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International Self-Care Day: Choose to Leave the Hamster Wheel

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International Self-Care Day: Choosing to Leave the Hamster Wheel triocean/Fotolia

In honor of International Self-Care Day on July 24, 2016, I wanted to take a moment to have an honest conversation about your health.

I could tell you the five best things I do for self-care, repeat information you know you "should" do but don’t. But if you really want to incorporate more self-care in your life, what is going to be the most supportive is getting real about what gets in the way.

Without clearing that out of the way, new habits won’t stick.

It’s really common for us to relate to self-care as optional, that thing we schedule in for two weeks of the year when we plan to take a vacation. It’s the "nice to have" or "self indulgent" thing we do, like eating a glorious big piece of cake on your birthday.

It’s the thing that we tell ourselves we’ll get to later, once we’ve tackled the (never-ending) to-do list.

Except self-care is not optional. Self-care is critical to our continued mental, physical and emotional health, to our ability to think clearly and enjoy our lives. It’s not a one-and-done thing, it’s a daily ritual that is required to source everything else we do in our lives.

What I see in the people I work with as a coach are stories about how it should be and what it should look like to be successful.

For example, I often heard the belief that in order to be successful in your career, you don’t have time to dedicate to self-care. You have to hustle, sleep only when absolutely necessary, and “rest when you’re retired,” in order to be successful.

In fact, we reward it in our culture as a sign of determination and successful performance. To take time off means you’re not dedicated and you don’t really want it.

The result of this mindset is you can’t get off the hamster wheel, because then you won’t be successful. But if you stay on, you’ll burn out. This story sets you up in a no-win situation.

Getting off the hamster wheel takes a choice from you to get intentional about what you want both your personal and professional life to look like. You are not a victim of your circumstances, and although it may take some hard decisions or big change, you do have agency over what happens in your life.

It is from this choice — to be responsible for choices in your life — that everything else will flow.

Start by asking yourself these five questions:

1) What are all the stories and beliefs you have about why you can’t do self-care daily? Write them down.

2) Cross off which items are circumstances. Be honest with yourself about where you create walls, e.g., do you make your job the reason why you can't take time off? Instead, look at circumstances as challenges that you can overcome rather than roadblocks.

When you take responsibility for what is in your life, you can begin to make different decisions about how they affect you.

3) What is it that you really want? Take time to really ponder this, and think big.

Allow yourself to dream outside of your circumstances. Write down 1-2 pages of what it looks like.

4) What would shift in your life if you were living fully sourced and well? Write down at least 10 things that would be different.

5) Determine five actions you can take this next week in support of that vision.

You CAN have it all.

Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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