If you are on social media you will have seen about a gazillion posts about self-care, taking time out, me time, and putting yourself first. It's kind of hard to avoid. And while I am very much for self-care (our products are pretty much all designed around this!), I think we need to be careful that it doesn't become yet another thing we feel guilty about not doing 'properly', and we need to be careful that what we choose to do for self-care doesn't end up overwhelming us.
How can self-care overwhelm?
I love to read. Ever since I picked up a Trixie Belden book at about age 8, I have read non-stop. It relaxes me, it is my time to myself, it's an escape.
But recently it stressed me out. I had a book on reserve at the local library and after 6 months I got to finally borrow it. I was excited until I got home and had a proper look at when it was due back. 2 weeks. I had 2 weeks to read a 927 page brick. There would be no chance of renewing it because I was sure the waitlist was still pretty big.
I stayed up late and read, so ended up tired.
I read instead of working, so I felt guilty.
I read instead of spending time with my girls, so again, I felt guilty.
I got the book finished, but didn't enjoy it because I felt stressed the whole time.
I did this all to myself - I could have chosen not to read the book, to buy a copy, to read what I could then reserve it again (uh...no, that wouldn't have been an option for me 😆). But I chose my version of self-care, and it ended up overwhelming me.
How can I avoid this?
So when it comes to self-care, one of the most important things to do is set realistic goals.
If you are time poor, you can make the decision to compromise or you can try and fit it into your current routine.
Try getting up 15 minutes earlier or moving your night time routine to give time to journal, to have a little time to relax with a coffee/tea, to read a chapter.
Use tools to keep you organised - planner, meal planner, a place for everything so you don't waste time looking for things.
Limit your time on social media - it can suck time and can also lead to negative thoughts and comparisons.
Know your limits and say no.
And know that self-care is different for everyone. Trying to fit in and do things in a way that does not suit you can lead to overwhelm. What works for one, may not work for you.
Women are great multi-taskers, so why not multi-task your self-care? You can fit a little something for you while not missing out on the other important stuff.
Instead of going to a yoga class find an online one to follow with your kids. This way you are incorporating self-care with family time. It may not be quite the experience you were aiming for, but give this new experience a chance and you may find you enjoy it more.
Listen to a podcast or audiobook on your commute or your drive home from dropping kids at school.
Need some exercise, but can't fit it into your day? Exercise while scrolling through social media, park further from your destination e.g. when you drop your kids at school, so you have to walk, use a voice memo to plan your day while going for a walk or jog.
The most important thing with self-care is not getting stuck thinking that you must do all of these things and then feeling guilty because you don't. Choose what is right for you, and if you miss out on a day or 2? You'll get back to it when you can or when you are ready.
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