On day 90 of my 366-day self-care challenge, I did a little reflecting on my journey thus far.
It’s hard to believe that this project–the 366 Days of Self-Care Challenge – is now 25% complete!
Over the past 90 days, I’ve noticed that some interesting things are beginning to happen in my life, and I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned so far:
Doing something EVERY day is harder than it sounds. This project isn’t labeled a challenge for nothing. Coming up with something new to write about every day hasn’t been easy. (And remembering to take photos of my adventures has been equally challenging.) Nevertheless, the experience has been rewarding in so many ways.
I’ve created my very own self-care practice. A former employer of mine used to say, “What gets attention gets results,” and that has been especially true in my journey toward developing a personal self-care practice. Researchers have found that it takes approximately 66 days to form a habit (not the ever-popular 21 days we often hear about), so I’ve already crossed that threshold. Writing a daily blog has forced me to be accountable, which is ultimately why I’ve been able to succeed at doing at least one thing every day that supports my health.
Most days, I include more than one form of self-care. I’ve noticed that over time it has gotten easier to incorporate at least two forms of self-care every day. In fact, sometimes it’s been difficult to choose what to write about because I have several options. Over the past three months, I’ve developed routines related to physical activity, my morning quiet time, and how I work. Earlier this year, I was lucky if I included two days of exercise; now I’ve worked up to an hour each day on most days each week.
There is synergy between the eight dimensions of self-care. Many self-care practices are multi-dimensional, meaning they support multiple dimensions of health. For example, getting a massage not only helps to relieve muscle tension (systemic), but it also calms my mind (cognitive). Likewise, regular physical activity has enhanced my overall fitness level (systemic), but has also increased my energy levels so I can focus on and complete projects that require brain fitness as well (aptitudinal). The simple gift of taking time for myself each day has nurtured my spirit (luminescent) and has seriously changed the way I respond to the things that happen to me (emotive). And because I feel better in general, I’m able to connect with others in a more meaningful way (relational). See how it’s all connected?
I’m setting more boundaries. Because I made a commitment to self-care, I’ve had to learn how to set boundaries. I’ve had to learn to better manage my schedule and to stay focused on my priorities. And that means I’ve had to learn how to say “no” and when to say “yes.”
Self-care is in no way, shape or form “selfish.” It’s amazing to me that I still occasionally run across blogs and articles claiming that self-care is selfish. (Talk about perpetuating martyrdom.) I’ve found the exact opposite to be true. Because I’ve learned to support myself more effectively, I now have more of myself to give to my friends, family, and community. Self-care doesn’t have to come at the expense of others; we can meet our own needs while still nurturing those we care about.
Self-Care isn’t expensive. (Or, at least it doesn’t have to be.) While some of my activities did require a fee, many of them didn’t cost a cent. In fact, I’ve discovered that even some of the most mundane chores can be re-framed into self-care activities.
Self-Care doesn’t take a lot of time. One argument I often hear is that there isn’t enough time to practice self-care. I call hogwash. Many of my activities take just a few minutes each day, and they’ve become part of my routine. When we choose self-care activities we enjoy, they don’t feel like work at all.