I’ve been searching for some inspiration this morning and came across a quote I love that says “Yoga doesn’t take time. It gives time” -Ganga White, which is part of what inspired this post.  I had been planning to write something about self-care since it’s extra important around the stress and busy-ness of the holidays.  And there are a number of great self-care lists out there.  In fact, one of my friends and colleagues Danielle Maxon just created a great list of self-care ideas in categories like, cognitive, quick, thrifty, emotional, etc!  Our bodies innately want us to pay attention to and take care of them but we don’t always listen.  Why not?

The number one reason for me is ‘Not enough time’ or ‘All of the other things on my ‘to do’ list are more important’.  So this quote by Ganga White really stood out to me because I do know this to be true, that when I take time to take care of myself, whether it’s yoga, meditating, a walk in the woods, just being outside, journaling, a bath, dancing, it actually does give me more time by helping me be more focused and efficient with all of the other things I need to get done.  But we live in a culture that so values productivity, efficiency, busy-ness, that often it’s hard to convince ourselves that it’s more important to slow down and take time for ourselves than it is to get other things done.  Can you relate? What else comes up for you that gets in the way of your self-care?  Here are 5 steps to help you make self-care happen:

1)Identify the barrier that most commonly gets in the way of you taking care of yourself.  E.g., ‘It costs too much’ or ‘I don’t have enough time’ 

2)Take 15 minutes to engage curiosity and do some brainstorming around this barrier.  Let yourself be creative.  What are some other ways I could look at this barrier? What beliefs and values contribute to this barrier?  E.g., ‘I’m too busy’ ‘It’s not a priority’ ‘There are too many other priorities’ ‘I didn’t have a good model for self-care’ ‘Taking care of myself isn’t valuable’ ‘I don’t have any support’

3)Choose one of the thoughts that stands out in your brainstorming session that feels like the root of the issue and continue to brainstorm. Is it actually true?  What needs to happen for it to be untrue or for it to matter less?  What needs to shift for the barrier to be less of a barrier?  E.g., ‘I don’t have any support…It’s somewhat true, but it’s more that I feel like I can’t ask for too much and that I’ve already asked for more support than I should ask for. I should be able to take care of this on my own. This is my inner critic and it’s not true and it’s just making me feel bad.  It’s okay for me to ask for support when I need to take time for myself.  I need to remind myself of this.’ OR ‘What supports have I not considered yet?  What would it look like if I had all of the support I need to take care of myself? Is there some support at work that would make self-care easier?’ 

4)What’s one small action step you can take towards shifting the barrier? I’m hoping it’s fairly easy to come up with an action step now that your creative juices are flowing and you’ve gotten to the root of the barrier. E.g., writing a note somewhere you can see it that says ‘Self-care creates time’ or ‘You are worth taking care of’ or schedule time into your calendar and be gentle with yourself when you don’t follow through–be curious rather than critical or write down all of your commitments and figure out a way to take some things off your plate.

5)Celebrate!  This part is super important. Give yourself positive feedback with you follow through with taking care of yourself in small or big ways. Notice how it impacts your energy level, clarity, focus, efficiency, and mood. That way when your inner critic speaks up, saying ‘You don’t have time for that’, you can gently remind that part of yourself, that the pay off is so worth the time.

The key with this exercise is to let yourself be creative and curious and think outside of the box. You don’t have to use all of your ideas but it’s a way to get them flowing and help you look at something that at first glance seems like just a fact that can’t be changed.  What gets in the way of self-care for you?  What can you do to shift this?

Here’s another one of my favorite resources from The Self Compassion Project for self-care ideas…don’t let not knowing what to do get in the way of taking care of yourself.  Get creative with your self-care–it could be more accessible than you realize!

Challenge: If you’re not taking care of yourself the way you’d like to be, try the exercise above!  I would love to hear what you discover and what action you’re taking to make more time for YOU.  If you get stuck, drop me an email and I’ll help you troubleshoot.

Affirmation: You are worth taking care of.