What’s the first thing you think of when you think about self-care? Hot bath, a cup of tea, maybe if you’re feeling zesty a spa day. Yet self-care is way more than just relaxing.
Recently I have been focusing on my own personal self-care and what truly makes me feel less stressed, more relaxed, and more productive. I have found that there are 3 key areas that seem to be rarely thought of as part of a self-care routine that are now integral parts of my self-care routine. These 3 areas are planning, simplifying, and focusing on my own goals.
I have been setting aside one day a week to plan, prioritize, simplify, and for goal setting. I clean my place, organize my office, do laundry, meal plan and plan my week. Planning my week has been a habit that comes and goes but when I take the time to do it, it’s a game-changer. I first start by writing down all the things that I need or want to do over the next week. After prioritizing and setting 2-3 important tasks for each day in my daytimer, I then set aside time for the smaller task on days where they fit in with similar tasks. I like to set a focus for each day. Having a focus for the day means that I’m not shifting tasks too often as I find this can be very draining. Having these planned out ahead of time means that it’s one less decision to make or one less thing to stress out about. By taking the time to do the planning, I can ensure that I have set aside the time to work on the tasks that I have prioritized.
Planning my weekly goals and having a list of tasks for the week also has made my life simpler. It might not seem like it would but by setting my priorities at the beginning of the week, it makes it easy to say no to things that will get in the way of those priorities. Simplifying might bring to mind a minimalist throwing out all their worldly belongings, but there is more to it than that. Minimalism, in theory, is that someone only has the things that they use, need, and brings joy to them. This often means owning fewer things, having fewer random piles of papers, and reducing the clutter in their spaces. The fewer things you have means the fewer the things you have to clean, care for, organize and sort through. I am by no means a hard-core minimalist; the number of bikes, plants, books, and kitchen tools, would prove otherwise. However, I am getting into the habit of regularly purging the things that I no longer need, use, want, or have a purpose for. This also goes for routines and habits as well. If aspects of my life no longer serve me, bring down my mood, or annoy me, I’m learning to remove them rather than holding on to unhelpful patterns, habits, or things.
As I mentioned I set aside a day to focus on my goals and priorities. Although this is a luxury for me, I have reaped its rewards to my mental health, physical health, and personal growth. Yet one day each week is not enough to reach most of my goals. Action is needed to be taken regularly if not daily to develop the habits that will lead to consistent and sustainable growth towards my goals. When I don’t give myself time to work on these goals, I begin to feel like I’m falling behind and I can even become pessimistic. To maintain a better mood and mental state I have learned that I need this time to myself to work on what is important to my self-growth. If you are feeling low, falling behind, or lost, I would suggest prioritizing the time for your own self-growth and seeking the help needed to get you there if you need it.
Self-care is far more than just relaxing, it actually works best if you start doing the steps needed to take care of yourself so that you feel your best. Yes, that sometimes means a hot bath and a nap, but that shouldn’t be all that you do. Working on your self-growth, working on achieving your goals, and setting yourself up for success are therefore important aspects of self-care. This will look different for everyone, as everyone has different goals and priorities. The first step is to know what you want to focus on, what can be let go of, and how much time you need to set aside for the habits and routines that are part of your self-care. So yes, while relaxing can be part of a self-care routine, self-care is more about taking care of yourself, your goals, and your growth.