“How nice! On vacation I’m going to rest, relax and enjoy doing everything I liked and didn’t have time for during the year. I’m going to read, listen to music, spend time with friends and family. I’m going to enjoy it and sleep all the hours I couldn’t…!”

How many times have you heard this speech? Or even how many times have you used it in your day-to-day life? Unfortunately, I have some bad news for you. Everything was right with this little speech, except that it started with “On vacation I’m going to…”!

Dedicating time to activities that give us pleasure, experiencing moments of tranquility and relaxation, sleeping enough hours to feel good and/or keeping in touch with the important people in our lives are tasks that only seem to exist when we’re on vacation. BUT this should always be the case. Taking care of ourselves is not a reward for working hard!

Self-care shouldn’t just happen on vacation… We should look at it as a daily habit.

Taking care of ourselves can’t and shouldn’t only be done when we’re on vacation. We should take care of ourselves every day. We should look for activities that help maintain or improve our well-being and mental health.

Sometimes thinking about things we like to do can be difficult. I challenge you! Take a minute out of your day and think about activities that give you pleasure and help you “switch off autopilot” from the hustle and bustle of life.

Remember that what is relaxing and pleasurable for you may not be for someone else. And that’s okay! We’re all different, so our choices and needs will be different. The most important thing is to set aside time to do what makes you feel good and relaxed. That way, we’re taking care of ourselves.

I’m sure you’re thinking right now that you’d like to rest, take a morning for yourself or simply have 30 minutes to go for a walk by the sea. But it seems that your family and/or professional life is holding you back, isn’t it?

I understand, it’s normal. Sometimes we feel stressed, worried or overwhelmed and we rarely take time out for self-care. Ironic, isn’t it? We’re the first to tell our coworkers that they look really tired and should take a day off, and we do the opposite! We’ve sacrificed the time to look after ourselves… The truth is that it’s in these moments that we should slow down and listen to our needs. It’s self-care that will help us manage and balance the demands of more challenging times. Ohh, and remember that self-care is not synonymous with being alone. We can choose to share that moment with other people!

“Oh Inês, what’s the ideal amount of time to devote to looking after myself?” you ask.

Well, I’d love to be able to answer that question, but there’s no ideal number. It will vary according to your needs. There will be times when 10 minutes will be enough to slow down and calm down, but at other times you’ll need more time to rest and feel good.

Now, before I finish, I’d just like to ask you: Are you taking good care of yourself? Think about the things you enjoy doing and whether you need to reflect on your self-care.

Make a list of things that make you happy, talk about how you feel with your friends or family, invest in your relationships, make healthy choices, find a balance between your professional and personal life and/or if necessary, seek help. I challenge you to choose one self-care behavior to do today! Even if it’s just for five minutes. Here are some examples:

How do I take care of myself in my personal life?

  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Exercise
  • Dedicate time regularly to activities that give you pleasure (e.g. listening to music, painting, drawing, watching a series, …)

How do I take care of myself in relationships?

  • Share your thoughts and feelings frequently with family or friends
  • Accept or ask for help whenever you feel the need
  • Keep in touch with the important people in your life

How do I take care of myself at work?

  • Include breaks in your work schedule
  • Respect your limits
  • Have a pleasant and organized work environment
  • Make realistic and objective to-do lists!

Shall we start practicing self-care? Let’s start taking more care of ourselves?

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