My Current Self-Care Routine
As a therapist, self-care seems like a nonnegotiable aspect of life. Which is why it always sounds so strange to me when, after asking a client how much self-care they’re using, they laugh and answer, “Ummm, none?” You might as well tell me you’re not sleeping or breathing air.
Self-care is as crucial to life as food, sleep, and social activity. But of course, none of us are taught that. In the 10th grade, we spent a full week learning about the Stamp Act of 1765, but god forbid they teach me how to take care of myself! I think self-care routines simply aren’t modeled for us. We aren’t taught about their importance or instructed on how to develop one. So I figured I’d just plop mine here for your viewing pleasure. It’s important to note that there is no right or wrong way to construct a self-care routine. Self-care is about what you find restorative. But I will highlight different categories of self-care to demonstrate all the ways you can use it!
1. Sleep - every day
As a lifelong sufferer of insomnia, bedtime rituals are sacrosanct. It’s not that I particularly enjoy the 90+ minute routine of getting ready for bed and browsing nonstimulating reading material - but I have to if I want to go to sleep with any chance of waking up at a semi-appropriate hour. Sometimes self-care is an investment in your future. As obnoxious as that bedtime ritual often is, I need it to sleep. And my body (annoyingly) requires rest if I want the energy to pursue my other hobbies and passions.
2. Enjoyable Movement - 3-5 times per week
I’ve written before about doing aerial arts. It’s just so damn fun! But I enjoy moving my body in other ways too. In the summer I like to go stand up paddle boarding at 288 Lake or swim with my family at my parent’s house. And I adored kayaking in Dubrovnik while on vacation. I mostly just do what sounds fun. I never exercise just to exercise. When I do, I start to dread and resent the concept of exercise. But when I move my body for fun? I feel amazing! I aim to move in a fun way 3-5 times per week.
3. Mindfulness - 3-4 times per day
I swear I don’t talk about mindfulness in every blog post on purpose - it’s just that it’s so freaking helpful! I found this coloring app through Pinterest called Recolor. The basic version is free and you can select from a ton of pictures to “color.” I spent a good hour on it before bed the other night.
I also try to pause between each session during the day and take 5-10 deep breaths. Stress management is like keeping your kitchen clean - if you put away your dishes as you use them, your kitchen stays a LOT cleaner. Unfortunately, many of us have the habit of waiting until our kitchens are completely wrecked before we do anything about it. Stress management is the same. Take regular, short mindfulness breaks throughout the day and tend to your stress as it arises.
4. Pampering - 1-2 times per week (TV time - daily)
Not everyone needs pampering. That’s fine. If you’re not a manicure kind of girl, don’t worry about it. But I enjoy having my nails done, getting my hair color refreshed, and going for regular massages. I probably do something within the pampering realm about once a week. Lately, I’ve enjoyed a glass of wine while taking a bath and watching Netflix (thank god for water-resistant iPhones).
Speaking of Netflix, I also just watch a lot of TV. Let me make a big caveat here: watching television is not inherently self-care oriented. TV can easily become a brain-numbing time suck. If you’re not sure if TV is self-care for you, ask yourself this question: do I feel better after watching it? If the answer is no, it’s not self-care. I know it’s self-care for me because there are specific shows I look forward to watching and I feel more restored after quality couch time.
5. Socialize - 1-2 time per week
Connecting with friends is crucial to my self-care. This is the first time I've lived in a house I feel comfortable entertaining in, and it's been super fun inviting friends over for dinner and drinks. I’m fairly introverted, so I have to make an effort to schedule plans with friends. My introversion mixed with occasional social anxiety means my first instinct is to turn down invitations. When I’m invited to something, I make myself pause for 5-10 minutes and process the invitation. Not because I don’t want to go see my friends - but because sometimes the idea of getting cute, leaving my house, and socializing seems stressful. But it’s really not. I always walk away from time with friends feeling restored and happy.
There you have it. That's my current self-care routine. It's not that exciting and it really doesn't need to be. Your self-care doesn't have to be a mind-blowing experience. Anything that contributes to your physical, mental, and emotional restoration will do the job.
What are your favorite methods of self-care?