by Dr. Wendy O'Connor, Positive Psychologist + Life Strategist for Women

Self-Care Isn't a Trend, It is a Necessity

My clients always hear me say "You have to put on your oxygen mask first before taking care of anyone else." And it sounds extreme, it sounds ridiculous to some, but I stand my ground. If you want to feel grounded, balanced, sustainably well, you must put your oxygen mask on first. No one else will do it for you, so it is up to you. Here are my 5 tips for integrating self-care into your regular routine.

1. Schedule it. The easiest way to stay committed to self-care (like any other healthy habit) is to pick a particular time of the day that you slot 15-30 minutes for yourself (typically at the end or the beginning of the day works for most people). What time could you commit to carving for yourself?

2. Make a list of brainstormed ideas that speak to you. Finding a form of self-care that sparks joy for you is most important. Don't integrate an activity that a friend suggested but sounds awful to you (i.e. flotation therapy perhaps). Some examples include: reading for pleasure, taking a bubble bath, lighting a candle and getting snuggly under your weighted blanket, giving yourself a facial, make yourself a cup of your favorite tea and pair it with a dipping treat of your choice (I prefer the Stella D'Ora S cookies), or even engaging in a hobby (painting, drawing, crafting, sewing, dance, hand-lettering).

3. Challenge the limiting beliefs that keep you from engaging in self-care. One of the biggest hurdles my clients struggle with is giving themselves permission to practice regular self-care. They buy into thoughts like "It’s selfish", "I have more important things I should be doing", "There isn’t enough time in the day", "My mother never did that." Instead, choose a healthy alternative thought like “If I take care of myself then I will be... more patient with the kids, I’ll feel more energized to follow through on tasks at home, I’ll be a living example for my family of how to fight for what makes you feel healthy and happy."

4. Now think outside the box, and out of your comfort zone. Our brain is designed to keep us safe and therefore comfortable. To really gain some traction with self-care consider taking a new class, saying no to plans or commitments that you are not interested in, volunteer for a local organization, UNPLUG from all technology, write yourself a loving letter.

5. Be present. Maybe you need to do a brain dump before practicing self-care so that you can be more present in the moment. When we are present we tend to not need as much time on a particular experience to reap the benefits; it's more bang for your buck so to speak. If you can release all of the negativity from your mind (try writing it out on paper) you will free up space to enjoy the present self-care moments you have worked hard to design and follow through on.