Invite yourself to your calendar
I am guessing your calendar is chock full of appointments, meetings, even fun things like concerts or dinner with friends. And if you have kids, there are competing calendars on there as well. Time is a precious commodity, no doubt. But where are you on the calendar? Where have you penciled in ME-TIME? Like this blog. It is weekly time I have to commit to, writing a piece for you. The secret is that I really write it for myself.
That's the first tip of self-care. If you don't have the pressure to do it, sometimes you leave it out. It seems odd to even talk about pressure with self-care in the same breath. But I will admit that there is pressure to get this blog out every week. Sometimes I even sigh about having to do it. But I made a commitment, the deadline is in my calendar and so I dutifully write. And then something special happens. Something magical. I am obligated to look at gratitude in my own life in a new way and even better, write about it. Writing about it organizes it into something meaningful I can reflect on. And as a result, my personal gratitude practice deepens even further with the commitment to this blog.
Now, I am not saying you have to write a blog. I happen to love writing. So it is a form of self-care for me. But even if it is not your first love, you could consider a weekly, if not daily, writing practice. There are real health benefits. Back in 1999, a randomized control trial showed us how writing could ease the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, two chronic ailments. Studies have also shown those who write may use less pain relievers. It seems that writing helps us to organize meaning around the events of our life. Worth a try for anyone if you ask me.
But I digress. (I can't help expounding on health benefits!) The reason I am grateful for this weekly deadline is because I cannot put it aside for some other to-do, of which I have many. What if you put something like writing, meditation, exercise in your calendar? What if you treated it as importantly as a meeting or date with a friend? It is harder to ignore when it is staring at you on your calendar. You make a commitment and breaking it is hard. I am ever grateful for this one on my calendar and have also long had a practice of putting down meditation as a calendar event. If it happens more than that, I am also happy. But I don't want at least my baseline commitment to be forgotten.
Mark YOU down as a to-do on your calendar. You are worth it!
I think there could always be time in the week for yourself only but sometimes inviting others into your self-care can be a way to make it happen as well. Make at least one act of self-care in the week one that you do with a friend. A long walk, maybe a new exercise or cooking class. Explore something new, a trip to the art museum's new exhibit. When we are accountable to another person, we are also less likely to miss an act of self-care. When you decide to go on a run on your own, it is much easier to cancel than if you are running with a friend. You don't want to let them down so you get yourself there. A self-care buddy is a great tool. You can even tell them that's what they are, I guarantee it will make them feel special!
Mark it on your calendar, circle it as a priority and invite someone to join. You are not only improving your own self-care, you are benefiting a loved one as well.
I have deep gratitude for my calendar. It reminds me of the many things I need to do and places I need to be. But I can't let all those to-do's supersede the most important part of the calendar, that which reminds me of the many things I can do for myself. Let your calendar take care of you and you will be grateful.
Be grateful for time with yourself. Self-care is the heart of your own health care.