I discovered the importance of self-care the hard way.

I was busy getting ready for a product launch. I was working 15-hour days, and even though I was enjoying myself, I wasn’t too surprised to have the following dream:

I’m driving and my gas tank is on empty.

I have two options:

1) I can get gas now, and risk being late for my destination, or

2) I can go to my meeting and get gas later, but I risk running out of gas and being stranded in a seedy neighborhood.

I decide to get gas and risk being late.

When I woke, I realized my dream was telling me to refuel – now.

But I was really busy and I didn’t have time to take a week long vacation.

I know I’m not the only one with this problem …

There are typically three scenarios in which we forget to care for our own needs:

1) When there is a deadline and a lot of work to be done

2) When there is perceived external “pressure” to participate in an activity or accept an invitation

3) When others need our help

But ignoring the need to refuel is a dangerous game. So how do we care for our needs consistently?

3 Ways to Create a Self-Care Practice

Know What Helps You Recharge

Make three lists of activities that help you recharge. (“Activities” can include resting.)

List One: Bare Essentials

The first is a “bare minimums” list with little things you can do throughout the day to help you maintain peace of mind, especially when you are so busy you barely have time to breathe.

This list might include:

  1. Getting enough sleep
  2. Drinking water
  3. Eating well
  4. Listening to calming music
  5. Burning a candle to create sacred space
  6. Having flowers on your desk
  7. Feeling connected to a higher purpose
  8. Praying for guidance
  9. Singing while working
  10. Setting an intention for all projects and interactions go smoothly

List Two: Time for Yourself

The second list consists of activities that require more time, but not a major commitment. Sometimes 5 minutes here or there is enough. This could be:

  1. Reading an engrossing novel
  2. Sitting in a hot tub
  3. Daily walks and/or exercise
  4. Journaling
  5. Gardening
  6. Meditating
  7. Watching a movie
  8. Being alone and resting
  9. Laughing with friends
  10. Going out to dinner
  11. Creating art

List Three: Time Away

The third list contains activities that require planning or a bigger commitment, like going on vacation. You might only do this once a year, but it can have a lasting impact on your wellbeing.

  1. Weekend getaway to a spa
  2. Camping in the mountains
  3. Swimming in the ocean or a local pool
  4. Hiking in the woods
  5. Visiting family and friends
  6. Exploring new places


Integrating these 3 levels of practices into your life can help you maintain wellbeing. You won’t always be able to take off for the weekend, but you need to find time to do little things like sip tea or drink a glass of water. Even though they seem inconsequential, these little things can add up to a healthier, happier you.