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How to be Successful in Self-Care: A Guide to Getting It Done

By Genevieve Cunningham

Self-Care Night

Self-care is an art form. If this seems like a bold statement, you’re right. Art doesn’t generally include matters of health and wellness. But when it comes to taking care of ourselves -- mentally, physically, and emotionally -- it takes a special kind of person to get it right. And as the Cambridge Dictionary explains, an artist is “someone who creates things in great skill and imagination” -- an artist whose canvas is the body and personal health.

Here’s the thing about self-care: It’s not easy. This is made evident by the fact that only 3 in 10 American adults make time for self-care in their regular routine. This means that 70 percent of the population isn’t getting the self-care it needs. But why? What could possibly be more important than caring for our own bodies and minds? And more importantly, what are we supposed to do about it?

Self-Care Sabotage

Most people sabotage their own self-care routines. Crazy, right? But we just don’t make it a priority. Why? The reasons people truly skip self-care are varied, but there do seem to be some common complaints:

  • Lack of time - The world isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Between work, families, second jobs, communities, and general stress, many truly feel like there’s no time for self-care. Are they wrong? Time is a commodity that many people simply don’t have.
  • Lack of money - Self-care is seen as expensive. In fact, about 35 percent of people believe that self-care is only possible for those with disposable money. Is this true? It depends heavily on your personal definition of self-care.
  • Guilt - It seems like an odd thing, feeling guilty about taking care of ourselves, but the shame is real. Sixty-two percent of women and 47 percent of men reported feeling guilt over taking time and money for self-care. No wonder we’re exhausted and mentally drained as a society.

Sculpting Your Self-Care Masterpiece

The statistics about self-care might be discouraging, but the good news is that there’s hope. Self-care is not an all-or-nothing scenario. A true artist chips away at their masterpiece a little at a time -- one day at a time, one stroke of the paintbrush, one beat of the drum. It’s a process that repeats over and over, ultimately creating masterpiece after masterpiece. And it’s something you can do for yourself with a few tips and some change in perspective. If you need help getting started, these ideas can help.

  • Discover new forms of self-care - We often believe that we don’t have enough time or money because we view self-care as grandiose. It doesn’t have to be. A massage might be nice, but a simple five minutes away from the noise and daily obligations is enough. Self-care is about personal rest and growth. It’s not a competition to see who can spend the most money.
  • Sneak in small moments - If you don’t have an hour per day for self-care, that’s OK. Listen to a self-improvement audio book on your way home from work. Take yourself out to lunch twice per week. Put your kids to bed 30 minutes early. It’s in the small moments that effective self-care is truly made.
  • Put your guilt away - Why should we feel guilty for taking care of ourselves? The popular saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup” is perfect advice. If you have nothing to give, you’ll be depleting yourself. No one will get your best -- not your kids, not your work, and not yourself. If guilt tries to rise up, shove it away. Every person deserves to care for themselves in whatever way they need. Don’t allow needless guilt to keep you from being your best self.

Self-care is of the utmost importance. Even if you lack imagination, skill, or the desire to be an artist by trade, become an artist in your own life. Paint the perfect self-care routine -- one that works specifically for you. Sculpt your health and wellness and create your own good health and success. Your life is your canvas, and self-care is the brush you need to make your health and your life exactly what you want right now and for many years to come.

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