There’s more to self-care than meal planning and bath bombs. Creating a routine that allows you to take time for yourself every day to clear your head, move your body and unplug from professional matters is crucial for stress management and maintaining a work-life balance.
But for legal professionals who work up to 70 hours a week, having a self-care routine can be easier said than done. It can be even more difficult to start one.
Here’s a five-step guide on developing a self-care routine for incredibly busy people (like you).
- Identify your needs
Your body always knows what you need, so start listening to internal cues to create a self-care plan that’s best suited to you. Are you having trouble sleeping? Put your phone away an hour before bed and find a solo activity to do at night to help you unwind. Are you feeling jittery and impatient? Assess and reevaluate your caffeine intake. Are you turning to food as a stress response? Start meal planning and take control of your diet at the start of each week.
If you feel that a self-care routine is crucial but don’t know where to begin, listening to your mind and body is the best place to start.
- Schedule it
You’ve figured out what self-care practices you need, now you just need to figure out when you’re going to do them. Look at your schedule and set aside chunks of time every day that are just for you, and be sure to honor those commitments. If you scheduled an exercise class at 5:30 p.m., don’t agree to help a co-worker who comes to you for last minute advice on a case at 4:56 p.m.
No matter how busy you are, you can make time for self-care if you decide it’s a priority. Whether that means waking up 30 minutes earlier, forgoing scrolling on Facebook or saying “no” to social commitments every now and then, self-care is something you can always make time for.
Trust us: You’ll be happier for it in the long run.
- Set boundaries
Just because you make self-care a priority, that doesn’t mean other people will, too. When you start deliberately taking time for yourself and saying “no” to commitments and requests, you might experience resistance from those around you. This can be emotionally challenging, especially in a profession full of “yes” people.
If you’re faced with this push-back, stay strong. Be assertive about your needs and boundaries and don’t let time for yourself go by the wayside.
- Focus on quality, not quantity
Developing regular, consistent self-care routines is the best way to see results from the process. Rather than schedule an activity that will take two hours a few times a month, dedicate 15 minutes of your morning to doing something you love. Go for a walk. Do yoga. Journal. Brew a bougie cup of coffee – anything that will get you started on the right foot every morning and have you feeling less stressed every night.
Prioritizing time for self-care in a busy work week is a worthwhile challenge. After all, you can’t serve others unless you serve yourself first.
— Maura Mazurowski
Read the Virginia Lawyers Wellness blog HERE