7 Ways To Make Time For Self-Care During The Week
Words: Tosh Patterson
Self-care shouldn’t have to wait until Sunday—here are some tips for reducing your stress during the work week.
Being able to have an alternative work schedule can open up more work-life flow for you, but unfortunately some positions aren’t eligible for alternative schedules due to company policy. If this is the case for your job, daily self-care practices can help shake the stress of the daily grind.
With all the multitasking you do, it’s easy to dismiss the importance of self-care. But it is such a vital piece of your overall well-being, mental sanity, and happiness, that it shouldn’t be ignored.
This is a call to action for working women to reinstitute boundaries. You have the power to prioritize yourself. You have the power to intentionally create boundaries that serve you.
Exploring that power may make you question yourself. Slowing down to rest can drive up your insecurities and your fears, leading to the inevitable question, “Am I enough without being busy or on the go?”
It can be painful. It may be uncomfortable. But drawing a line in the sand will grow you in ways you can’t imagine.
You may think you don’t have time to slow down, but I’m willing to wager that slowing down will begin to help you live the life you’ve saved on Instagram or pinned on Pinterest.
Incorporating daily wellness strategies into your life is the first step. I marked my line in the sand using these eight strategies, eventually became habits and made myself a priority all in an effort to manage work stress.
1. Say yes or no with purpose.
It sucks to agree to do something you don’t care about then feel like it’s a waste of your time. Do you use your “yes” and your “no” interchangeably or with purpose?
Think about it like this, when you say “yes” because you feel like you have to, it drains your life force. Conversely, when you say no to something that truly fuels you, that also steals your joy and happiness.
When you begin to do more of what makes you happy and you’re honest—both at home and at work—about what you truly desire, you create more freedom, ease, and grace in your life. If you have big goals in life or at work, you’ll inevitably have to prioritize and limit in a way that may not be comfortable, but is certainly required to maintain your peace of mind.
No is a complete sentence. Yes is a complete sentence. You have the choice and ability to use either sentence as much or as little as you wish.
In the coming work week, exercise your right to respectfully accept or decline requests to stay late, come in over the weekend, or lead a committee you have zero interest in. (Wink.)
2. Create “margins” in your schedule.
Many of the women I interact with have not been on vacation in many years, feel burnt out, or feel like they're at a crossroads in life and they just need some quiet time.
Despite all that pulls at you, give yourself permission to do less, not more. Your career is not the source of your abundance.
I know this feels counterintuitive. There will always be one more thing to do, but you don’t have to do it all. Allow some white space (a.k.a margins) on your calendar.
Avoid scheduling back-to-back meetings. Don’t raise your hand for an extra project. Schedule rest.
Try identifying 1-2 days you can take off per month for the rest of this year. (Seriously!) My friend decided to take off the 14th of every month in honor of her birth date; it turned into a system both her family and co-workers could remember and gave her regular time off.
3. Create uplifting morning and evening routines.
When I worked in Corporate America, I created a morning routine to reconnect with myself before diving into the daily grind. As a result of my morning routine I started feeling better mentally and physically, and I could focus on accomplishing demanding work tasks.
Every morning I enjoyed a glass of lemon water; listen to a guided meditation or uplifting music; ate a quick, healthy breakfast (a big salad, scrambled eggs, or smoothie); and listened to an inspiring leadership podcast on the commute to work.
Not too long after the morning routine I incorporated a simple evening routine. Each night before bed I wrote three gratitudes—regardless of how crappy the day seemed. These routines helped me shift from frantic to calm. Also, at the end of the year, I read all the gratitudes to remind myself of life’s abundance.
4. Practice Self-Care Sunday.
Once a week, I’d take a warm bath using Dr. Teal’s Lavender Epsom aromatherapy salts. Soaking in the tub and savoring quiet time became a rejuvenating weekly ritual. I wrote down what my ideal Sunday looked like, then asked my husband to read it so he could support my vision.
Now my husband does not bother me and knows my intentions for the day. Write out what self-care looks like for you. Share it with someone in your life who can support you in making yourself a priority, even if it’s just for a few hours.
5. Look to nature for support.
On Saturday mornings, I pick up a bunch of flowers from the farmer’s market—one for home and one for work. If I can’t get to the farmer’s market, I buy flowers from the grocery store on my way to work on Monday morning. Having fresh flowers on my desk helps to boost my overall mood.
Plants also have a healing power we’ve overlooked in modern times. A friend told me about Young Living Essential Oils, which are fantastic and safe. Each night at bedtime, I’d put a few drops on my hands, rub my hands together, and then breath in the aromatherapy. I also carry peppermint oil and lavender oil with me and use this technique before or after a stressful meeting.
It’s important to start and end your day with positive meditation. During my lowest hours, the Louise Hay app helped me get out of bed, especially on the days I felt drained. The app helped me shift my thoughts to an inspiring space.
I also listened to Hayhouse Radio at work, but there are a ton of positive hosts like Wayne Dyer, Cheryl Richardson, and Robert Holden. You may not like these hosts or others out there, but over time, you’ll find favorite shows to help you start the day.
7. Unplug from social media.
I had to withdraw from the world to save myself. As you well know, social media causes us to compare ourselves to others, and I was not in an emotional state that I could consume the perfect images on Instagram or tales of happy, perfect, stress-free lives on Facebook. I just couldn’t!
This may seem extreme but I decided to unfriend my colleagues: Social media algorithms constantly change and I did not want to give energy to managing coworkers online. There was no announcement or forewarning, just DELETE. Then I invited colleagues to connect on LinkedIn, which is so much more appropriate than Facebook anyway. Going on a social media detox meant I had more quiet space in my head to manage myself and the stress felt from work.
Sometimes you have to work at rest, just as much as…well, work. If you’re an independent, professional woman, earmarking time to rest and simply be may seem hard. There was a time that resting was hard for me, too. It’s easy to over commit and convince yourself that it’s impossible to take time off. I promise your life and your work will not fall apart if you take time for yourself.
In hindsight, I realize I just wasn’t prioritizing the importance of my own self-care. I failed at allowing myself to believe it was possible. Yet, ever since allowing myself to unplug and create some breathing room in my life, I freed up some mental space that was once reserved for stress and worry.
You may think you don’t have time to slow down, but I’m willing to wager that slowing down will begin to help you live the life you want. Allowing time for rest has resulted in me being more present and more alive. I want that for you, too. In a world that’s constantly pulling from you, it’s your responsibility to create space to reconnect with yourself, to restore your spirit, and to recharge your batteries.