I’m sitting here listening to the hold music at my doctor’s office on speaker phone while I drink a big cup of coffee and draw up a lazy grocery list for this weekend. I want to make sure we get a lot of fresh veggies in our systems so I’m thinking a big salad for lunch… grilled chicken and veggies for dinner, and I’m wondering if peaches will satisfy our after dinner sweet teeth or if we should just admit it and get some cookies. And when are we going to get some movement in? If we can’t go to the water park, maybe we can take a park-tour or walk up and down main street. Or maybe even both… My best friend is coming to spend the night and I want to make sure that I’m at my very best while she’s here.
This planning ahead is something pretty new for me. Sort of. I’ve always been the type who likes to know what to expect but this is different. I’ve learned, recently, that if I plan certain things ahead, I’m more in control—not in control of what happens but more in control of how I feel. I’ve started seriously planning my self-care. And it has made all the difference. I’m not going to say that I feel like a whole new person… but I can tell you that I feel more in control of myself, these days.
I have a few goals in my self-care life. The big one is that I don’t want to feel crummy at the end of the day (or at any point in the day) anymore. Another one is that I’d like to eat less carbs and sugar because I know that my body just feels better without those things inside of it. Another one is that I’d like to keep my house cleaner because I know that my mind feels more clear when there’s less clutter. And another is that I want to treat myself with actual treats—as opposed to those times when I end up just accidentally binging on a whole bag of Ruffles potato chips and at the end, make a mental note of “treat yoself!” to make myself feel better about having actually treating myself pretty terribly. It’s time to think ahead! The way that it works for me is that I keep a notebook designated exactly for keeping track of self-care. I’ll give you a look at it.
Here are five tips that might help you to plan your self-care, if you feel like that’s something that you want to do.
1. Have a goal: I shared my goals up top. I feel like I’ve got a lot. If it feels better for you to have one at a time, go for it! For me, personally, I like to have several. It’s helpful for when I’m not doing well in one area but I can focus on something else instead. It keeps me from feeling low.
2. Think about your future self: Balance in all things but if we can take a mindful minute and think about how what we’re doing now will affect our future-selves, I think that will help to make the decisions about whether or not we want to continue to engage in this behavior. Some days, for me, that means stopping at just one cup of coffee in the morning. Other days it means, “wait—do you really want to engage with this stranger on Facebook in a political discussion?” What does your future self ultimately want? Treat her well. Feed her well. Set up doctor’s appointments for her. But also, sneak her some chocolate in the tub every now and again.
3. Write it all out: Keep a journal or put it on your daily task list. Throw it into the calendar in your iPhone. Let’s not just write down our errands for the day, let’s also put in our self care. Because we are a priority. The car needs a tire rotation, sure. But guess what, you need to go for a walk, too. We gotta keep you both in well working order.
4. Create the habit: You know, “they” say that it takes 3 weeks, 3 months, 3 years, whatever—depending on who you ask, to develop a habit? If you want to develop a habit you can definitely do it. For me, I’ve found that if I want to really make something stick, I need to use that calendar app in my iPhone. I like to start my morning with a cup of coffee or tea and my planner. But sometimes I forget. I just kind of get into other things without doing that and on those days I feel just a little rootless. So I set an alert in my phone to go off every weekday at 8:30 am to remind me to plan today. That’s helped ground me, for sure.
5. Finally, try to recognize the good in the moment: You don’t have to go out of your way to add a bunch of brand new things to your daily routine to stress you out and give you more things to feel guilty about not accomplishing. This is about spreading the peanut butter of grace into every corner of the waffle that is your life. Someone embroider that on a pillow. We’re adding softness in the hard places. If you’re doing a really normal thing that you needed to do anyway, see the way that it’s an honor to you or someone you love.
Standing at the clothes dryer and folding towels, try to think about the way that Future You won’t have this chore on her plate. Walking down the block to the post office, think about the way that it feels good to stretch those legs and soak up some Vitamin D and the way you’re multi-tasking by incorporating some movement into your daily tasks. Did you decide to soak in the tub in the quiet? Don’t wait for it to feel great and make you feel better. Recognize that just taking this action, alone, is great.
You guys are the very best. Thank you so much for all of the love and all of the shares that you gave to my last post. I’m always surprised at which posts resonate with people.
I hope that if you want to implement more intentional self care into your routine, you find this helpful.
What do you do to care for yourself in your own life?