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How to find time for self-care without feeling guilty

Time, and especially time for ourselves, is one thing we all wish we had more of. Despite knowing the importance and the benefits of self-care, it's easy to find reasons to put it at the bottom of the task list and get sidetracked by other distractions. If your schedule looks overflowing, it may feel impossible to add self-care practices. But the busy you are, the more important this becomes. Without taking time to rejuvenate and regroup, we run the risk of getting so low on energy that we function on autopilot. We simply cannot keep giving without restoring ourselves. This means investing in our self-care and switching any feelings of guilt by acknowledging these practices' necessity. How can you find time for self-care without feeling guilty?

Pause and reflect

Taking a moment to re-focus your priorities can help to add an element of self-care to your day. Think about what you would like to do for yourself and then think about how you spend your time. Try to identify the imbalance - are there things you do that you wish you did less off or could do without in your life? What are the practices you want to add that will nourish your mind, body and soul? Many self-care practices can add time to your day but creating energy and focus to invest in other projects. If you feel guilty about taking time for yourself, identify the feelings or actions that trigger this for you. What are the distractions that you allow that take self-care off the schedule? A quick audit of the week can help pinpoint where you might be able to do some swapping and create space within your current schedule.

Let it be

We often get so busy that we take on everything and forget to ask for help. With a long list of tasks, it is easy to think that we have to do all of them ourselves. Find the small tasks that you can delegate to others or ask for help from family and friends. You will be amazed at how happy other people are to offer their time and assistance. Remind yourself that you are not superhuman and do not have endless buckets of energy. Everyone has skills that they are happy to share, and you don't need to fulfil every role, every day. There will be tasks that you can let go of, allow the chore to be done by someone else (even if less perfectly!) and this will free up five or ten minutes for you.

Create your ta-da list

Instead of writing down the needs of everyone else before your own, write a ta-da list of your non-negotiable self-care practices. See your self-care as a necessity rather than a luxury. Keep the practices for you high up on the schedule. This could be as simple as making sure you have a stock of your favourite tea bags on the shopping list. The shift in mindset can help set the tone to prioritise your self-care and for others to see the importance. Reframe your self-care to your needs, and these practices will start to feel essential rather than negotiable.

Shake up your planning

Many of us automatically write long lists and schedules without prioritising. Shift up how you schedule your day. By dividing up your day into smaller chunks of time, you can find a five-minute slot perfect for a meditation or a ten-minute space for a gratitude practice. Think about tasks in terms of importance: what is essential for now, what can be done later and what is non-negotiable. Make sure that some of your self-care practices fall into the non-negotiable pile. Time management tools can be great for getting ourselves and our loved ones organised. Schedule time or create an invite for yourself and make it clear on your planning. Creating accountability to yourself will make sure that you don't stand yourself up! Treat your self-care as if you would treat care for friends and family.

Create rituals

Few of us need reminding to brush our teeth every day. Finding simple rituals for self-care can make practices routine and automatic. The best time to add self-care if you have a busy schedule is the start and end of the day. These are times when you will already have a routine to follow. If you would want to find more time to read or journal before bed, turn the social media off earlier and add ten minutes to your bedtime routine. If you want to include yoga, try a ten-minute session by setting the alarm a little earlier in the morning, or not opening your phone first thing after you wake up. The more you practice simple self-care, the more automatic it will become to you and the people you live with.

You can't add more hours to the day, but you can be more conscious about how you spend the time you have. Start with simple self-care practices that are realistic and achievable. As you continue to find space for your self-care, you will start to feel the benefits for the rest of your life. Self-care can take many forms and it's important to find the right practices for your needs. Read more about ten ways to practice self-care with yoga here. Start sprinkling your seeds of self-care today and watch them grow.

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I help doctors create a purposeful, flexible career outside full-time clinical medicine so they can control their time and have more balance in their lives. To find out more book a FREE 60-minute discovery call.


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