Do you need to break up with your current self-care routine? Does five minutes of me-time set off all your alarms? Have you ever wished you show up more often for yourself? Are you getting mixed signals? I can’t help but feel like self-care is tricky despite being such a hot topic these days and with so many guides available… And I think that’s because I kept missing the most important part. If you’re like me and it seems a little too good to be true, keep reading!
At one time or another, all of us have been guilty of forgetting ourselves at the end of the day, but at the same time, I’ve come to believe that the “Treat yo self” campaign has got to stop. A few years back, I was sitting in my room reading a book with the radio on and I heard 3-4 commercials all selling the same message: That mom isn’t doing enough for herself and should buy herself something nice for a change. Okay – there’s some truth here too, but it’s not quite right – something’s missing. Mindfulness. Intention. When we buy things to satisfy an emotion, the “feel-better” only lasts for so long. But when we truly feel like we’ve earned something, it goes a lot farther. You may have earned that gift, but did you intentionally work or plan for it?
I know I’ve used shopping as a form of therapy in the past and while minimalism has led to less shopping and more spending on more fulfilling purchases like trips or the all mighty face mask, I feel like my short-lived happiness after doing any of these things without intention made me feel worse overall.
When I examined some of the reasons I would do these things impulsively, I found that I was using them to procrastinate (still guilty of this one, woops) and to feel a sense of accomplishment when long-term goals seemed unreachable. For a few minutes I’d feel like I had done something good for myself, you know? Telling myself things like ‘I needed the pampering, I’ve been working hard’ or ‘When you look good you feel good’ and sometimes ‘I just needed a break, I’ll be able to get back to work after I _____.’ So why was I still feeling like crap?
Well for me, maybe I had treated myself but I was no closer to accomplishing my long-term goals. So I can tell you, from my experience, that putting on a face mask might feel good for 20 minutes but you still have to complete that assignment. Binge-watching personal finance videos will make you feel more prepared but it won’t bring your debts down any faster (neither will those $$$$ face masks). And similarly, buying a bunch of storage bins might motivate you a little bit but won’t make you a tidier person and certainly won’t sustain your motivation.
What we all actually need is to plan for these things. Here are some examples:
- Mondays: homemade face mask bc you really will feel better and since you planned for it you’ll feel like the time is being spent exactly how you wanted. Also Mondays sometimes suck if you work a 9-5.
- Tuesdays: spend 15 minutes cleaning up a hotspot in your house that always seems to pile up with stuff, then savor a single square from your favorite chocolate bar
- Wednesdays: Waking up early for me-time will NEVER feel like a treat to me… I will never be a morning person no matter how self-indulgent my morning routine becomes… HOWEVER: I will wake up a little earlier to make myself an amazing cup of coffee once in a while. Why not dedicate a day to a better beverage by getting up 5 min earlier (or make it a messy bun day – hey whatever works). Or if finances aren’t an issue for you, make this your drive-thru day for a purposeful, mindful, grande cup of “I’m a bawse.”
- Thursdays: Don’t clean anything for one day. Don’t even pick up a sponge. This works best when not done on a Friday or the Weekend when we tend to get lazy anyway as it won’t feel like as much of an indulgence then. Literally plan yourself a no-chore day and do whatever else you want. You can get your place back to #pinterestgoals tomorrow.
- Fridays: Take an exercise class! Just kidding. But seriously, waiting til Friday to grab drinks or hangout with friends can be tempting but it can also lead to you hating the rest of your week. Exercise might be good for you but I won’t advocate it as self care because I see it more like a chore and I’ve never met a person in real life who genuinely feels good about it. Instead…. on Fridays, I like to plan a great outfit for myself. I try something I wouldn’t normally wear or that’s just outside my comfort zone. I like to look good on Fridays because I’m already ready to go home when I wake up. Planning an outfit (I use the Smart Closet app) makes getting up a little more exciting and then I end up expanding my wardrobe choices. Win-win.