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9 Personal Strategies for Making Time for Self-Care | Dean Pohlman | Better Man Podcast Ep. 045

9 Personal Strategies for Making Time for Self-Care | Dean Pohlman | Better Man Podcast Ep. 045

Our modern way of life results in more stress, less free time, and more mental health problems than any other time in history. That’s one of the many reasons people struggle with making time for self-care. 

But many people also think that self-care is selfish. When you have a million different things pulling you in a million different directions, taking time for self-care seems like it’s a direct attack to your loved ones and career. 

This is a mistake. Not only is self-care selfless, but it also helps you show up better to the important people in your life. Self-care unlocks patience, improves your mood, and helps you better serve your family. 

So, how do you make more time for self-care (especially when your schedule is chaotic)?

Well, in this episode, I reveal my top 9 personal strategies for making time for self-care. You’ll discover why you have more free time than you think, how to use that free time to become a better man, and how focusing on yourself makes you a better servant. 

Listen now.

The Better Man Podcast is an exploration of our health and well-being outside of our physical fitness, exploring and redefining what it means to be better as a man; being the best version of ourselves we can be, while adopting a more comprehensive understanding of our total health and wellness. I hope it inspires you to be better!

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Watch a Clip From Episode 045

[embedyt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZ5pFPGa1Z0[/embedyt]

Episode 045 Highlights

  • Why self-care is not selfish (even if it means you’re around your family less) (2:54) 
  • The “Point B” trap your brain uses to trick you into skimping on your self-care habits (4:48) 
  • The “good is the enemy of great” mindset tweak that unlocks more free time to focus on your self-care routine (5:27) 
  • 4 tips for planning a new self-care routine so you actually stick with it and enjoy the benefits of it (7:44) 
  • How small changes in your self-care routine are more effective long-term than massive changes (and why they make your routine more enjoyable too) (11:38) 
  • Why “dead time” devours your free time, increases your stress, and tanks your mood (and how to swap it with activities that improve your life) (17:32) 
  • How feeling bad about yourself is actually a great stepping stone for making positive change (19:23) 
  • The 4 most deadly words you say to yourself that eliminates your free time (21:39) 
  • Why you don’t need motivation to practice self-care (and how to take action without relying on motivation) (24:24) 
  • The #1 most important factor for your overall wellbeing (Hint: it’s NOT nutrition, exercise, stress management, or even sleep) (27:18)
Episode 045: 9 Personal Strategies for Making Time for Self-Care - Dean Pohlman - Transcript

Hey, guys, it’s Dean. Welcome to the Better Man podcast. Today is a solo episode, and in this, I am going to be answering the question: How do you make time for self care? So I basically asked myself the question What advice would I give to people who are struggling to make time with their fitness or time for their fitness? And what are some things that I want to tell them?

So the following is a combination of specific actions and behaviors that you can use, as well as some mindsets and some information that you can use to help better prepare yourself to be more motivated to help understand the importance of self-care, but also to think about self-care in a different way.

I’m also going to force you to be honest with yourself and to really take an honest look at what you’re doing with your time and really help you hopefully to realize that you probably have more time than you think. Even if you’ve got a totally packed schedule, I want you to look at the the dead time, so to speak.

And then lastly, I’m going to give you some tips that you probably don’t think about when it comes to your overall self-care.

So the way that I’m going to talk about these things, I’m going to I’m talking about this in terms of self-care as a whole. So this includes more than just working out. This includes eating well. This includes taking time to manage your stress. This includes rest. This includes recovery. But I’m most often going to use exercise as the example of what you make time for. But these concepts can be applied to any area of wellness.

So, all right, guys, I think you’re going to really enjoy this. I think it’s really going to help you out. If you haven’t already, by the way, please consider leaving a review for the Better Man podcast. We are close to 100 reviews. I’d love to see us hit that milestone.

All right, here we go. So first off, something that you need to understand is that self-care is not a treat. Self-care is essential. It is not selfish. It is actually making you better for other people to a degree. Self-care is selfless because if you cannot take care of yourself, if you if you are not healthy, if you are not in a good state of mind, if you do not have patience, if you are not physically well enough to do the things that you need to do, then you are unable to help others.

So a big reason why a lot of people avoid self-care is because they don’t understand. They don’t look at it as something that’s important for the people around them. They look at it as something that’s potentially selfish. They see it as, this is something that I’m making time for myself and and I shouldn’t be doing it because I need to be taking care of other people at this time. And again, the truth is that self-care should not be looked at as something that is selfish. You need to take care of yourself in order to take care of others. And this is especially true when you consider this from a long term perspective.

You might not notice the immediate effects of of living an unhealthy lifestyle in a week or a month. But that is for sure going to add up over time. And you will notice the impact of those of those unhealthy behavior patterns over the course of years or decades. So you might not notice it right now, but if you keep going the way that you’re going, then it’s going to show up and it’s going to show up in years later, decades later. And you’re not going to be able to help other people the way that you want to help them.

And one trap that we do fall into is this is just temporary. I’m doing this until I get to point B, so and then I’ll be able to take more time for myself. And that might be true. But more accurately, you’re going to keep having things that come up in your life that you feel like you have to make sacrifices to your schedule for. And the best way to deal with that is to just to do it now is to start making that time for yourself. Now with or even with all the things that are going on to make time for yourself now. All right.

So that’s tip number one.

Number two is to understand that good is the enemy of great. In other words, you need to give up on the things that are somewhat important so that so that you can focus on the important things.

I’ll give you an example of myself. I used to when I was in college, in high school, I did jazz. I was in choral groups. I played lacrosse. I played soccer. I lifted weights. I played computer games. I practiced languages. I did so many different things. And then when I became an adult and realized I had limited time, I had to give up on a lot of those things.

I loved learning languages, but there’s no outlet for that now, so I gave up on doing that. I also loved playing bass guitar, but there’s no outlet for me playing bass guitar here anymore. So I gave up on that and what’s left is my fitness habits and my mind, my stress relief habits, my sauna, my cold plunging, my working out, my yoga. I left. I gave up the things that were less important so that I could focus on the most important things. And from this is this is my example is I think, a different type of example than most people tend to resonate with.

But when people ask me, how do I fit all this stuff in? The answer is, you just have to figure out what’s not important in your life. What are you doing that is not important that you can get rid of? What, what, what what part of your life is just what? What, what? When you look at the time that you spend what is not important, what is what is not in alignment with your goals, what does not leave you feeling satisfied or or leave you with a noticeable improvement from start to finish when you do that activity?

So you have to think about what is less important, what are the things that are just good or somewhat important, and give those up so that you can focus on the things that are that are important or that are great.

So that’s tip number two.

Tip number three is to plan it out. And this is so simple, but it’s so helpful. Planning things out in advance is the best way to make sure that they happen. If you don’t have a plan, you’re probably not going to you’re probably not. You’re way less likely to do it. And so when I tell people or give people advice on making plans, I have a few things. I have a few I have a few tips that I like to get them.

Number one is to be realistic. So you want to look at your plan and think, okay, this this could work with my existing schedule. You don’t want to create a plan that takes too much time, that’s inconvenient. That is really hard to do that you’ll only be able to do once per week if everything goes right. You need to be realistic. You need to expect that your life is going to have things that come up, that you’re not going to have as much time as you think you will, that you’re not going to have as much energy as you think. You need to be less optimistic in the sense and be more realistic when it comes to planning things out. You can’t just expect that everything is going to go well, so be realistic.

The second part of planning out is to be specific. You really want to get down into the nitty gritty details when you make your plan. So when it comes to working out, you want to know exactly which workout you’re doing, you want to know where you’re going to do it. You want to know what you need ahead of time. You need to know when exactly you’re doing it, not just the time, but also how it fits into your schedule. So if you’re doing it in the morning, you want to know, okay, I do this workout after I have, you know, a glass of water or I do this workout after I have my morning coffee, you want to be able to fit it into your existing routine, figure out how it fits into that, not just the time, but in the sequential order of the things that you already do. Figure out how it fits into that.

The third tip I’ll mention here for when it comes to planning things out is to make it convenient for yourself. And that means that it is it’s close to it in terms of proximity or location. It’s close to where you’re going to be when you want to do it. So for me, having a space to work out at home is really helpful if it’s if you don’t have a workout space at home, then that could mean that you have a a gym that you go to that’s on the way between your work and your home or maybe it’s just really close to it’s close to your home or it’s close to your office, but you want to make sure that it’s convenient somehow it does. You don’t want to take up a ton of time. You don’t want to take a ton of energy to be able to get to your plan. So try to make it as convenient as possible.

And the fourth tip that I’ll give here, and this is the last one that I’ll give for this part, is to be aware of your fluctuating energy and motivation levels. We tend to be more motivated in the morning. We tend to lose energy as the day goes on, especially during that afternoon lull of like 2:00 to 4:00 or siesta. Your body is naturally going to be more tired at that time, so it’s tough to motivate yourself to do things at that time. And we also probably don’t want to motivate ourself to work out when it’s late. So after you’ve, you know, after you’ve had dinner, if you have kids, if you put the kids down after you’ve had a whole day of work, it’s tough to do a workout at the end of the day.

I’m not talking about right after work because I know a lot of people, myself included, enjoy working out, you know, at 5:00, 6:00 after work. But if you’re pushing that workout till 9:00, 10:00, 11:00, and you don’t already have a habit of working out consistently, it’s going to be really difficult for you. So you want to be aware of your fluctuating energy levels and try to plan out your work at a time when you do feel energetic and motivated.

Moving on, our next step here is to understand that willpower is limited and that small changes are easier than big changes. So a big, you know, a big error that a lot of people make when it comes to making time for their self-care or just time for their fitness in general is they try to do too much, too much at once. You try to upend your entire life at once and you try to implement a new nutrition plan, a new workout plan, and a new stress free plan all at once. And this might work for two or three days, but what ends up happening is it becomes overwhelming. You already have your entire life that takes tons of energy and motivation and your time to do. So when you try to add on new things on top of all the things that you’re already doing, it makes it almost impossible to be successful with that.

So my recommendation instead is to instead of doing a ton of new things at once, try to just do 1 to 2 new things per week, make it manageable, be specific in those things that you want to start doing on a regular basis. And that’s going to be a lot easier than doing a lot. So, you know, if if our goal is to let’s say our goal is to start doing, you know, a Man Flow yoga program three times per week.

We want to get specific with the plan. We want to make sure that the workouts are relatively short. So I wouldn’t start with an hour long program. I would do like 15 or 30 minutes. You want to choose a time when it’s realistic and and we’re not going to try and improve all aspects of your life at once with this. We’re just going to focus on the workouts instead of trying to change, you know, your breakfast habits and everything else. Just do one or two things per week.

If we look at our our fitness goals as more of a journey as progression, as a progression, something that we’re working to over time instead of something that just happens, has to happen in three months, you’re going to be a lot more successful. And that’s how I would think about your fitness. You’re you’re slowly improving yourself and your lifestyle so that over time you get to this point where you are living a healthy lifestyle that seems manageable. You’re not just jumping straight to living a healthy lifestyle and it feeling like a chore. It should feel enjoyable. And if you do make those changes slowly and you do them in a way that’s manageable, you’re going to have a lot more a lot more fun with that. And that’s also going to help you be nore successful.

All right. This next tip has to do with the people in your lives. And this is an important one because this you know, it’s it’s easy to think about a lot of some of the other things that I’ve mentioned. But this is also a really big something that I found that I that I really needed to actually spend time on in order to make this work. And this is to discuss your self-care and the importance of self-care with the people in your life, specifically the people who you live with, your family, so that they understand that you have this obligation to yourself to take care of yourself and and that you’re going to be making time for this.

So, you know, I would approach this with with with starting, you know, speaking with your spouse, speaking with people and saying, here’s what my plan is. This is what I would like to do. I think this is going to work well because, you know, it’s before we make dinner, it’s before the kids get home or whatever, whatever it is, or you can come and do it saying, I know that this is going to be at a rough time, so I am going to make sure that I’m more available on the weekends to help out with things or whatever that is. So you should you should go into this and, you know, tell your partner, tell your spouse, tell the people in your household that, hey, I’m doing these things. I need to do this because it’s really important to me. What can I do for you so that this doesn’t appear this doesn’t seem like it’s as much of a burden or like I’m you know, shirking my responsibilities so you can do it like that.

I would try and avoid phrasing it as I’ll do this for you if you do this for me, because it’s this is just going to go better if if it can come from a place of generosity instead of a trade. So if you can you can come at it from that angle. I think you’re going to have more success.

But I would also be very clear about why self-care is important for everybody, not just you. You know, talk about how you’re going to be in a better mood, you’re going to be more patient, you’re going to be better able to serve your family. I think those are all important things worth mentioning. And then after that, you need to ask them how they feel about it, get their thoughts, don’t worry.

And at this point, you don’t need to worry about putting your points forward or getting your self understood. You’ve already explained that at this point you just need to listen them and understand what they think and really try to understand what they need from the situation rather than trying to assert your needs here at this point, turn it over to them and really make sure that they feel heard and understood.

And then lastly, the tip that I would give here is to try invite others to be a part of it. Even if they say no, they’re going to feel better that you tried to invite them. So I would invite them either way. You know, you might have to get creative and thinking of ways that you can do things together. Maybe that means you go for walks together, you know, maybe that means you do yoga together. And the TV in front with the kids nearby. You might have to get creative here. I don’t have the solutions for everything, but I would recommend that you do try invite others to be part of it.

All right. Moving on to my next tip, and this is kind of going back to what I said earlier with good is good is the enemy of great. And to be aware of things that are less important getting in the way of things that are more important. But this part has to do more with with really being honest with yourself. And this, this this strategy is to be aware of your wasted time. I want you to really take inventory of what you’re actually doing with your time, you know, so you might have this period between eight and 9:00 where you’re you’re you’re just kind of on your phone. You’re not really doing anything, but you are you know, nothing gets done during that time period. And I think it’s really important to be brutally honest with yourself here and to just see, oh, wow, you know what? I do waste this time from this time to this time.

Or maybe you look at your work day and you realize, you know what, during this time I’m really not getting that much done. I’m kind of tired and not really doing anything. Maybe a better use of my time here would be 20 or 30 minutes of doing a yoga session. Or maybe I should, you know, maybe I should change my work schedule so that I’m only working during the times when I productive. And then at the other times I can I can go to the gym instead or something like that.

I recognize that not everybody has the same flexibility as others with their schedule, but it can be helpful to just think about where are the pockets of your day where you’re really not getting anything done or you’re not being productive and thinking about how you can make better use of that time. And if you’re looking at, you know, what you do with your evening in particular, this is when we tend to have more free time. This is also when things get more unstructured, the day gets more unstructured as it goes on.

But if you look at your evening and you’re like, wow, like this is making me feel bad, that’s okay. You know, we feel when we feel bad, that is what gives us the inspiration to change. That is what helps us understand something is not working out and we need to change. There’s a difference between ruminating on those that that feeling bad and kind of it turning into shame over time. But if you feel bad about yourself, that’s okay. That’s how we change. So don’t shy away from feeling bad about yourself. Be brutally honest. If it means that you go through this a little, you know, a period of feeling sad and feeling bad about yourself, it’s short, then that’s okay. That is helpful for us to creating meaningful change.

So look at in particular with these kinds of these this this time that’s not being used well, this is where where things like TV, social media, you know, just kind of checking your email, browsing things on your phone, online shopping. This is where these things tend to live. And the best way to start to change these activities is to just be aware of them when they’re happening. So when you realize that you are wasting your time and you’re doing something, when you would rather be doing something else, something more productive, something that’s going to make you feel better about yourself, something that’s going to help you with your self-care. Then call it out and say why you’re doing it.

So for instance, for me, sometimes when I’m scrolling on social media and I realize I don’t want to be on it, what I’ll do is I’ll say to myself, I am spending time on social media because I am feeling a I am feeling bored and I’m doing this to alleviate this feeling of boredom. Or I am I am scrolling on my Amazon right now because I, I want to feel like I’m getting something done. So I’m looking to make sure that I, you know, I’m trying to buy something that I need instead of doing something else with my time. That would be a better use of my time. So these calling, naming and calling these things out as they’re happening and trying to explain yourself why you’re doing them, try to explain what is this new that you’re trying to satisfy can be really helpful.

All right. Here’s a really good one. It’s reframing your mindset to “I don’t have time” to “I haven’t made it a priority yet”. So this is a really big one for me. This is something that I’ve done a pretty good job of internalizing and doing myself. Most of us have time to do things. We have some free time. And if you know your personal hero showed up at the door tomorrow and said, I need you to do this for me, it’s going to take an hour, you could probably make it happen. So, you know, the idea of I don’t have time isn’t really a true one. What really is happening is you haven’t made it a priority yet or it’s not a priority for me at this time.

So I like the phrase I haven’t made it a priority yet because that shows that I could have time for it. But I’m also saying that this is just something that’s not that important to me right now, but that could change. So I like that way of thinking about it. You can change it to another way of saying it, but a good frame of mind, a good mindset to get out of your head is I don’t have time. Try to get rid of that. Change into something that says instead, I do have time, but this is not important enough for my time or I have just not made this, you know, into my schedule yet.

So next tip is to look at your mornings and evenings. And I bring this up because most people have free time in the in the evening and they’re going to have more free time in the morning before things start going. And if you are if you are not spending your evenings wisely and going to bed too late, that means that you’re not going to have you’re not going be able to wake up early enough to be able to do things in the morning before the stress of the day starts going. So I think it’s important to look at your mornings because if you are doing your morning in a way where you’re starting the day off with the stress, when you’re when you’re, you know, you’re waking up and the first thing you do is you check your phone. It’s not a great way to start the day. And if you’re ending your evenings or spending, you know, an hour or two watching TV before you go to bed, instead of just realizing, hey, I’m tired, I go to sleep, that’s an hour or two that you could get back in the morning.

So that’s why I recommend looking at your mornings and your evenings. Those are typically the best times to figure out where there is some extra time that you could fit other things into your schedule. So look at your mornings and evenings, right?

And then the last big motive, the last big mindset tip that I have for you is to stop waiting for motivation. This is something that drives me absolutely crazy. There are people who just wait for motivation. Like, it’s like it’s like it’s something that’s required in order to take action. Motivation is fickle. It varies on a day to day basis. It is not reliable. It goes up and down based on lots of different things. Instead, you need to just take action. What really is the if you can reframe the idea that motivation leads to action, instead of understanding that action leads to motivation, then you’ll understand that you need to take action in order to feel motivated.

Feeling motivated and doing a workout is overrated. You’re not… I’m not always going to feel motivated to do a workout. But what I do know is that working out is important to me, that I’m going to do it because I’m going to feel better afterwards and I can ease myself into it. I just need to go in and start warming up and start doing something that’s much easier to have when you have a plan, when you have it specifically planned out both at the time and what you’re doing, which is why I recommend planning things out in advance instead of having to rely on energy to create that plan in the moment.

And also something important to realize is that getting into a fitness habit takes energy, and at first you’re going to be tired, you know, for the first couple of weeks, you might notice that you’re more tired than usual because you are doing workouts that you weren’t doing before. But over time you are going to have more energy as a result of these workouts that you’re doing. Just understand that there’s going to be a kind of a transition period that could take two or three weeks where you’re going to feel more tired than usual.

The upside here is that working out is going to make you sleep better so you might fall asleep better, get better sleep, and you might actually feel more refreshed. And the cool thing about what we do with Man Flow Yoga is that the workouts usually make you feel better immediately afterwards and eventually you’ll get to the point where you are actually going to have more energy throughout the day when you’re doing your workouts and you’re going to miss doing them.

So bottom line here is to stop waiting for motivation and plan things out and stick with your plan and do them. There’s a difference between motivation and energy. You know, physical energy. If you are not feeling physically well enough to exercise, that’s a sign that that’s a sign that there are other things that you need to address. Maybe you are doing too much during the day, maybe you are physically ill. Maybe your nutrition is is really holding you back. But if you have energy and you just don’t have the motivation, just do it. You just got to go do it.

And the last thing that I’ll mention here is that we need to understand that self-care also involves sociability, social ability, meaning being with other people. The most important factor in our overall well-being isn’t our workouts, our nutrition, or our stress management or sleep. It’s actually the quality of our relationships. So if you are only looking at self-care, if you’re only taking care of yourself by yourself, you’re probably not going to be as healthy as you want to be.

So start prioritizing, hanging out with your friends. Start prioritizing actual quality time and conversations with your spouse, not just sitting on opposite end of the couch, passively consuming television, but actually turn off the TV, look at them and say, Hey, how are you feeling right now? What’s your what was your day like? You know, what are you thinking? What do you want to do this weekend? Have some actual connection. Because we’re social creatures, we need it.

So those are my tips for how to make time for self-care. I hope you found something in here that was useful to you. I hope you’re enjoying the Better Man podcast. I just recorded a lot of really great interviews with guests. Those will be coming out over the next few weeks. I’m really excited for you to hear those. We’ve got a few of my old friends from Austin. We’ve also got we’ve also got Dr. Anthony is coming back from the Fit Father Project. We’ve got Shane Dowd from GotROM. We have Judson Brandeis coming back to talk about men and health in their fifties and a few other guests that I’ve lined up that I think are that have been some really cool conversations. And I think you’re really going to enjoy them.

All right, guys. If you found this helpful, please leave a review for the Better Man podcast wherever you listen. Again, we’re getting close to 100 reviews. I would love to see us hit the three figure number of reviews. And then if you haven’t already, you can get started with the Man Flow Yoga program on our app or website. Go to ManFlowYoga.com/join and I will walk you through getting started. We just created a brand new Getting Started series.

It’s a it’s a comprehensive three month onboarding experience for all of our new members. And it’s going to walk you through everything you need to do. All of the programs, lay it out step by step to make it easy to get started. So check that out at ManFlowYoga.com/join if you haven’t already.

All right, guys. Hope you enjoyed this episode and I’ll look forward to seeing you on the next one. Bye bye. If you like that episode, check out this other one right here. I think you’re really going to enjoy it. If you haven’t subscribe, click this subscribe button over here and you can listen to the full episodes on any major podcasting platform. Full details below in the description.

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