Rebecca is a leadership coach helping women develop their leadership skills through purpose, passion, and relentless acts of self-love.
Who Comes First In Your Life? Your Spouse? Your Children?
"The kids come first." How many times have you heard these words?
Or maybe you were raised to believe you had to work, come home, do the cooking and the cleaning, all while looking like a runway model, to make your spouse happy.
And if you've felt exhausted at the end of the day because meeting all the expectations placed on you saps your energy and leaves you drained, you're normal.
Because I can't name even one woman I know who hasn't been there, done that. Married, single, straight, gay, children, or childless, every woman has at some point experienced this feeling over overwhelm.
And they tell you to prioritize the things that are most important to you, and so you do. You prioritize your spouse, your children, even your career. Because you've got to be able to get everything in that needs to be done in a way.
Then one thing falls to the wayside: Your own self-care.
But you know something? The quality of care you can offer to your children, your spouse, your career, or even your home only increases when you prioritize your own self-care.
Can we talk about this for a moment?
5 Reasons You Need to Make YOURSELF a Priority
- You can't pour from an empty cup. When you take better care of yourself, you can provide better care for the people you love and for whom you are responsible. Making your own self-care a priority means you'll have more energy to give to others and it can make you more efficient and productive with your time!
- You are an example for the ones you love. Your children, your spouse, and often your team-mates at work look to you as an example. You are either setting an example for them which indicates they should make their self-care a priority, or you're setting an example which suggests that self-care is unimportant.
- You increase self-awareness. When putting yourself first means taking time out of your day for self-care, you have more opportunities to check in with your body and your mind, allowing you to solve any problems you're experiencing before they can get out of control.
- You increase self-esteem. Making yourself a priority means more opportunities for self-love, which increases self-esteem and general sense of wellbeing in your body and mind. When you make time to do loving things for yourself, you improve your sense of self-love, which increases confidence and self-esteem.
- You manifest your reality more quickly. It's easier to be mindful when you are spending quiet time holding space for yourself. Mindfulness is the key to detaching from the outcomes of the things you're wanting to manifest into your life, which will help you to bring these things into your life more swiftly.
What Is The Difference Between Self Care and Self Love?
Full transparency: When I first entered the self-help and personal development space, I was super confused about what self care was. That's because the internet has wildly different views on what constitutes self-care.
Some describe it as luxuriating in a bubble bath at the end of a long day, while others describe it as eating more salads and fewer burgers. Ultimately, I had to determine for myself what self-care meant, and that was easier to do when I realized that self-love isn't how you feel about yourself, it's how you make yourself feel. (Whew. That's big, right?)
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The difference, I realized, was that self-care is literally "caring for yourself." It's making sure that your body and mind have what they need in order to function at full capacity. This means taking care of your needs for nutrition, hygiene, safety, and mental stimulation.
It's the basics.
Self love, on the other hand, refers to doing the things that make you feel loved. This means doing the things that you're passionate about, the things that you enjoy, and treating yourself lovingly according to your language (The Five Loved Languages, by Gary Chapman).
You should make yourself a priority for both self-love and self-care in order to achieve the best results in your life.
A Comparison of Self Care and Self Love
|Self Care||Self Love|
Taking care of personal hygiene beyond a sponge bath.
Luxuriating in a scented bubble bath with candles.
Preparing and eating nutritious foods that are good for your body.
Enjoying your favorite comfort foods (in moderation).
Getting to bed early enough to get a good night's sleep.
Sleeping on luxurious sheets, such as satin or Egyptian cotton.
Creating a to-do list to keep your time organized.
Journaling either in the morning or in the evening.
Meditation to clear your mind and make space for yourself.
Playing a favorite video game for half an hour.
8 Ways to Make Your Self-Care a Priority
- Put self-care on your schedule and allot time for it. This is particularly useful if you like schedules and stick to a plan you've created for yourself. You can schedule your self-care for any time that works best for you (although I recommend first thing in the morning).
- Schedule your self-care first thing in the morning, and wake up earlier if necessary. When you get your self-care done first thing in the morning, before you do anything else, it means it's completed and you don't have to worry about it being disrupted later in the day.
- Create a space in which you can take care of your self-care where you won't be disrupted. If disruptions are an issue, create a space for yourself where you can have a sanctuary. For some, this is a "prayer closet" and for others, it might be the shower.
- Ask your spouse or other family member to take care of the children. If your children are young or prone to disrupting your self-care time, ask your spouse or another family member if they can look after them for 30 minutes or so. If you don't have family, try finding an activity to occupy the kids.
- Don't pick up your phone until your self-care is finished. This is especially useful if you do self-care first thing in the morning. Put it down, turn it off, and do not pick it up until the self care is done. Anything should be able to wait half an hour while you care for your own needs.
- Tell others you're practicing better self-care so they know not to bother you when you're taking care of yourself. Make sure others know you're committed to making self-care a priority, and set firm boundaries with them about the time you've committed to spending on yourself.
- Prep your meals in advance. Meal prepping can save you hours every week, if you do it all at once. Meal prepping programs and courses are available which will save you time and help you prepare nutritious meals for your family in advance. You can use the time you save for self-care or self-love.
- Save time by creating lists to simplify tasks. Lists can help you get more done in less time, if you create a priority list of tasks and itemize what must be done in what order in order to accomplish your tasks. Make sure your self-care is on your lists, as well!
Put Yourself First by Scheduling Self-Care Time Before Taking Care of Others
People are going to object to you putting yourself first. Some will complain that you're being selfish. Others will argue that your children should be your number one.
This is because they are also conditioned to believe women are supposed to put their children and spouse before themselves, and also because they believe that men and children are helpless to tend to themselves even for short periods of time.
Except for the youngest of children (younger than two years old), this is a cultural fallacy which has led women to burnout.
The best way to not only care for yourself but to avoid people inserting their opinions into your business is to schedule your self-care before anyone wakes up in the morning.
Many women have jumped on board with waking up at 5 a.m.. It doesn't work for everybody (ahem, myself included), but as a general rule you should be able to wake up at least half an hour before your children or spouse to get your self-care in. Alternatively, you can schedule your self-care for the evening after the children have gone to bed.
It has to work for you. But either way, the point is to put your own needs first for the five reasons listed earlier in this article.
Then, set firm boundaries around your self care and don't allow them to be pushed, stretched, or broken.
9 Daily Self-Care Tasks to Set Your Day Up for Success
These are some of the things that have worked for me and for my clients. But, as always, you should adapt these so that they work for you. Your self-care routine has to be customized to fit your needs. What works for me (or my clients) may not work for you, and that's okay! Take what works for you, and leave or adapt the rest.
- Make a list of daily tasks and organize them by priority level. Did you know that checking an item off your to-do list gives you a "shot" of dopamine? Yep. When you create a to-do list which prioritizes the main tasks you need to accomplish every day, you get to enjoy the reward chemicals your brain produces every time you check an item off your list.
- Keep track of what tasks you've done and how they made you feel. A journal is useful for this task, although you could use any planner. Make a note every day about what self-care or self-love tasks you completed, and how you felt that day once you had done them. Or how you felt that day if you didn't do them.
- Optimize your sleep so you can use more of your waking time. Understand your circadian rhythm, get to bed at the right time for your body, reduce caffeine consumption, keep the temperature in your bedroom low and the lighting dark, and optimize your sleep. Several books are available on the topic of optimizing sleep. A better mattress and pillows also helps.
- Eat healthy meals (and at least one sitting down at a table). Eating healthy, nutritious food has many affects on your wellbeing, and eating while sitting at a table encourages mindfulness in your eating habits. If you expect your children to eat balanced meals, you should also be eating them. Good nutrition boosts productivity and helps your brain function as it's supposed to.
- Read (or listen to audiobooks) daily. Reading is beneficial for personal development, but reading fiction also increases personal development, and may help you to live longer. People who read regularly are less stressed, sleep better, and have an easier time regulating their emotions. Furthermore, stories are one of the ways humans gain language and other new skills.
- Move your body every day (preferably before noon). Moving your body (exercising) may stimulate the generation of neural (brain) cells. Neuroplasticity is the surprising science that indicates the brain's composition can be altered, which means your brain can be wired for happiness. Furthermore, exercise produces endorphins, a feel-good hormone associated with mental wellbeing.
- Say affirmations to confirm your self-talk. The way you speak to yourself affects your motivation and thus your productivity. If you want to do better for your spouse or your children, you need to be your own best self. Using affirmations to stimulate and support positive self-talk will help you to be at your best and to get more done in your home and your career.
- Meditate (even if it's only for five minutes). Meditation is the practice of being mindful and creating space in your mind. It can help with energy and reduce stress. Five minutes is better than not meditating! Try not to create any rules, but allow your thoughts without judging them, and then release them and allow a new thought to flow in. You don't need to clear your mind to meditate!
- Drink 8 glasses of water. Drinking water increases energy, promotes concentration, and helps keep you performing at your best. Avoid drinking sugary drinks (as they can create fatigue) or energy drinks. Sip throughout the day, and try not to make eight glasses a requirement, but a goal. A nice water bottle and filtered water can go a long way to encouraging drinking water.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2021 Rebecca Rizzuti