I have been in a bit of a slump lately. There have been times when all the big life changes I am experiencing have gotten the best of me. My self-care routines have been inconsistent. And the inconsistency makes them harder to pick back up again. I am reminded that sometimes it is hardest to do the things we need the most. The tasks, the routines become intimidating. Why try to build back up the motivation if I am just going to lose it again next week?
However, when I do find the space to return to my self-care practices (such as meditation, morning pages, creative projects), I am reminded how much I really do need them. I am reminded how these practices keep me healthy and sane when everything around me seems to be in flux.
So, I have resolved to experiment and figure out a way to return to my consistent, daily practices. I will share with you what I learned in the process and the solution that is currently working for me right now.
Here is what I learned:
- Guilt doesn't work. Instead, I have to be compassionate and take it easy on myself. After all, we are trying to take better care of ourselves (hence the name: self care). Beating myself up for not doing something is not the answer; instead that makes me want to do it even less.
- If I try to do too much, I get intimidated. The minute I add too much to my day is the minute I get stressed out and want to run away. So, instead I have to prioritize and identify the most important practices that I can actually accomplish.
- If I put off the difficult things, I wont get to them. When I procrastinate on the practices that are harder to do, I end up putting them off so long that I don't do them. I find that my motivation is strongest in the morning, when I have the whole day ahead of me, and it is weaker in the evening, when I have less time and more distractions. Therefore, I try to do the hard things early in the day when my motivation is higher. That way they are done and I can focus on the easier or more pleasant practices later in the day, when my resolve starts to weaken.
Here is the solution that is currently working for me: THREE THINGS
I decided to try to prioritize the top three things each day that I want to do to take care of my physical, emotional, mental, and/or spiritual wellbeing. These three things are personally-driven priorities for wellness. They are small actions that will help me stay in alignment with myself and my intentions.
These three things can be anything from taking a longer shower, to meditating, to doing a yoga class. They can be small steps or larger activities. And it all depends on your day and your mood. Some examples of things to include are: healthy activities, morning routines, acts of self-care, creative projects, alone time, volunteering/service, etc.
Here is an example of my Three Things this week:
- Sunday - 1) write morning pages, 2) meditate in the morning, 3) spend time with family
- Monday - 1) do morning routine, 2) go for a walk outside, 3) try something new
- Tuesday - 1) research yoga studios in my new neighborhood, 2) write a blog, 3) look into yoga teacher training courses
- Wednesday - 1) do morning meditation, 2) reach out to friends, 3) take a group yoga class
- Thursday - 1) work on quilting project, 2) spend time with friends, 3) take a nap
- Friday - 1) meditate, 2) work on Happy Heart, 3) record a yoga video
- As you may notice, a lot of these things are not too time consuming and they are accomplishable, even with everything else going on in the day. Also, the three things are all actions that I want to take but which can easily fall into the cracks of a busy day unless I prioritize them.
Some tips when creating your Three Things:
- Determine your three things in the morning. Deciding ahead of time is key to ensuring that you really want to do them, rather than just settling for anything you can get done at the last moment.
- Stay open to how the three things play out - sometimes my idea of "do something new" looks much different in reality than it does in my mind.
- We want to keep the three things manageable and accomplishable. So, be mindful of what your day looks like, your energy levels, other obligations or appointments you have planned. And be careful of bundling several actions into one thing.
- A lot of times in life we get inundated with small tasks and obligations that drain our energy. These obligations, although they have to be done, can potentially steal our attention away from our self-care and wellness. We want to make sure that our actions reflect our priorities. So, although sometimes I will put an annoying task as one of my Three Things because it is weighing on me to get done, I try not to do that too often.
- Talk to someone about your three things. Having someone to encourage you and help keep you accountable is key to actually following through.
I hope that in sharing this activity I am working on, I am able to spread some inspiration and to encourage you to prioritize time for your own wellness, everyday. This Three Things activity has been working really well for me... but what about you? Perhaps try it out for yourself and see what you think. Maybe you need to change it to Two Things or One Thing to get you started. For me, doing one thing didn't feel important enough and I would sometimes not do it. But if I set three things, I most likely do all three or at least end up accomplishing two of the three. But I encourage you to adjust based on what you think you can do in your daily schedule and then try it out for a couple weeks. Be consistent and intentional with it and see what happens.