As a member of the health and wellnesses community, you’re a natural-born caregiver. You are generous and self-sacrificing. You want to be there for your clients, patients, children, parents, neighbors, and anyone you for whom you can make a difference.
But how can you avoid burnout and losing the satisfaction you have caring for others? You have to take a little time for yourself. If you’re looking at your to-do list wondering how you’re going to schedule in that “me time” and still get it all done, you’re in the right place.
In this post, we will review seven practical ways you can enjoy a guilt-free self-care routine that will leave you refreshed and ready to take on tomorrow.
Why Does Self Care Matter?
How often do you remind your patients to destress, eat right, and exercise? Why do you tell them to do this? It’s because you know that our body responds to our actions. When you’re stressed out because you’re constantly over-extending yourself and not getting enough rest and time to refuel, you quickly run out of the energy and desire to give.
Activities and pursuits you once enjoyed now become a burden, and on top of that, your immune system weakens, you are more susceptible to illness, and long-term health problems start to arise.
Without allowing appropriate time to self-care, your mental, emotional, and physical self weakens, and you’ll eventually reach a point that you won’t be able to be everything to everyone.
How to Make Time for Self Care When Your Calendar is Full
1. Create a Daily Self Care Route You’ll Actually Want to Stick To
Scheduling self-care doesn’t mean you need to set aside an hour or two a week to go to the spa or get a massage (don’t worry though, that’s further down on the list). While it’s important to schedule that level of “me time,” it’s even more practical to create a daily self-care routine of little things you actually enjoy.
For example, if you think, “I should really be jogging every morning,” but you hate mornings and cardio exercise isn’t your favorite, then that might not be the best place to start. Instead, make a list of little things that make you happy and that take between 15 and 30 minutes to do each day.
Some examples of daily self-care include:
Reading with a cup of tea or coffee when you first wake up or before you go to bed
Taking a hot bath or shower while listening to your favorite playlist or podcast
Go for a short walk after lunch or include other moderate exercises in your daily routine
Eat a nutritious diet at consistent hours
Get sufficient sleep every night (7-9 hours)
Write in your journal for 10 minutes.
Pro tip: When you’re short on time or new to journaling, bullet journals are a great option!
Journaling is a great way to allow yourself time to react appropriately to stressful situations. As a healthcare professional, chances are you face heartbreaking scenarios regularly. Use a journal to cope and grieve these occurrences as you need to.
2. Schedule in Self-Care
Lifehack! This is one of my favorite self-care tips. It’s ok to make an appointment with yourself. You wouldn’t want to stand up for a patient appointment or ditch a date with your significant other because something came up that was in your control, right? So why should you do it to yourself?
So if you have plans to stay in Friday night and watch Netflix alone and you’re invited to something you know will leave you feeling drained, it’s ok to say, “I have plans.”
Some professionals have hour by hour planned out all week with work and family responsibilities. If this is you, grab your planner, phone, or calendar and make a date (even if it’s only 30 minutes!) with yourself, ideally every day.
3. Get Up Earlier
How often do you roll out of bed and immediately start getting ready for the day? Do you even eat breakfast before you leave the house? When you get up just 15 to 30 minutes earlier each day, you give yourself that window of time to take care of your body and mind before the day starts.
Use that little bit of time to wash your face, do some light stretching (or workout if that’s what you’re into), sip your coffee, and if you’re going to take it really seriously, watch the sunrise. Taking these little steps will help you remember that you’re human and have basic needs.
If nothing else, make it a goal to drink a full glass of water and eat some protein for breakfast before you tackle the day. Your body will thank you.
4. Go to Bed Earlier
You don’t necessarily have to go to sleep earlier, but it helps set the alarm a half-hour to an hour before you want to be asleep. When that alarm goes off, turn off your phone, change into your PJs, and proceed with your nighttime routine.
Evenings are a great time to read, stretch, and journal because they will help relax your mind and body.
Turning off devices an hour before you go to bed has been scientifically proven to improve the quality of your sleep. So avoid falling to sleep scrolling through social media or watching TV. Not only will the blue light affect your ability to sleep, but your mind will have trouble turning off with all the information bombardment that comes from social media.
5. Incorporate Self-Care at Work
Make sure you’re taking breaks throughout the day and that you are diversifying your tasks, so you don’t get burnt out. Breathing exercises or other relaxation techniques can be used at any time during the day to help ground you.
If you find work affecting you emotionally and physically, reach out to a support group or colleagues who can help you stay on track.
It’s also important to set limits with your colleagues and patients. If at all possible, stick to your office hours and don’t take work home with you. Recognizing your personal limitations will help you do that.
6. Make the Most of Your Time Off
Use your annual vacation time. It’s there for a reason. You can get out of town or just stay home with your family for a few days.
Your time away from work should be used to build stronger connections with your friends and family and allow you time to relax and regroup.
Hobbies such as sorts, art, writing, and music are all great outlets that you can do alone or with loved ones to feel rejuvenated and ready to return to work the following Monday.
7. Spoil Yourself Once and Awhile
While these are somewhat daily activities for self-care, occasionally, you need to go the extra mile for your mental and emotional health. Make room in your budget for a massage, spa day, pedi/mani, or whatever it is that makes you feel taken care of and special. It is always well worth the cash and time when you have it.
Self-Care Ideas for Overall Wellness
If you’re a doctor, nurse, physical therapist, massage therapist, nutritionist, or any other kind of wellness professional, remember to practice what you preach and take good care of yourself too. We are all human and need to take a step back from our busy lives to refocus to stay healthy physically and mentally. Only then can you give others the help they need to heal.
Make More Time for Yourself
If you’re struggling to keep up with your busy schedule and need a little help with your business or practice, contact me for a free consultation. As a health and wellness copywriter, I help healthcare professionals and wellness gurus with all their online content to make time for what’s most important in their lives.