If you stick around with me here for a little while, you’ll soon discover that I absolutely LOVE talking about self-care. But to be completely honest with you, I’m not the greatest at actually practicing self-care in my daily life.
In fact, the day that I sat down to write this very blog post, I realized I hadn’t stopped to take good care of myself in a while. So I decided to close my computer and take a much needed lavender epsom salt bath. And girlfriend, it was the best decision I could’ve made.
Despite that little voice inside my head telling me I was a failure because I didn’t get the blog finished and posted in time, I decided to give myself grace and take that weight off of myself anyways.
Because that is the key to self-care: knowing when to stop and refuel, and how to recharge in a way that works well for you, so that you can get back to being the best version of yourself. Otherwise, you’re just beating yourself to the ground.
But an even better approach to self-care would be to prevent yourself from getting to that point where you have to stop yourself by developing a lifestyle of self-care. This means developing little tasks and rituals that you can do consistently in order to prevent burnout before it creeps up on you like it did me.
But where do you begin? And does anyone really have time for that?
There are a lot of reasons that self-care can be difficult to practice on a regular basis.
For starters, if you’re a student or a practitioner, you are without a doubt incredibly busy. Between all the projects and assignments at work or in school, not to mention keeping up with housework, and anything else you might have going on in your life, it can be really tough to consistently take good care of yourself.
But the truth is that you are so much more equipped to do well in work and at school when you do have a consistent routine of self-care somewhere in your lifestyle.
Don’t Run Yourself Into the Ground
Hear me out, sister: I get it. I have gone entire semesters heading to class in basically the grungiest clothes I own, no makeup, and my hair in a top knot, surviving off of pretty low-nutrient meals, barely drinking water, and barely moving my body–all in the name of getting a good grade.
And you know what? I did get that good grade. But at the cost of seriously hurting myself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually–so much so that I ended that semester with a series of sinus infections that lasted for 3 months…no joke.
So please, don’t do what I did. Learn to take care of yourself well now in these busy seasons in school and in the early work years so that you can stay happy and healthy for yourself, your family, and your clients. I promise, your body will thank you.
Let’s take a look at a few ways to make self-care manageable in real life.
Top Self-Care Tips and Busy Girl Hacks
Up first on the list is the thing everybody loves to hate–that thing you know you should be doing but can so easily be pushed aside in the grind of daily life. Hear me loud and clear: your body NEEDS you to work out.
Working out is not just for fitness gurus, yogis, and athletes. It is a necessary component to both your physical and mental health, in addition to a whole bunch of other reasons including reducing your risk of developing serious diseases, boosting your immune system, and improving your focus.
Plus, as an occupational therapist, you will definitely need to have some muscular strength built up in order to perform many on the job tasks. So start now, and make it a lifestyle habit.
Busy girl hack: Plan out 3 times per week that you can realistically get in a 30 minute workout, whether it be at the gym or in your own home using YouTube videos. Write them in your planner.
2. Check In With Yourself
Call it mindfulness or meditation, either way, the key is just to sit or lie down in a quiet place with your eyes closed and pay attention to how your body feels. Notice any pain you might be feeling, however faintly, and recognize where it’s coming from.
Notice your emotions. Are you angry? Are you sad? Are you anxious? You can choose to recognize these things then dismiss them, or write them down in a journal for further processing.
Busy girl hack: Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes to do this every day when you get home from school or work, or right before you go to bed.
3. Take a Break
Girlfriend, I know you’re busy. I know you have a ton of stuff to do and everything feels like it’s piling up and overwhelming you. But sometimes the absolute best thing you can do for yourself is to TAKE A BREAK.
Seriously. Put down the textbook, or the eval, and do something else. Your brain actually works better when you allow yourself to take a break every 40 minutes or so.
Switch gears and do something else that is mindless: go for a walk, throw in a load of laundry or do the dishes, watch a couple of cute puppy videos–whatever helps you to just shut your brain off for a little bit so that you can come back refreshed and refocused. Just don’t let that quick break turn into full-blown procrastion, okay?
Busy girl hack: Plan your study and work sessions in 40 minute work – 20 minute break increments. And maybe use that 20 minute break to do something else on this list like mediate, or squeeze in a quick work out.
4. Have a Quick Nap
Okay, this self-care tip has got to be my favorite of all time. I struggle pretty often with tension headaches (probably from using my computer so much…), and the only thing that really helps me reset is a good, quick nap. I’m talking 15 to 20 minutes in my bed, lights off, totally asleep in the middle of the afternoon. Doesn’t that sound like a dream?
I do understand that naps in the middle of the day aren’t possible for everyone, but if you do have a flexible schedule, might I suggest implementing a daily nap or even just rest into your daily routine.
That 15 to 20 minutes can be the solitude that you need to prevent yourself from becoming absolutely crazy by the end of the day after working yourself to the ground.
Busy girl hack: Add a nap into your planner at the same time each day if your schedule allows. Or, shamelessly take a 5 or 10 minute shut-eye but not full-blown nap break each day. You can do this in your car if you’re super busy or at work, or on your couch, or wherever makes the most sense for you.
5. Drink More Water
Yet another “everybody knows it and everybody struggles with it” tip for you is this: DRINK MORE WATER! Even if you feel like you drink a lot of water, drink more. Our bodies are made up of mostly water, and a lot of people are walking around dehydrated without even knowing it.
Dehydration affects you in a ton of different ways including negatively impacting your focus, energy, and making your body work harder to perform routine functions like pumping blood throughout your system.
So do yourself a favor, buy a cute water bottle, and fill it up every 3 or 4 hours throughout the day. I promise it’ll be worth the extra 30 seconds it’ll take you to do so.
Busy girl hack: Using a water bottle with a built-in straw can help maximize time and your water intake by allowing you to drink while you continue working without wasting the extra time to unscrew the cap and hold the bottle to drink.
6. Schedule a Weekly “Spa Treatment”
I know I said that taking a nap was my favorite of these self-care tips, but honestly, giving yourself a weekly “spa treatment” is SO great for helping you stay on top of your grooming habits, giving you extra strength and empowerment to tackle all the things you need to get done.
I don’t know about you, but if I don’t schedule in some time each week to do simple grooming activities like trimming and painting my nails, exfoliating, giving myself a facial, and reshaping my eyebrows, odds are that those little things will be forgotten about and I will end up looking like a straight up troll.
That was dramatic, but you get what I’m saying.
These weekly grooming tasks are easy to be tossed by the wayside in the midst of a busy schedule, but planning an hour or two each week at the same time to take care of these tasks will definitely make you feel more put together and polished, and thus, will give you that extra bit of confidence to go into the rest of your week and kick some booty.
Busy girl hack: Take an hour every Sunday night before bed to take care of the weekly grooming tasks that mean the most to you. Doing this on a weekend can help you feel less anxious about taking the necessary time to do so.
7. Wear “Normal” Clothes
Yes, yoga pants and baggy t-shirts are obviously super comfortable and the easiest thing in the world to put on in the morning when you’re rushing to your 8am class.
But after a few hours in your groutfit (grey-outfit…for those of you who have somehow never heard the term), once you’ve had your coffee and your body is actually awake, you’ll probably start to feel kind of silly and definitely not put together and confident.
You also probably won’t be taken very seriously by your professors and others whose professional opinion of you truly does matter, even in undergrad.
Taking just a few extra minutes to put on actual clothes, even if just jeans and a simple cute shirt, can make you feel SO much more confident, powerful, and prepared for anything that comes your way throughout the day. Plus, people will likely treat you with more respect, too.
Busy girl hack: Pick out your outfit the night before right before going to bed. This can help save you a little bit of extra time in your morning routine and ensure that your outfit is perfectly planned for the day ahead.
Self-Care Is Best When It’s Small and Often
Ultimately, the whole point of self-care is to create space for you to intentionally love and care for yourself: mind, body, and soul.
Although self-care can seem like it’ll take up tons of your time, the key is to engage in small self-care activities often throughout your day and week in order to prevent burnout and help you stay on top of your game.
I hope these self-care tips and busy girl hacks helped you gain some insight on how you can take better care of yourself as a student or practitioner. Feel free to adjust these tips to what works well for you, and let me know what other self-care activities you enjoy most!
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