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Four Ways to Prioritize Self-Care

Self-care is hard sometimes because it requires you to analyze the reasons why you’re not doing it. This blog will focus on ways to prioritize your self-care.



Self-Reflection is Good for Self-Care

My first week in New York City was a whirlwind. While I was expecting to have more work to do, I noticed that I placed these expectations on myself. Indeed, while others gave me grace this week, I continued to set an immense number of goals on myself to complete tasks. I’ve spent the last few years feeling as though I was on a hamster wheel. This is because I’ve spent a great deal of time living my life on a calendar. I could always fill up my days with “to-do” items, largely because there is this unsaid theme in academia (and nursing): “there is always something to do.”


As I continue to reflect on this past week and settle into my new life in the Big Apple, I plan to spend more time this week revitalizing my self-care practices.


Why Self-Care Matters

Self-care is important for managing and preventing illness. It’s also good for forcing you to slow down in life and spend more time on what matters most. Here are four ways you can prioritize self-care this week.


1. Set goals to complete tasks

Goal setting allows for prioritization. Ask yourself, what are the most important items for you to get done in a day? In a week? Map out how much time this will take to complete each item. Set time limits to achieve them. This will help you to carve out some time for self-care.


2. Write down two or three things you can easily do during the week which bring you peace or calm you down

Think of all the things you enjoy doing throughout the week or on the weekend that you can squeeze into your work week. Give yourself 30 minutes of time to enjoy these things. If that’s too much, start with 15 minutes. Finding ways to easily incorporate self-care is a good first step in prioritizing self-care. There is no need to complicate things by planning an extravagant outing to show yourself some love. Start small and gradually build to that two-week, uninterrupted vacation on a remote island with limited internet connection.


3. Manage your time on social media

Social media has gained more attention since the COVID-19 pandemic, due to lockdowns and social distancing restrictions. Social media has been the place for funny memes, catchy reels, and doom-scrolling. Instead of spending all your free time on social media, give yourself a cut-off time for engaging in social media platforms. This can help make room for self-care time.


4. Get some sleep!

Sleep has many benefits. This includes lower high blood pressure and obesity risk. Sleep also aides in long-term memory formation. Most adults need seven hours of sleep each night to lower risk of illness. Still, you should always listen to your body. Some nights may require more sleep than others, especially if your body and mind are constantly running throughout the week.





Photo credit: Alysha Rosly - https://www.instagram.com/artchapter27/


Release the Guilt, Prioritize Yourself

Practicing self-care is just as important as any other daily activity you engage in. Sometimes self-care can fall to the wayside when trying to take care of others, when trying to achieve certain goals, and when we get side-tracked. Many of us are guilty of these things, so don’t feel bad if you haven’t been putting yourself first as much as you may need to. Take a look at the national Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) 8 dimensions of wellness to help you create a healthier version of yourself.


Remember: self-care looks different for everyone. Spend some time this week identifying self-care practices that make you feel good, and then set some time aside to engage in some of those activities this week. Sleep should also be part of your self-care routine. Your brain needs time to regenerate so you can keep working on tasks and engage in those self-care activities.



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References

Starkman, E. (2022, September 6). What’s doomscrolling and can it harm me? WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/balance/what-is-doomscrolling


National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2022, March 24). Why sleep is important. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/sleep/why-sleep-important

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 2016. Creating a healthier life: a step-by-step guide to wellness.Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/d7/priv/sma16-4958.pdf

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