Many of us spend so much time worrying about taking care of others. We work to please our boss, our family, our friends…but how many of us take time from our busy day for ourselves? Do you have a self-care routine?
Self-care doesn’t necessarily mean a whole spa day. Take moments throughout the day to nourish your mind, body, and soul. It may sound silly to implement little pockets of “self-care time” but these moments in your self-care routine give you a chance to stop, catch your breath, and assess.
They say if you don’t take a break, your body will take a break for you. It’s so true! If you’re depleted and exhausted, you can’t give energy to those around you. It’s hard to feel happy, purposeful, or positive when you’re worn down.
So, add a self-care routine to your day. Here are 10 ways to implement more self-care into your routine (even if you think you’re too busy)
1. Start with a Self-Care Routine in the Morning
Good habits start in the morning, which is why you should hold a morning routine sacrosanct. Look at it as a chance to set the tone of your day. It will make a huge difference in your stress levels.
Set your morning up for success the night before. Pick out your clothes, make sure your bag is packed, prepare breakfast ahead, and you will be set for a smooth morning.
A morning ritual could look like this:
- Wake up at 6am
- Meditate for 20 minutes
- Shower for 5 minutes
- Get dressed in 5 minutes
- Hair and makeup in 15-20 minutes
- Have breakfast
I like to start my morning with a little time for quiet meditation, which really helps me shift my mindset and prepare for the day ahead. I also leave my phone off in the mornings.
Take time to pull yourself together, even if you only have a few minutes. There are lots of quick makeup and hair routines to help you look and feel polished in less than 10 minutes. It’s amazing what a difference a little bit of self-care and effort has on your confidence. You’re worth it!
2. Organize Your Time
Finding time for your self-care routine is important. Breaking it down into micro-actions each day is easier than attempting to fit in a full hour or two in your busy schedule. Implement mini breaks and self-care moments every few hours to keep your energy up throughout the day.
Our schedule often becomes a huge source of our stress. We may feel the chaos of a busy, unorganized schedule and wonder how on earth we’ll fit it all in.
Instead of stressing out about your schedule, take time to organize your calendar. Block out the time you need for yourself. Make this time equal to any other appointments you may schedule. This is the time when you will replenish and recharge your batteries.
If you can’t fit it all in, consider what you can eliminate from your schedule. Allow yourself, without guilt, to cancel commitments when you need to prioritize your time. When you take time for your self-care routine, you’ll feel stronger and healthier for others.
3. Cut Back on Technology by Keeping Your Phone Out of Sight
Notice how “check social media” isn’t on the self-care routine? It’s not because social media is bad, per se, but when we over-use it, it turns something positive (keeping in touch with friends) into something negative (FOMO, comparisons with others, feeling inadequate, frustrated or angry).
It’s no secret most of us are at least a little addicted to our phones. But if you feel you need to implement more self-care in your life, taking a technology break or detox will seriously help.
If you’re ready to implement less “screen time” as part of your self-care routine, start by:
- Storing your phone in your bag.
- Using a program like Screen Time or Moment to keep you in check.
- Use Forest or Stayfocused/Freedom to stay on track.
- Turn your notifications off.
- Set your ringer to vibrate.
- Turn your phone off throughout the day and at a set time each evening.
Technology is a powerful tool, but it’s also a giant time-suck. If you want to find more time in the day, simplify your technology use. Consider less phone time an important part of your self-care routine.
4. Move More/Sit Less by Scheduling Breaks
If you’re working hard at your job, it’s easy to forget to add movement to your self-care routine. But finding time to move is important.
Doctors are now finding out sitting is one of the worst habits for your health. Finding even a few minutes each hour to get up and move will make a huge difference.
If you struggle to prioritize movement and exercise in your self-care routine, set a timer or alarm to go off every hour. When it goes off, take a few minutes to step away from your desk, stand up, move around, do a few stretches, or go for a short walk.
Self-care doesn’t mean beating yourself up if you can’t get to the gym every day or skip your spin class. It does, however, mean making your health and body a priority. A healthy, strong body will give you more energy and help you avoid illness.
Exercise is also a great way to clear your head. Even if you can only schedule a 20-minute walk over lunch or a quick trip around the block in the evening, add movement to your self-care routine. It will give you a chance to think, connect with yourself, and appreciate what your body is capable of.
5. Drink Water
This is a simple step to add to your self-care routine, but it makes a huge difference. Our bodies are made up of 60% water. It’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Symptoms of even minor dehydration include:
- Lack of focus
- Digestion issues/stomach cramps
- Brain fog or confusion
Drink water throughout the day to keep yourself feeling healthy. Get in the habit of carrying a refillable water bottle with you wherever you go.
Don’t like the taste of plain water? Enhance it:
- Add a squeeze of citrus or sliced citrus fruit.
- Drop in a handful of fresh berries.
- Add cubes of melon, cucumber, or mango.
- Warm up water or drink herbal tea.
- Add a sprig of mint or parsley.
- Drink sparkling water plain or in unsweetened flavors.
- Add a few drops of water enhancer/flavor.
No matter what you do to spruce up your water, drink enough throughout the day. You should aim for 6-8 glasses as part of your self-care routine (starting with one glass first thing in the morning).
6. Schedule Mealtimes for Mindful Eating
Do you find yourself “grabbing a bite” in the middle of the day? Do you eat a “sad desk lunch”?
Your meals don’t need to be a full-fledged production with photos and staged lighting, but they should be a priority. Mindfully eating helps us better digest our food. It helps us eat less, pay attention to the cues and signals of our body, and even make healthier choices.
I know it’s hard to fit a sit-down meal in your busy day, but even taking 5-10 minutes to really focus on your food will help you become a more mindful eater. Eat slowly. Chew your food. Savor the flavor and texture of each bite.
Think about your food, too. Imagine the people who contributed to the production of your meal: the farmers who grew the vegetables, the food production workers who sorted and prepared the food, the chef who cooked it. Each item we eat requires a great deal of human effort before it arrives on our plate.
Eat with gratitude and mindfulness and it will help you better frame your mindset during your meals. Nourishing your body with healthy, wholesome foods is an important part of your self-care routine.
7. Block Out 5-10 Minute “Self-Care Breaks”
Help yourself prioritize self-care breaks by putting them right on your calendar or schedule. Like any important appointment, keep these self-care commitments. Schedule a small break each hour and longer breaks every 2-3 hours throughout the work day.
Wondering what self-care actions to take on your breaks?
- Listen to music
- Read a book chapter
- Go for a quick walk
- Sip a cup of tea
- Enjoy aromatherapy
- Look at photos or art that makes you happy
- Chat with a friend
- Write a thank you card to someone
- Stretch or do desk yoga
- Have a mini dance party in your office
There’s a reason why employers are required to give employees breaks every few hours. Breaks give you a chance to regroup, rest, and catch your breath. Many of us forgo our breaks thinking we’re working hard, but the truth is, breaks actually increase productivity!
The idea is to step away from work and fully escape for a few minutes. When you come back to your project, chances are you’ll feel refreshed, renewed, and more motivated.
8. Spend Time Outside
Humans are part of nature. We naturally gravitate toward the outdoors. Simplicity, fresh air, green grass, and sunshine have an almost magical effect on our well-being. Spending time outdoors each day should be part of your self-care routine.
Now, I realize in the icy winter months, it’s not always possible to get outdoors all the time. Even if you can’t spend long periods of time outside, aim for a few moments to pause, breathe in the air, and connect with the natural world.
Bring plants indoors. Work near a window whenever possible. Let in light and fresh air by opening windows and curtains. Keep a few natural elements near your work space as well. Aromatherapy, greenery, even rocks, shells, or driftwood help us feel more grounded and connected to the earth.
During your self-care routine, go outside if possible. A walk around the block or through a nearby park will do wonders for your mental health. Observe birds or squirrels. Find a body of water to watch. Listen to the rain, crunch through autumn leaves, or feel the snow fall and the deep silence of winter.
9. Do One Nice Act for Yourself
If there’s ONE habit to add to your self-care routine, it’s to deliberately do one act of kindness for yourself each day. Add a reminder to your calendar. Put a sticky note on your mirror. Wear a bracelet to help you remember when you look at it.
Each day, do something for yourself. Savor your breakfast. Spend five minutes on meditation. Look at pictures of cute baby animals. Whatever it is, think, “this is my gift to myself today.”
It’s important we take time to do something to care for ourselves regularly. Make yourself a priority. It doesn’t need to be expensive or time consuming. Even taking the time to put on a delicious smelling lotion and push back your cuticles feels like a little luxury.
Thinking of the action as “one nice thing” each day will help you ensure you follow through. It’s easy to let days pass when we feel we haven’t had a chance for any self-care at all. Adding one simple item to our self-care routine feels both important and achievable.
Remember, you deserve self-care.
10. Set your Bedtime to Prioritize Sleep
The last, but certainly not least important part of your self-care routine should be to prioritize sleep. Most of us have an alarm for waking up, but how many of us also set an alarm for going to bed?
We push ourselves to fit in one more episode of our favorite show, one more email, or a few more minutes on Pinterest. Then then next day we’re groggy, tired, and off-balance.
To decide on an appropriate bedtime fitting your lifestyle, consider what it would take to fit in 8 hours of sleep. Assuming you get up at 6am, for example, you would need to get in bed at 10pm. If 8 hours doesn’t seem feasible, aim for at least 7 hours and work your way up.
To have a goodnight’s sleep:
- Keep your room at a cool temperature.
- Put away your phone at least an hour before bed (to avoid the effects of blue light).
- Make your room as dark as possible.
- Turn on white noise, a fan, or listen to sleep sounds.
- Make your bed comfortable with pillows and blankets.
- Sniff lavender scents to help you relax.
- Take a warm bath or drink tea to wind down.
- Sleep and wake up at a consistent time each day.
Prioritizing your self-care routine is really important to your wellbeing. Add these simple items into your daily schedule to make yourself a priority.
Each of us deserves to feel cared for and nourished. Taking time for yourself will make you happier, healthier, and more vibrant. You’ll feel a renewed sense of motivation. Remember, self-care will give you more energy so you have more positive energy to give to others in your life.