The shine from my week-long unwashed, fresh-from-the-gym hair was painfully apparent as I rolled up to the Dunkin drive-thru on my third on-call case of the day in the middle of a torrential downpour, prompting the employee to ask, “Wow! So it’s coming down out there, huh?”
I didn’t have the gall or energy to quip, “No, it’s just sweat and grease in my hair.” So I replied, “Yup! It is,” before quickly grabbing my coffee and gassing it out of the lot.
Scenarios such as these taught me the value of transforming from a self care procrastinator to a self care planner. It also made me feel like Danny Zuko in this exact moment in Grease…
As a procrastinator, I usually work better under pressure–at least until I let the pressure boil over like a poorly attended kitchen pot. Being highly motivated and goal-oriented, I bite off more than I can chew, so I know the needs of high-achieving, super-busy moms!
When I started Circling the Sandbox, I wanted to provide a space of entertainment, education, and connection for moms in helping professions. It was also my intention to help lighten the load since I am well aware of the unrealistic expectations placed on the shoulders of moms working outside the home in helping professions.
That’s why I’ve made a 30-Day self-care template that is free to anyone who signs up with their email. It’s as simple as confirming your information, and you’ll get a printer-friendly calendar with self-care activities done for you.
You can find a self care planner for sale online, but when I’m super busy, I barely have time to think about a single activity, let alone enough for an entire week or month.
There are also many self-care-focused 30-day challenges available for free online. However, I always lose momentum with these, floundering about what to do and when. I am very visual, so I benefit from self-care activities with a pleasing aesthetic.
I’d also like to establish calendars every month for those on my email list in the future. Hopefully, the 30-Day Self-Care Challenge I’ve developed will convert you from a procrastinator to self care planner!
While a premade calendar can help immensely, what else can shift a procrastinator to a self care planner?
A series of dos and don’ts from yours truly! As someone well-versed in unrealistic professional expectations and burnout, I’ve identified where I went wrong and how to change a series of last-minute self-care skirmishes into a complete self-care plan!
This list is not exhaustive, but are some takeaways I would communicate to a past version of myself who struggled with shifting my mindset from procrastinator to self care planner!
1. Prioritize yourself & your self-care
Empathetic and compassionate people drawn to caring for others struggle with this concept. It may be more difficult for moms in helping professions to commit to this as we adopt caretaking roles in our personal and professional lives.
2. Reduce stressful factors within your control
Stress-contributing factors vary, and the ability to alter them differs from one person to another. For example, reducing stress may mean starting a job hunt to leave a toxic work environment. While not everyone can get up and stroll out at the drop of a hat, everyone can choose to find employment that doesn’t sacrifice mental well-being.
3. Allow progress over perfection
Nothing would ever get done if we all waited for perfection to begin. Likewise, there is no need to wait for a career shift, a new relationship, or a new house to start valuing yourself and your needs.
4. Utilize a self-care template/self care planner
There are many premade self-care templates and planners to assist with ideas. As I mentioned earlier, I developed a self-care calendar for January 2023 (with more to come) that is available for download upon signing up for my email list. There are also many online resources if you don’t have time to develop an entire plan.
5. Accept help
Easier said than done! Speaking from experience as a highly independent person, even acknowledging I need help, is torturous. But why not allow the kind of help for yourself that you offer to others? I have yet to perfect this, but it’s a work in progress (much like the blog, ha)!
Now for the don’ts!
1. Set unrealistic goals
This realization was a humbling discovery I made while doing a change project for myself in a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) class. Who would’ve thought it would be difficult, if not impossible, to reduce negative thought patterns prompted by role stress from getting a Master’s degree while working full-time without your toddler in daycare and launching a blog? People do that every day and remain sane, right? NOPE! Please don’t do it. Just don’t.
Keep your daily life and self-care goals reasonable. My tried true test of this is if a friend told me the goal, would I see it as a positive addition or something that could cause distress? Taking that viewpoint has helped me when determining my own goals and boundaries.
2. Forget to assess barriers
As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. While overgeneralized, the message has merit. Ignoring limitations, both internal and external can continue the procrastinating cycle that prohibits sustainable change. Accounting for barriers also means having a healthy dose of self-awareness, which can significantly impact the implementation of new habits.
For example, I don’t like going to the gym after dark. I know this about myself. To set myself up for success in getting to the gym early, I lay out my gym clothes the night before. It seems like a small step, but it encourages me not to hit the snooze button on my alarm each morning.
3. Believe self-care is something you earn
As discussed in my post about Self-Care Sundays, burnout culture demands productivity and earning everything. However, because our relationship with work is so unhealthy, it can be challenging to switch off that ideology in our personal lives. But self-care is not something to be earned. It is as essential to well-being as quitting smoking or committing to a regular exercise routine.
4. View delaying self-care as delayed gratification
Putting off self-care is different from delaying gratification to reach larger goals. As a high achiever and previous over-worker, I dangerously danced the line between these two concepts and viewed my life’s progress in terms of benchmarks. I always thought I would start doing more things I enjoyed when I had an “X” amount of money in the bank, owned an “X” amount of property, or reached some arbitrary career level I hadn’t even fully envisioned.
And while I achieved a lot in short periods, I wish I had stopped to appreciate the transitional points of life a bit more. I am even more aware of how fast time goes by now that I have a toddler. The first year of a baby’s life goes by at lightning speed!
5. Be hard on yourself
Everyone makes mistakes, lacks foresight, or fails at some point. The good news is the story doesn’t end there. Every misstep can be a valuable lesson, even if, in the thick of it, it’s hard to see its value.
My procrastinator side would often cause ruminating thoughts like, “Why didn’t I just take the extra few minutes I had to nap” or “If I’d planned my day better, I would’ve made it to the gym in the morning.”
These harsh thoughts don’t help and can perpetuate unwanted behaviors and habits. Words influence thoughts, which influence behavior.
Abracadabra! You now have all the dos and donts of how to shift your mindset from procrastinator to self care planner! What are some resources you utilize for self-care planning? Drop a comment below or send me an email!