Many of us are so invested in work or academics that we sometimes forget to take care of ourselves. I’ve heard from so many people who say they feel like they’re on “auto-pilot” mode. They’re so busy that they forget to take a break and enjoy what’s happening in the present moment. Self-care can be a great way to break this cycle. Although there are various ways to practice self-care techniques throughout a busy work week, for many, the weekend is the best time to unwind.

What is Self-Care?

The word “unwind” is one way of understanding the term, but “self-care” is really whatever you want it to be. What self-care means for one person, might mean something different for others. So the important first step to understanding this term is to think about what you can do to take care of yourself. What works for you? 

Some people meditate, read, or exercise; others might write, go to therapy, or take a walk in the park. Whatever it is that you enjoy doing to practice self-care, try doing it fully. Be present during those moments. If you’re walking in the park, simply let yourself walk and enjoy your surroundings. If you’re reading, just focus on the act of reading, and turn off the television or anything else that might be distracting. 

Be mindful of your self-care technique so you can properly recharge your battery, which gets you through the week. Sometimes we forget how to take care of ourselves or what we truly enjoy doing. If that sounds like you, here are some tips to get started:

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Tip 1. Make a Commitment to Therapy.

This is the first tip because it’s one of the best ways of discovering how to take care of yourself while doing it at the same time. By going to therapy, you can not only express bottled-up emotions but also explore and expand your mind to reach a better understanding of yourself and your needs and wants. 

For those struggling to find time to go to therapy during the week, try looking for therapy on weekends. Options can be more limited, but there are plenty of therapists who work on weekends. 

If you notice you tend to take work home with you, try setting realistic boundaries to help you maximize your downtime on the weekends.

Tip 2. Meditate to Relieve Stress.

Although it might feel challenging at first, or may not be for everyone, meditation is a great way to relax the mind and bring your attention to the present moment. It helps you pause the rapid thoughts going through your brain and just breathe. 

Meditation is also a moment for you to raise your awareness about thoughts or feelings you didn’t know were there. Although this might sound unpleasant, it’s the first step in not judging thoughts or feelings and instead learning to accept them. 

I suggest first practicing meditation at home, or wherever else is comfortable, until you get a good grasp on it. Use apps like Headspace or Calm if you need some guidance. There are also many therapists who offer support and guidance with mindful meditation. With enough practice, this can be done during small breaks at work or even on the subway.

It’s difficult for many people to forget about work and be present with other aspects of life.
self-care

Tip 3. Leave Work at Work and Welcome the Weekend.

Possibly one of the most difficult things for many people to do during off-hours is forget about work and be present with other aspects of life. If you notice you tend to take work home with you, try setting realistic boundaries to help you maximize your downtime on the weekends. For example, “I will not do any more work after 5pm.” 

Keep in mind that it’s impossible to be perfect human beings! Sometimes we need more time to do things. Be fair and respectful to yourself and know your limits. 

Your Turn: How do you define self-care? I’d love to know if you’ve found success in disconnecting from work and responsibilities in the name of self-care over the weekends. Share your tips in the comments below.

A version of this post originally appeared on our sister site, NYC Therapy + Wellness.

Lucas Saiter

Lucas Saiter is a Licensed Psychotherapist at Clarity Therapy. He specializes in LGBTQIA+ Affirmative Therapy and helps individuals who are struggling with intimacy and relationship issues, coming out, self-esteem and identity concerns.

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