Here we are, summer just ended and hopefully we had a bit of time for re-charging. If this is the case, you may feel motivated to start the fall in a different way and make self-care an important part of your everyday life, instead of an afterthought you have once you are done with everything else. Here are some tips to help you achieve a lifestyle more conducive to self-care:
1) When you are thinking about which self-care goal you want to set for this fall, start from considering what you did in the past that felt good for you. Many times when we think about self-care, we are overwhelmed by judgmental thoughts about what we should do for ourselves but we did not do. This is the time we start blaming ourselves for all the “bad habits” we have (“I was eating so unhealthy last year”, “I neglected my gym for so long”, “I should finally enroll for yoga”). Thoughts like these make us feel bad about ourselves the minute we start setting goals for self-care. To identify self-care goals, it is more helpful to look at your past and think about things that you did that were beneficial for you. We all have moments (however small) when we feel we are on the right track or that we are doing something meaningful for ourselves. Look for these moments, whatever small and infrequent they are, and start planning how you can make them happen more often. This way you will start your self-care journey by acknowledging what you already did and the task of taking care of yourself will feel more achievable.
2) Keep it small, keep it going. In order to incorporate self-care in your everyday life, choose goals as small as possible. You may full of motivation and energy right now and set ambitious intentions that you are able to follow only for a short amount of time. If you set small goals, these will be more achievable in the long-term and easier to incorporate in your everyday routine. Also, small goals require less effort, and so it is easier to keep them up during the days when you feel down or less motivated (we all have these days!).
3) Find a self-care buddy. You can find (and enjoy) different kinds of self-care buddies. Some self-care buddies may be the friends you go to the gym or practice yoga with. However, it is not always possible to synch up your schedule and needs with a friend so that you can do things together. This does not mean you cannot have a self-care buddy. Self-care buddies can also be people who do not do things with you, but they may be someone you share your self-care intentions, so that they support you through the journey and hold you accountable. As a therapist and a friend, I am often this kind of self-care buddy for others and I definitely try to have people in my life who can play this role for me.
4) When we set self-care intentions, we often choose rewards that we can give ourselves once we obtain a certain goals. This could be a good self-motivating strategy, but it is also important to reward ourselves for loving and accepting the way we are now. Try to set rewards for the times you are able to be self-compassionate and to embrace your unique strengths and challenges.