Self-Care is a word that we hear a lot and it can look different for each of us.
To some, the word might sound like frivolous pampering but self-care is so much more than that. It’s vital for us to live our best lives.
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The definition of self-care is:
“the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.”
“the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.”
For me, self-care encompasses my mind, body, and soul.
I’m sharing some tips that have worked for me but trust me that I’m not perfect in my practice of it.
There are days/seasons where I’m better at this than others but the goal is to stay on track so that I can be my best self.
1. Have Something to Look Forward to Every Day
I personally like to have something to look forward to EVERY SINGLE DAY.
It doesn’t have to be something big or expensive.
It could be as simple as a tv show, time outside, a meal, reading a book, or scheduled time with friends or family.
For example, I have a few friends that I go on spontaneous hikes with while our kids are in school. These hikes fuel me in more ways than one.
I look forward to the exercise, being out in nature, and meaningful conversations.
Give me REAL any day.
These talks help me know that I’m not alone in whatever I’m going through during that time.
These hikes are also a great “timeout/intermission” from my online work and help me feel refreshed to go back to whatever project I was working on.
2. Ask Yourself “Why is Today Going to Be a Great Day?”
Another great piece of advice came from an amazing podcast interview that I listened to between Ed Mylett and Dr. Amen on the topic of your brain and mental health.
One of the regular practices that Dr. Amen said he does each day when he wakes up is to say to himself “today is going to be a great day because_________.”
I love the idea of starting each day with something specific that you have to look forward to.
At the end of each day, he reflects and says today was a great day because of _____.
Gratitude helps us find and focus on the redeemable moments in the life we already have, instead of focusing on the “if only’s.”
3. Make Your Mornings Count
Our mornings can really set up our day. I always look forward to a cup of coffee in the morning but I’m starting to add a glass of water while I wait for my coffee to brew.
Drinking water in the morning has so many great benefits including helping with weight loss and healthier skin. I’ve found that it’s easier to add a good habit instead of taking a bad habit away.
I keep a water bottle with me all day long which makes it easier to get my water in.
When I wake up I try to make my bed before I start getting ready because it literally takes me less than a minute and it’s an easy win. My bed is the largest item in my room and visually it makes me feel better when it’s made.
I tend to rotate nights or evenings with my gratitude journal and daily reading prompts from the Crossroads app to build up my spirit.
For work, I’ve found that it helps to do a “brain dump” by writing down what needs to be done each day or for the week and crossing it off as I go.
Otherwise, I find myself remembering important things at random times throughout the day at the wrong time, when I can’t write them down or do anything about them.
When I procrastinate on stuff I know I have to do, I’m creating double the stress for myself. Just because I want to ignore it doesn’t mean it will go away.
The longer I wait the less time I’ll have to get it done.
4. Move Your Body Everyday
I’ve found that movement brings momentum to my life.
Sometimes it’s REALLY hard for me to start or designate the time to do something that I need to do.
When I do finally make the time and start, I find that it’s easier to also add a few more things to the list once I’m already moving.
Starting can be the hardest part.
If I hit a wall creatively, many times it’s because I’ve been idle in one place or room for too long. I’ve heard that the sweet spot for completing a task is 50 minutes.
Once we’ve reached 50 minutes, we need to pause and do some sort of movement for a few minutes to reset.
Movement is more than exercise.
If you don’t enjoy doing it, you probably won’t.
It’s important to discover the types of movement that you enjoy whether it’s dancing, yoga, or walking, etc.
After you discover what you really enjoy, the next part is figuring out ways to make time in your schedule to be able to do it more often.
5. Recognize Your Most Productive Times
Are you a morning person or a late-night person?
I’m more productive in the morning and I have to evaluate tasks that require different levels of brainpower. If I need to be really creative, I found that I tend to tap out by a certain time each day.
I need to tackle the mentally challenging tasks first, not last.
With that knowledge, I need to arrange my projects so that I don’t waste my most productive hours doing tasks that could have been done later in the day.
If I waste my productive time I tend to be stressed out later when I try to work outside of my productive zone.
Every now and then I get a late-night burst of energy and I get a lot accomplished if I don’t stop the momentum.
Hacks to get you moving
- Set a timer- Set a designated time to focus on your task
- Countdown 5-4-3-2-1- I learned this method from Mel Robbins’s philosophy in the “5 Second Rule” to retrain my brain to action.
- Incentives and rewards to make progress or complete a task
6. Reward Yourself With What You Love
What’s making you happy right now? (shows/activities/hobbies)
My mom was such a great example of this. She became a full-time caretaker when my special needs brother was born but she was previously an art teacher.
Taking care of my non-verbal brother with a feeding tube was both physically and mentally exhausting.
As a child, I observed something really important. She used art and crafting as a form of therapy and self-care during that time.
She would stay up late into the night painting, even at the cost of getting less sleep. It was life-giving for her to make time for something that she enjoyed doing that renewed her energy to face another challenging day.
I try to use rewards as a motivator to complete or do a task.
Hikes and bike rides are my go-to close to home.
I also need a reward for doing “adulting” tasks that I don’t want to… but need to do.
For example, housework including sorting laundry and doing the dishes are way more interesting while I’m listening to a podcast that encourages or challenges me spiritually or professionally.
That shift has made my unpleasant tasks more enjoyable by incorporating something to look forward to.
Treat Yourself Ideas
- Learn Something New / Try a new Hobby/ Youtube
- Listening to music/podcast
- Pamper Yourself
- Create Something
- Build or Make Something
- Practice relaxation/ breathing
- Watch something funny/ that makes you smile
- Read a book
- Designate time to enjoy social media/ media
- Take a nap/ go to be early
7. Know Your Triggers
Pause to recognize the things that can set you off to a negative mindset.
Remember to H.A.L.T. when you feel triggered.
Were you triggered by something on social media? Do you need to give yourself a “timeout” to cool off before you say something you would regret?
Ask yourself “Would the best version of me make this choice?”
I totally understand wanting to treat yourself or do something impulsive that feels good at the moment.
Or avoiding something that you don’t want to face because it intimidates you.
There is nothing wrong with treating yourself every now and then. But is it a treat or a vice in your life?
My vices tend to be ANYTHING sugary. The problem is if I start to use these treats as a way to self-medicate every time I feel triggered without evaluating the “why” behind the emotion.
I have used the pantry to stuff an emotion so many times when I felt angry or hurt.
If I’m not mindful my innocent treats can start to transition into a spiral of treating every day like a vacation, as a way to escape from my reality.
I also enjoy an occasional drink but the problem is if I’m finding excuses/justifications to make the occasional drink transition into the everyday.
My unhealthy habits can be just as easy to form as my healthy ones, because the more regularly I have them, the more I crave them.
I have to remind myself A LOT that food is FUEL because when given a choice I tend to lean toward the unhealthy option.
8. Make Intentional Connections Every Day
How are you staying connected with people you care about right now?
Brendon Burchard author of High-Performance Habits shared in a Facebook video that every day he makes 5 meaningful connections every day.
That really stood out to me because he is constantly cultivating relationships that are valuable to him with intention.
Relationships are WORK!
Relationships are like a garden. You have to plant seeds, water, nurture, get rid of the weeds, and unfortunately sometimes cut off things that aren’t producing fruit.
Everyone gets busy but if you neglect to invest in meaningful relationships regularly, you can’t expect that you will have people in your life to lean on when the tough times come….and they always do.
Thankfully we tend to experience our ups and downs at different times so that we can lean on and lift each other back up.
My favorite people are real and vulnerable, which makes it easier to be real and vulnerable right back.
Honestly, I can’t stand small talk.
Those types of relationships make it so much easier to accelerate your friendship, no matter how much time passes between talks.
Sometimes you just need to have an honest heart-to-heart if you feel like a friendship that you value is dying or one-sided.
Many times it’s not intentional it’s just been on the back burner of our priorities.
The friendships that can pick back up no matter how much time has passed are a true gift.
Sometimes it can be REALLY painful to discover that a relationship that you valued was only for a “reason” or a “season” in your life and not a “lifetime.”
It can be really hard to let a relationship go that was once a big part of your life.
Sometimes moving on or ending an unhealthy relationship is the healthiest thing you can do if its season is over.
Draining relationships are exhausting. Healthy relationships refresh and build you up.
You teach people how to treat you by what you tolerate
Sometimes you have to establish better boundaries to keep you safe (physically or mentally) from people who constantly push them in unhealthy ways.
It’s important to invest in the relationships that value you and your time together.
We also need relationships that challenge us. Don’t get me wrong, I love the type of friends that I don’t have to clean my house for if they stop by, who love me just as I am.
I also love the friends that will ask me the tough questions. They won’t let me make excuses and inspire me to do better when they know I can.
5 Ways to Connect With 5 People Every Day
We are all busy but connecting with someone in a meaningful way doesn’t have to be overcomplicated or take up hours of our time.
- Schedule a time to video chat
- Do something to make them smile (send a text with a funny meme or a picture saying “I saw this and thought of you.”
- Encourage them by calling, texting, emailing, social media DM, or a card
- Compliment them
- Spend quality time together with them
Self-Care Bingo Challenge
I created a Self-Care Bingo Card (with the help of my friend Stephanie) as inspiration and a reminder to take care of yourself.
You can save this image on your phone and cross off the challenges as you complete them. Or you can print it and use it as a visual reminder to focus on prioritizing specific areas of self-care each day.
Save this article for later. Pin the image below>>