As busy women, we usually take care of family, job, and community first. There are never enough hours in a day with so many obligations and responsibilities, so our own needs always come last. This year, make a commitment to take care of yourself, not just your body, but your mind too. I am starting a series of challenges, one for each month of the year, so you can make a little more time for yourself. Here is the January Self-Care Challenge for Women. Some of these tasks are easy, others will require you to push yourself a bit. Try to expand outside your comfort zone a bit, because each month the tasks will become more challenging. Please keep in mind that the challenges are meant to add a sense of calm and peace into your life, with an emphasis on creating joy within yourself.
January Self Care Challenge for Women
If you are like most people, you have a crazy busy life, with little time for yourself. Many people, especially caregivers, often put the needs of others before themselves, but studies have found that those who take the time to care for their own bodies and minds are happier and healthier.
Do you ever allow yourself any “me” time? “Me” time is a commodity most people don’t think they have time to indulge in, yet even ten minutes a day can make a big difference. Ten minutes is not too much to ask, is it? It’s beneficial for you and everyone around you because the happier you are, the happier those around you will be too. Trust me.
My Self-Care Story
I have always been an ambitious person and that drive for excellence was both an advantage and a detriment for me. That drive got me where I am now with a family I love, a career I enjoy, and a wonderful group of friends. The problem with such ambition is that being the best took precedent to everything else, even the people I was supposed to be the best for. I wanted to be the best at my job, the best wife, the best mother, the best friend, the best hostess, but I was never the best “me”. I had to have the perfect house, the perfect life, the perfect family, but if I am being completely honest, nothing was perfect…and it took me a long time to realize that this was okay. I was full of anxiety all the time, the need for perfection always just beyond my grasp. I barely got five hours of sleep a night, always on the go, always with another task to finish. My health suffered, I had depression, I felt like a failure. Unfortunately, my need for excellence extended to others, so I had ridiculously high ideals for my husband and son, many times ridiculous and unattainable. I was always stressed and so was my family.
I know where it came from. My parents were loving but strict, with high expectations for my siblings and me —it was part of our DNA. They were kind and caring, but life was stressful growing up. I should have known better with my own family, but I didn’t. Talk about sweating the small stuff…I was drowning in the insignificant! When my son admitted that he disliked family parties and holiday get-togethers because I made things so stressful, I knew something had to change and that something was me. I did not want my son to go away to college and dread coming home, so I knew I had to change my behavior.
Perhaps because I am older and wiser, I am able to see things differently now, but I wish I had made those realizations earlier. I put my family through a lot and I am thankful they were so forgiving. My goal now is not perfection, but peace, Joy, not judgment. Love and laughter, not demands. I truly love my family and they love me, so I was able to work through my many issues, or rather, I am a work in progress. My focus now is on my family and our precious time together, not whether my house is spotless, meals are perfect, or I cross everything off a never-ending checklist, especially during the holidays. I do what I can when I can, but my family’s happiness comes first to me.
During this process of self-discovery, I came to the
mind-blowing mind-numbing realization that the key to having a happy family was taking better care of myself. What is that saying about “happy wife, happy life”? It’s so true! When I get enough sleep, have more realistic expectations of myself and others, and create downtime to recharge my mental batteries, I am a happier, healthier person and when I am happier, they are happier. I had to learn to chill out, stop taking myself so seriously, and stop demanding perfection from myself and those around me. I still have a busy life, I still burn the candle at both ends, and because I am a bit of a control freak, I have to knowingly schedule a time for myself for self-care to keep myself in check. Although I have already done many of the things on this challenge, it will help me as much as it helps you!
The following is the January Self Care Challenge for Women, with a list of things you to can do to create a little bit of “me” time for yourself. Some tasks take only a few minutes and some take a bit longer, but you can work through each task at your own pace. Here is a pdf version of the challenge so you can print it out and mark off the challenges as you complete them.
Also, if you a midlife woman, born 1980 or before, I have a Facebook group called Healthy Midlife Living, where we will talk about and work through the tasks together. If you are looking for a group of women to do this self-care challenge for women with, please click here, agree to the rules, and join our group. We also talk about healthy living and have a virtual walking club in the group, so I think you will get a lot out of it!
Each month, I will feature a new challenge, so be sure to come back at the beginning of the month. The challenges will become increasingly more adventurous. You can also sign up for our newsletter (bottom of this page) to receive each monthly challenge.
Don’t forget, the ultimate goal of these challenges is for you to have fun, learn more about yourself, decrease your stress, and gain self-confidence, but you can skip any that make you uncomfortable. Let’s get started!
- Learn A New Language or Skill: Have you ever wanted to learn a new language or master a skill? Perhaps you always wanted to learn to play the piano, try Indian cooking, or take a photography class. Now is the time! Figure out what you want to do and make a commitment in yourself to start the process. If you do not have the finances, start small or borrow books from the public library.
- Take A Break From Technology: Take a few hours off your phone, computer, tv.
- Buy Yourself Some Flowers: Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers at least once this month. Push out of your mind that it is a frivolous thing to do.
- Have A Meal With A Friend: Having coffee, lunch, or dinner with a friend is a great way to re-connect with a friend. This time, listen as much as you talk. It’s harder than you think!
- Read A Book: Check out the bestseller list and find a new book to read. Especially helpful for #2 and #16
- Declutter A Room: Sometimes cleaning out all clutter can be overwhelming, so take it a step at at time and just do one room this month. Go through old boxes and collectibles that bring back memories and clean out anything that does not invoke a happy response.
- Sleep At Least Eight Hours A Night Two Days A Week: This one is hard for me because I like to be awake to get more things done, but getting enough sleep is vital to better mental and physical health. Go to bed early and/or sleeping in at least twice a week.
- Forgive Someone Else & Forgive Yourself: Sometimes it can be hard to forgive those who have hurt you, but we are all human, and sometimes people make mistakes. Forgive someone for a wrong that caused you pain. You don’t have to forget, especially if that mistake was malicious, but allow yourself the chance to move on and not let that hurt and anger influence other decisions you make in your life. Forgiveness is a power many people forget how to use but it is essential to love yourself more. Then, forgive yourself for something you have done that was hurtful to you and/or others. You are older and wiser now and whatever that wrong was, it is in the past. Forgive yourself, let it go, and be at peace. Note: When you forgive the other person, you do not have to tell them, you can keep it yourself. This is all about you.
- Buy Yourself A Cup of Coffee or Tea: While out and about doing errands, take ten minutes to buy yourself a latté or cup of tea from your favorite coffee shop. Then, sit there for five minutes and savor it before hurrying on to your day.
- Write Down Three Near Goals For This Year: When I say goals, I do not mean small goals like cleaning out your shoe closet. I mean earth-shaking “there is no way in hell I can do that” goals. Think outside the box and dream big. A voice in your head will tell you to stop thinking so silly but ignore that voice and do it.
- Take A 20-Minute Walk: Walking is one of my favorite ways to spend time with my own thoughts without distractions. Take the time to get outdoors (or on a treadmill inside) for 20 minutes at least twice a week.
- Reach Out: Reach out and call someone you have not had the time to talk to in a long time. Make the time.
- Take a Photo: Take at least five photos of someone you love this month. It does not have to be the same person, it can be five different people, but take those photos and treasure them. Yes, you can include your dog or cat, but make sure at least two of the photos are of humans.
- When You Are Angry, Take A Breath: Anger is a normal response to a frustrating situation, but what you do with that anger that can make a big difference. I’m a yeller, but I’ve learned over the years that yelling accomplishes nothing but hurt. It feels good in the moment to get my feelings of frustration out, but then I feel like crap because I usually say something I don’t mean. In the end, I hurt someone I love and I also hurt myself by allowing myself to become so angry and bitter. Next time this happens to you, try to let it go, or at least make a conscious effort to remove yourself from the situation so you can calm down. If you cannot remove yourself, count to twenty (ten is not enough time), think about what you are going to say (but don’t say it out loud) and ask yourself if it is worth hurting yourself and the other person by saying it. It usually is not. I am not saying that you should walk away from every battle–you have the right to express yourself and you have a right to have an opinion, but remember that anger fosters resentment.
- Do Something Creative: Do you like to dance or paint? Plan a day to get those creative juices flowing and revel in your favorite hobby. Yes, all day!
- Have a Hygge Day; Are you familiar with the term hygge? It is a Danish term meaning to have a conscious feeling of coziness. Ultimate coziness. You can experience the ritual of hygge alone or with friends. It is usually experienced in the winter, to ward off boredom or melancholy, when days are dark and cold. Hygge can be as simple as making a cup of tea, lighting a candle, and curling up by a roaring fire with a good book or it can mean inviting 3-4 close friends to a simple fondue dinner with cold beers. Learn what hygge is and how you can fully experience it this winter.
- Tell Someone You Are Grateful For Them: Oftentimes we go about our busy day without realizing how unique and special the people around us are. You know, the little things. The person who goes above and beyond and knows your drink order by heart. The man who always bags your groceries with a smile. The teacher who takes the time to hug your child when they are having a bad day. Learn to recognize the small moments of extraordinary in your life and thank the people who make those moments possible.
- Drink At Least 64 Ounces of Water: Take care of your body and drink more water. You may pee more but your body will thank you later.
- Hug At Least Five People Today: People do not hug enough. It’s true! I truly believe that if people received more hugs, they would be happier people and science proves it. When you greet people (if you know them well enough to not overstep any boundaries) ask them for a hug. It may benefit them as much as it benefits you.
- Play Cards or A Game: Plan a night to get together with friends or family and play cards or a board game. A game like Cranium, Pictionary, or Charades is guaranteed to bring on plenty of laughter and we all know that laughter is good for the soul.
- Do An Act of Kindness: Do a random act of kindness for someone without expecting gratitude, recognition, or even a thank you.
- Watch A Sunrise or Sunset: Get up early and catch the brilliance of the sunrise or finish the day with a few moments of peaceful solitude while you enjoy the vivid colors of the waning sun. Revel in the beauty of our universe.
- Cook A Dish: Look through an unfamiliar recipe book and pick a new recipe to try, then the dish for yourself or someone you love.
- Ask Someone to Help You: We all need help sometimes. Maybe you need someone to do something small like hanging a picture or something big like help you stop smoking. Ask for help so you don’t have to shoulder the big and small in life alone.
- Be Around Someone Who Makes You Laugh: Do you know someone who faces each day with happiness and joy, with a contagious laugh or smile? Be around them more, take in their joy, and give them some in return so that joy can grow and spread to others. Don’t know anyone like that? Maybe it’s time to find new friends who focus on the positives in life, not the negative. Meetup is a great place to meet people with similar interests such as cooking, dogs, cocktails, etc. Find a tribe to make you laugh.
January Self-Care Challenge for Women Printable PDF Version (Print out to use)