Like any new habit, adding self-care into your life can seem intimidating. Self-care is vitally important not just for stress relief but also for overall mental health. It can do everything from help you decompress after a bad day to improving your self confidence. It also doesn’t take a lot to take proper care of yourself. You probably wonder how you’ll manage to find time to do anything extra for yourself, let alone how you’ll actually remember to do these things. One of the best ways to get started is to build your activities into predictable parts of your day. In order to make something a habit, it has to happen regularly. Studies show that it takes about 21 days for habits to stick. Here are some ways to make self-care a part of your daily life.
Choose activities that are meaningful to you and that you enjoy. After all, this is for your benefit so you want to make sure it suits you in order for you to get the most out of it. Create a list of things that help you to feel relaxed, peaceful, excited or happy. These activities should be doable in short amounts of time and easily fits into your schedule, preferably without special equipment or tools. As you begin your self-care routine, remind yourself that activities should be simple and easy to complete. Consider these:
Start a Self-Care Morning Routine
If you want to pay more attention to yourself and practice self-care, it helps to start by working on your morning routine. Have you had days where you find yourself in the office, or nowadays, in front of your computer logged in to work, with everything you did before that point being a blur? If you’re like most people just hopping out of bed, grabbing breakfast, and running out the door, you are probably already stressed by the time you get to work. Begin your day by embracing a better morning routine with these tips:
- Read a book - Notice I said read a book. I don’t know about you but there’s something about feeling through the pages. Reading through the lines gives me this visceral feeling of anticipation! So help yourself to an alarm to wake you at an earlier time and allow yourself to catch up on your reading. For your morning read, find something inspirational and motivational, which will help set the tone for the day. Read just a few pages or a whole chapter, while you are having your coffee or tea, or while waiting for those baked goodies to be done. Take advantage of these moments and become absorbed in your favorite book.
- Have Quiet Time With Coffee - Whether you drink coffee or tea in the morning, you can make this part of your self-care ritual. Try to have your first cup of coffee in the morning alone and in silence. You can read a book, write in your journal, or sit on your patio and listen to the birds chirping as the sun comes up. This is another great reason to wake up a little earlier than everyone else in your household. You will be amazed by how much better you feel with just a few minutes to yourself.
- Unplug Your Devices - When you are trying to start a new morning routine for self-care purposes, you should unplug all devices. Don’t try to enjoy a few minutes to yourself by using your smart phone or checking email. Checking social media too much can also be more stressful. You should turn all electronics off during your self-care time in the morning and not turn it on until you absolutely need it. A good practice to start is to turn your smart phone off after the alarm goes off to wake you up in the morning.
- Practice Meditation - Another routine that’s easy to begin is your meditation practice. Mornings are ideal for meditation as well as affirmations and mantras. Mantras are sayings or words that help to center your focus and make it easier to meditate. Affirmations are positive statements that can help you to challenge and overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts. When you repeat them often, and believe in them, you can start to make positive changes. There are various apps that can help you harness the power of daily meditation. When was the last time you took a deep, long breath? You’ll be surprised what breathing exercises can do in centering your thoughts. If you want to take a walk in the morning, that can also help you to meditate. I am blessed to live in a city that has beautiful trails and parks so walking in itself is part of my daily self-care routine.
Fit It In
You should add your self-care rituals to the most convenient parts of your day. Choose times that are already somewhat flexible so that incorporating something new into that space will be less stressful. Many people go with morning or evening routines, right when they wake up and before going to sleep each night. Incorporating 15 minutes extra into your schedule by either waking up earlier or devoting yourself those 15 minutes at night-time are usually things most people can do. However, maybe designating your daily lunch break as your self-care time might work better for you. Consider activities like writing a gratitude journal entry before bed, listening to music while having your morning coffee or going for a short walk over your lunch hour. See what feels right, but find some “me” time and literally add it to your calendar as a recurring event. This is the best way to build in your day some “me” time.
It’s best to come up with a routine that works for you and stick to it. Committing to a particular schedule will help you to create a habit and ensures that you get the self-care you need. However, also be ready to cut yourself some slack. Some days are more hectic than others. You may not be able to fit in your anticipated self-care activity, and that’s okay. Tomorrow is a new day, and you can try again. Soon, you’ll find yourself wanting to take part in these rituals, and getting back on track will be easy. Learning to say no is self-care too!
Getting into the practice of regular self-care doesn’t have to be difficult. Making a few adjustments to your existing schedule can free up some space in your day. Choose things that will refresh you and that are simple in nature will make getting started a breeze.