Although self-care can seem like an indulgence, it’s a deeply important practice for health reasons. “Self-care is often underrated in its impact,” says Katie Krimer, LCSW, a therapist at Union Square Practice in New York. “Even the smallest of gestures can help reduce overall stress, make you feel more present amidst anxiety, and remind you that you’re worth taking care of. Over time, self-care practice can improve self-worth, reduce stress, increase motivation, and, most importantly, teach us that not everything in our lives has to revolve around the more difficult aspects of our internal and external world.”
Life coach and author Karen L. Garvey, MBA, explains that much like cars, our bodies run on fuel—but we don’t come with a low-fuel warning light to remind us to recharge. “Instead, our body messages us through irritability, illness, lack of mental clarity, exhaustion, a decrease in productivity, and so on. These symptoms of depleted fuel can be largely prevented through self-care,” she says. She points out that women often have a tendency to take care of everyone else before themselves, but showing yourself a little love will give you more energy to return that love to others.
That said, creating a sustainable self-care routine that feels like a treat rather than a chore can be challenging. That’s why we turned to experts for their top tips on creating a self-care routine you’ll actually stick with.
1) Think about why
Before starting a new self-care routine, spend some time really thinking about why you need more self-care (dig a little bit here—is it because you work too hard, always put others before yourself, etc.?), as well as what you hope to achieve. “Maybe you want to be calmer, more focused, or to feel better. Once you’re clear on this, you can use it to help you choose what will be a good activity or routine to incorporate,” says Jane Scudder, a certified coach and motivational speaker.
2) Get back to the basics
Check in with yourself to make sure your most basic needs are being met. “Secure your oxygen mask before assisting others. We hear it on every flight, and it’s essential for life as well,” says Rebecca Newman, LCSW, a Philadelphia-based psychotherapist. “This means making sure you’re sleeping, showering, eating nutritiously, taking your medications, and drinking water at a minimum before you can assist others.”
3) Brainstorm ideas and write them down
Carrie Krawiec, a licensed marriage and family therapist at Birmingham Maple Clinic in Troy, MI, recommends breaking down potential activities by size. “Small may be taking a shower by yourself, whereas medium may be going to lunch with a friend. Large could be a weekend away,” she explains.
Once you’re clear on why you want to engage in more self-care and have ideas, get it all down on paper, says Krimer. She suggests writing down your motivations, self-care options, and anything that might get in your way. “Is it that you’re telling yourself you don’t have the time? Is it the belief that you need to focus on others and not yourself? Is it that you don’t think self-care will have a positive impact on you?” This can be a one-time exercise, or you can turn it into a journaling practice, which may help you reach your goals as well.
To help you stay well, this month Maple Organics is gifting Intention and Gratitude Journals to all Wellness Warriors with their monthly subscription. We hope this little gem helps you uncover your deepest desires and live with intention.