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Self-Care for the Millennial Workaholic
believe it or not, you do have the time
Jess Peregoy || 10.29.2018
Listen, self-care is important. However, if we’re being honest, it isn’t always easy to make time in our daily schedules to practice it—even when we feel like we need it most.
It can be really stressful for workaholics especially to set aside time for self-care. When we’re depleted, finding resources (time, money, energy) to take better care of ourselves to recharge can seem like another item not getting crossed off our ever-growing to-do lists. We take pride in our busy-ness, but what happens when we reach burn out?It’s probably best to be proactive with our self-care so that we don’t have to find this out!
Here are some ways to take care of yourself doing things that are, for the most part, already built into your day (and, even better, are all almost entirely free!).
catch your breath in your normal routine
If you don’t live alone, it’s possible your bathroom is the only sanctuary you have to yourself (for at least a moment, right?). If you do have a place to call you own, relish in the fact that you can live in your underwear without judgment. Either way, using the time it takes you to shower or wash your face can be the easiest way to incorporate some self-care into something that you’ve already scheduled into your routine. Stop for a moment and really think about what you’re doing—you’re literally washing off the day you’ve had, starting over and refreshing yourself. That’s powerful. Choose products that make you feel good. There are amazing products at every price point that will give you benefits that engage all of your senses. Give yourself that time to really check out. Don’t run through your to-do list just yet. It’s 15 minutes, it can wait.
Got a little more time? Baths (bonus points for bubbles!) are proven to improve your mood, optimism, circulation, relieve stress, calm skin, soothe muscles— do I need to go on? Adding in salts, oils, or any number of elixirs (I mean, just squeeze some body wash in there if you’re in a bind but still want to feel special) make it next level. Bring in a book or magazine you’ve kept at your bedside table for weeks you never get to, a glass of wine or (safely!) prop up a device to stream an episode of that show you’ve been looking forward to watching. Just remember to follow one rule: no email!
take advantage of your daily commute
No matter your mode of transportation, the time before and after work is critical to help you face the day ahead or decompress after. Get a routine going here too. Make a playlist of your favorite songs or see how well Spotify knows you with your freshly updated Discover Weekly playlist, and turn it up and energize yourself. Step up your self-care moment with a podcast on a topic you’re passionate or curious about or just relate to. Girlboss Radio has tons of episodes to inspire you personally and professionally. I recommend Jen Gotch Is OK...Sometimes and In Progress featuring female entrepreneurs. NPR’s How I Built This by Guy Raz has had conversations with the people who are responsible for most likely some of your favorite things from Bumble to Ben & Jerry’s and serves up plenty of advice from today’s biggest bosses. Or, there’s always Oprah! No shame if you just want to be entertained—there are serial podcasts that can make you wish you sat in traffic or on the train a little bit longer to know what happens next.
This is your time. Being able to get your head in the game on the way to work is just as important as getting out of it before you get home or on the way to dinner. It’s so easy to be frustrated by work and life sometimes, and without proactively working through it, it can quickly eat you up. Rather than fight off the urge to flip everyone off, choose instead to flip your thinking about how you use this time and you can feel a lot better about your job and yourself.
workout to tune out
If you wanted to roll your eyes at that subtitle, I feel you because I did too. However, you can’t deny that exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress and feel better pretty quickly. Personally, I’ve never experienced a runner’s high and I think everyone who has is lying (just kidding!), but maybe that’s because it just isn’t my thing.
Find the type of workout that works best for you. I am a fully converted member of the Church of Spin—the darker the room, the louder the music, the better. This is the only thing that can really stop my brain from thinking about all the things it won’t let me stop thinking about. Even if it’s just one day a week, seek out that thing for yourself. There are tons of studio fitness classes, many of which you can drop in and try out if they offer “first class free” specials. It’s a one-hour investment with a little bit of cost, but a clear (albeit sweat-soaked) head can be worth it.
go outside, time out, breathe
Y’all have seen the sun lamp episode of Broad City, right? (If you haven’t, go stream it. That’s your self-care for the day. You’re welcome.) But, for real, spending even just a few minutes outside can really recharge you. Take 15 minutes of your lunch break outside. Scroll your Instafeed, catch up on your reading, or just sit and relax; whatever you do, you’ll be soaking up some Vitamin D, which really makes a difference, I promise.
The word meditate can be intimidating to some, but it really is just breathing and controlling your thoughts. It is not necessarily silencing your mind. Think of it as more like getting it to whisper. Five minutes of controlled breathing can help you refocus, calm anxiety and re-energize you. Try breathing in to the count of four, holding for seven and breathing out for eight. This is a good way to start and a good trick to keep in your back pocket for especially hard moments.
If you want to take it to the next level and have some time, practice yoga for even just 30 minutes. If you’ve never tried yoga (or get flashes of Lululemon and want to skip on to the next tip), just hear me out. An at-home yoga practice is where it’s at. It’s free, you can wear whatever you want, and no one other than your pet can judge you. Yoga with Adriene is one of my favorite things to do daily. She makes the practice accessible to everyone, and she’s light-hearted, encouraging and positive in the most authentic way. You’ll be saying “namaste” in no time.
use a planner, like a real one
It’s fine, you guys, you can still have your perfectly organized, color-coded and synchronized alerts on your phone or laptop, but there’s just something different and special about writing things down. More importantly, writing things down really puts into perspective what you WANT to do. Using a planner as a daily journal is such an easy way to make sure you’re prioritizing yourself. Seeing your tasks and goals in your handwriting makes them more real. Plus, you can personalize and better organize with stickers, colored pens, washi tape… have at it!
To help myself it makes me feel really accomplished and efficient, personally. I like to start each month by writing my goals or intentions and recap it in my planner at the end. It’s a quick check-in and keeps me accountable to myself. I also give myself “deadlines” to make decisions, like to plan trips I want to take by a certain day or make sure I request off of work, penciling in a happy hour with a friend, or keeping track of my workouts.
cook for yourself (and not just with the microwave)
As good of an idea as getting nachos delivered seems, we know eating better makes us feel and look our best. Cooking and meal prep can really be another chunk of time in your day you can use to tune out, decompress, and have a little bit of fun. It can be as simple or gourmet as you want, is worth the time and effort it takes, and, most importantly, is a great way to practice self care and discipline.
Want to make it even easier— sign up for a meal service like Blue Apron who even delivers celebrity curated menus by Chrissy Teigen and Bob’s Burgers for about $7.50 a serving or Dinnerly offers simple meals at closer to $5 a serving. Just you? Bring the second serving you prepared for lunch the next day. Most of them have discount codes for your first deliveries and it takes two things off my to-do list that are not my favorite things to do— coming up with new ideas and grocery shopping. It might seem expensive, but when you grocery shop for just one or two people, it can add up and get wasteful really quick.
Planning your meals (use that planner!) and taking care of yourself in the most basic way can feel really good. Listening to a podcast while I cook is one of my favorite ways to decompress at the end of the day.
budget with your emotions
Managing a budget is one of the most stressful things in my opinion. Feeling like you really shouldn’t be buying that latte doesn’t feel good. If you’re not real with yourself, you can sometimes feel out of control and your purchases can add unnecessary anxiety.
Chances are, you and your friends or partner don’t make the same amount of money or value things the same way which can sometimes make it difficult to keep up. Going out for drinks or dinner, and don’t even get me started on brunch, adds up QUICK. Just as you might plan out how your week will be spent, you should also create weekly and monthly budgets.
Prioritize your money to what matters to you. If you need that latte to get through your day, by all means, have it—no judgment; just make sure you account for your choices. If you know that when the brunch bill gets divvied up and you’re going to be pissed at yourself for going all-in on bottomless mimosas—maybe sit this one out. When you’re working really hard and feel like you can’t enjoy your money or are stressed that you can’t keep up, it’s time to have a talk with yourself.
Leave yourself room to be impulsive and go to that much-needed happy hour after a not-so-great week and give yourself permission to RSVP “no” to something you don't care as much about. Being in control of your resources and prioritizing your hard-earned money in a way that makes you feel balanced relieves more stress than you can ever imagine.
say "thank you" to yourself
One of the best things I’ve ever done for myself is to remember to be grateful. Something my friend told me once when I was grumpy after a bad day has continued to stick with me: “I’m gonna need you to go in your room and practice some gratitude real quick.”
What started as an appropriate check turned joke has since become an action. That friend and I have been emailing each other “gratitude lists” nightly every day for over six months, and now my day feels incomplete without it. Plus, I feel more connected to my friend (double win!) since we get to celebrate the little and big things together, and more importantly, make it a point to find good in each day. This whole practice was started at a time when I was in a deep depression and I attribute a lot of my progress to it. They say gratitude rewires your brain and I’m a believer.
So, choose a friend to be your gratitude accountability partner, and hold each other accountable for writing what you are thankful for each and every day. It’s just as important to appreciate that iced green tea that picked you up in the afternoon fog as it is to celebrate that promotion you’ve been working so hard for.You can write them in a journal or even use an app on your phone to make sure you never forget even while you’re on the go!
All of these things are small changes that can create a much larger impact in your life. Adopt one, some, or all into your daily routine and you’re sure to feel better about yourself.