A Month of Self-Care: Week 1
One week ago I declared I was challenging myself to a new project – a month of taking better care of myself you can read all about it here. Seven days in and I can report that I’m making progress! I’ve not stuck perfectly to my tick list but that’s okay.
Part of self-care is not beating yourself up if you miss the mark or things turn out differently to how you planned. Getting cross with myself because I didn’t hit all my targets will do nothing but make me feel bad, it won’t change the past.
Within this project I’m looking at changing old ways of thinking and creating new habits, it’s not going to happen overnight. Case in point, the first night I totally forgot about my digital device curfew of 9pm! But, on Friday, when family arrived for the weekend, I signed off social media in the early evening so I could be present rather than distracted.
As I work at home you might think I’d have a flexible, free-flowing day with little routine and so can fit in yoga, enjoying fika and reading whenever I like. Which, in theory, I can. However, after five years of self-employment (my anniversary is this week in fact) I have a habit of working all day without significant breaks, and the evenings too. When you love what you do it’s hard to stop!
So, I’m beginning to shake things up a bit – practising yoga when I feel the afternoon slump hitting, making a cup of tea and taking it outside to enjoy, reading after my post has been collected (for the green gables). If I worked in an office in a city I could chat with colleagues while making tea, take a yoga class at lunchtime and read on the train so why not take those breaks at home?
Here are five takeaways from week 1:
• making self-care a priority and believing its value is crucial to taking action on my tick list. If I don’t step away from my desk to do one of my challenges it doesn’t happen and nothing changes. The reward for when I do make the effort is that I feel refreshed, less stressed and more relaxed. And a little bit pleased with myself that I get to put a tick in a box.
• life happens and a checklist can be made redundant. Because we had family to visit for the weekend I spent most of my time in their company. While I could have excused myself to work on some of my specific self-care challenges I chose to let them go in favour of staying with our guests. By the end of the weekend we’d had a lovely time but I was also pretty exhausted. As an introvert, down time is important for maintaining energy levels. So, in the future, I think it would be helpful if I gave myself self-care snippets periodically throughout a sociable weekend. For example, a three minute meditation instead of 15 and a few stretches instead of a full yoga session.
• habit stacking can help make self-care a part of everyday life. Habit stacking is when you group several actions together so you do them one after the other. Each task acts as a prompt to do the next one. Writing in my gratitude journal has become a daily habit because I stacked it with getting ready for bed, I write straight after brushing my teeth. I’m experimenting with how I can stack some of my new self-care actions with existing habits to make them easier to stick to. More on this in the coming weeks!
• a self-care tick list should support not stress you. I created a list of actions to take care better of myself and to do more of what I enjoy and is good for me. Treating it as a to do list I have to get through, rather than suggested prompts and reminders, takes the fun, and the care, out of this project. I’ve caught myself a couple of times looking at my chart, wondering what I have to do next. There is no ‘have’. This project is my choice, self-care is my choice, and it’s my choice if I follow my own suggestions for how to be kind to myself and bring more light into my day.
• listening to yourself and what you need is the best way to care for yourself. Sometimes self-care won’t be in the form of a yoga session, a nutritious meal or an early night. Instead it will be staying up late laughing with friends, a slice of cake and a glass of fizz or a day lounging on the couch. As a default I’m following my list of actions but all the while paying attention to what I feel I need, and if that’s somethings different, I’ll do something different.
As I mentioned in my first Month of Self-Care post last week, I have an affirmation to set my intention for the month: Today I choose to care and be kind to myself. I have created a little desktop and phone wallpaper so every time I go to my phone or I’m working on my laptop I can read and be reminded. You can see it in the top left pic above.
I’d love to know what you struggle with when it comes to taking care of yourself or any tips you have for me. Leave a comment below or on my Instagram posts or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s see what week 2 brings!