1. Create a self-care schedule.
Life gets busy—from calendars and planners to schedules and online appointments—sometimes we need to keep ourselves and our commitments organized. In the same way that you plan and book meetings or events, create a self-care schedule. Write on your calendar spa dates, gym time, nail appointments, nights out with friends, solo movie dates, etc. Whatever your daily life is lacking, whatever you long for, whatever you need to add in order to prioritize yourself, do so by writing these physically into your calendar.
When you do the physical act of writing, you will intentionally block out time for those activities and can make plans around them instead of skipping them. You won’t feel guilty, either, because what’s on the calendar is a committed plan, rather than a lofty idea.
2. Make healthy boundaries.
Prioritizing yourself sometimes means learning to say ‘no.’ Whether that’s missing out on Tuesday Trivia and drinks with friends in order to get some well-needed rest, or cancelling (in advance, of course!) on a coffee date so that you can catch up on your work alone, feel empowered in creating boundaries for your self-care.
You only have one life, and though you should always be excited about, and take advantage of opportunities—sometimes it is just as beneficial to your body and soul to say ‘no,’ to stay home, to work late, or to do ‘you’ in order to rejuvenate and get back to your inner fullness.
3. Be clear about your expectations—for yourself and others.
Miscommunications and conflicts can arise when you’re not being completely transparent and honest with yourself and others about what you need or feel. If you know you have a project to do after Saturday brunch, explain this to your friends so that they aren’t nagging you to stay for another drink, and you don’t look like the bad guy in leaving early.
When the air is clear, it leaves more room for productive conversations and time spent together. And when you are upfront about what your plans are, or where your head’s at, it can help you to be better focused on what you need, too.
4. Offer alternative plans for your ‘no.’
Sometimes prioritizing yourself means putting other people/plans/events on the backburner. (See #2) This isn’t a bad thing by any means, but if you’re looking for a guiltless way to get out of commitments (without being selfish or hurtful) offer alternative plans.
Don’t want to stay up on a weeknight? Offer an event on Friday or Saturday for you and your significant other to go to. Feeling a movie night this week? Offer to compromise for a rowdier plan the following week. Desperate for a bubble bath, a good book, and the night alone? Invite your friend to come over later for wine and chocolates post-bath. Alternative plans keep your needs fulfilled, while also offering others the opportunity to understand, meet you halfway, or even join!
5. Use the buddy system.
Want to do something selfish, but don’t want to leave a friend/family member/significant other out while doing so? Use the buddy system. Bring them along! Whether it’s a spa date or yoga class, see if you can find someone to accompany you—that way you’re not only doing what you need to do for yourself, but you’re bettering someone else’s self-care in the process!
6. Remember your end goal.
You should never feel bad about putting your needs first. (Within reason, of course – don’t step on people in order to get what you want.) If you’re feeling stifled, frustrated, or misunderstood by people around you, remember your end goal. Sometimes people won’t align with your vision, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean they’re bad people, it just might mean you need to drift in order to become the best version of yourself.
Remember: anyone who cares about you will support you. And as long as you’re communicating, caring, and considering their feelings while still honoring yours – there shouldn’t be any reason they can’t accept and encourage you in your self-care journey.