Self-care means really listening to your body, taking moments to check in, intentionally tuning in to the thoughts going on in your mind, and challenging your behaviors and belief systems if things feel out of alignment in your life.
Recognizing the need for self-care is one thing, but actually adopting a self-care practice that can improve your life is another. We give you the best tips to get started on your self-care journey.
Understanding What Is Self-Care and What Isn’t
Self-care is the intentional, proactive pursuit of integrated wellness that balances mind, body, and spirit personally and professionally.
It’s about more than taking care of your physical health. Just eating healthy isn’t enough anymore. things are moving so fast around us that we need space to self-care and slow down to rest from all the busyness in our lives.
And just because a behavior is “good for you” doesn’t make it self-care. You need to get some sense of gratification out of it for it to be self-care. Although activities such as running or meditating may be good for your overall health and well-being, if you hate them, then they are not considered self-care. However, If you do find these activities fulfilling and rewarding, then they can be considered self-care practices.
Your perspective plays a role in determining what types of behaviors constitute self-care for you. For instance, say you are new to running and set a goal of running 10 miles per week. The act of running itself may not be enjoyable and you may struggle through every minute of it as you’re getting started. But if you get satisfaction from meeting your goals, it could still be worthwhile. If that practice allows you to say: Look at what I did today. I’m working toward my goal and that feels good — then that counts even if in the moment it doesn’t feel like self-care
Ultimately, your self-care routine should make you a better version of yourself. As long as the activities that you choose are adding to your well-being and are not detrimental to the other areas of your life, then there is a benefit.
By practicing self-care, you are better suited to take care of others, foster strong relationships, be resilient, and balance personal and professional responsibilities.
How to create and get into a routine in 5 easy steps:
Follow these five steps to adopt a sustainable self-care practice.
- Find what makes you feel centered.
When it comes to self-care (or anything health related for that matter), one size doesn’t fit all. Start by writing down as many things as you can think of that bring you joy, whether it’s the color purple, receiving back rubs, springtime, certain smells, or essential oils.
It could be in the background (such as filling your space with the colors and smells you enjoy) or it could take up a more prominent space in your daily routine (such as designating a set amount of time for a certain activity). Starting small may make the habit easier to get into. Pick one behavior that you would like to make part of your routine for the next week.
- Set goals
Once you decide what self-care practices you’d like to incorporate into your life, come up with goals for how often and when. Make your goal realistic and measurable. For instance, if you’re trying to unplug from electronic devices in order to be more present, start with a short amount of time, like 20 minutes during dinner. When you successfully stick to that for a week, you can set a more challenging goal.
- Evaluate after 7 days.
Once you’ve completed a seven-day streak, reflect on how you’re feeling and note any positive benefits. Use this as fuel to maintain the behavior throughout the month.
- Adjust as you go.
It’s okay if there are bumps along the way. We’re talking about a practice, and so there will be trial and error, and needs are changing over time. What might be self-care in one period might be less so in another period.
Some examples of easy-to-adopt self-care practices include: reading a book to your toddler (or yourself) every night; taking a 10-minute walk outside; going to sleep earlier; powering down your devices in the evening; cooking with more nutritious ingredients; and surrounding yourself with things that make you happy.
Overcoming Barriers to Self-Care
If you have trouble getting started with a self-care routine, it might be worth exploring where that roadblock is coming from. Some people can unravel that mystery through independent journaling, but you may need to contact a therapist or life coach to get to the root of the issue. Getting a coach will be particularly helpful if the question you keep running into is, “Am I worth it?”.
Ultimately, self-care shouldn’t be a chore. More self-care equals more self-awareness, which equals more self-love, which will ripple out onto others you interact with every day in the form of compassion, gratitude, and deeper kindness.
If you take the time for even just a few minutes of daily self-care, you will be able to show up to the world from a place of inner peace, and things will likely feel much easier.
That should be all the justification you need to get started now.
Got any self-care tips? Share them in the comments below!