In today’s busy world, self-care is often put on the back burner. However, self-care is essential for keeping yourself healthy and productive. Even if you can only set aside 10 minutes a day, taking time to look after your mental and physical health can improve your life overall.
Self-care can take many forms. Each person has unique needs. While some techniques may work perfectly for your best friend, they might not work for you. Whether you benefit from a weekly soak in the bathtub with a glass of wine or you prefer taking 30 minutes at the end of the day to curl up with a heating pad and your favorite book, having your self-care routine planned and scheduled in your calendar can help you stick to it and get the stress-busting benefits you need.
Decide What Works for You
Although we often think of activities like massages or meditating as self-care, the term can encompass an enormous variety of options. Make a list of activities you enjoy that help you relieve stress and let go of outside pressures. These could include mental exercises like visualization or journaling. However, you can also practice self-care by doing physical activities you enjoy, such as going for a run in the park, practicing yoga, or swimming.
While forms of self-care that focus on improving your body or mind are important, so are the forms that help you relax. Think about whether you get enough time to play your favorite video game, watch a new Netflix series, or read a book. For some people, picking up a hobby can also be a form of self-care and can be a fantastic way to explore a different part of yourself and learn a new skill. If you’ve always wanted to sing, you can join your local amateur choir. For people who want to learn how to sew, spend an evening a week making cute face masks.
Make a Schedule
Once you’ve come up with a list of activities you enjoy, get out your calendar. Scheduling regular times throughout the week for your self-care can help avoid burnout and ensure that you get the relaxation you need to recuperate for the week ahead. Having a routine can help you stay on track. If you can, try to schedule your self-care activities at the same time every week. You may also want to schedule certain activities for the morning and others for the evening.
If you like getting outside for a jog to clear your head, schedule that for the morning so you can then start the day energized. However, more relaxed options like a candle-lit bath or Netflix binge are better suited to the evening, so you can fully let your brain switch off. Another thing to consider in your scheduling is whether someone might interrupt you. If you are responsible for small children or pets, try to find another adult who can watch the children or pets while you follow your self-care routine. Being responsible for young children is a stressful often all-consuming job, and you may find it impossible to completely relax.
Keep It Simple and Easy
When deciding to get healthy, start exercising, or commit to a new diet like vegetarianism, many people often make the mistake of trying to do everything at once. However, it’s best to make changes gradually, like trying Meatless Mondays, allowing your body and mind to get used to them. Otherwise, your self-care routine could start to feel more like another obligation and add to your stress rather than help you reduce it.
If you haven’t gone on a run in five years, you could hurt yourself trying to run a 5k with no training. Instead, consider trying an app like Couch25k, which helps you slowly build up to running without breaks. The same concept applies to taking care of your mental health. While more self-care time is good, you might struggle to commit to spending a lot of time on it. Instead, try to build up a simple, easy routine, only adding to it once you feel comfortable.
Start by scheduling one physical activity a week and one mental relaxation activity. If you feel like you want to expand your self-care routine after a few weeks, add another activity.
Flexibility Is Key
Although keeping to a routine helps you stay on track, it’s also important to stay flexible. If you are sick, or you go on vacation, take a week off. However, it’s essential to make this choice consciously. Often, self-care routines are the first to go when we become busy at work or with family. Although replacing your meditation time with chores might help you get through your to-do list faster, it can also harm your mental health, resulting in higher stress levels. The busier you get, the more essential it is to carve out time for yourself to allow for de-stressing.
This might mean that you need to change the time or date of your self-care routine or even reduce it if necessary. If you’re on vacation or away for work, you can alter your routine to accommodate your new location, such as going for a run in the hotel gym instead of outside.
You may also need to turn your focus more to a single self-care activity. If your desk job suddenly increases your hours, try to do your mindfulness while on a run to help your body stay active and your mind clear. Those who work active jobs might want to focus on relaxing with a hot bath and their favorite scented candles to help their minds and muscles rest.
Be Kind To Yourself
Self-care is all about focusing on your internal needs and giving yourself space to breathe. Berating yourself or blaming yourself if you miss a day will only hurt your mental health. Instead, acknowledge that your self-care routine is a journey, and it’s okay to miss a day or two.
Making yourself feel bad about forgetting to meditate or skipping a run because of the weather could have a secondary effect, resulting in you feeling too stressed or guilty to go on the run later. Instead, if you can’t partake in your self-care activity, just reschedule for the next day. Don’t waste time or energy blaming yourself, which would put a damper on the rest of your day. Keep it positive!