Balancing school, work and family is tough! Many times, you’ll hear a parent or guardian make jokes about a lack of free time. I’ve heard “You have your life together,” and “You’re so go, go, go,” or “How do you survive?” on multiple occasions. My secret is simple: practicing self-care helps me prevent burnout and allows me to focus on my own well-being so I can keep my energy and motivation up. You can’t pour from an empty cup, and the same goes for people.
Self-care, to me, is addressing the stress in my life, acknowledging it and learning from it so that I can continue living to my fullest. While some days this may mean stepping away from work and assignments to just sit in a bubble bath with a good book, some days my self-care is something that will allow my future self to spend more time with my little family. For example, I can examine my budget weekly and transfer money to savings, 529s and retirement accounts. Or I try to work ahead, so I don’t feel rushed or panicky on the due date. Other days my self-care has to do with things that will keep my mind and body healthy. I try to remind myself to drink my water — I always forget! I shut my phone off and spend time with my family without distraction. Also, I utilize a daily gratitude journal and spend time with my thoughts and feelings. Whether I’m getting ahead on tasks or prioritizing my health, allowing myself to rest and reset helps me thrive as a parent, student, employee and business owner.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received about self-care is to plan out my week and schedule daily time for myself that doesn't involve spending money. This could include:
- Taking time to evaluate your life and needs and find the openings where you can spend more time alone learning about yourself.
- Going on a walk and focusing not on running thoughts, but on how you feel at the start, in the middle and at the end of the walk.
- Learning a new recipe with the kids (We learned you could burn rice when someone forgets to add water!).
- Spending time each week learning a new skill or practicing a skill you already know.
- Enjoying the company of a good friend, even if that’s over the phone.
- Waking up 30 minutes earlier so you aren’t rushing to get ready, and going to bed 30 minutes earlier than normal to get a healthy amount of rest.
All of these little actions can be done without spending money, and they can make a huge difference in your mood for the day.
Most importantly, I advise you all to accept that there will be weeks where you will forget about self-care. When this happens, don’t beat yourself up about it. Self-care is about accepting ourselves and growing from the understanding that we are not perfect beings. It is okay to forget, if we remember to try again tomorrow.