With this semester quickly coming to a close, it’s important to remember to take care of ourselves. This week all of the contributors will take part in a Q and A session about self-care and maintaining a work-life balance.
How do you make time for self-care? (How do you make self-care a priority?)
Jen: With my never-ending to-do list, I could easily work all of the time, but I would burn out too quickly if I would do that. Once a week, I try to take an entire day off from work and spend it with my husband. Sometimes we’ll leave the house, and sometimes we won’t. Or every once in a while, I’ll get a pedicure or get my hair cut. Something that doesn’t take all day but makes me feel better about myself.
Ciara: A big part of my self-care is keeping a strict separation between work and "life". I don't tend to bring home stress from work so that I can be present with my family. While family and home life have their own stressors, and it's not always possible to do things for myself, I do prioritize sleep. I usually need more than 8 hours of sleep a night and plenty of time to wake up for my own sanity (and that of those around me)! I also pay attention to how I am feeling on any given day and am always willing to go to bed at 8:30 if I know I need it.
Karly: While my self-care priorities can fluctuate, I try to always make exercise a priority. Whether it be riding a stationary bike at home, going for a run, or doing yoga, I aim to work-out 5-days a week. For me, exercise is a great way to destress after a long day at work, so I like to get my workout in right when I get home from work. When I am busy, I try to maintain this self-care priority by getting in shorter 15 to 30-minute yoga sessions via online videos. I’ve been using doyouyoga.com, which has free and “premium” yoga videos. Personally, I paid for the premium subscription when it was on a sale, but there are lots of free videos to use if you are on a budget.
Another way I prioritize my self-care is by maintaining a hobby. A few years back, I got a couple plants and developed a casual interest in gardening (mostly indoors, as I live in an apartment). In hindsight, this was a great decision. As I don’t want dead plants all over my apartment, I have to make time to take care of them regularly. It isn’t a super time-consuming hobby, and it’s something I do on my own (as an introvert living with an extrovert, this is huge). Gardening allows me to fall into my own head space while I take care of my plants.
How are (or are not) others involved in your self-care?
Jen: My husband and my dog definitely play a role in my self-care. My dog reminds me that I need to spend a few minutes outside from time to time, and my husband reminds me that it’s fine to relax and watch a movie or go to dinner even after a stressful day. I even spend time with his grandma almost every week going to local arts shows, farmers markets, or brunch.
Ciara: My husband is really good about getting me out of the house. I love nothing more sitting at home and reading a good book and he (and my son) remind me that being outside is important too. Now that all of our April snow is gone, we have been spending an hour outside in the evenings and lots of time on the weekend. It reminds me how much I love the sunshine and helps me re-energize before transitioning into all of the tasks that need to get done at home.
Karly: In the past, I have often seen daily chores getting in the way of my self-care. Do I take the time to go for a run, or do some laundry and clean the dishes? Luckily, I have a super supportive significant other that helps with all of those things. He travels a lot for work, but when he is home, he takes care of many of the daily tasks that can get in the way of my self-care. Fortunately, he works the kind of job that doesn’t require him to bring work home, and also allows him to get home a few hours earlier than me. Instead of me rushing home to take the dog for a walk and fix dinner, he takes care of that for me so I can have an hour or so to myself to get a workout in.
What is an aspect of your self-care that could be improved?
Jen: One thing I would like to be better about is eating healthier, which means making more time for going to the grocery store and meal prep. I am often a slave to quick and easy meals. If I plan ahead those can be healthy, but that’s not always the case. Making unhealthy choices is a habit that’s easy to fall into, but I want to make it just as easy for myself to make healthy choices.
Ciara: I know I really need to get better at working exercise into my schedule. I love to do yoga and it’s a great de-stresser, but I am always putting it on the backburner. I like to sleep so I usually don't keep on track for morning sessions and by the time my kiddo is in bed, I'm only about an hour or two behind. I think I need to recruit my husband or a friend to do it with me. Having a person to be accountable to besides myself helps me make it a priority.
Karly: I’m not sure if everyone will agree that this is self-care, but one thing I would really like to improve is simplifying and organizing my living and work spaces. For me, self-care is anything that helps improve my well-being and creates a positive mind-set. I can (and do) work through my cluttered surroundings, but I also find them incredibly stressful. Creating and maintaining an organized living and work space is one of my goals for this summer.