How to Develop a Self-Care Routine (+ printable self-care planner)
- Loving and enjoyable
- Nourishing and beneficial to the self
- A necessity, not a privilege; required for self-preservation
Practicing self-care seems like this lavish concept that only the wealthy and privileged get to engage in. Luxurious bubble baths with expensive lush bath bombs, taking mental health days, going on extravagant vacations; these are all examples of self-care that might make it seem like an out of reach concept for those of us who can’t just call off work on a moment’s whim.
But the fact of the matter is, self-care is not a privilege, it’s a matter of self-preservation (a quote taken from my friend Autumn’s experience at CSCC’s student leadership summit).
Self-care is needed when you’re healthy and when your body is off balance. It helps keep you grounded and happy. It shows yourself that you care about you. A powerful message that is highly underrated if you ask me.
So how do you practice self-care if you can’t afford a monthly trip to the Hamptons?
Self-Care Routine Basics:
Select things that you actually want to do
Self-care should not be a chore, it should be enjoyable and energizing.
- “What makes me feel like the best me?”
- “What makes me feel whole?”
- “What makes me feel balanced and energized?”
- “What makes me feel happy?”
- “What drains me?”
- “What resets me?”
- “What negative thoughts and habits are holding me back?”
- “How can I make the most of my mornings, afternoons, evenings, and weekends?”
- “What inspires me?”
Don’t pick things that don’t inspire or appeal to you
This might seem like common sense but often people add things to their self-care plan that they don’t enjoy.
For example: adding cardio workouts (like walking on the treadmill) to your self-care plan when you hate the treadmill isn’t helpful if you aren’t actually going to do it. A better alternative might be walking the dog or following along to a fitness dance video.
Don’t neglect the necessities
Make sure that you have core components of a healthy lifestyle in your self-care plan/routine. Things like getting enough sleep, physical activity (that you enjoy), and a healthy balanced diet are all important for self-care. I mean even things like flossing and brushing your teeth every day are forms of self-care. They involve quite literally taking care of yourself.
Take Advantage of and Plan for Pockets of Spare Time
Have a long commute via public transportation? Have some extra time between classes? Did you arrive early for a doctors appointment? Plan for and use found spare time to practice self-care.
You might use this time to:
- Catch up on reading
- Send a text to a loved one telling them how much you appreciate them
- Send a text or email to check-in with someone you have been meaning to get in touch with
- Walk or practice some yoga (ain’t no public same in the self-care game)
Be Mindful during your Practices
Staying mindful and present during your self-care practices can help you maximize the benefits by helping you stay connected to the experience.
You are more likely to feel more refreshed and happy after self-care if you are fully present for it. Meaning, focus on what you’re doing and leave your running to-do list at the door.
Self-Care Planned Out:
Often times our yearly rituals come in the form of running a marathon every year or setting the intentions for the New Year. These routines are powerful because they often take a while to prepare for. They are our main focus for the year. The overarching goal that we want to achieve.
Whatever yearly ritual you set for yourself, know that it’s important and it plays a role in the overall year-long health.
Some Yearly Routine Ideas:
- New Year Resolutions – Set your intentions for the year. Develop personal goals that will help you work towards promoting a better you.
- Yearly Mantra – Every year set a mantra or theme for yourself to help guide your decisions. For example, for 2018 my Mantra was “Let Happiness Be Your Compass” and when I went to make a big decision I asked myself if it honored my mantra.
- Self Focused Vacation – plan a vacation for just yourself (can be a day or three) where you can rebuild and nurture your relationship with yourself. After all, if you are taking care of yourself it greatly impedes your ability to help others.
- Planned time of service – if you can (and are in the right space to do so) schedule time where you give your time to others. Helping others can do wonders for inspiring and rejuvenating the soul. This can also fit into your monthly and weekly routines if it’s possible for your schedule.
Monthly routines are a great time to check-in with yourself and see how things are going. How are your yearly goals going? Are you living by your yearly mantra?
Assess where you are at and where you want to be. What parts of your life are imbalanced? What can you do to better balance them this month?
Monthly Self-Care Routine Ideas:
- Check-in with your yearly goals and assign yourself “homework” to help you work towards them
- Schedule time to help re-balance yourself (whether it be a beauty appointment, a bath, a weekend or day trip)
- Sign-up for a class
- Dedicate a weekend to a project
- Assign yourself a book of the month
What can you do weekly to help better improve your life? Weekly routines can help you set a positive tone for the week and help you stay on track with goals.
Weekly Self-Care Routine Ideas:
- Meal-plan / Meal-Prep
- Tidy your home
- Review your finances
- Check-in with your Monthly Goals and assign yourself “homework” to help you work towards them
Ask yourself when you can fit in time for yourself during the day and plan for self-care. Self-care is vital daily because it helps set the tone for the day and keep stick to your weekly intentions.
Small things like flossing and brushing your teeth count as self-care and should be planned for.
Daily Self-Care Routine Ideas:
- Draft your meals for the day (to help guide you and keep you on track)
- Do a braindump (to help gather your thoughts)
- Set your daily intentions
- Enjoyable 15-30 minute physical activity
- Enjoy your coffee/breakfast (be mindful during your first meal of the day to set a tone of presence throughout the day)
- Set a bedtime
- Read for 15 minutes (or longer)
- Listen to a podcast
Self-Care Routine for When You’re Sick
When we are sick or exposed to foods we need to avoid, it’s important to have a self-care plan in place to help maximize recovery. Learning to self-soothe healthily is so important.
When you aren’t feeling well ask yourself “what do I need to feel better?” and give it to yourself.
Sick-Day Self-Care Routine Ideas:
- Take a nap
- Literally “Netflix and Chill”
- Make soothing and nourishing meals
- Delegate tasks you’re too exhausted for
- Give yourself a break
- Take a bath/shower
- Drink fluids
- Stretch / Yoga
Self-Care for When You’re Unmotivated or Uninspired
We all have been there, that moment where you are excited about something and suddenly don’t have the energy to do it. When you have a due date or a project you need/want to finish but lack inspiration. It’s like a motivation or creativity block.
Having a plan in place to help you revive your motivation and inspiration is important when you need to stick to your plans and goals!
Inspirational and Motivational Self-Care Routine:
- Go for a walk – often times when we can’t push past our creativity and motivational walls it’s because we’ve been sitting and focusing for too long. Switching things up and getting the body moving can help revive your energy and creative levels.
- Coffee and Creativity – when you are just feeling in a slump plan some coffee and creativity. Take the time to brew yourself the perfect cup of coffee (or tea) and enjoy it while ruminating in your thoughts. Let this coffee or tea open up your mind to new ideas and inspirations.
- Read – reading can help inspire you and think of things in a new light. Often when I am uninspired I read things that are related to my niche or focus and gather inspiration from them. I try to read pieces and think about how I can apply them to my knowledge, profession, and life.
- Socialize – going out with friends and connecting with their lives can be a huge source of inspiration and or help recharge your motivation.
- Do something fun – let yourself let go and enjoy! Do something that is fun to help revive your spirits and rebalance your work/hobbies.