Welcome back, Sit, Stay, & Bloggers! Before I get into this post, I owe a huge THANK YOU for all of the views, likes, and positive feedback on my previous blog post! A special thank you to “Earle the Service Dog” for sharing my post on Facebook and initiating a much-needed discussion about the growing concerns of fraudulent service dogs! 🙂
In today’s post I want to highlight the importance of self-care and provide examples of how you (yes, even the busiest of yous) can engage in a daily self-care routine to promote a healthy mental and physical well-being!
“If you work hard, you’ll get good grades.”
“If you work hard, you’ll get a high-paying job.”
“If you work hard, your friendships will last forever (most don’t, by the way).”
Familiar with statements such as these? In today’s society, we instill these types of statements in children before they are even able to comprehend the words we are spewing at them. We make promises to kids that if they try hard enough, they can achieve anything. But what happens when we try too hard? Is there such a thing as trying too hard to achieve your goals?
Throughout my life, hard work has proven to be one of my most treasured values. Regardless of the task at-hand, these “If you work hard” statements were unwittingly on a never-ending loop in the back of my mind. They reminded me to persevere until I achieve the ultimate goal — success. As a high school student and throughout my undergraduate experience, my drive for success was at an all-time high. My first two years as an undergraduate student were spent studying, rewriting notes, writing papers, reading textbook after textbook, and if the sun was still shining when I finished all of that, I would start again. I developed this unhealthy mentality that, in an effort to achieve success, every awakening moment had to quite literally be spent working in some capacity. At one point during my sophomore year, I was maintaining five separate jobs, a course load of five classes per semester, and volunteer work. So can you try too hard to achieve success? In short, yes!
It wasn’t until I recently began my graduate program that I (thankfully) started to embrace the concept of self-care. My experiences as a graduate student taught me a crucial life lesson: The absence of self-care can lead to burnout, physical fatigue, and mental exhaustion. I learned that, regardless of time constraints and busy schedules, self-care can and should always be incorporated into one’s daily routine! Now, I have replaced those “If you work hard” statements with “Move over hard work, self-care coming through!”
So what is self-care? In a simple answer, self-care is “you time,” but it certainly extends beyond that. To be a true act of self-care, it should be self-initiated, deliberate, and intended to promote your physical and mental health. It should be something that you thoroughly enjoy, look forward to, and plan out in your daily routine. Reading this may unquestionably invoke thoughts about what constitutes self-care and how it can be incorporated into a busy, parent of three kids, high school soccer coach, full-time employee type of schedule. Have no fear: I have outlined examples for individuals of all abilities below that demonstrate just how simple self-care can be! 🙂
“Move Over Hard Work, Self-Care Coming Through”
Physical Self-Care Activities (Sedentary):
- Take a bubble bath
- Write, blog, or journal/log your thoughts
- Watch a movie, television show, or favorite YouTube channel
- Read a book, magazine, newspaper, or Sit, Stay, & Blog posts 🙂
- Craft, scrapbook, paint, or draw
- Sit outside or at your favorite window and embrace the nature surrounding you
- Learn how to play a musical instrument
- Deep breathing exercises
- Take a nap, rest
- Get a massage, manicure, pedicure
- Listen to motivating music
Physical Self-Care Activities (Active):
- Dance to your favorite beat
- Exercise: Run, walk, ride a bike, yoga, go hiking, train for a running race (5K, 10K)
- Go shopping, treat yourself to a new book, article of clothing, candle, etc.
- Bake your most prized dessert
- Cook your famous Thanksgiving dish
- Clean, rearrange your furniture (but NOT done as a chore!)
- Volunteer at a local animal shelter, service dog organization, hospital, soup kitchen, shelter, etc.
5Ks and 10Ks are incorporated into my self-care plan!
Mental Self-Care Activities:
- Replace one negative thought with three positive thoughts:
- “I can’t fit self-care into my daily schedule” –>
1. “I can take 30 minutes to take a bubble bath.”
2. “I can spend 45 minutes playing with my dog.”
3. “I can sit down and watch my favorite TV show tonight.”
- “I can’t fit self-care into my daily schedule” –>
- Create a list of things you are most grateful for
- Do a mental check-in and think about your current thoughts, feelings, and emotions
- Stay in the moment: Acknowledge 5 things you can see, hear, smell, taste, and feel
- Having trouble powering down after work? Mentally tell yourself all of the things you’re doing as you end your day (I am shutting down my computer, I am grabbing my jacket and putting it on, I am turning off the light, I am closing my office door, I am walking to my car, etc.) Essentially, leave work at work and home at home! 🙂
Pets and Self-Care Activities:
- Snuggle with your pet
- Enjoy a nap with your pet
- Take your pet on a hike, a walk, or on a trip to a nearby dog park
- Play hide-and-seek with them at home
- Place their kibble/food sporadically throughout your home and watch them play hide-and-seek!
- Reminisce on all of your favorite memories with your pet
- Take them to a pet-friendly pet store and watch their excitement when they pick out a new toy (Don’t forget to skedaddle when you see a working service dog!)
- Play tug, fetch…just play!
- Read them a book (It sounds silly, but I’m sure they’ll love you for it!)
- Tell your pets how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking (You won’t find anyone more nonjudgmental!)
- Have training sessions with your pet
Regardless of your busy schedule, it is time that you incorporate self-care into it! If you keep a planner or calendar, start scheduling specific times to engage in your self-care activities. But don’t let it be an added stressor for you: Start off slow and gradually increase your commitment to self-care. In my favorite words from my dad, “Never say you can’t do it, just do it!” 🙂
As always, I want to thank you for reading! Comment below what you do for self-care or what you plan on incorporating into your daily routine to ensure you’re achieving optimal mental and physical health! Don’t forget to “Like” and “Follow” Sit, Stay, and Blog on Facebook and Twitter, and stay tuned for the next post!