Deadlines, emails, texts, side projects, social media, and information coming at us in every direction. All. The. Time. Tiny glowing screens are everywhere. You can’t avoid them.
We’re able to efficiently get more work done and get it done faster. And what would seemingly allow us to have more free time does quite the opposite. Does anyone actually work just a 40hr work week? And then what about family time? Friends?
We have full access and it’s a wonderful time to be alive. But our lives are busier than ever and to fit it all in we tend to sacrifice what matters most…
It’s only human nature to sacrifice our own time by putting someone else first. Our family, our friends or our job. We suck it up and just get shit done. But if you really want to help your loved ones, grow your business, or change the world then taking a step back to develop a better self care routine could be what’s actually needed.
If you’ve ever been on a plane they you’ve likely heard the standard pre-flight announcements, “if there should be a change in cabin pressure and your mask drops from the overhead compartment, put your oxygen mask on first before helping other passengers.”
And then you take off. Things are going fine until they’re not. The plane starts to go down. The oxygen masks drop and shit gets real…
Relax, your safe!
This is an extreme example but the oxygen mask is a metaphor for your own self care. Now imagine what would happen if we waited for extreme emergencies to start implementing self-care. We’d burn out, gain weight, be depressed, anxious, develop anxiety and just be stressed AF. Oh wait… we’re already doing that.
And that’s the problem. Rather than tending to our own health and happiness we sacrifice just a little of ourselves to help others. In modern society the pattern seems to be go, go, go, do, do, do, grind, hustle, collapse, repeat.
What we want are more hours in the day but one thing I’ve learned about time management it’s really about defending the time you already have fiercely, saying no to things, and taking care of yourself FIRST. So while I unfortunately can’t give you more time in the day, I can share with you some pie. Yes, pie.
The Self-Care Pie
Pie is great isn’t it?
It’s also going to be a sweet visual for the different areas of self-care we’re going to be talking about today. Because as humans and complex beings, we have a variety of different needs to keep us in balance in order to be our best selves.
Recently, I put up a video on our Facebook page asking what you all do for self-care strategies. Here are some of the responses I got:
light some candles and incense and meditate
take a bubble bath and listen to soft music
get a mani/pedi and chill
take a yoga class
get a massage
These are great ways to relax but there’s more to self-care than just lighting candles and taking a bubble bath. These are only once small slice of the whole delicious pie.
So what exactly is ‘self-care’ if it’s not just the relaxation stuff?
Great question! And my understanding is that it can be any activity that we do to deliberately take care of our mental, physical and emotional health. It sounds simple but as you may know it’s easy to neglect.
And even though you may be nibbling one slice of the pie, we need to crush the whole pie to live a delicious life and have good relationships with not only others but ourselves.
Here is a look at each tasty slice…
Health and Fitness
Health and fitness are flip sides of the same coin and both are needed for our physical as well as emotional health to be balanced. Good nutrition and exercise will help regulate hormones, improve your mood, increase your energy, and keep you well.
Drinking enough water
Eating the right amount of calories
Eating the right amount of fruit and veggies
Dedicated strength training
Working on joint mobility and control
Getting 7-9hrs of sleep
Low intensity aerobic work
Maintaining a healthy bodyweight
When our plates are overloaded with professional stress, family responsibilities, financial obligations, and relationship crises our stress builds up like steam in a teapot. Renewal is simply a way to release some of that steam.
Getting out in nature
Spending time with loved ones
Bubble baths, candles, and painting
We shouldn’t stop learning just because we graduate college. But too often that’s the case. Continuing our own personal growth as we age is important since our own physical and emotional needs will continue to change and evolve as we age.
Reading. Lots of reading.
Activities that make you a little uncomfortable (eg fitness for some)
If you’re not taking care of your personal hygiene, you’ll find your health (and your relationships) will deteriorate quickly. If you ask any dentist, flossing your teeth is important for more than just your dental health… it’s linked to your heart health as well.
Going to the dentist
Getting regular check ups
Making yourself smell pretty
This is often the first piece of the pie we take a bite out of when we’re stressed out but as you can guess this can lead to bigger problems.
Celebrating the holidays with rich food
Occasionally drinking too much
Straying up late with friends partying
Coffee, coffee, coffee.
Having pie for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Obvi.
Bonus: The ‘No’ List
Focusing on things that build you up rather than restrict you will lead to greater happiness and mental health. While I do recommend limiting indulgences and taking an ‘additive’ approach and filling up on positive habit pie, sometimes you need to stop doing things that take away from your best self.
This is where creating a ‘No List’ comes in handy. All you need to do is simply list of all the activities and negative habits that you no longer want to do. Eliminating or at least limiting things like alcohol, constantly checking your phone, working late at night, or even things like spending time with people who take away from your happiness.
By creating this list, you’ll be able to catch yourself engaging in behaviors that take away from your self-care pie… then you must defend it fiercely.
It’s important to note that while we don’t have to be perfect all the time, it’s important to know where we’re sucking. And sometimes, just the act of making a list or becoming aware of behaviors will yield meaningful and positive changes across the board.
While there’s nothing ground-breaking about this information, as always it’s not the information but it’s what you do with it. As we say in business, “What get’s measured, get’s managed.” So what I encourage you to do next is to take some time to list or even track some of these behaviors to make sure you’re eating the whole pie!
Want to upgrade your self-care by nailing your health and fitness goals and hanging out with super-positive humans who are eager to help you live your best life? Schedule a FREE 60-minute Strategy Session to learn more!
Steve is co-founder and head coach of AMP Fitness, downtown Boston's most inclusive personal training studio. His background is in posture, performance, injury prevention and strength development and packaging fitness in a way that is accessible to everyone. He's a brand new father, an avid reader and enjoys nerding out to science fiction movies.