When discussing self-care, I often hear, “I don’t have time”. However, self-care does not necessarily require more of your time. In a world where we are frequently experiencing criticisms and self-doubt, I like to think of self-care as a moment, or moments, of kindness to yourself, and it can be easily incorporated into your day to day life. All it takes for a daily act to turn into a moment of kindness to yourself is becoming mindful in the moment and explicitly adding the intention of self-care to the act you are already engaging in.
Think about that morning cup of coffee. Most of us make the time to have our coffee, whether at home, on the go, or at our workplace. Some of us drink it to help us become alert, some of us drink it to help us focus, some of us drink it to help us keep awake, some of us drink it to complete a set of tasks, and some of us drink it simply because we enjoy it. Whatever the reason, we are making sure we are fulfilling it. If you think about it, that is actually an act of kindness to ourself – an act of showing ourselves that we care enough about ourselves to be alert, perform well, accomplish things, or relax and enjoy. The only thing missing to something we are already doing, is taking a few moments to become present and adding the intention of self-care behind the act.
So how do you become present and create intention? It’s simple. To become present, focus on your five senses one at a time. Using coffee as an example, focus on the taste and savor each sip (or the first few sips, if that is all the time you have to give before your morning meeting or before you hear one of your kids wake up). Notice the color and the steam as it floats up in the air. Breathe in that delicious aroma. Feel the warmth in your hands. Hear the sound as you take each sip or as you stir in some cream. And remind yourself in those few moments why the coffee is important to you, how much you are looking forward to drinking it, and that you’re taking the time to drink it. This is an example of a simple act of self-care that you are already engaging in every morning and it does not require extra time. All it requires is a few moments of presence and intention.
The same process of presence and intention can be applied to that five minute shower you take each morning or night, to eating breakfast, to having a glass of wine in the evening, and to working out or making a fresh home cooked meal. The more you engage in this process of self-care, the easier and more natural it will become. With self-care a part of your daily life, you can decrease stress, burn-out, and negative feelings, while increasing a healthier mindset, positive feelings towards yourself and others, and feelings of contentment and gratitude.