What exactly is self-care? Is there a more misunderstood and debated phrase on the internet today?
The truth lies somewhere between eating cheesecake in the bath and waking at dawn to run a half marathon. Self-care is simply being proactive and prioritizing your own physical and mental wellbeing.
You cannot help others, excel in your career, or smash your goals without adequate self-care. And if you’re a busy working parent or have experienced personal setbacks, you may not know where to begin with self-care.
Here are nine self-care routines you can implement into your life. You can use one, five, or all nine if you want!
1. Start Your Morning Right
An effective self-care routine always starts with a productive morning routine. There is no “right” way to start the morning. It completely depends on what makes sense for you. After all, it’s called self-care for a reason.
Here are some self-care suggestions to add to your morning routine:
- Make your bed
- Drink a glass of water or herbal tea
- Implement a morning skincare routine
- Write in a journal or make a to-do list
- Eat a filling, nutritious, and delicious breakfast
- Exercise e.g. stretch, go for a short walk, or do yoga
And wake up early enough before work or taking the kids to school so you are not rushing.
If you don’t currently do any of these suggestions in the morning and you would like to, don’t start them all at once! Slowly building on healthy habits means you are more likely to keep them up.
2. Set Boundaries and Start Saying No
Self-care starts with putting yourself first. As those in-flight emergency demonstrations say, “put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.”
If your calendar is full of dinners you don’t want to attend or extra work commitments then you might have a problem setting boundaries. Boundaries are an important part of any self-care routine because they ensure we are putting our own needs first.
Try “closing your calendar” every Sunday night and adding no new appointments to your week after a specific time. This might give you the confidence to say no to last-minute events that you did not schedule.
You should also ask yourself the reasons why you do or don’t want to do something. As a rule of thumb, if your reaction is not “heck yes!” then it’s a no.
3. Meditate During Your Free Moments
Meditation is so much more than sitting in a lotus position for hours on top of a mountain next to a temple. It is simply an act of training, focusing, and/or noticing your current thoughts.
Meditation is proven to reduce anxiety and stress. Even if you only have time for 10 minutes a day.
The next time you are cleaning your teeth, waiting in line for the ATM, or in a doctor’s office, try meditation. Visualize negativity leaving your body as you slowly breathe out for 10 seconds and positivity entering your body as you breathe in for 10 seconds.
You don’t need to be sitting in a quiet spot and you don’t need to empty your mind of thought. You can take small steps towards better self-care with regular meditation practices like this one.
4. Schedule Reminders for Self-Care
You might have a jam-packed work and home life and find it difficult to practice self-care without reminders. So leave reminders!
If you work in an office, set an alarm on your phone to stand up from your desk and stretch every hour. You could also set alarms to drink water, eat a snack or take a short walk outside. Schedule taking yourself to the movies or for dinner as if you would any other meeting.
Also, leave post-it notes on mirrors or in your sock drawer. They could be words of affirmation like “you look great” or “you’re killing it!”
5. Start Small but Dream Big
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
When cultivating a new self-care routine, you can’t change every single habit or overhaul your entire schedule all at once. It would be too overwhelming and you’d be more likely to fall back into old habits.
Instead, start small. Start by focusing on your biggest concern which could be sleep, water intake, or exercise. Then, when you’ve got a handle on one part of your routine, work on another.
But don’t limit your potential. Sure, it may seem impossible to cut out refined sugar right now. But by taking small steps, anything is possible.
6. Limit Time on Social Media and Emails
Social media is a fantastic tool for keeping in touch with friends and family. But it can also be addictive and distracting from more meaningful activities.
Constantly checking emails can also make you more reactive to other people’s needs and less proactive to your own.
Schedule specific times to check your emails and social media. Disable all notifications and put your phone on silent mode. It will help you limit mindless scrolling so you are spending your time doing more positive, self-care-focused activities.
7. Celebrate Your Own Wins
At school, your work is graded and you are awarded for doing well. As adults, it’s more difficult to judge (and celebrate) our success. Bosses don’t hand out stickers for good work, but they certainly let you know when they’re unhappy with your performance.
Sometimes, you need to celebrate your own wins!
Start patting yourself on the back as part of your self-care routine whenever you complete a big project or do something difficult. Even if it’s just a nice cup of coffee or a celebratory dance, acknowledge your achievements.
8. Treat Yourself Everyday
Every day offers a new opportunity to be kind to ourselves and enjoy our lives. So when you’re cooking dinner, crank up the 80s pop tunes and dance like no one’s watching. Burn the nice candles and watch a dumb rom-com.
And yes, though it’s a cliché at this point, you can even draw yourself a self-care bubble bath if you want to. It’s yourtreat!
9. Prepare for Tomorrow
Just as an effective self-care routine starts with a solid morning routine, it also ends with a great self-care night routine.
Here are some suggestions of habits to add to your nighttime routine:
- Perform your evening skincare routine
- Read a good book
- Check the weather and set out clothes for tomorrow
- Write a gratitude journal or to-do list for the next day
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night
If you are in school, you might also want to pack your supplies for the next day in preparation. A nightly self-care routine is vital for a good morning routine. Like life itself, everything affects something else!
Start Your Own Self-Care Routine
Practicing self-care is a way of looking out for your future self. Creating physically and mentally healthy habits today will ensure your wellbeing for tomorrow.
Taking a few steps towards a better self-care routine will give you a better chance of living a more meaningful, purposeful life.
Check out our other self-improvement blog posts for more lifestyle tips!