Self-care is so vital for both you and for all of the people you help take care of. How can you keep giving of yourself if you burn out and have nothing left to give? This concept of self-care can be difficult at first, (mom guilt, spouse guilt, worker guilt), but with a little practice and deliberate thinking, it can become a great habit.

When choosing a self-care activity, decide what will give you an energy boost. (Remember, relaxing/taking care of yourself now will restore your energy reserves for upcoming days.) Your self-care does not have to be the same as your friends’ self-care. For example, your friends may swear by yoga, but if you find trying to sit still and think of nothing more stressful than relaxing, it’s probably not the best self-care activity for you.

Put some thought into what YOU want to do. Maybe you can remember things you used to enjoy doing before you got so busy. (A nap!) Or maybe you have something new that you might enjoy. (A new dance class?) You are scheduling some time for you, so make it something you’re excited to put on your calendar!

Whatever self-care activity you decide on does not necessarily have to do with the amount of time or money involved. The most important element is your mindset. Be mindful of your thoughts and that you are doing something for you. You could take a weeklong luxury vacation, but if the whole week you are thinking about what’s happening at work or trying to schedule every minute of your vacation with what other people have told you are “must see” and “must do” things on your trip, then you really haven’t gained much in the re-energizing department. You could take a 20 minute walk in a quiet park observing the sights and sounds of nature and thanking yourself for the timeout and feel more energized from that 20 minutes than from that weeklong vacation. And it’d be free!

Maybe pedicures are your thing. If you recharge from a $50 pedicure at the spa, that’s great. If you can recharge from taking 30 minutes at home to take care of your nails, that’s also great. It’s your mindset that is key. If you’re doing your own pedi and thinking to yourself, “I wish I could afford the spa” or “this is just a chore,” then that’s not really self-care. Change your mindset to focus on the time and care you’re taking for yourself. Think about how pretty your new polish looks and how good it feels to take care of yourself for those 30 minutes. Choose your thoughts to focus on what you DO have, not what you don’t have.

The point is, focus on the kind act of taking care of yourself (whether that’s physically, mentally, spiritually, or emotionally). The time and money you have is irrelevant as long as your mind is in the right place — thinking about how nurtured/pampered/energized your act of self-care makes you feel.

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