How to Start a Self-Care Practice
Self-care is a buzz word that we seem to be hearing with more frequency. We think of bubble baths and massages, but what exactly is self-care, and why is it important?
Self-care can be defined as, “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own wellbeing or happiness.” It’s the continual practice of tending to ourselves, our needs, and ensuring that we are in a state of wellbeing. For a lot of us, self-care can mean the reduction of stress through different practices like meditation, yoga, exercise, baths, journaling, massages — or anything that helps us recharge.
In our day and age, taking time to recharge is necessary for our physical, mental, and emotional health. When we take care of ourselves and make sure our needs are being met, we will be better able to navigate through life from a place of balance, calm, and peace.
So how do we start a self-care practice?
- Figure out what makes you feel good or helps you de-stress.
Whether it’s exercise, popping in a guided meditation, or taking a walk around the neighborhood, find what helps you wind down and then schedule time for that. Low on time? No problem. Take 10 minutes for a meditation you find off of YouTube. Spend 10 minutes writing your goals and intentions for the week in your journal. Drop what you’re doing and take 5 minutes to sit quietly and focus on your breath. When you identify what practices help calm you down, you can insert them throughout your day whenever you need a break to yourself.
- Prioritize your self-care time just as you would your other responsibilities.
We’re often guilty of prioritizing our obligations before we take time for ourselves. We’re governed by deadlines, work tasks, home life, and checking things off our to-do list. But when you start to include your self-care as a high-priority task on your to-do list, you’ll notice how much better you feel at the end of the day. Block out 10 minutes, half an hour, or whatever chunk of time you can spare, to do the thing that nurtures you. Write it in your schedule to make it official. For example, you can wake up 15 minutes earlier to dedicate your morning time to meditation. Or you can plan to use 20 minutes of your lunch break at work to stretch your body and do some yoga poses. Schedule it in your day and make sure you check it off the list.
- Plan ahead.
Make your new plans for self-care as official as possible. Write it in your calendar, tell the people you live with, and make sure anyone who would need you during that time knows you’ll be occupied. Plan ahead to set yourself up for success. For example, if you want to dedicate some time before work for fitness, lay out your gym clothes the night before. If you want to have a stress-free morning, plan your outfit or prepare your lunch ahead of time. The time you spend planning will ensure that your self-care routine is smoothly executed.
- Identify your distractions and work to eliminate them.
What do you waste time doing? A lot of us are guilty of spending too much time scrolling on our phones, perusing social media, online window shopping… and the list goes on. Identify what you waste time doing, and cut it out or limit your time doing those things. For example, you could allow yourself 30 minutes each day to scroll on your phone (no more!). In doing so, you’ll free up a lot of your time to focus on the things that make you feel good — ahem…self-care!