Are you a stressed-out, busy woman with no free time? Odds are you answered with a resounding yes that was so loud you startled your kids, your dog, and your significant other. And I can tell you that I can relate

Women today have more on their plates than ever before. Natural caregivers, who often place the needs of others before our own, we have to make time for our career, kids, friends, siblings and parents, and even our coworkers and neighbors.

Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, a social worker, or a nurse, self-care often becomes a lesser focus as you work on healing and caring for those around you.

Self-care should be something that we have in our minds at all times. It should be a habit, a lifestyle and a routine that is seen as something just as important as taking care of other people’s needs.

Yet, we still find ourselves at the end of a week, exhausted and with no energy or effort left to put into ourselves. You can’t fill a cup if your pot is empty?

Here are 5 steps I took to make sure that I was keeping my self-care at the top of the priorities list.

Listen to Yourself

One of the things that we do is ignore our own emotional needs. I know I have done this and still do from time to time. Whether it’s because I wanted to avoid confrontation or because I just felt my feelings and emotions weren’t as important, I chose to put myself to the side while tending to the feelings and emotions of others. An in the spirit of transparency it wasn’t until I overheard two ladies talking about their dogs’ anxiety that it dawned on me. Do people really care more about animals emotions and feelings than we do about our own? Well, Psychology Today recommends that people start taking care of themselves by active listening to their self. You can do this by re-stating your thoughts gently, out loud to yourself.

A good example of active listening to yourself will be if you are feeling lonely on the weekends to state softly, “It’s hard to feel lonely on the weekends.” This practice puts you in the habit of acknowledging your emotions.

Take Time for Meditation and Reflection

A few minutes of meditation or quiet reflection every day can help you soothe your soul. BuzzFeed notes that you don’t have to sit in an ashram saying ohmmm repeatedly to get the benefits. A few minutes of silently watching the rain or reflection on the beauty of the moment is just as good. I choose to meditate on Scriptures that are uplifting and affirming. I also have several affirmations that help as well.

The best part about meditation is that the longer you do it, the easier it gets. Start with as little as five minutes a day and see if you can work up to 20. Meditation also helps reduce your physiological reactions to stress and can help you feel better.

Make Time for A Morning Workout

The road to Hades is paved with good intentions. This is true when it comes to working out. We have every intention of working out when work is over, and then it just doesn’t happen. What does happen is that extra-large pizza from the place on the way home?

Huffington Post recommends you commit to working out in the morning. First, you are guaranteed to get your workout in. Second, you are going to feel amazing all day because of the post-workout endorphins.

While I don’t do a full workout in the morning I do ascribe to a full routine of stretching after morning meditation. I prefer to workout in the afternoon.

Say No

While not the easiest thing to do, especially if you’re like me and love to make people happy, saying no is one of the most important parts of self-care. You learn to honor yourself by respecting your time. If you cannot do a project or a favor, then say no. Don’t add stress to yourself just to be accommodating.

Learning to say no can also be amazing. People will learn how to respect your boundaries, and it allows you time to continue your focus on self-care.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Other People

Strong Sensitive Souls recommends that you stop comparing yourself to other people. When you practice constant comparisons, you rob yourself of the ability to be happy with who you are.

It is impossible to be perfect all the time. With the advent of social media platforms, we mostly see the perfect images of people’s lives that they want us to see. The reality of these people likely looks much different. When you stop trying to be something that isn’t real, you learn to be happy with who you are.

If you can remember to do these five things, self-care will always be at the front of your mind. It is so important to take care of yourself mentally and physically. Setting social boundaries online and offline can improve your self-worth almost instantly. Do these things, and your entire perception of yourself will improve.

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