How To Start A Self-Care Routine That'll Actually Work With Your Life

Self-care is a very tricky term for some people. While many understand that self-care is key to a well-rounded life, others believe that self-care is simply taking a bubble bath. While baths are great self-care moments, the concept is much deeper than that. 

Self-care is important to ground yourself, even (and especially) during a busy life. It's no secret our lives are filled with hectic moments without stopping. Indulging in self-care isn't selfish, it's a necessity to keep us levelheaded and calm during tiring phases. As psychologist Matthew Sacco, Ph.D., explains to Cleveland Clinic, "It's participating in activities that you value. It doesn't have to be overly complicated. It's just that planned intentional aspect that you look at it for promoting your well-being. Doing this kind of work thoughtfully, in a very planned way, is absolutely a vital part of being more effective in the world around us."

Participating in self-care doesn't need to take hours out of your day. Self-care is as long as you need it to be, even if it's only five minutes in the morning. One of the hardest aspects of having a self-care routine is putting it together and keeping it. If you haven't yet practiced self-care or are looking to develop new habits, sticking to these new steps can be difficult. The key to creating a self-care routine you'll do is simpler than many might think. However, it involves being honest with yourself and knowing what you want to get out of your routine.

Establish your goals

The first thing you need to do before you start thinking of self-care habits to add to your routine is truly think of what you want to get out of it. Many go wrong in developing their self-care routine by not establishing what they want their final result to be. Perhaps your goal is to become a healthier version of yourself. Knowing that this is the final goal can help you think of self-care steps (like drinking more water) that can get you closer to that result. Another goal you may have is to unwind and relax after a long day at work. For this goal, you may want to look at steps like reading or meditating to get you to that end goal. Regardless of what type of goal it is, knowing what you want is key to building a good routine.

Not only will establishing your goal gets you closer to figuring out the best routine for you, but it will ensure that you stay motivated to keep up with it. When you create a routine built around goals that motivate you, there are better odds that you will continue it. Just adding self-care routines because they look trendy on social media doesn't ensure that you will stay with them in the long term. To pick up these habits, you need to have an emotional connection to them — one that inspires you to stay on track.

Write down what makes you happy

Once you know what you what to achieve out of your self-care, it's time to consider what truly makes you happy. If you aren't a bath person, taking baths won't help you relax and destress after a long day. Based on your goals, write down a list of activities that bring you joy. Consider various activities that refresh your mind, body, and spirit when making this list. Choose steps that you know will be easier to do in those moments when you have no motivation. 

It's important to let yourself truly list things you enjoy without any restrictions. Don't worry about how you will complete all of these activities since you aren't scheduling anything yet. Knowing what brings you joy will make it much easier to go through your list and schedule things with intention.

While social media is a great place to get ideas for activities, it should be used carefully. Self-care isn't one-size-fits-all, and what works for you might not help someone else. If you're having trouble thinking of activities or things that bring you joy, social media can get your mind moving and highlight some things you can add. When brainstorming your list, nothing is too big or too small to be added. Something as simple as your favorite scent can be incorporated into your self-care routine. Be sure to write down all the things that bring you happiness.

Consider the mind, body, and spirit

It can be easy to get overwhelmed with all of the options there are for self-care. You can go for exercise, do some yoga, take a long shower, or do your skincare routine. However, examples like this only tackle one aspect of your routine, the body. It's easy to focus on one area while forgetting the rest. The purpose of a good self-care routine is to hit inside and out. Not only does your body need rest, but your mind and spirit do as well. Steps like reading or meditation are great ways you can take care of your mind. After stressful days, it's a good habit to relax your head and give it a break from thinking about everything it has going on. Just as your body gets tired after a long day, so does your mind.

Spirit can be a challenging area for those who are new to the self-care journey. However, caring for your spirit doesn't necessarily mean dealing with anything out of this world. The spirit category is broad and can be anything from walking in nature to reading inspirational books. While this isn't necessarily anything religious, working on your spiritual self-care means dealing with your mindset and emotional self. Taking a few minutes to list off things you are grateful for is a great way to practice self-care in this aspect.

Schedule your self-care

Coming up with ideas is the easiest and most fun aspect of creating a self-care routine. The hardest part comes shortly after. Once you have an idea of activities and tasks, it's time to schedule them. Although it may seem excessive to block time out for something as simple as reading, it's necessary to give yourself the importance you would with any other task. Your self-care time is as crucial as other appointments, making it worthy of being on your calendar. Scheduling in time for yourself officially makes your self-care routine a priority that you should tend to.

Life can get busy, and setting aside large blocks of time can be impossible with your schedule. However, as Entrepreneur states, it only takes 10 minutes for you to achieve an activity that can help reset your mind, body, and spirit. Whether it's the first 10 minutes when you wake up or the last 10 minutes before bed, any time is perfect for taking care of yourself. If you're accustomed to being on the go, it can get fairly difficult to make some time to stop and ground yourself at the moment. 

For those who are new to taking this kind of time, give yourself 10 minutes once or twice a day. Although small, these 20 minutes can do wonders for your self-care journey. Once you start getting used to the idea, add a few more days and minutes to your self-care routine until you feel comfortable.

Keep yourself accountable

The human mind can be a deceptive thing sometimes, meaning it's very easy to trick ourselves into doing something. If you're just starting to carve out time for yourself, it can be easy to say no to self-care in favor of something else. For that reason, it's best to get yourself an accountability partner to ensure you're going through with the promises you made to yourself. Sometimes it's easier for us to fulfill promises if we know that someone else is involved. As mentioned in Forbes, having another person to be accountable to can help make the process less of a chore and more official. Once you've spoken of your goals and plans to someone else, it gives you an extra push to follow through and complete it — even if just to avoid disappointing the other person.

Your accountability person can be anyone, from your followers on social media to the people you live with. If you plan on going out on a walk, share it on social media and let people know you're going out on your daily walk. While others may not think twice, it puts you into the habit of being consistent. However, the easiest way of keeping yourself accountable is to tell someone who can push you in person. Whether it's someone who lives with you or is going on their own journey, try getting together on a scheduled day to share your progress on how you are doing with your self-care.

Be easy on yourself

Self-care doesn't mean you need to be strict with yourself. It's simply a journey in which you strive to give yourself a much-needed break and get away from your problems for a split moment. Because everyone has different versions of what self-care looks like, it's very easy to fall into the trap of comparison. While it's great to gather ideas for self-care activities (especially if you don't know where to start), try to not put pressure on yourself to have your journey look like others. Comparison can quickly ruin your self-care journey if you're planning to pick up a new hobby or habit. Remember that anything new won't be perfect straight away, as well your new hobbies or habits are meant to give you a break in your day and not aimed for perfection.

One of the reasons why most self-care journeys fail after a few days is that it's very easy to fall off track with it. Whether it's something coming up or forgetting to do your self-care of the day, it's normal for there to be days you lose track. Once you've lost track, it's easy to give up on your self-care and convince yourself you'll restart some other time. Consistency is more important than perfection. Simply regain your progress the next day and rejoice in your commitment to yourself.