Sustaining self-care can be a challenge for many reasons (ranking at the top of list, feeling like there’s not enough time to fit it into your already jam-packed schedule). But you have to make yourself a priority in order to effectively take care of everything else in your life – anything less leads to burnout and a steady decline in your physical and emotional health. Here are three key components to help you stay the course when it comes to your daily, weekly or monthly practices:
Consistency/Increments of Time – Participate in your self-care activities on a consistent basis. Keep a schedule that works for you. What often prevents follow-through is the amount of time you think it’ll take. Do a time assessment check; figure out when there are open moments in your schedule, and then use the time wisely. Whether it’s a 15 to 30-minute block in the morning or an hour at night before bed, it’s yours. Dive in, and before you know it, you’ll be closer to where you want to be.
Patience – There is a process to every practice. Whether you’ve decided to take a yoga class, to go to therapy, to enroll in school, to adjust your sleep schedule, etc. you’re creating a shift in behavior and building habit. If adjustments need to be made along the way, it’s perfectly OK. Just stick with it. Stick with it. Stick with it! You may be uncomfortable because you’re trying something new, but you’re also learning and growing, so persevere. Your affirmation: I am grateful. My challenges are building spiritual muscle and resilience.
Self-Compassion – Self-criticism does not “whip you into shape” any faster. It propels you down the rabbit hole of fear, insecurity, anxiety and overwhelm, making it harder not easier to be consistent with your self-care practices because the focus is on what’s wrong, and what’s not working. Let positive energy fuel your self-care pursuits. If you don’t want to participate on any given day, acknowledge and accept what you’re feeling. Honor those feelings with compassion. Step away. Take a breather. You’ll be able to revisit with a fresher perspective the next time. As Dr. Kristin Neff, points out in her book, Self-Compassion: The Power of Being Kind to Yourself: “When we experience warm and tender feelings toward ourselves, we are altering our bodies as well as our minds. Rather than feeling worried and anxious, we feel calm, content, trusting, and secure.”
Repeat the following until it sinks in: “Self-care is a journey. There’s no rush.” Some days will be better than others, so time, patience and self-compassion should be constant companions, providing breathing room to weather the not-so-good days and to focus on what matters, which is the vibrant and more balanced life taking good care of yourself brings.
Ayanna Jordan is founder of The Phoenix Rising Collective. She is a personal development coach creating and facilitating dynamic women-centered, self-care workshops with a focus on how putting self-love into action can transform your life. She also creates training programs and group coaching that empowers women’s professional growth in authentic leadership, entrepreneurship, and passion-filled work. Her interactive, holistic approach inspires action and creates a non-judgmental, safe and supportive space for women to truly explore and affirm who they are, what they want and how they want to do it.