Self-Care: A simple enough word, with a straightforward definition: care of self.
That is, until we try to put it in practice. I know in years past, alright– who am I kidding- even months past, self-care would be the first thing I would sacrifice when life became too crazy.
Sleep? That's alright. I'll work 'til late in the night to meet these deadlines. Exercise? Who has time when I only have 6 kid-free hours during the day to get all of this done? Diet? Let me just grab something small and hustle constantly. Time with friends? Fun? Just being present to my awesome kids? Who has time for that?
And you know what? It never turned out well. Because I was depleting myself of the things that made me feel energized, centered, and happy and ready to take on all of the craziness I said yes to in the first place.
Life becomes busy from time to time, it’s true. But if we’re always willing to discard our investment in ourselves – in the things that make us feel our best--we’re not living our own lives at all.
Hence, the need for self-care non-negotiables.
Non-negotiables are simply the things you don’t negotiate on when you’re deciding how much to accept in your life and how to spend your day. You keep the self-care, no matter what. Non-negotiable. What your non-negotiables look like when life is full and busy compared to when it’s full of time and space may be vastly different. But the key is they always meet your minimum threshold.
The key to a good non-negotiable is knowing yourself and what you need. For me, non-negotiables usually involve sleep, meditation, movement, connection and fun. With those things in my life in adequate amounts and consistency, I am the Best Version of Myself.
What about you? What self-care non-negotiables do you need to create to make space for your best self to shine?
Not sure where to start? Here are ten ideas for self-care done right. Pick a few that speak to you or give your own ideas a try. The key isn’t coming up with a whole new list of things to do…but rather a way to tap into what you deserve and desire for yourself. Start with one and add more as your self-care muscle builds!
1. Move daily. This may mean a heavy lifting session, yoga, a walk or run, stretches, or perhaps something as simple as a game of tag with your children (warning: that game isn’t child’s play, prepare for a serious heart rate accelerator!). The best part of deciding you will move daily, and not if you will move, is that you can ask yourself a better question: How would I like to move today and what does my body need?
2. Sleep > 6 hours per day. For years I tried to tell myself I could get by on less sleep. It’s simply not true. These days this is my bottom limit – and most days I need way more. You may need more or less. Dawn’s non-negotiable is closer to 8 hours. She’s also protected that amount over the past year by not settling for less. Trust us, this can be done, folks!
3. Pre-planning at least 1 nourishing meal per day. This means you spend time thinking about and determining how you will feed your body at least once per day. Maybe the other meals are more conveniently oriented – maybe they’re planned as well….but the goal is to make sure you’re not just haphazardly eating throughout the day without some involvement or thought. Because let’s face it – the quality difference between those two scenarios is night and day.
4. One body treatment per month. Mani, pedi, massage, reiki, facial, blowout, you name it. Indulge in something that feels like you are treating yourself and taking care of yourself in a special way - because you deserve it!
5. Spontaneous fun at least once per week. I love the idea of spur of the moment fun that happens when you keep your attitude light and your options open. Everyone’s definition of fun is different – so dial in to what lights you up and see what you can create!
6. Spending Time in Nature Daily. Maybe it’s eating lunch outside or going for a walk or simply spending 5 minutes barefoot with your feet in the grass, feeling the solid ground underneath you. Being outside and surrounded by living things is a great way to remember you have that gift right now, too.
7. Meditate Daily. Meditation doesn’t have to mean sitting cross legged on a cushion for minutes on end. My non-negotiable is that I take some time, any time to be mindful of my breath and to quiet my mind. I can do that in the shower, at a stop light or if time allows for a longer period in silence.
8. Tap Into Creativity Daily. It feels good to create something that never existed before. But we can also appreciate other creative things around us. We can write, sing, dance, arrange, discover in whatever way speaks best to us.
9. Conscious Connection. It’s easy to get caught up in life, to the point we are not even aware of how we are spending the moments in our life. Conscious connection means we make the decision to connect to someone else within our day in a conscious way: present, aware and with 100% care and attention.
10. Kindness to Others. When we’re good to others, it feels good. It takes the burden, the experience off of us and allows us to see no matter how busy life is, or how much we have to do, taking care of someone else – a loved one, a stranger, a friend, is always possible. Just as taking care of ourselves, is a possible act of kindness as well.
Where can you make room for self-care? In what ways and magnitude would make a difference in your life?
It’s time to stop negotiating.
Dr. Kara Mohr, PhD is an internationally known educator in the area of weight management, mindset and exercise and is co-owner of Mohr Results, Inc.