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Why self-care is worth scheduling

a woman drinking coffee and reading

“Self-care; doing the things that make you feel more like yourself.”

How many times do you get to the end of the week and think, ‘‘oh amazing, I hit all my objectives this week apart from one, me. No biggie, I’ll make up for it next week.’’

Sound familiar? 

Think of those poor unread books waiting to be picked up so they can whisk you away to an amazing place or the beautiful bath bomb set you got for your birthday suffocating in its own cellophane (sorry I mean biodegradable *cough*) wrapper.

There are a few theories floating around about why this is a reoccurring pattern but I am sure that it is more than one. Which one hits you between the eyes hardest?

  • Too tired / too much effort- You have done all your productive activities for the day and the thought of waiting for the bath to run or looking at tiny words on a page over a big flat screen … well say no more.
  • You are pretending- Telling yourself you prefer nonfiction to fiction when really you enjoy both and should have a bit more balance.
  • Feel unworthy- Do you think you deserve that down time? Both in general, or depending on how successful the day has been.
  • Confusing self-care with self-indulgence – Buying and eating a whole packet of biscuits because you had a stressful day isn’t self-care, it’s greedy. Eating a balanced, comforting meal is caring and nourishing.

Why bother?

‘’Self-care is an investment, not an expense’’

Around 1/3 of us visit the doctor with a stress related problem. These are vary widely and can be unique depending on the person and situation. They can be mentally challenging such as lack of focus, irritability and exhaustion as well as physical ailments including social withdrawal, stomach ulcers or substance abuse. Personally, I have experiences all of these at some point or another- and to varying degrees, have you?

Self-care activities serve 2 main purposes and activities can fall into 1 or both areas. Some you will be more drawn to and some you won’t. If one comes easier to you, why do you think that is?

Relaxing and unwinding activities. 

Imagine, you are a little pressure cooker walking around going about your daily activities, cooking yummy food. All super shiny, managing life and dealing with the daily self-indulgent steaming activities that are cooking you towards your goals. Now thing about everything we do and interact with. This all adds to the pressure inside and we need to release some of that pressure at regular intervals in order to maintain a good level of focus, drive and energy. 

It is worth mentioning that we DO thrive under pressure, generally speaking. We all have different levels at which we need to release the pressure however and It depends on the level of activity or intensity of our lives and how you as an individual.

My top relaxing and unwinding activities

  1. Dancing around my room to whatever music takes my fancy- Music is one of my favourite things. Just make sure you pick something that lifts you up.
  2. Reading a book that I can get totally lost and transported into- Love a bit of escapism!
  3. Dinner with friends and releasing the stresses of the week- talking through your problems or about even something totally irrelevant are amazing.

A quick note on point 3. Falling into the trap of thinking that you have to hold everything ‘negative’ in in order to be seen as a positive person is ridiculous. Let it out, find a solution and move on. Productive processes over poisonous whining, always.

Self-reflecting and self-love activities.

Slower, inwardly focused tasks can be grounding as well as calming- physically as well as emotionally. They help us reflect on progresses as well as working through things that are making us feel stuck. We all deserve self-love and appreciation, especially from ourselves. We don’t always feel deserving but think of it as another muscle to strengthen, it feels less alien the more you indulge (beats a burpee any day!).

I know this might seem basic but think about the daily stresses you put yourself through, physically as well as mentally… and now add them together. Alarm clocks and interrupted sleep patterns, busy commutes, deadlines, workouts, restrictive of over indulgent eating patterns, social media, parenting… do I need to continue?

In the midst of all this noise we can’t here our own inner voice, process life’s ups and downs or let our bodies heal. Sounds a bit of ‘peace and love man’ doesn’t it! Oh well, true none the less. Going with your gut instinct has been well documented as necessary and there is no way of doing that if you can’t bloody hear it!

I have had my most notable ‘A ha!’ moments during a long walk or chatting about something completely irrelevant with a friend. 

My top self-reflecting and Self-love activities-

  1. A nice soak in the bath. Take a book if you can’t sit still for very long (it’s the only way I can manage it!)
  2. A long walk. A recent discovery for me but one that I literally feel digests whatever has been thrown at me.
  3. Good, comforting, nutritious food. Eating for health isn’t boring or lettuce leaves! Throw that idea out the window and eat something yummy, cosy and comforting! 

Think of self-care as broken down into 5 main areas and see which one you need the most.

  • Emotional- processing emotions- Journaling, talking, creating art.
  • Physical- improving physical health- enough sleep, walking, drinking enough water 
  • Mental- stimulating your mind- puzzles, reading.
  • Social- we are social creatures and depend on relationship (yes even if you are an introvert)- catching up with friends, chatting on the phone, calling your parents
  • Spiritual- not aligned with religion necessarily but connecting with yourself- self-reflection, meditation, yoga.

Working it into your schedule

“Taking care of myself doesn’t mean ‘me first’. It means ‘me to0′.”

Identify the areas you need to work on, want to build or decide to focus on. Treat them as important as going to work and note them in your calendar accordingly.

I would advise against trying to shoehorn 5 new activities into your diary a week because it isn’t realistic. But start with 2 and schedule them in once or twice a week across different days. For example, Wednesday and Sunday evenings could be reflecting and soaking days and Monday and Fridays could be more socially focused. Only you know what areas you are lacking in and what you need at add.

You don’t need to remove anything that you think is important, you are unlikely to stick with it if you do, but equally bumping self-care up to the top priorities for the week and check your calendar the night before so you know not to arrange anything during that time.

Life is about balancing what we have to do, what we need to do and what we want to do. Some days you have to sacrifice 1 for another but if you have to take time off from work for a doctor’s appointment you have to make up the time, carry this ethos over. You deserve to decompress and your dreams deserve and goals deserve to be heard and acted on.

Six self-care types-

Lucy sign off

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