The other week a friend reached out to me asking “What pointers do you have for getting started with regular self-care?”. I gave her a few pointers and had a “duh” moment, realizing that’s a perfect topic for a blog post. Thanks to my friend for the idea!
I’ve been practicing self-care on some level for 4 years now, but over the last year and a half, I started investing more and more in myself. Part of it was I genuinely needed to. Part of it was I realized that this is a precious time in my life before I get married and have kids. This is a time to really invest in myself and solidify those things that fill my cup. Plus, my time is my own in a way that is unique to my state of life.
So without further ado, what tips and pointers do I have for getting started with regular, consistent practice of self-care?
- Start small
Self-care is actually really simple if you allow it to be. It can literally be as simple as ensuring you drink enough water in a given day. Set a goal to drink the recommended amount for your body every day for a week, and then a month. And before you know you’ll be well hydrated and feel so much better. A good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water. So I weigh approximately 140lbs, I should drink approximately 70 oz of water daily. On days I run or hot yoga I try to drink more to make up for what I lost in that sweat sess, but 70 oz on days I don’t drip in sweat works pretty well. And I don’t get headaches as easily or wake up feeling as achy when I’m meeting my water goal. But start small. Drink enough water, and build from there.
- Be Consistent
Pick something small that you can do every day, and do it. Every. Day. The goal here is to build a habit. It takes 21 days to build a new habit. So pick something small, do it every day, let it become a habit.
- Try New Things
Okay, so, you’ve nailed the water habit. Time to start branching out. Maybe you want to add in exercise to your self-care routine. I know exercise is crucial for me. Find a form of exercise you enjoy. I love running and hot yoga. I alternate between those throughout my week. I like other forms of exercise that I throw into the mix too. But hot yoga and running are a necessity for my well being. Maybe you don’t like running, try cycling. Don’t like cycling? Try kickboxing. Don’t be afraid to try new things. What works for me won’t necessarily work for you. Find what brings you joy, it will not only nourish your body but also your soul.
- Set a time frame
I kinda already talked about this but set a time. A concrete time frame for your goal. If water drinking is your starting point than say I’m going to drink enough water for my body every day this week. And once you successfully do that extend your goal. This is really important for the small daily goals. Another option could be for the month of August I want to take one day/evening each week and set it aside for myself. Some sort of tangible, measurable time frame. It’s a rewarding feeling to reach that goal.
Tell someone about your goals. Ask them to check up on you. Let them know the kind of support you need. A few weeks ago my friend told me she wanted to start gratitude journaling again and she asked me if I would hold her accountable, by checking in with her each day for the week. I may have forgotten a day or 2 to check on her. But the days I did check on her she was nailing it. I know for me just telling someone I’m doing it usually helps. My boyfriend and I have been telling each other when we’re going to go exercise (we’re a long distance relationship right now) and it has helped so much to motivate me and push me knowing he’s going to do the exercising.
- Set it as an appointment with yourself, and don’t cancel it.
Say you set up to meet a friend for happy hour, and last minute something comes up and you cancel. You feel super guilty having to cancel on this person. You should feel just as guilty canceling on yourself as you do when you cancel on someone else. As you grow and develop a self-care practice you’ll learn what your body, mind, and soul need. For me, I need my epsom salt baths. I love to take an epsom salt bath, with a glass of wine and a good book. I do a face mask and a hair mask. Wednesday night is usually my night to do this. I don’t usually work Wednesdays, so I’ve set that aside as my “me” night. It’s my date with myself. I cook myself a nice dinner, and after dinner, I’ll draw and bath and soak in the goodness. But it’s my non-negotiable date night with myself (or rather, if I know at the beginning of the week there’s something going on that night I plan for it to be a different evening).
- Do what you love
I already addressed this a little bit, but find something you absolutely enjoy doing, and do that. Hot yoga, running, cooking a nice dinner, enjoying a good glass of wine, taking a bath, reading a book. These are my go to things. You have to figure out what yours are. Maybe it’s nature hikes. Maybe it’s kickboxing. Maybe it’s steamy showers. Maybe it’s a hot cup of tea and your journal. Whatever it is, find something that leaves you feeling restored body, mind and soul.
- Write it down
Literally. Write down in your planner or on a whiteboard in your room or on a calendar, somewhere that you will see it every day. Write down your goal. Schedule your time with yourself into your week.
- Develop a routine
Again, we’re shooting for building a habit of making time for intentional self-care. Like I said, Wednesday is my bath night, and my “me” night. I drink my water. Monday is my planning day for my week. I have a routine, and I plan out my self-care. I plan my meals. I plan my exercise. I plan my alone time, and when people ask me to hang out I don’t list that scheduled alone time as a free time to hang out with someone. That’s my date that I planned with myself. I already have plans that night.
- It looks different for everyone.
Seriously. Self-care looks different for everyone. I love hot yoga and running. I love mornings and curling up on the couch with my journal and my book. I like hot baths with epsom salts and essential oils and all the goodies. I like breakfast dates with myself at Staufs. I have a friend who likes to journal in the evening and she loves kickboxing. Maybe you like to take yourself to a happy hour or go on nature walks, or journal at lunchtime as a mid-day pick me up.
Self-care is a learned art. But it is vitally important to living a full, abundant, whole life. We need to stop, and just be. Be present to ourselves. Disclaimer for my ideas and habits of self-care, I am absolutely an introvert so self-care could look vastly different for an extrovert. But regardless I think it’s important to take time to yourself.
In the last year of very intentionally practicing self-care, I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I am in fact introverted, and I do better in smaller groups. I need to get outside and see the sunshine. I love reading. Making homemade lattes is super fun. I love taking myself to breakfast and cooking nice dinners. But just start small, and you’ll learn and grow from there.
If you need help figuring out where to start or want ideas please please please don’t hesitate to reach out. Helping and encouraging people is what makes my heart happy.