Small and realistic ways to take care of yourself as a busy lady

How many times have you read an article on self-care that sounded great, but none of the tips were things you could realistically incorporate into your life? This one is different. Let’s talk about self-care in a realistic way …

The last year did not leave a lot of time for taking care of yourself, especially if you’re a mom and have had kids at home. Or even if you don’t have kids, but you have been swamped with work, life and pandemic-related stress. And while I know some people wear the “always-busy-don’t-sleep-do-it-all” title as a badge of honor, I’m here to tell you that it’s not. You know what is a badge of honor? Living a healthy, fulfilled and well-rounded life that leaves you energized and feeling good. And it’s not as easy to do as it sounds, certainly if you’re a caretaker.

I’m not going to suggest that you wake up at 5 a.m. to do a 90-minute sunrise yoga session in a matching sports-bra-and-leggings combo before making cucumber juice from scratch. That’s not realistic to me at all, and not necessary either. What you need are little things each day, that can help to fill your tank. That’s what we’re talking about here …

Small and realistic ways to take care of yourself as a busy lady

Small and realistic ways to take care of yourself as a busy lady by A Lady Goes West

Make and keep your own personal health and wellness appointments.

If you are the person who makes the doctor and dental appointments for your family, I hope you are making those appointments for yourself too. When was the last time you had a physical? Have you had your teeth cleaned in the last year? Are you due for a visit to the OB-GYN? Do you have any health issues that you think need medical attention but you’ve been putting it off? I’d change that.

Find a doctor, make your appointment, ask your partner or someone else to watch your kids, or bring them with you and keep them occupied by technology — whatever you have to do. And if you don’t have anyone to take care of, but you’ve been avoiding these appointments, here’s your little push to get them made now.

I have this top of mind, because now that we’re in Charlotte, I had to go through the process of finding all new health-care professionals for us all. I used that opportunity to get a physical, blood test, dental exam and I even had my annual women’s visit too. If I had more time, I’d love to go back to acupuncture regularly or even try going to a holistic chiropractor. While I haven’t fit those in yet, they are on my list, because I know that caring for myself and seeking professional assistance with caring for myself is time well spent.

That’s why, I encourage you to put yourself on the top of your list by getting all of your health and wellness appointments on the books soon.

Small ways to take care of yourself by A Lady Goes West

Take the easy route whenever you can with food, as long as it’s healthy and you can afford it.

Food is a worthy expense. Let me say that again. Food is a worthy expense.

I am a bargain shopper through and through, but I do not pinch my pennies with food, because it’s so important. And here’s the deal, there are some amazing and healthy options out there that take away a ton of the leg work. For instance, Sakara Life, Model Meals, Splendid Spoon, Daily Harvest, Urban Remedy, to name a few, which have pre-made healthy meals you can eat right away or heat up and eat — yessss.

If you like to be in the kitchen and cook things from scratch as your therapy, go for it. That is not something I want to do. And I am not ashamed to say that I do not really cook anything from scratch, outside of eggs. I eat healthy and balanced meals for every meal most days, mostly prepared at home, but I take the easy route. I have no problem buying mixtures of frozen veggies and grains that have minimal ingredients and heating them up when it’s time to eat. I have no problem buying pre-cut and washed fresh produce, because it saves me time. I have no problem buying pre-packaged salads, because this is an easier way for me to do things, and that saves me time for other stuff. We also eat a lot of repetitive meals on specific nights, so we’re not always wasting energy on “what should we eat tonight?” 

If you can find an easier way to feed yourself and your family, and you are also nourishing your cells with nutrients and a varied diet, I’d say that is taking care of yourself. Think about what you could do in your cooking/shopping routine to save you some time and energy. I’m sure there’s something, so this is your friendly reminder to seek that change out and make it.

Do 15 minutes of something you enjoy every single day.

It’s possible to find 15 minutes in your day. I know it is. This is the time where you can read for pleasure, go for a solo walk, sit in silence, meditate, knit, take a bath or whatever it is that brings you joy. Find those 15 minutes and do them. And make a commitment to carve that time out, knowing that you need it and deserve it.

I think we often approach self-care as a full-on day at the spa regroup. And while that’s nice, it’s not necessary. Little bits of time on a regular basis actually mean a lot more, and that’s where the 15 minutes fit in. If you look at things in small increments, I think they seem a lot more doable.

I would love to take a solo walk every single day with a podcast, but I don’t always fit it in. But I do fit in my workout, my morning meditation and at least a little time reading, snuggling Rudy (a personal favorite feel-good activity) or getting organized, which is something I like to do and make time for. 

You don’t need a glamorous activity for the 15 minutes, it just needs to be for you, and you just need to do it.

Ways to take care of yourself by A Lady Goes West

Put a little effort into your appearance every day.

If I sit and think back to some (okay, MANY) days of staying at home during COVID last year, I was in stained or sweaty workout clothes, with messy air-dried hair, no makeup, no nail polish and no jewelry … just sort’ve existing. While this was fine for the period of time we were in, it didn’t leave me feeling my best, especially when I walked by a mirror. Ick. Because I know that when I pull my hair back neatly, put on some mascara and lipgloss, a ring and some earrings, and a matching workout outfit, I feel so much better. I also like having my nails done, so now that things are back open, I get a dip manicure about every three or four weeks, and looking at my finished and colored nails gives me a little boost. It’s the truth.

I encourage you to get even a little bit ready every single day, and see how it feels. 

I set a goal to wear regular clothes at least once a week this summer, and I’ve been surprising myself and getting dressed maybe three times a week. I also wear makeup most days now too, and I always have on some earrings, a necklace and some rings. I wear this necklace 24/7, so that helps, but the other pieces of jewelry, I swap out.

Once again, this is a TINY thing, but if you tell yourself you are worth fixing up even a bit, you will feel more taken care of. Trust me.

And if you’re someone who hasn’t bought anything new for yourself in a long time or you’re someone who is trying to fit into clothes that don’t fit, let’s change that right now. Take 10 minutes to order yourself something new that you see yourself wearing every week and enjoying. Just do it.

Realistic ways to take care of yourself by A Lady Goes West

Find a way to outsource at least one thing a week, especially if you’re a caregiver or a momma.

I know I’ve mentioned this a million times, but we invest in a monthly cleaning service, which means neither Dave or I have to spend the weekends doing deep cleaning — the once a month works for us, and I have no problem tidying and doing all the other things throughout the weeks. It feels good to know I do NOT have to deep clean. That’s taking care of me. I also utilize gym daycare to watch Brady, I have him back in preschool for four mornings a week in the fall, and I’m in the process of finding a couple of good babysitters to call on.

Now that we are moving into a safer position with COVID, I would highly encourage caretakers to find a way to outsource something. Could you hire someone to pick up your kids even once a week so you can get in a special yoga class? Could you trade with a neighbor to watch the kids in the afternoon once a week so you can have some free time?

Taking care of yourself regularly means finding little moments and little things, and this could require engaging the help of others. This isn’t a big sweeping overhaul of your life, but it’s a small adjustment.

Just move. Even a little goes a long way. And make it fun.

When was the last time you put some music on and danced in your house alone? I do this probably three or four times a week. It just feels good, and that’s what this list of taking care of yourself is all about. It’s not about being productive, it’s not about pleasing others, it’s about pleasing yourself.

I have no problem fitting in my workouts now that I’m back to teaching at the gym and making use of kid care, so I have an upper hand here, and I am grateful for that. But when I had no gym kid care for more than a year, I still made movement priority. I did a lot of walking, my workouts were 30 minutes or so only, but I fit them in the afternoon or whenever I could have Dave watch Brady. I didn’t always love the time that I had available, but I knew that it was for me, and I took it. Movement fills me up. And even if I just do a little something, like roll around on my foam roller, I feel a boost of energy, and I feel like I did something good for me.

I’m not saying you have to do an official workout every single day to take care of yourself, but I am saying that movement — formal or informal — is medicine. Find a way to move more in your day, and find a way to do some movement that’s fun too, and that’s a great way to care for you.

Other ways to take care of yourself …

CROWD-SOURCED Real-life moments of self-care from YOU!

I love to hear exactly what you guys are doing in your lives to take care of yourselves. I polled you all on Instagram for some real-life little ways you give yourself some loving on a regular basis, and here’s what you had to say … 

  • “Wake up before my family and drink my coffee in peace.”
  • “Walk my dogs listening to a podcast by myself.”
  • “I take a 15-minute walk with a podcast by myself every morning.”
  • “Waking up one hour before everyone else in the house to drink coffee and watch TV alone.”
  • “Working out is what I need for my mental/physical health.”
  • “I wake up 15 minutes before my kids to do my skincare routine, make my coffee and make my bed.”
  • “I always make time for exercising.”
  • “Even on busy days, I sit down to eat my breakfast and drink my coffee.”
  • “I keep my house tidy, paint my nails every week and wear a little makeup every day.”
  • “I sit outside for 10 minutes during nap-time and enjoy the hot sun, peace and quiet.

Taking care of yourself by A Lady Goes West

Thank you all so much for contributing to this post, and thank you for reading this post. I hope you can take at least a little bit of time to take care of yourself today too. 🙂 

Other posts you may like …

Questions of the day

How can you take care of yourself better today?

What’s one thing you are really good at doing to take care of yourself?

What’s one thing you really need to start doing to take care of yourself?

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  1. These are all great reminders that we should take some time, we deserve it. I agree with your first insta comment. If possible, I love drinking my first cup of coffee alone. I’ll wake up way before the kids to do it. I need to do better at taking care of myself though. Slow down, take some time for me, it will keep me more energized and happier. I just need to plan it like an appointment so hopefully I don’t cancel it lol. I have a good recommendation for an acupuncturist if you need one. 🙂

    1. Hi Joanna! I may take you up on the acupuncturist, because I’d love to go back — I went for like three years straight and it truly healed me and was such a treat. That’s so nice you wake up before your kids to get your day going in peace — I highly approve and agree with that choice. Have a wonderful day, lady! 🙂

  2. Like you, I’ve often looked back about where I was during summer 2020 and YIKES. Now, I am in such a better space mentally, down 40 lbs due to working out again and back into my normal routine of getting my nails/hair done. I think we each are going to go through this at our own pace and that’s ok. Love this post!!!

    1. Hi Deepa! We were just trying to make it through last year, and I’m glad we made it. Props to you for working out again and taking care of yourself with some pampering — you deserve it. Thank you for reading and for saying hi, Deepa! 🙂 xoxox

  3. Hey Ashley, what a great post!

    I definitely relate HARD to not taking much care with my appearance last year, and I’ve actually found it a struggle to get back to styling my hair etc now that there is more social interaction, however I always feel better looking in the mirror on a day I’ve washed my hair, haha!

    Great tips 🙂

    1. Hi Iona! SAMEEEE — I feel like our appearances last year were reflective of how we were feeling — hopeless and blah. Right? ahaha ohhh how things are moving in the right direction for us, I hope. Thanks for reading and saying hi, my friend!

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