I love summer. Not for the heat (I yearn to live in a 50 to 70 degree year round climate. Do you know where that place is? Please tell me), but for the course correction it offers me.
My responsibilities look different in the summer; they are more project-related and less deadline-related and so I have time to do more of the things that I like to do for my self-care. While I love the momentum that I build in the summer, if I am not deliberate, little vacations here and there can slow or even throw off my self-care momentum.
This summer, I want to stay on track and so I am thinking ahead about how I take care of myself at home and how I take that self-care on the road.
Want to do the same for yourself? Here is a three step plan to give your self-care a boost this summer and anytime you hit the road.
Know your minimum. If you covered the self-care basics daily, what would you make sure happened? Stumped with where to start? Start with the things you already do daily that you have kinda forgotten are part of self-care.
Pop vitamins or medications.
Drink X ounces of water.
Get X ounces of sleep.
Eat fruits and veggies.
Think hard about what you do every day and try to find at least 10 things you already do on a daily basis that are really about providing yourself emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual care.
And a quick note: your minimums don’t have to look like anyone else’s. For some people, exercise, journaling, meditation, prayer, yoga, etc. might show up on their minimum list while for others, it might show up on their ideal list (or not at all!).
Know your ideal. Now, dream a little bit. What do you wish you could be doing every day or fairly regularly for your self-care? Maybe you wish that you could have a home cooked meal for dinner every night or journal everyday or take a yoga class three times a week or have a weekly massage or read for pleasure for at least 15 minutes everyday. Indulge your flights of self-care fancy. If it feels luxurious and as if it might evoke a great big ole’ self-satisfied exhale, then put it on your list.
Aim to have at least 15 more things on your self-care list (and don’t panic- hey don’t have to be daily things. They can even be monthly things like a pedicure or every other month like a haircut! That said, the more care you work into the day, the better; not just for you but for everyone and everything you do, I promise).
Start living it in your daily life. Before you can effectively take some robust self-care on the road, you need to practice it at home. Merge your minimum and master self-care lists. Make a chart or put them on a list where you can check them off daily.
Look over that list and ask yourself, “what do I need to begin tomorrow?” You might have said that you want to take a water bottle with you everywhere you go. But do you have a water bottle? For everything that needs a little bit of support to become a practice, go ahead and put in the work now. You want a massage two times a month? Ask your friends where they go for massage. Want to cook dinner at home but don’t know what to cook? Start a Pinterest board. Schedule yoga classes or other things you want to do on your calendar.
Now, begin embracing your self-care. Every day, do as much as you can to take care of you. Every time you close your email down at 6 pm, put a check on your master sheet. Embrace your accomplishments and notice how as you do more for you, you are actually capable of doing things at a better quality level with less effort.
Plan for travel and other curveballs. Now, that you have been enjoying some ideal self-care, the thought of travel or life handing you a curveball might fill you with dread about it all falling apart at some point. Contingency planning is just the thing to move you from dread to hope.
Go ahead and eyeball a time on your calendar where self-care might get hard. Let’s say you have a 5 day business trip coming up. Make a list of what might slide if you don’t plan for it. Your list might look like: exercise, a good night’s sleep, healthy eating, practicing yoga.
Now for every thing that is likely to slide, come up with a contingency plan that suits your travel. It might read:
Exercise: Walk the length of every floor in my hotel once a day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator when I don’t have luggage. Do 50 crunches and 25 push ups on my hotel room desk chair before I go to bed.
A Good Night’s Sleep: Buy an eye shade and ear plugs.
Healthy Eating: Pack healthy snacks for the trip, eat a vegetable based meal at least once a day, drink nothing but water after 1 pm.
Practicing Yoga: Do my three favorite poses every morning before I shower.
A lot of times, when we travel, we just self-medicate and indulge our way through it. I mean, hey, we’re away from home, our routines are off and we don’t have our own kitchen. And, yet, we always return home feeling worse and then we say things like, “I need a vacation from my vacation.” Plan how you will approach caring for yourself before you even travel and that whole cycle shifts.
What you want to do is support yourself in your travels by recognizing that travel can really reveal our vulnerable side but that we can provide that tender side of ourselves some care with some simple solutions that are not all or nothing as long as we are proactive.
Create a checklist for your travel care, too, and check off your actions as you complete.
In addition, when you are planning and enjoying your trip, don’t make decisions that will actually make you feel worse. For example, if red-eyes wear you out for days, don’t take them. It is likely not worth the financial exchange if you aren’t back to you for several days after the trip. Make choices in your travel plans that support you and won’t defeat you.
What are your self-care strategies and solutions? What is on your daily minimum self-care list? On your ideal list? On your travel list?
And I’ll be back tomorrow sharing my minimum and ideal self-care lists and on Wednesday with my own travel self-care plans.