So, maybe we’ve had a tricky year, if not down right rough. But summertime’s here! Vacation. Beach and picnic weather. Hot dogs, hamburgers, salmon, and asparagus on the barbeque grill. Cold drinks in the Igloo. No work, no talk of work, and no thought of work for three whole months. SCREECH!! WAKE UP!!

Next thing you know, you’ll be thinking about going away to Camp Wanna-layout for three months! I could be wrong, and message me if am. But, chances are, as solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, and small business leaders, we rarely stop working for large blocks of time, which includes thinking about work.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t be kinder and gentler to ourselves. And not just for the summer. But now is as good a time as any, as many businesses are relaunching, reopening, reawakening to a new season, I challenge you to achieve balance. And one key component of balance is self-care.

Why does self-care make me feel guilty?

Self-care is confused by some for “self-ish“. Yet, we seem to be okay with self-awareness, self-regulation, self-made, self-taught, and “self-ies“. Why do I often give myself a little pushback at the mention of self-care. Is it because, if you’re such a boss, you shouldn’t need self-care? Is it because anything that doesn’t have a direct link to income or productivity is a waste of my valuable time?

But maybe I’m confusing self-care for self-indulgence, which, I would argue, in small doses is a good thing. It’s just a fancy word for treating yourself. But self-care should not be that rare. I said it. Print it. Put it on a T-Shirt. Self-care should be a regimen, a routine, a reservation on your calendar. Self-care is “me-time”, time for decompressing and self-reflection (another self- no one seems to have a problem with). It’s a time for re-energizing and refueling.

It’s a necessity, not a luxury. How you do it may be luxurious, depending on where you are financially. But taking time out to feed and nurture yourself is not a luxury. It’s an imperative. And it’s totally affordable.

What are some examples of self-care?

Google it. I did. I asked Ms. Google, “What constitutes self-care?” And she came back with over 4 million results. Here are some of my favorites:

You can read the complete list where these were quoted in an article on the website appropriately titled “Habits for Wellbeing.” The article goes on to list the 8 areas of self-care that the wellbeing website covers: physical, psychological, emotional, social, financial, spiritual, environmental, and professional. It seems like a lot. But the idea isn’t to add lots of activities to your to-do list. Rather, find ways to integrate self-care into your daily activities.

Why is self-care important?

In case you’re still asking this question, take a look at some of those definitions I listed. Did you pick up on phrases like, “maintenance of well-being”, “reduce stress”, “enhance our well-being and personal health”, and “promote human development”? Its beyond just getting up every morning, cleaning up, dressing and feeding yourself.

So, I challenge you this summer to lean into the concept of self-care. Once in awhile, instead of a quick shower, what about a bath, with a book, and a candle on the side. Plan your next road trip a little differently. Rather than leaving late and speeding past that bubbling brook, or glancing quickly at that field of sunflowers, leave early enough to stop for a few minutes and take it all in. The sounds, the scents, the colors, patterns of a whole little ecosystem.

One of my clients, filmmaker Lukas Behnken is founder and creative producer of Sterling Light Productions. Wherever he’s working, he stops when he sees a stream or river. He creates art in the water from the rocks nearby or in the river. Taking in his surroundings, and considering his impact and footprint there, he is able to think both big and small thoughts. But for just those few minutes, he’s unplugged from his global company and the complexity and stress it can generate. A little time with nature works for him. Watch Lukas build his river rock art on YouTube.

Accept the Challenge: Make This a Self-Care Summer

This summer I challenge you. Heck, I challenge myself. Let’s integrate the practice of self-care into our daily routines, for our well-being’s sake. Go beyond getting up, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and driving safely. Yes, those are aspects of self-care, too.

But what about this: Get up one hour early to exercise and/or read your favorite devotional or inspirational book. Dress in something that makes you smile, whether it’s the whole outfit, an accent piece, or a piece of jewelry. Eat a healthy breakfast. Then leave early to take a more scenic route, and listen to an inspiring audio book on the way to work.

But DON’T force fit all of these suggestions into your daily commute all at once. Do one or two. Again, don’t stress yourself out trying to de-stress yourself.

You’re thinking, “Self-care is a piece of cake.” But is it? My mom plays this super-annoying game on her phone where she merges creatures together to make bigger creatures. And it rings bells and plays mind-numbing background music. She’s definitely unplugged from work. But is it self–care? Not really. She gets all guilted up about it because she plays longer than she intended. And she yells and screams at the screen all the time. She’s just trading one stressor for another.

Final Thoughts: Challenges Ain’t Meant to Be Easy

My challenge is not intended to simply stop working. No. Do something that helps you look back, identify what’s next, do better, or be better. Remember our definitions? Do something that helps you develop, as an individual. And I’d love to hear back from you on how you’re integrating self-care into your lives. (Use the comment box below.)

At CSD Marketing and Consulting, we support our clients becoming their best selves. While we do offer business and integrative life coaching (go to the home page and request a consultation), that’s really CSD-care more than self-care. Next week’s blog will introduce areas where we can help you and your business to thrive.

To get you going on your SELF-care regimen, how about lighting a fragrant candle from Unwind Home and Body, soaking in fragrant bubbles exploding from a bath bomb provided by Jay’s Body Café, and reading this month’s Summer BizBook Club selection, Shonda Rimes’ Year of Yes–How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person[To purchase the book on Amazon, click here. Also available as eBook and audio book.] Or stream Mully on Prime Video, an inspiring and uplifting documentary from Sterling Light Productions about overcoming adversity and paying forward.

And you can do all that, right after you do a little exercise to this cover of “Cruel Summer“, courtesy of Ace of Base.