I recently read a book in which the author talked about how often we as women live our day to day lives in “survival mode” without even realizing it. Whether it’s the stress of fulfilling responsibilities at work, in school, or within our families (or all of the above), it can sometimes feel as though we spend even our free time exhausted and unsatisfied, constantly reaching for that ever raising bar of perfection set by societal norms and expectations.
If you feel like this describes you, know that the first step in attaining self-care and self-love is realizing that you deserve to thrive – not merely just to survive.
Don’t Just Survive – Thrive!
Here is a list of 10 practical steps you can take towards loving yourself better during this month celebrating Independence:
- Start by remembering that you are a multi-dimensional person and that you can and should take care of yourself in every aspect of your life: physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and relationally. Create a self-care routine that goes beyond just treating yourself every now and then, and which focuses on all aspects of who you are as a person rather than focusing on a single part.
- Create a foundation of self-empowerment for yourself to fall back on during rough days—recall your positive qualities and accomplishments and write them down (you can even have friends and loved ones add their two cents!). Keep this handy and look back on it often.
- Know and believe that you hold potential– put this into practice by setting an attainable goal that you hope to achieve solely for self-fulfillment – finish reading that book, walk the 5K, sign up for that class – you can do it!
- Utilize the freedom earned for you to pay it forward and help or thank someone else – volunteer, thank someone – surprise a friend that needs a pick me up . You may be surprised by how uplifted you’ll feel, too!
- Set aside specific time frames for self-care and use these opportunities to really nurture yourself. Put you on the schedule and don’t reschedule. Make your needs a priority and realize that it’s not selfish to take time for yourself to re-charge. As the old saying goes, you can’t pour out of an empty cup; you need to be filled in order to be able pour out to others.
- Take a moment to step back from the seriousness, problems, and stressors of life and have fun! Sing out loud, dance around the house, go out with a girlfriend to see a chick flick, be creative & artistic – journal, whatever it is that makes you smile, remember that it’s worth actually stopping to have fun every now and then.
- Relax! Find a space that allows you to do so, whether it’s in a bubble bath, sitting in a quiet room or taking a walk by yourself to enjoy nature and feel the breeze on your face.
- Spend time with supportive people & be in supportive environments. My parents always lectured me, “You are who you hang out with”—but it can be so true! So find people, be they family or friends, who encourage you in your dreams and aspirations, bring you comfort in your failings, and who generally add positivity in your life and make time to be around them on a regular basis.
- In the same way, try to take a step back from areas of negativity in your life, whether it’s a situation or specific person. Even a little distance can go a long way in creating the positive environment you deserve.
- As with stress management, realize there are both things that are and are not within your control. Realizing and accepting this is a key element in prioritizing self-care as it allows you to take steps towards fixing or bettering what you can while relieving the pressure of trying to fix what is out of your control.