bring you closer to the results you desire. Find a person who you will be accountable to, this will make sure you complete your tasks and get your goal. When you take on your daily tasks no matter if you fail or succeed, you inevitably show up for yourself.”

Sometimes, self-care can feel like just another in a HUGE list of things you need to do. And where do you start? With eating healthy and exercising, or with meditation and quiet walks alone? What about doing a fun craft or hobby that makes you happy? 

When you look at it like this, it's hard to imagine how all your self-care is going to get done. That's why choosing one at a time, and taking the rest off the list can be key to actually showing up for yourself. 

David Sampson is a Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach and Entrepreneur. You can follow him on Twitter and YourTango.


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For more advice from incredible people in helping professions, look to our Experts. They are here to help!

Merethe Najjar is a professional writer, editor, and fiction author living in Atlanta, GA with her husband and their wonderful rescue cat. She graduated with a degree in creative writing and recently had her first sci-fi romance novel Mercury in Retrograde published. You can also find her on her website, MeretheWalther.com, or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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