Self-care is at the bottom of the list for a busy entrepreneur. You are running a business, your own home, your life, and everything in-between. You have so many spinning plates. Self-care is the least of your priorities. Yet, it is probably the one thing that will increase your productivity, creativity, and overall happiness in your life.
You need to make self-care a priority. It is as fundamental as breathing or eating. But it can feel like since you can survive without it, it can be sidelined in lieu of goals and the endless to-do list, which means we have to be clever about it.
Do you know the quote “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”? What you have been doing so far isn’t working. That is why you clicked on this article, blindly hoping that at some point, you will have time for some self-care.
You will never have time if you don’t make time, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a big deal. Ideally, we want self-care to be so easily ingrained in our life—like brushing our teeth—that we don’t have to think about it. But you need to accept that you need it. You are probably denying it and knowing you can do it all and shaming yourself for not being more productive.
You need to take care of yourself, and let go of this toxic idea that you need to be productive all the time. The world does not stop spinning because you take half a day to do something you love or take five minutes to stand in the sunshine.
Now that you know that, how do you practice self-care?
1. Get a List Together
The first thing you need to do is work out what type of self-care you need. Everyone is different, so if a bubble bath works for you that’s great. But it doesn’t work for everyone. You need to get a list together of the things that actually help you.
There are 6 types of self-care, and you need a list and activities for each one.
The benefit of having a list at hand is that when you are burnt out and you simply need to have a break, working out what to do requires energy that you don’t have. Plan ahead so you can just open up your notes app or your notebook and see a list of things you can do to take care of yourself.
For example, if you are emotionally exhausted, open your notebook and see that you feel better when you journal your feelings or go on a walk.
To know what works best for you, spend time thinking about what has made you feel better previously. If you are easily socially drained and you need space alone, think about what you do normally to recover and add that to the list.
Remember, this has to be real. It cannot be what other people expect of you.
If you recover socially by sitting in the dark listening to country music, then write that. Don’t write down “go to a party” because that isn’t self-care. Self-care is what makes your authentic self feel better.
The more options you have, the better chance you will have when you feel like you need some self-care because one thing could grab your attention. Make sure you have a go-to, so if you are suffering from decision fatigue, there is one you can pick without having to choose.
2. Make It Manageable
The types of things you need to do for self-care need to be small and manageable so it doesn’t feel like a chore to do. You need to make the activities as accessible as possible so you cannot procrastinate on them (like you have been doing).
Make sure all the things that you do to make yourself feel better, connect with yourself, and help you feel rested and refreshed are small bite-sized nuggets.
In your lists, you can have two lists: a longer in-depth self-care for self-care days when you finally carve out time in your schedule for one and a shorter list with activities that are five to ten minutes long.
For example, if you are emotionally exhausted and you can’t face a walk, have a list of journal prompts ready or go for a walk around the block (or garden, just get outside).
Being prepared to be too tired to take care of yourself is the best way. You just need to get the momentum started, and then the enjoyment will carry you through the rest of the way. The most difficult hurdle is simply getting started.
3. Incorporate It Into Your Routine and Schedule It
The next level is preemptive strikes, incorporating self-care into your routine every day so you don’t even have to think about it. This can be things like doing yoga while you watch TV in the evenings as your downtime, or socializing while making dinner.
The best way to do this is to incorporate small habits into your pre-existing daily routine. Don’t add to it. Adapt it so there isn’t too much change all at once.
A simple example would be when you make coffee in the morning, don’t go on social media or work. Spend time off your screens while having a mental break by listening to a podcast that interests you.
Once you have a small routine going, we can schedule self-care into your diary. If that is a half-day off to go to a meditation retreat or a day to just binge-read romance novels, schedule It. Make time. You will never chance upon some free time to do some self-care. You haven’t, so what makes you think that will change?
Remember, insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. You have to schedule and carve out time for yourself. Make plans. Stick to them and be uncompromising when something comes up to pull you back into work. You are important, too.
4. Automate Your Life
You need to take care of yourself but you don’t have time? No problem—automate your life.
What are you doing in your life that is pointless? Something not essential to your goals or your life? There are always strange things we do that take up loads of time, but they don’t have to be done. Find out what you are burning time on and automate it or get rid of it.
If you don’t need to do it, cancel the appointment, fire that time-consuming unprofitable client, stop volunteering all of your spare time instead of taking care of yourself. And now you have all this new and free time, you can add in more self-care or take a self-care day.
Automate as many areas of your life as you can. This is a great way of avoiding burnout. This can be something as simple as pre-planning meals and writing shopping lists weeks in advance, setting reminders, or switching to online-only invoicing to avoid the post office.
The fewer choices you have to make, the less annoying things you have to do, and the more time you will have for self-care. If it annoys you, automate it.
5. Outsource Your stress
As an entrepreneur, you wear many hats. You are not just the CEO but you are also often the marketing expert, social media manager, accountant, sales associate, brand ambassador, and administrator. It is very common to get caught up in doing all of this, but you don’t have to.
If there is a task you have that causes you endless stress—you know what I mean, the one you put off and dread about—outsource it. Hire someone part-time to do the parts of your business that you aren’t ideal at. This frees up so much more time to focus on the parts of your business you are better at, and it frees up loads of mental and emotional space in your head.
This is a form of self-care, making your life as streamlined and stress-free as possible. When you are hiking up a mountain, you are supposed to enjoy the journey, not pick up big heavy boulders to carry to the top of the mountain. Drop the boulders, let someone who is a professional boulder-holder carry them for you.
This can apply to your personal life as well, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Delegate some of your life tasks to the people in your life so you have more time to take care of yourself. You don’t have to do it all alone.
One of the most important things you can do as an entrepreneur is set and enforce boundaries. Setting boundaries is a form of self-care, and you need to set boundaries for all areas of your life.
- Work boundaries for when you can and cannot work
- Social boundaries for who you spend time with and for how long so you don’t over-exert yourself
- Physical boundaries like over or under training so you don’t exhaust yourself
You need to set boundaries to ensure you take care of yourself. Your time is important and—as I am sure you are aware—is limited with the number of things you have to do, think about, and on top of all that, keep your mental health together.
Draw strong boundaries about what you would like, and enforce them.
7. Do It
This is the most important one of all. Planning is all well and good, but you need to do the work to incorporate self-care into your life.
It doesn’t have to be big and dramatic. It can be something as simple as taking five minutes a day to meditate during an ad break or reading a chapter a day from a positive mindset book. Just make sure every day, do one thing to take care of yourself, set a reminder, and then do it. Start to explore all the ways you can sneak taking care of yourself into your routine to the point where you don’t even notice you are doing it.
We are humans, we will procrastinate on self-care, especially in our hyper-productive society that progresses faster than we can seem to keep up. The key is to play into your procrastination, make it easy and accessible, and just get started. One small step at a time, once the momentum starts building, self-care becomes easier.
I hope you take half a day to recalibrate your life. Automate annoying tasks, outsource jobs to free up time, and make plans and lists to combat your procrastination. All it takes is an hour of your time, and you can free up so much time and mental energy to focus on doing what you do best if you just prioritize yourself.
You are the most important asset in your business. You need to keep yourself in top condition. Self-care is the way to do that. Find out what type of self-care you need, and enjoy and implement it into your life.
You will always be busy and if you don’t take care of yourself, you will always be exhausted and miserable. You are important. You matter. Take care of yourself.
Featured photo credit: Surface via unsplash.com