These days, it feels almost impossible to make time for self-care.
It seems like we never stop moving.
We’re either working towards earning more than basic minimum wage, studying for exams or trying to grow a side-hustle to a six-figure income without about three days.
Our actual physical, emotional and social needs are usually an afterthought and that’s if they’re even a thought at all.
Self-care is the last thing on our minds when it should be the first.
How to make time for self-care
Here’s how you can make time for self-care and make sure you’re taking care of yourself properly.
#1. Make self-care a priority; work on time management
I probably don’t need to tell you that your time management is a bit crap because everyone’s is.
You start a task you only plan to take two hours on and, before you know it, you’ve spent your entire day fiddling with your effing sidebar!
You need to start making sure your daily activities – specially work activities – don’t stop you from practising self-care.
Write down a strict schedule for the coming week – or even month.
Just setting a schedule is immensely freeing because you don’t feel like you’re ambling through life, filling the time.
In my experience, using a physical planner or journal is more effective than using an app or online tool. There’s something satisfying about having an actual book in your hands, which you can refer to and use to manually tick off tasks.
Plus, if your internet goes down or your computer won’t turn on, you’re not left in the dark.
Plan out each task you need to get done, leaving a decent buffer between each one to allow you a break, and put a cap on them.
For example, if you plan on studying for an exam, cap it after a couple of hours. After this amount of time, your brain will be complete sludge anyway and you won’t be taking anything in, so be strict and make sure you DO take a break.
Go for a walk, have some food, watch something on TV, go to the gym – anything you need to decompress.
By being strict with yourself, you free up loads of time to practise self-care throughout the day.
By having a clear ‘end’ to your day, you also make space in the evening to practise more in-depth self-care, like taking a long bath with a Lush bath bomb, applying a face mask, doing your nails or meditating.
This may all sound pretty self-indulgent, but there’s actually science to back up how important self-care is for our wellbeing.
It’s not a waste of time – quite the opposite.
#2. Be strict with your self-care schedule
As I mentioned before, you need to be strict with yourself and actively make time for self-care.
Time, unfortunately, doesn’t just fall into our laps.
In today’s busy world, we have to take responsibility to ensure we’re mentally, emotionally, financially, and socially healthy and know when to take some time to take care of ourselves.
If you’ve been working on a paper all day, your deadline is looming, and you’ve been hammering away at the keyboard into the wee hours, I invite you to take a step back, have a shower, have your dinner, do some stretches, drink some tea and then, if you really have to, get back to it.
Preferably, you would decide that you should just go to sleep and wake up slightly earlier the next morning to get the rest finished when your brain is fresher and you’re feeling less tightly wound in the morning.
…But I appreciate that this isn’t always possible.
#3. Take your own mental health advice
If one of your friends told you their mental health was awful, you would tell them to take a self-care day. You would tell them to take some time away from whatever stressors they’re facing – such as work – and just take a moment to regroup.
So why don’t we do this ourselves?
I’m the WORST for this.
I’m the first one to talk about self-care and giving yourself a break, but when it comes to myself, I always think I can just plough through and try to carry on, even though all I want to do is cry.
We all need to listen to our gut more and follow our own advice. Especially when it comes to mental health. Because who knows you better than you, right?
#4. Establism a solid morning self-care routine
I know most people don’t want to hear this but getting up earlier can actually be a massive help when it comes to mental health.
Many people, myself included, have found that if you go to bed and get up earlier, not only does your productivity sky-rocket, your mindset can also improve.
Alright, I’m not going to be one of these amazing YouTube Gurus who get up at 5am everyday and do yoga as the sun rises (I live in the UK after all… the sun never rises here), but making sure I get up about at a reasonable hour has made a huge difference to my mental health.
You have more hours to get all your tasks in and you tend to be more productive at that time because no one else is up.
If you can get all your daily activities complete earlier, you’ll have more time for self-care later in the day. It’s a win-win.
Fitting self-care into your morning routine is also a great way to start the day on a positive note.
#5. Ask for help when you need it
If you’re a parent or have responsibilities, which mean that simply scheduling your day won’t necessarily allow you to have extra time, there’s no shame in asking for help.
Whether it’s from a friend, family member or colleague, if you need to make some time for self-care, be honest and tell someone.
Perhaps you can get a babysitter for a few hours once a week so you can just have some time to yourself or spend time with your partner.
If you run a business, outsource some of the smaller jobs or aim to hire a virtual assistant so that you’re not glued to your computer all week.
There’s no shame in telling anyone you’re struggling or need their help. Quite the opposite. It takes a strong person to recognise when they need to take some time for self-care and your mental health will thank you.