It’s easy to prioritize yourself when life feels calm… but let’s be honest, how often is that really the case? Life gets hectic for us all — jobs, kids, errands, relationships — there are a million things that can get in the way of a consistent self care routine.
It’s a dance we all do, so let’s cut the self-judgment and trade it in for some curiosity, eh? Why is it that so many of us struggle with making self care a priority?
There are countless misconceptions about self care: there’s no time, it’s too expensive, it’s selfish… the list goes on. Getting beyond these common blockers, and accepting the importance of making time for yourself first, can be a life-changing thing.
Once you do, and start realizing the tangible impact of self-care work, the next step is to build the type of lasting foundation that holds strong no matter what the world brings. An unshakeable daily routine that you know both lights you up, and helps you show up consistently.
I promise that it’s easier to build that foundation than you may realize. And you!? You’ve definitely got this. Do I need to remind you of the story of The Three Little Pigs? Baby, you’re a brick… house.
So how can we make self care a priority, no matter what life throws at us?
My Top Tips For Prioritizing Self Care
Everybody’s different, but here are five tips that work for me. I hope that you can take something away from these, or blend them with what’s already working for you, to help set up a concrete self-care practice that you can stick to.
#1: First Things First (You)
It’s easy to roll out of bed, grab our phones, and start checking email, text messages, news, social media, or all of the above. It’s also a surefire way to dampen your joy and distract you from the intentional life you crave.
My general rule of thumb is that there’s none of that until my self care routine is done. Non-negotiable.
There’s a time and place for catching up on the outside world — family, work, news, memes— but give yourself the personal space first and foremost every morning. Whether it’s five minutes or an hour, an intentional morning will set you up for an intentional day.
Which leads me to my next point…
#2: Early Bird Gets The OM
I typically wake up sometime between 4 and 6 AM. Maybe you’re right there with me, or maybe you’re shocked to hear those hours even exist. I’ll level with you: I don’t believe that anyone is innately a “morning person.” Show me these super-humans that can truly thrive on just a few hours of sleep. They don’t exist.
According to the CDC, 1 in 3 adults don’t get the recommended amount of sleep (7+ hours). For me, it’s really as simple as going to bed early enough to get 7-9 hours of restful sleep. No magic, just the rest that I know I personally need. To help with quality, I typically set an alarm and leave my phone in another room altogether. This gets me moving first thing in the morning, and prevents distractions before bed or the oh-so-tempting morning snooze.
I realized early in my self-care journey that when I woke up even just an hour or two before everyone else, I had some of the absolute best, most-focused, and nourishing moments of my day.
Consider ditching the late-night Netflix and trading it in for some extra ZZZs.
#3: Concentrate on Self Love
Finding more opportunities for self love in our lives can feel abstract. Truth is, there are plenty of ways to expand this area for yourself. The more you love something, the more likely you are to take care of it — consistently.
To help frame this, think about your child, partner, pet, plants or just about anything in this world that you love and take care of to some degree (I’m not currently thriving on that plant part). Think of the daily steps you take to enrich their existence, and compare that to what you’re doing for yourself. I’d be willing to bet the scales tip a bit more in the direction of others than towards yourself on most days, right?
Here’s the good news: you don’t have to choose. There’s plenty of hours in the day to make time for yourself right along with the people and things that you cherish. The more love you can find for yourself, the more you’ll be willing to implement self-care practices and stick to them. As a result, it will become natural for you to show up your brightest, and extend that love to those around you. Lucky them.
On the subject of your acquaintances…
#4: Seek Out Like-Minded People
I’m sure you’ve heard the quote, “You become the five people you spend the most time with. Choose wisely.” I’ve found a lot of truth in this. When we surround ourselves with others who are focused on living their fullest and healthiest life, it makes it much easier to stay committed ourselves.
Who inspires you? Which friends, family, or colleagues do you look up to most? Who in your life naturally lifts you up and empowers you? This concept isn’t limited to your immediate social circle, either. You can easily surround yourself with great influences via authors, podcasters, online connections, etc.
A few ideas to help you find and/or attract your most-aligned circle:
- Recruit an inspiring friend to take walks with
- Join a personal-growth-focused book club
- Follow thought leaders who empower you on social
- Join a forum or virtual community where you feel supported
- Set up regular check-ins with a family member you respect
- Explore new authors or podcasts focused on subjects that bring you joy
Hint: The things that light you up personally attract others who feel the same. These like-minded people are the exact type of connections that you’re looking to make.
#5: Build A System for Accountability
After years of working with thousands of clients, I can confidently say that most know what they should be doing — the daily practices that bring them joy, focus, and purpose — they just don’t have the systems in place to stay accountable yet. Unfortunately, knowledge without a plan often leaves us feeling more guilt than anything… the opposite of self care.
Once you’ve identified some of the practices that serve you most, building self-care systems to keep you consistent is all that remains. Develop a plan, supported by whatever tools align, to help you stay accountable and check in on yourself now and again.
Logistically, I personally love Asana for daily to-dos, iCal for mindful time management, and the SCS community for check-in classes and my self-care checklist. For journaling, I often use a physical journal or Evernote when documenting my daily growth work.
I also typically like to take about an hour each Sunday to strategize for the week ahead. Priorities naturally change as the week goes on, and that’s perfectly fine, but it gives me the framework for an intentional week. When each week starts with a plan, then each day can start with a plan, too.
No one can succeed on a foundation made of sticks and straw, so take some time to reflect, and make a plan, and give yourself permission to make this space for yourself.
Hope these tips provide some inspiration, but remember: the best systems are the ones that work for you. Try some on and see what feels best!
What are some tips or tools that you use to help prioritize self care? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!