Self-care done right on the cheap.

Some days, you just can't. Even.

You know what I mean?

These are the days where you wake up and throw back the covers and just want to hit the REWIND/REVERSE button and stay in bed all day.

Those days don't happen often for me, but they DO HAPPEN. It always throws me off a little bit because I'm usually ready to toss back the covers, jump out of bed and start my day. I usually have a long to-do list that includes fun meetings for business or even personal hang-outs or catch-up phone calls with friends.

It's rare when I have a day when I'm like "f&%^ this. Seriously."

When it happens, I pay close attention. I decide what I need to do to take care of myself. Sometimes it means staying in bed for the day, but sometimes that isn't an option. There are days you have to power through, even when you don't feel like it.

I think self-care is a term that folks have come to either embrace or reject, depending on who you ask--and what kind of day you're having. Some people equate self-care with being careless, reckless or they associate it with having a certain amount of privilege. I've heard more than one person say they can't afford self-care. While I certainly understand that different people have different obstacles in their lives, I don't think anyone can truly afford not to practice self-care, because the effects of long-term stress add up, eventually. 

Some people think the word self-care means they don't have to be responsible for themselves, their commitments or their behavior. They use it as a way to check-out of life and abandon everything. There is a fine line with this that each person must discern.

I think self-care done right can accomplish both a healthy amount of balance AND maintain integrity in the process. 

Self-care doesn't need to mean a day in bed, not responding to calls, emails, appointments or, heck, even your kids. It doesn't need to mean spending hundreds of dollars on spa treatments or mani/pedis or sitting catatonic in front of the tv or video games for hours. Those are great ideas, by the way, if you have the time. But you can do other things.

But on those days when you have to honor commitments AND need to ease off the gas pedal, taking a few moments here and there can make a huge difference. Try these ideas:

1) move in slow-mo: just take your time doing what needs doing. Walk slowly to the train, bus or subway. I promised myself during a hectic commute one morning that I would NEVER run for the train. I could always get the next one. I practice this whenever I find myself rushing. It just isn't worth slipping, falling or otherwise hurting myself in some way. Same goes for driving. Notice how many people don't do this, while texting at the same time. Yikes. Instead of hurrying while traveling or even eating, just move more slowly. 

2) re-prioritize: remove anything that isn't absolutely necessary from your schedule. Yes, it might mean disappointing some people. Be responsible for the impact for that person and make it a point to follow up to reschedule. Chances are, that person has had to do the same thing at least once. Focus on what is absolutely necessary for your health and your priorities for the next few days or the next week. Anything else will get done, when you're able.

3) clear the decks: remove anything in the next few days that isn't absolutely necessary. The mere act of clearing your schedule just a bit will help ease the burden or overwhelm. Look at your living space and organize your clutter (if you have any) into piles that make more sense. Wash your dishes. Clear off a space for you to enjoy your meals. A clean and organized living space does WONDERS for your mental health.

4) phone a friend: call someone who is a good listener and can support you. Spend time listening and supporting that person. We all are dealing with a lot in our busy lives and lending an ear to what someone else is experiencing is a great way to get out of your head and keep things in perspective.

5) go to bed early: sleep is the cheapest and most effective "medicine" available. Turn off your computer, devices 30 minutes earlier than usual and give yourself a chance to wind down from your day. An extra hour or two of sleep will do wonders and give you even more energy for the next day. 


These ideas don't cost you a penny, reduce the activation of stress hormones and help your body replenish.

What other ideas for simple self-care help you power through the hectic schedule you're keeping? Share your ideas in the comments below.