Self care can come in many forms – from daily relaxing rituals like yoga or a bath, to “treat yo self” dates, to aromatherapy and chocolate, to exercise and nutrition plans. I love all of the above and try to incorporate them into my life both as self-care and daily habits. It did however take me a long time to come around to the idea of self care. For much of my young adult life I was far too busy to think about it (re: work and school for 60+ hours a week, living in the city, and the stress that went along with that). Looking back on my previous years the biggest thing I’ve learned is that dealing with the things that bring me stress is the best way to take care of myself. Less stress equals less need to de-stress and more time to enjoy the day to day.
Dr K’s Self Care aka. How to Get Less Stressed When Being Busy (or at least how it worked for me)
1. Get a calendar/organizer and USE IT
Google calendar changed my life. It doesn’t smell nice or taste good but it is my #1 self-care tool. My husband got it for us when were dating so we could merge his crazy work and wilderness schedule with my crazy medical school schedule. Many years later it is the FOUNDATION of anything that happens in our lives.
Benefits of a well used schedule:
- No more double bookings. Yoga, work, kids hockey practice, taxes and date night each get their own special spot with the respect they deserve.
- You can forecast your work/play load for the month
- Surprise deadlines, events, dates etc. are no longer surprises
- You can plan in time for all the other self care things you need to do
2. Leave early, stop rushing and maybe lose weight while doing it 😉
This is been a struggle for me for a long time, but something I keep working on. Think about your day yesterday or the day before. How much of it was spent in rush? How many meals did you eat on the go? How many minutes of that Netflix show did you watch before you really had to leave the house? I know this can be really hard to achieve at times, especially if you are trying to get places with a herd of cats or children. It may not be possible for everyone but it is something that has dramatically decreased stress spikes throughout my day. LESS STRESS SPIKES = LESS DRAMA (both mentally and physically) = LESS NEED TO ACTIVELY DE-STRESS (re: wine, chocolate, being a TV Zombie).
As an extra bonus, decreasing cortisol spikes has a ton of benefits including: improves blood sugar control, decreases food cravings, improves sleep, lowers blood sugar, improves weight loss, and lessens digestive symptoms.
If being late isn’t a major stressor for you finding your key stressors is really important self care. Elevated cortisol in the long term can be one of the biggest contributors to burn out and chronic fatigue.
3. Ask for help – from friends, family, and health practitioners
Things like eating healthy and working out are on many organizations list of important self-care (see this infograph from the International self care society ). Fortunately, cooking and physical activity are often more fun with people! Reaching out to your support group of loved ones is a feed many birds with 1 seed action – not only can they help you achieve your healthy self-care activities but social interaction is one of the most important things to living a long and happy life. Here are two awesome Ted talks about it – Susan Pinker and Dan Buettner
On the above mentioned infograph 3 of the 7 pillars of self-care are about health care access and literacy. Asking for help with this is essential. With so much access to information these days it’s becoming easy to access health information. See my resources page for some of my favourite health based websites. On that same not of the information highway, it can also be an overload. Reaching out to health care practitioners, like myself, to help guide you and figure things out can be essential to self care. By getting help identifying and treating your health concerns that levels more time, effort and energy for you to put into all the other aspects of life, love and self care that need your attention.
Overall I know this isn’t the funniest list of self-care activities, but it’s what I do the most to keep myself in check. After making sure I’m completing all of the above, including appointments with my own health care practitioners, I feel like I have time to turn to practice all the little things that bring me joy.