I’m really not sure where July went, but August starts in two days, and I've decided I’m going to tackle another month-long challenge. As always, I’m inviting you to join me on a similar challenge, or create something of your own so that you intentionally create a better life throughout the next month.
For the month of August, I’m taking on a 31-day self-care challenge.
It’s early afternoon on July 30th as I’m writing this. When I woke up this morning, this was not the blog post that I had intended to write today. Because I wasn’t super satisfied with my original idea for today's post, I spent my time at the gym this morning bouncing around other post ideas.
I hadn’t even intended to take on another challenge for August. I’m wrapping up my July mindful eating challenge right now and figured I could take it easy for August.
But the idea of a self-care challenge has been floating around in my head a lot recently, and at the gym this morning, I thought, “You know what? I think I need to put more effort into self-care, and that would make a much better blog post than what I’d originally planned,” so here we are.
Self-care has gotten lost in the bustle of life. I still take time daily to exercise and meditate, so I’m okay on that front, but I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t been taking time to relax and enjoy the things that I love to do for their own sake.
This is a pattern that I fall into often. I’m currently working on a lot of long-term projects, as I often am, and I tend to prioritize my future self over my present self. Though there are certainly worse habits to have, I’m letting my future self have all of the fun without taking time in this moment for present Abby.
Self-care looks different for everyone. For some people, the way that I’m going to approach this challenge won’t make any sense. For people, like me, who find it hard to take a break, this will make perfect sense.
For example, if you aren’t typically a healthy eater, then self-care might mean eating a vegetable or two. But because I typically eat pretty clean, self-care sometimes means relaxing my standards a little and indulging in foods that I wouldn’t typically eat.
Another reason that I’m doing this—and specifically why I’m writing this blog post—is that I know if I publicly declare I’m going to do something, I’ll definitely do it.
I’m an Upholder*, and most of the time, I do a pretty decent job of meeting my expectations for myself. Sometimes, though, things lower on the priority list (which unfortunately often includes self-care) get neglected in favor of spending even more time on the items higher on the list. By telling all of you that this is something I’m going to do, I know I’ll hold myself to it. There’s no shame in finding outer accountability when you need it.
I want to. As I’m writing this list of Whys, I’ve already written my daily self-care tasks for the next month that you’ll see later in this post, and I have to say, I’m really excited about it! There were a few that I mentioned to Bennett, and he immediately said he wants to participate in them as well.
This challenge is intended to be more fun than the mindful eating challenge and certainly more fun than waking up at 5 a.m. for a month. I’m sure, as with any change in life, that it will come with some struggles, but I’m really excited to take it on.
Granted, the majority of the things that I’ve chosen for my month of self-care are under the umbrella of “fun self-care” rather than “self-care that isn’t enjoyable but I do it because I have to.” But because I’m already consistent with that kind of self-care, that kind of challenge wouldn’t really apply to my life.
Depending on what your life looks like and how you choose to format your self-care challenge, should you join me, it may be something that you do because you need to, not because you want to.
Unlike the previous challenges where I’ve set out a list of rules to follow for a month, this time I’m making a list ahead of time of one item to do each day of the month. By making this list ahead of time, I can ensure variety while keeping myself focused and fresh each day.
As I touched on already, my brand of self-care for this month relies primarily on taking time for myself to do things that I genuinely enjoy. Many of these things will benefit me in the long-term, but that isn’t their primary intention.
Though I intend to occasionally indulge in some things that I wouldn’t typically do and can be considered unhealthy (like “eat what I want, when I want”), I’ll be going about these things mindfully. This isn’t an excuse to binge eat, just a chance to relax the rules a little. If your self-care is self-destructive, it’s not self-care.
Most of these items are the enjoyable type of self-care, but there are a few that will help me organize my life and move me in the direction I want to go. I chose items for this list that fall in line with my goals.
Depending on your life, your own challenge could look similar to mine or be vastly different. Choose self-care items that suit your life and benefit you.
Anyway, here’s the challenge:
Day 1: Read for an hour
Day 2: Practice piano for an hour
Day 3: Declutter for an hour
Day 4: Spend an hour outside
Day 5: Read for an hour
Day 6: Practice piano for an hour
Day 7: Do yoga for an hour
Day 8: Sprawl out on the floor and listen to music for an hour
Day 9: Read for an hour
Day 10: Practice piano for an hour
Day 11: Meditate for half an hour
Day 12: Spend an hour outside
Day 13: Read for an hour
Day 14: Eat whatever I want, whenever I want
Day 15: Spend an hour outside
Day 16: Create art
Day 17: Read for an hour
Day 18: Practice piano for an hour
Day 19: Spend time journaling, planning, and setting goals
Day 20: Meditate for half an hour
Day 21: Read for an hour
Day 22: Sprawl out on the floor and listen to music for an hour
Day 23: Do yoga for an hour
Day 24: Spend an hour outside
Day 25: Read for an hour
Day 26: Practice piano for an hour
Day 27: Create art
Day 28: Eat whatever I want, whenever I want
Day 29: Read for an hour
Day 30: Do yoga for an hour
Day 31: Do something that’s been on my to do list for way too long
Some Things to Note:
Self-care is going to look different for everyone. As I was writing this list, things like, “sleep in and spend the morning in bed” crossed my mind, but then I realized I don’t actually like doing that.
Wine, Netflix binges, sweet treats—these things make me feel worse. Why would I use them as self-care if they don’t make me feel better, I don’t enjoy them all that much, and they leave me feeling groggy and headachey?
That isn’t to say that you can’t include a Netflix binge or six on your self-care list. If you’ve been working hard and your preferred method of relaxation is Netflix, go for it! As I said with my choice to have “eat what I want” days, indulgences are perfectly fine in mindful moderation.
Choose self-care items that give you what you need, whether that’s regular trips to therapy, the chance to take a much-needed day off, sprawling out on the floor and listening to music, or going to the gym and eating something green. The goal here is to move closer to balance, whatever that means for you.
It’s going to take some serious time-management to fit this stuff into my life. My days are pretty full already. I’m not neglecting these things because I want to but because they’re lower on my list of priorities than the other things that I do regularly.
Part of what I’m doing in this challenge is shifting my priorities. I already know that August is going to be a stressful, jam-packed month for me, but to make it all a little more enjoyable, I’m choosing to prioritize myself.
To make this work, I’ll have to make sure I’m not wasting time on social media, hitting snooze in the morning, or getting distracted when I’m supposed to be working. I’ll also be carefully calendar blocking each day so I can find ways to fit it all in.
This list is a guideline. For both you and me, this is a list of suggestions. If you’re taking on a self-care challenge of your own alongside mine, choose things that work for you.
And for me, I’m not setting out any hard rules like I usually do, aside from intentionally setting aside time every day for myself. If the list says that today I’m supposed to read but I feel I’d be better off taking a nap, then a nap it is. I’m not giving myself a chore, I’m prioritizing myself.
As I mentioned in a recent guest post for Live A Blissful Life, it’s important not to think of self-care as another chore to check off of the to do list. These activities are for you. Appreciate them, embrace them fully, and experience them mindfully, rather than seeing them as just another annoying chore. You’re taking care of yourself and that’s an admirable and important endeavor.