If you’re reading this blog, then you’re no stranger to hard work and discipline.
But sometimes, in our dogged pursuit of our goals and quest for self improvement, we forget to take care of our most important resource: our own well-being.
And in these uncertain and intense times, we need to find regular ways to cope and nurture ourselves, or risk burning out or our health. That’s why self-care is such an essential part of our daily lives.
Self-care is any activity that helps you feel more grounded, relaxed, or mindful. It’s a routine that restores your mind, body, and spirit.
Unfortunately, self-care isn’t always met with enthusiasm, and in fact, it’s often met with judgement or self-criticism. We tend to view self-care as something that’s frivolous or something that only wealthy people with Instagram accounts can do. But according to this New York Times article, self-care isn’t selfish, “It’s about refueling yourself in order to engage with life.”
That’s right. You can stop feeling guilty for taking time out of your day to look after yourself. When you refill your tank, it allows you to ultimately become a better partner, friend, parent, and employee. Plus, self-care is actually good for your health. Numerous studies have shown that simple, mindful activities like walking, coloring, gardening, and knitting can decrease stress and anxiety, lower our blood pressure, and enhance our mood.
So whether you’re someone who’s been running on fumes or someone who’s still getting the hang of using self-care as a verb, you’ll certainly benefit from our self-care tips and recommendations below.
Want to hit the ground running? Download our FREE Time For You Self-Care Worksheet to get a jump on your self-care.
Assess where self-care is needed
We’ve all had those days (and weeks!) when we’ve just felt “off.”
And when you’re feeling overwhelmed and tired, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s making you feel this way, because we just want to attribute it to, well, everything. In these instances, you can use our new Self-Care Pad to help you assess your current state and determine what areas in your life need care and attention.
The top section of the Self-Care pad asks you to rate the following:
Are you giving high ratings to your professional and social areas but low ratings for spiritual and emotional? That’s probably a sign that you might want to scale back on social and professional obligations and carve out some alone time for relaxing activities.
This self-assessment section serves as your own little self-care guide, offering you a structured and non-judgmental way to evaluate how you’re feeling. When you’re feeling “blah,” it can be hard to find the words to describe how you’re feeling. This rating system is a simple, clear cut way to identify your current state.
Now that you have a clearer idea of what your self-care needs are, you can now determine the best ways to address those gaps.
Self-care activities you can do for yourself today
If you’re finding it hard to free up space in your schedule for self-care activities, don’t fret. Here are some restorative things you can do for yourself today, whether you have 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour.
- Do some light stretches
- Do an adult coloring book
- Create a gratitude list and write down 5 things, people, places you’re grateful for
- Read a calming passage in a book or your favorite inspirational quotes
- Put on a sheet mask
- Make a cup of tea
- Write a seasonal bucket list
- Make a travel wish list
- Water your plants
- Make a list of things or activities that make you feel grounded and relaxed (then do the activities on this list when you have more time!)
- Go outside for a walk
- Do a yoga video
- Do watercolors
- Call a friend
- Run a hot bath
- Watch a favorite show that you’ve already watched a hundred times
- Write in your journal
- Do watercolors
- Bake something that will make your kitchen smell delicious
- Light some candles and curl up with a transportive book
- Take an online dance class
- Go for a walk in a new neighborhood
- Read a chapter from The Artists Way
- Turn off your devices and ease into your nighttime routine
- Several hours or a half/day
- Go hiking in the woods
- Walk on the beach and collect some pretty shells
- Have an outdoor picnic
- Go for a long bike ride
- Relax in a hammock with a good book or magazine
- Clean your house (some people find this relaxing!)
Now that you have some ideas for relaxing activities, make sure to schedule your self-care activity in your planner or Self-Care Pad. This ensures that you will commit to do something nice for yourself, instead of making someone else a priority.
It may seem silly or awkward or even selfish at first, but scheduling your self-care activity signals to yourself that you will make your health and well-being a priority. You’ll start to treat these activities with the same importance as your work deadlines or family obligations, because they are.
How to maintain a self-care routine
Whether it’s dedicating an hour each day or setting aside a weekend afternoon, you’ll want to make a conscious effort to carve out time for yourself. Make sure to keep this time sacred. No interruptions or cancellations or letting someone else’s priorities encroach on your self-care time.
Of course, emergencies and urgent work requests are bound to happen, but try to maintain this commitment to yourself and have a back up plan or downsized version of your self-care activity.
So if you were planning to do an hour walk but need to attend a last minute meeting, then see if you can do a relaxing evening activity instead. Or do a 15 minute version of your walk.
On the Self-Care Pad, there’s a section where you can schedule your self-care activities for the week, which will help you track and maintain this new routine.
Remember: these activities can be as simple and mundane as you want. Maybe it’s treating yourself to a fancy latte one day or lighting your favorite candle or coloring while watching TV. Not only is it less pressure to incorporate simple activities, but sometimes, it’s the simplest act that can make you feel that much better.
And once you develop a rhythm for your self-care routine, you can designate certain days of the week for your relaxation, mindfulness, or beauty activities. So go ahead and schedule that Self-Care Sunday--it’s good for you.