Because sometimes everyone and everything else has to be the priority!
This isn’t an act of martyrdom or a complaint. This is life. There are moments, life events and family crises that require our focus shift—shift to the present, the moment at hand, the immediate. Often this means we might have to skip the gym or happy hour with a friend or even the bath that we so desperately need. It means that we have to let things slip and slide until the world rights itself again. The dishes might pile up, the corners become covered in dirt and the baskets of laundry – both clean and dirty – be left unattended.
When life gets hard, when it feels overwhelming and there is no end in sight, self-care is more important than ever but has never been harder to execute consistently. This is why healthy habits (and removing bad habits) are so important. When there is no extra time, the simple act of getting in a workout – at home, the gym, anywhere – can make all the difference. Setting aside 15 minutes a day to read and reflect. That hour of meal planning and prep at the beginning of the week becomes a lifesaver. Healthy habits add up and ultimately serve as a form of self-care when things get hard and you feel like you are carrying the weight of the world on your back.
As the seasons of life ebb and flow from easy to hard and everything in between, know that a commitment to self-care and building healthy habits will prepare you for whatever comes your way. It allows you to build up a mental toughness that will serve you in all facets of life.
For those who are going through a season, whether it be mentally, emotionally or physically challenging, or all of the above, here are three tips for taking care of yourself and you have to prioritize taking care of everyone and everything else.
Focus on what matters most.
Tough seasons test you in every way. If you know your values and understand what matters most to you, it lessens the feeling of overwhelm. The tasks that are often left undone will matter less. You will know that you are focusing on what most requires your time and attention, and you can find peace and security in that – your ability to prioritize the people and things that matter.
That’s not to say it won’t be hard. No amount of mental or physical preparation can truly prepare you for hard times. But a bit of planning goes a long way when you are being pulled in multiple directions and don’t know where to focus your time and attention.
Ask yourself this – in a world where I can only give my time and attention to 3 things, what do I value most?
Ask for help.
You don’t have to do it all. And let’s be honest, no one person can. There is no badge for busy. No award for doing it all or even attempting to do it all.
When things get hard and the to-do list gets thrown by the wayside, you have to first prioritize and then ask for help to fill in the gaps. If a messy house causes you anxiety, get help with cleaning. If you need to take someone to an appointment, ask a neighbor or friend for help with your kids. If you can’t get to the grocery store, use one of the many delivery services that are available today to cross something off your never-ending to-do list.
The hardest part about asking for help is that we live in a world where no one wants to owe someone else. We don’t want to feel indebted to others. But the truth is, people want to help. Especially those we are closest to. So, ask for help and explain why. Open up and share with others because when given the opportunity, people always step up and step in to help in whatever way they can.
Do something for yourself each day, no matter how big or small.
This one is big and will likely be the first thing you let go of, but it’s ultimately the most important. No matter how hard the season or busy the day, be sure to make time for yourself. This doesn’t mean time for yourself to empty and fill the dishwasher. Or time to pick up the living room. I’m talking about time to do something for you… something that fills you up and replenishes you when you need it most.
So, go to that morning gym class and connect with your tribe, take 15 minutes to read a book or listen to a podcast during your commute. Here are 15 self-care ideas for when you don’t have time for self-care. Whatever your act of self-care, know that even 15-30 minutes will equip you to be your best self, allowing you to better serve others. It’s not selfish or indulgent. It’s necessary.
As the saying goes, “This too shall pass.” In times of hardship and heartache, it is important to remember that things are always changing. What feels hard today will look completely different tomorrow. By creating healthy habits now, including a focus on self-care, you are equipping yourself for success in the future. Because no matter what life throws your way, you will have the infrastructure in place to be the person others need you to be, while still caring for yourself when and where you can.
And last but certainly not least, be grateful. It is so easy to get caught up in negativity and hardship. The simple act of choosing to focus on gratitude allows you to go through your day looking for the little moments that make the biggest difference. A daily gratitude practice is a necessity so matter what the season of life.