Getting started with self-care is much easier than most people expect. In this article we’ll discuss setting up a self-care routine that will nourish you mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
The number one question I get about self-care is “where do I start?” I think everyone gets into their heads when it comes to self-care and they think it needs to be this big production or else it shouldn’t be done at all. Getting started with self-care is actually a very simple process–I’m here to share how I did it and how you can do it too.
I also created a self-care checklist to help you with this process every week, so feel free to grab that if you think it would help.
Clarity for getting started with self-care
I have an analogy that I use often to help me determine if I’ve gotten sidetracked in life. If you’re standing out on the beach playing in the waves, one of two things usually ends up happening– you’re either riding the waves or getting smacked by them. You’re either letting the waves happen to you, or you’re making the waves work for you.
If you don’t have a self-care or mindset routine that you practice, you’re essentially letting the waves smack into the back of your head repeatedly and just trying to roll with the punches. Hell you might be just floating around with waves drowning you or tossing you around like a rag doll.
That’s how life feels when you’re not tending to your mind and soul. Our society is so hugely focused on physical health and exercising, eating right, etc–but not so much focused on the importance of self-care. Self-care is the key component when it comes to mental and emotional health.
What you need to do before you begin anything is to drag your tired body up onto the shore, lay on your back while the sun warms you up and get clear on how you’re feeling, what’s draining your soul and what you need.
Everyone has different methods for gaining clarity; I need to write my thoughts out, my mom needs to be making something with her hands, my husband needs to be physically exerting himself. What activity helps you sort out your thoughts? Ask yourself the following questions.
- How am I feeling right now? How have I been feeling?
- Where do I need relief?
- How would I like to begin feeling?
Definition of self-care
Before I go further, I would like to define what I mean by self-care. Society would have you believe that self-care is painting your nails while giggling with some friends or reading a magazine once a month by yourself. These kinds of self-care articles make me puke a little in my mouth.
Self-care is a deliberate action one takes to commune with their own soul. It’s a respite from the outside world, a chance for one to take deep breaths physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Self-care is an act of loving oneself so that that love can flow out into the world around them.
Why self-care is important
Self-care is a crucial aspect of your health. Would you never drink water and expect your body to be okay? We know that our bodies require water and in the same way we need to know that our emotional and mental health depend on self-care.
Regular self-care helps by giving you a chance to process your life, experiences and feelings. Without stopping to do this, you become the person caught in the waves being hit over and over again without getting a chance to catch your breath. Self-care is a powerful tool for managing anxiety, depression and many other issues that the pharmaceutical companies would have you believe only comes in a bottle.
Does a one-time remedy cure something forever? Usually not. That’s why self-care needs to be practiced on a consistent basis. Just like working out once a month won’t give you abs, self-care sporadically practiced here and there will not reap you the benefits of weekly self-care.
That is the very basic reason why self-care is important. Beyond that, self-care becomes a space in your life where you heal yourself of past traumas and hurts, where you come to know yourself on a deep level, grow your self-confidence and worth, and gain your inspiration for living life.
It’s so all-encompassing that it’s hard to try to condense it down in a few sentences.
Examples of self-care
- Reading, especially books that help navigate personal healing and growth
- Creating things
- Physical movement (running, walking, surfing, climbing, hiking, dancing)
- Taking a nap
- Cleaning your living space
- Watching comedy
- Soothing bath or shower
- Screen-free mornings/evenings
- Candles/essential oils
- Cooking your favorite meal
- Lunch date with yourself
- Social media detox
- Writing a gratitude list
- Petting your dog/cat
- Creating new goals
- Calling someone you love
- Deep breathing
- Cozy clothes
- Low lighting
- A cleared schedule
- A cup of coffee/tea
- Saying NO
- Saying YES
- A stay-cation
- Treating yourself
Gather some self-care tools
What’s your thing? If it’s writing you love, get a pretty new journal, binder or special place to write your thoughts. Reading? Get a few books either from the library or Amazon on personal development (this one was a life-changing one for me). Cooking? Go get some fresh ingredients and make a meal Ina Garten-style.
It’s not that self-care needs to cost money, it’s just that it really helps to know what resonates with you so that you can have that on hand or plan for it.
As I mentioned, journaling helps me tremendously so I always have a journal nearby. I don’t journal daily–it’s more of a therapy for me. Most of my entries start with “I’m currently feeling….” and then lots of emotional and dramatic scribbles! You can see in my writing that I calm down once I’ve gotten it all out, and more than just calming down I really do feel that I am provided guidance from my higher self.
When you resonate with an activity, it really does almost feel like a portal where you will receive divine guidance from whatever you believe in (higher self/spirit guides/the universe/goddess/god/Source etc.
Once you have a few ideas of what self-care tools help you, you can create a self-care basket and keep it anywhere in your home. This has made self-care so much easier for me!
Create a small space
You don’t need a full blown self-care or altar space to practice self-care. I surely didn’t have one when I first started. My small space just evolved into one. But I do recommend having a special area or drawer to keep your things.
I kept my journal and books in my nightstand drawers when I first started. I realized that I loved dim lighting so I hung up small string lights and kept a candle on my nightstand. It was so, so simple but felt like my little reprieve from the world.
Create a small area for yourself that holds your items that relieve, inspire or soothe you. It will become apart of your self-care tool kit.
Sometimes I find myself alone in the house (kids and hubby gone) and I seize the moment. Most times though that doesn’t happen and I have to plan for self-care time. My husband and I worked out a schedule where we take turns putting our kids to bed. So at 6PM, one of us has the night off to go to the gym or whatever we want to do, while the other one hangs out with the kids and puts them to bed.
If I was a single parent, I would use the time after putting my kids to bed for some self-care. If I worked three jobs, I would use my breaks to practice some self-care as well as my commute to work to listen to something inspiring. If I was a morning person, I’d do my self-care early in the day. I’m a night owl so I always do most of my self-care once the house is still at night.
I look for pockets of time. Where are your pockets of time? We all have them, we just have to let go of what our idea of self-care is and realize that self-care doesn’t have to take long.
Let go of guilt
The whole guilt debate really confuses me because I don’t understand why someone should feel guilty for convening with their damn soul, but then I remember when I first started self-care and I felt so guilty listening to my toddler cry in the other room with my husband.
So I get it. But…the guilt will go away once you realize how much of a happier and loving person you become because of the self-care. Once I realized how I feel and act without self-care, I absolutely no longer felt guilt over taking time for self-care.
Even my husband encourages me to do it because he now knows as well how much easier of a person I am to live with when I’m getting regular self-care. Same goes for me–I encourage him to go to the gym because that’s where he processes his thoughts and feelings. He always comes home a more relaxed person because of it.
We have to encourage each other to take care of ourselves emotionally and mentally. For me I even argue that it’s more important than physical health, because your mind is where everything starts. Physical health is directly impacted by mental health.
Let it be simple, drop any expectations you have and just check in with yourself as often as you can remember to. Once you begin, it gets easier and easier and then you being to crave it; it’s as if this whole world seems to open to you because of it.
Lots of love and thank you for reading,
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