Self-Care for Everyone! (busy professional, parent, student)

Mar 01, 2024
Self-care, student, busy professional

When talking about self-care it is important to talk about care first - how do we care for each other? How do you care for someone?  Well, we ask about them, we want to know what is important to them. We honor their wants and needs. We want to make that other person happy. We pay attention to them - in fact, giving our attention to someone is one of the most important ways we show caring.

Now let’s talk about self-care. Self-care means taking care of yourself so . . . paying attention to yourself, your dreams and your needs. Giving yourself attention, making yourself happy. It sounds so decedent to focus on one’s self and yet that is what self-care is.  I’m going to go through ways you can care for yourself as a busy working professional, as a parent, and as a student. All of these  suggestions are free at the end, I’ll give you my personal favorite. 

Let’s start with the busy working professionals. When you are a busy working professional the best way to care for yourself is going to be firstly and most importantly - get enough sleep meaning 6-8 hours. I know you wanted something sexier like buying scented candles and having a bath but truly sleep is what your body needs to reset your brain. When things are busy at work, your brain is on overload - you’ve got to give it time to settle. Now I’ll tell you some secrets about sleep hygiene if you promise not to hurt me.

If you want to clean up your sleep hygiene give up alcohol and, yes, I hate to say it but also caffeine. Neither of them are good for sleeping. Also, to maximize your sleep time, flex your organizational skills. Here is how I do it but you do you - I lay out my clothes for the week on Sunday’s down to the socks, shoes and even jewelry - it makes getting ready in the morning less stressful. It’s a system I have and systems are what make things easy. They buy extra time for you which you can use to sleep, meditate, exercise or draw that hot bath.

2nd self-care tip is to consider adding intermittent fasting to your life - I know it’s unexpected but when we are working hard,we are not thinking about what is going in our mouths. We grab a egg and cheese biscuit for breakfast, pizza for lunch and have dinner and then a post dinner snack. When you intermittently fast you eat for 8 hours and then wait 16 to eat again you give your physical body the break it needs. Fasting is like sleeping for the body - it resets everything including your cells. The 16:8 eating window is tied to less illness and other great health benefits. Plus it makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight. 

3rd Schedule fun. Whatever fun looks like to you - a pottery class, a sports team, dinner with friends -get it on your calendar -especially do it with other people. Research shows us that relationships are instrumental in making our lives better and reducing stress which is, of course, self- care.

Now if you are a parent, time is your greatest limited resource when it comes to self-care so the first way to take care of yourself is to create pockets of time so things aren’t chaotic.

First, organize and streamline based on your needs.  For example, when they were young, I had my kids sleep in their clothes for the next day because it was easier for me to get them out the door. Changing from jammies to picking out and putting on clothes took too much time and I had to be to work at 7:20. That was me, taking care of myself. Starting in kindergarten, I had my kids make their lunches the night before. As a parent my goal was to teach them to be self-sufficient. Teaching them meal preparation and planning were a part of that. They were capable of it and it made my life easier and things so faster. We could get out the door in less than :15 minutes if necessary. Boohyah! 

Second, find time to be alone. That might involve sitting in the car along watching funny youtube videos or locking yourself in the bathroom where no one will want something from you. When my kids were young, I had to ask for time. So, for instance, if my husband went golfing then I would ask for the same six hours he had for myself as a trade. Saturday he would golf, Sunday I would hang with my childless friends and shop. Speak up. Ask for things to be fair - for example, which nights do you want to cook dinner and what ones do you want to clean up? Do you want to watch the kids or go grocery shopping? This also works for kids - “do you want to go to bed at 8:00 with a story or 8:15 without a story?” Always give 2 options so people regardless of their age, feel like they have a choice. Do you want to show me your homework before you play Minecraft or before we have dinner?  ---- To be a good parent, you need to be good, if you are stressed out, you are not in a good headspace so take care of yourself.

Third, prioritize your own goals. Yes, your kids will take up a lot of your bandwidth but make sure you are honoring your own path. Kids learn from you. They need to see how important it is to have goals you are striving and reaching for. Talk to them about it so they know. Mommy or daddy has class or needs to work for the next hour. 

Now let’s talk about student self-care. Being a student is such an interesting right of passage because your success is dependent on a grade give by a teacher who has told you how to get a good grade. That is not life. 

The first thing to note as a student is that scheduling is everything.  In addition to your classes, homework, activities and social life, schedule your sleep. You need 6-8 hours uninterrupted. Student schedules typically have weird pockets of time so in those pockets, schedule yourself to do homework, grab coffee with a friend or do something productive. In life, the busier you are, the more productive you will be because you have to get stuff done. 

Second- create boundaries for yourself and others. In school people can get totally wrapped up in other people’s drama. Why? Because it is fun. The ability to articulate the finer points of drama has made Taylor Swift millions. You need to know what your personal boundaries are and hold them. Self-care is also personal energy management. 

Third, manage your social media and gaming consumption. Yes, this is a boundary of sorts but it bears its own mention.  Both of these can become time vampires if not boxed in. Take a high level look at your life and imagine a camera is watching you. How much time would you see yourself on the phone or gaming? And, are you okay with that? Only you can manage you. Scrolling through filtered image after filtered image of lots of fake lifestyles and such is not good for anyone’s mental health. 

Also, when you are a student, see if you can sneak away from campus. Go camping, go on a trip. Get away. Traveling is a great reset. 

Real self-care is not about the thread count of your sheets or the soothing smell of your scented candles. It’s about seeing yourself as being worthy of your own priorities and attention.  Now finally - my favorite number one suggestion for self-care is - take a nap. The Spanish figured this gem out long ago with their siestas. Naps are super important regardless of your age or stage in life. They don’t need to be long but a good nap will set you right. 

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