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  • Writer's pictureTakiara Cadlett, LCSWA

How to Create a Self-Care Routine that Works for You

A woman sitting in the forest alone.
Nature is great for staying grounded.

Improving your self care routine

Are you looking for new ways to improve your self-care routine? We’ve got you covered. Making time for self-care is not always as easy as it seems. Let’s start with why self-care is important. Self-care means taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve your physical and mental health. When it comes to your mental health, self-care can help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness, and increase your energy. Basically, self-care is anything you do to keep yourself mentally, emotionally, physically, socially, and spiritually healthy. If you don't practice it regularly, you're risking your well-being and inviting burnout. Although prioritizing self-care may sound like common sense, it’s often the first thing to go when you find yourself in challenging situations. Think bad health, a financial crisis, job loss, divorce, or another significant life event. This is why it is important to keep it on top of mind and not as an afterthought. Life can make it harder to remember, especially in challenging times. Investing in ourselves is essential to managing stress, staying healthy, and living a balanced life. In addition, self-care also helps with better sleep, reduced burnout, and improved focus for your day-to-day tasks and activities. There are various aspects regarding self-care, such as emotional, physical, and spiritual. Nurturing your emotions and processing any frequent negative emotions can help you decrease stress, calm your nervous system, cope with tough situations, and boost your mood.

Emotional Self-Care

Emotional self-care means nurturing your whole self, including your inner life and emotions. Determining an emotional self-care routine can sometimes seem daunting, even tedious. You may feel overwhelmed by responsibilities associated with work, your family, or your household.  However, emotional self-care is essential to your overall well-being, and incorporating exercises throughout the day can help you stay physically and mentally balanced. You must be aware of your emotions before you can really tend to your emotions.

A great way to do this is by tuning in to your body. Notice the physical sensations that emotions bring up. Emotional self-care is important because it allows you to manage your emotions healthily.  When you prioritize caring for yourself, you have more emotional resources to invest in your relationships. Taking time for yourself enables you to show up as your best self. Also, taking care of your Emotional health has a host of benefits, from improving your mood to boosting your self-esteem. You’ll have more energy, clarity of mind, and emotional stability. All of this allows you to be more present and supportive to your friends, family members, and partners and generally have healthier relationships with the people around you. By taking care of yourself emotionally, you can even be happier and more productive at home and work. 

To take care of your emotional self, finding healthy ways to express your emotions is important. There are many benefits of emotional self-care, including improved mood, better communication skills, increased self-esteem, and better coping skills. Here are some examples that can assist with emotional self-care:

  1. Asking for Help: No one is perfect, nor can any one person do everything on their own. This is true even with managing emotions. Instead of pushing yourself to the point of burnout, consider asking for help. This could be help from a family member or close friend or even a professional.

  2. Journaling: One of the best ways to figure out exactly what you're feeling is to get it down on paper (or on a computer, iPad, tablet, whatever works for you). Sometimes, the simple act of writing it out helps you feel better. Other times, it helps you realize what you need to work on.

  3. Embracing Your Feelings: This one pairs nicely with journaling. Once you've identify exactly what your feelings are, it's time to actually feel those feelings. If you're sad, it's ok to cry. If you're disappointed, it's ok to feel and express that. Your feelings are valid.

Spiritual Self-Care

How is spiritual self-care just as important as the other two components? Great question! Although they might seem similar, the practice of spiritual self-care differs from emotional self-care in that spiritual self-care is solely based on you and your connection to your higher self. Your higher self is who you truly are, the real you. Your higher self is you that is disassociated from, and not influenced by, the ego or fear. Instead, this self operates from a soul-centered place that is aligned with your deepest desires. Spiritual self-care is another critical dimension to any well-rounded self-care routine. Just as it is essential to communicate our needs or nourish our bodies with nutritious food, taking care of our spiritual self is crucial to living a grounded and happy life. Understanding your existence in a spiritual sense is a crucial component of self-care that is easily overlooked. Your spiritual self-care practice doesn’t have to be focused on religion or include religion in any way; the choice is entirely up to you. Religion is only on possible component in spiritual self-care. Here's some options for spiritual self-care:

  1. Connect with Nature: Being in nature helps us to feel more grounded. When we're grounded we think clearer and have a better understanding of both ourselves and the world around us.

  2. Give Yoga A Try: While nature helps us feel grounded, yoga helps us feel centered. When we're centered, we are at peace with ourselves and the world around us.

  3. Read Inspirational Books or Quotes: Inspirational books and quotes provide us with "food for thought". Not only can this help you find motivation to become the best version of yourself (your higher self), but it can also help you view those around you in a different light.

Physical Self-Care

Last but certainly not least, physical self-care takes the form of engaging in activities such as regular exercise, getting enough sleep, and eating nutritious meals. This can enhance your physical health, boost your energy levels, and strengthen your immune system. Engaging in physical self-care is crucial from a preventative and proactive standpoint. In addition, it is critical during times of stress or crisis. Prioritizing your physical health can also look like eating healthy, getting your annual checkup, seeing the dentist, taking medications as prescribed, getting 7-9 hours of sleep, and seeing the doctor when you're not feeling well. Physical self-care doesn't mean you need to start running marathons; each component of self-care looks different for everyone. It’s important to identify your interests or areas you would like to focus on or improve. Check out these ideas for physical self-care:

  1. Eating Healthy: Not big on fruits and vegetables? That's ok. You can start by replacing just one junk food snack a day with a plant based food of your choosing. From there, set a goal to have at least one healthy meal a day. You'll be craving healthy foods before you know it!

  2. Exercising: This is another that doesn't require all or nothing thinking. New studies show that getting your heart rate up for 15 minutes each day is the minimum the average person needs to improve their physical health. This is great news if you're super busy and find it hard to find time for exercise. And remember, exercising can be as simple as cranking up your favorite dance music and dancing around the house for 15 minutes.

  3. Getting Good Sleep: Good sleep starts with a good routine. Try to stick to same set of activities before bed each night. This could look like taking a shower, doing your skin care routine and reading for 30 minutes before getting in bed. Sticking to the same pattern trains your body that it's time to sleep anytime this sequence of events happen.

Self-care can be various other activities that wasn't mentioned here as well. The important thing is to identify what works best for you. You can start including self-care for just thirty minutes a day. And you don't have to hit all three domains everyday. We all deserve to be the best version of ourselves and make ourselves a priority. By consciously taking the time to care for yourself and show yourself compassion, you can significantly enhance your mental well-being. Self-care looks different for everyone, and finding what you need and enjoy is important. Maybe yoga isn't your thing. Maybe journaling feels too hard. It may take trial and error to discover what works best for you. Engaging in a self-care routine has been clinically proven to reduce or eliminate anxiety and depression, reduce stress, improve concentration, minimize frustration and anger, increase happiness, improve energy, and more. Remembering self-care is essential because it is about listening to what your mind and body need!

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