Inspired Forward is an Amazon Affiliate partner, as well as an affiliate partner with other bloggers and affiliate programs. We may receive a commission from products purchased through affiliate links in this post.
Self-care means different things to different people. Sometimes it's a lot of relaxing, and other times it's a lot of planning, organizing, and preparing. This post is a guide for self-care: why it matters, some things to try, and everything in between. Please leave a comment if you want me to add something!
Why Self-Care Matters & Super Simple Ways To Treat Yourself
You’ve probably heard the term “self-care” used a lot lately. It’s become a popular buzzword in the media and in personal development circles.
However, you still may be unclear on what it means. While the concept involves taking care of yourself, it goes much deeper.
Read on to learn what self-care is, why it matters and how to get started doing it.
Self-care covers a lot of areas regarding caring for yourself. It involves nurturing your body, mind and spirit. It focuses on building yourself up so that your internal resources don’t become depleted.
Essentially, self-care is being as good to yourself as you would be to someone you care about, like your best friend. It requires you to show yourself some compassion and encourages you to be vulnerable with others, asking for help you when you need it.
What doesn’t fall under the umbrella of self-care are self-destructive coping mechanisms such as using drugs, drinking, gambling, or retail therapy. These things only make you feel good in the short-term and are a form of buffering.
The Benefits of Self-Care
There are lots of benefits to practicing self-care. Embracing this concept can be difficult for those who’ve always emphasized the welfare of others.
However, giving all your energy to those around you without filling your own back up leaves you depleted and empty. Spending time and effort on yourself rejuvenates and energizes you. Indulging in your own interests shows your worth, leading to improved self-esteem and a more positive outlook on the world.
It teaches you a lot about yourself and provides you with insight into what you need to be the best version of yourself.
Self-care helps you better cope with stress and to prioritize what’s important to you. You’ll be better able to take care of others when you also take time to meet your own needs.
Examples of Self-Care
There are countless ways to add self-care into your routine. The key is to choose activities that are most enjoyable to you and provide you with the most benefits.
Going for a walk in nature is great for those who enjoy the outdoors. Other forms of exercise like yoga, running, or going to the gym work well, too.
Spending time with friends can rejuvenate you, but so can saying "no". Allowing yourself to decline invitations or favors when you’re feeling run-down is an enormous part of caring for yourself.
Treating yourself to a favorite, affordable indulgence like a movie, manicure, or massage are all good examples. Other things could be taking a bath or meditating. These are just a few of the ways you can easily incorporate self-care into your life.
Now you know what self-care is and what it’s important. You’ve also got some ideas of how to get started, so you’re well on your way to adding this useful practice to your life.
Start & End Your Day With A Little Self-Care
Like any new habit, adding self-care into your life can seem kind of tricky. You probably wonder how you’ll find time to do anything extra for yourself, let alone how you’ll remember to do these things.
One of the best ways to get started is to build your activities into predictable parts of your day. To make something a habit, it has to happen regularly. Keep reading, and I’ll show you some tricks to making self-care a routine part of your life.
Make It Personal
The first thing that will help you in creating your self-care rituals is to choose activities meaningful to you and that you enjoy. This is your practice, so you want to be sure it’s customized to get the most out of it.
Consider making a list of things about which you feel relaxed, peaceful, excited, or happy. You should be able to do these activities in a short amount of time and easily fit them into your life without special equipment or tools.
At least as you begin your practice, the things you do should be as simple as possible.
Fit It In
You should add your self-care rituals to the most convenient parts of your day.
Choose times that are already somewhat flexible so that incorporating something new into that space will be less stressful. Many people (including me) have morning or evening routines, right when they wake up and before going to sleep each night.
Getting up fifteen minutes earlier than usual and setting aside a window during the usual night-time schedule are usually things most folks can do. However, maybe designating your daily lunch break as your self-care time might work better for you.
Consider activities like writing a gratitude journal entry before bed, listening to music while having your morning coffee, or going for a short walk over your lunch hour.
You might need to experiment, but find a moment to call your own every day.
It’s best to come up with a routine that works for you and stick to it. Committing to a particular schedule will help you create a habit and ensures that you get the self-care you need.
However, try to cut yourself some slack. Some days are more hectic than others. You may not fit in your expected self-care activity, and that’s okay.
Tomorrow is a new day, and you can try again. Soon, you’ll want to take part in these rituals, and getting back on track will be easy.
Getting into the practice of regular self-care doesn’t have to be difficult. Making a few adjustments to your existing schedule can free up some space in your day. Choose things that will refresh you and that are simple will make getting started a breeze.
Try Something New Today To Care For Yourself
Creating habits and adding activities to your calendar help increase your chances of sticking with your new routine. Another way to keep things interesting is to treat yourself to things you’ve always wanted to do.
Adding new and novel experiences to your self-care routine is like giving yourself a little gift every day. It’s a great way to stay motivated to do things to care for yourself.
Taking physical care of yourself by pampering makes us feel good. Pampering is a go-to for many people with their self-care routine.
Think of something you’ve never done before. It doesn’t have to be expensive. A minor indulgence can have the same effect as an extravagant one. Maybe consider scheduling a manicure if you’ve never had one.
A bubble bath with candles can soothe you if this is something you don’t do often. If your budget will allow, a spa day with a friend could rejuvenate your body and spirit.
I find my massage appointments extremely useful for my own self-care.
Most of us don’t buy ourselves presents often or even give ourselves little treats. You can change that starting now.
Think of something within your budget you’ve been wanting for a while. Then give yourself permission to buy it.
Maybe it’s that pair of shoes you’ve had your eye on or the cell phone upgrade that would make your life easier.
Giving yourself one gift that fits within your budget, no matter how small, can be a boost to your self-worth.
Enjoy the Little Things
Self-care really doesn’t have to be on a grand scale. The tiniest gestures can be the most meaningful. Indulging in small free or low-cost treats allows you to spoil yourself more often.
What are some little things you’ve never done for yourself that you can start adding to your life today?
Have you ever bought yourself flowers? Give it a try. You’ll get a boost every time you see that beautiful bouquet on your table or desk. Think of your favorite food item, the one you have on special occasions. Why not make one day a week a little more special by trying a new version of it? For example, commit yourself to tasting a new truffle each week at your favorite cholate shop. Get creative with it.
I'm doing this with Scotch. I'm on a mission to try 10 new Scotch whiskies and I've already tried four so far. It's so fun!
Adding new experiences to your self-care routine keeps things interesting and can also help make them more meaningful. Novelty will also expand your world and enrich your life. Plus, it’s just fun!
Make A List Of 5 Simple Self-Care Routines You Can Fall Back On When Needed
Beneficial habits like self-care often go by the wayside during stressful times. It can be difficult to focus on anything but the bare minimum when life gets hard.
The fact is, though, that these are the days when you most need to take care of yourself.
One way to have a self-care toolkit to help you out during these instances. Having a list of self-care routines can make it easier for you to implement them when needed.
Make a List
Let’s start with your self-care backup plan.
This is a list of at least five activities you can easily fit in your life during the most stressful periods. Having such a reminder on-hand will let you gain the benefits of caring for yourself without having to think about it too much.
This list can include simple reminders like go to bed early so you get enough sleep, eat nourishing food to keep your energy up or ask for help you need it because these are all things you might forget when you’ve got a ton on your plate.
During times of trouble, the very basic foundations of self-care can be the most important.
Make a Care Package
Another way to boost your chances of keeping self-care at the focus during hard times is to prepare a care package ahead of time.
This can include some of your favorite little indulgences like a good book, herbal teas, a facial mask, fuzzy slippers, and soothing music.
Include anything that brings you joy. Being able to reach for this package when you’re stressed can mean the world and make a monumental difference to your outlook.
Involve Your Tribe
When things look bleak, you may require a bit of help to get back on track. That’s why it’s an excellent idea to reach out to trusted friends and family now, to enlist their help for the future.
Talk to your closest confidants and let them know you would like them to always encourage your self-care routine. Share with them the benefits it’s provided you and tell them you’d appreciate their help if they see you aren’t caring for yourself as well as you should be.
Sometimes those who know us best can see things we don’t. When your crew knows to look out for you, they can reinforce your self-care needs during times of stress.
Taking steps to plan now can make maintaining your self-care routine easier. Always remember, it’s during the hardest times that you need to nurture yourself the most.
Self-Care Doesn’t Have To Cost Anything
Lots of people get the wrong idea about self-care. They think they have to be deserving of it. They feel like it’s splurging to do something good for yourself. It can seem extravagant.
I’d like to change that mindset today.
Self-care is something you deserve. Everyone does. It benefits us all, along with those around us, when we put our own well-being at the forefront. You can’t take care of others when your own well-being is suffering. Let’s look at some free and low-cost ways you can care for yourself.
Take a Time Out
Sometimes, alone time is all you need to feel rejuvenated. So why not give yourself a time out? Lock yourself in your room with a cup of tea. Listen to some quiet music. Just sit still and think for a bit. It’s a luxury we all can afford.
Waste Some Time
We often feel pressured to be productive all the time. Being busy is a sign of worth and accomplishment. However, it really doesn’t have to be that way. Just kicking back and doing nothing is important to recharge our batteries. Let yourself have some downtime to do something frivolous like binge on your favorite Netflix show, take a nap, or just sit and pet your cat. You deserve it.
(The cat might even thank you.)
Do Some Writing
Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, journaling can be a very therapeutic activity. Jotting down what you’re grateful for is beneficial to well-being. Doing thought downloads, or brain dumps, can energize you once it's all out of your head. Writing dreams for the future might inspire and motivate you to take action.
Reach Out to Someone
Socializing is a crucial part of self-care. Even introverts need interpersonal connection. Humans aren’t meant to be isolated, despite what the government says right now with COVID-19.
Pick up the phone and call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Sit down and Skype with your favorite internet pal. Meeting up in person for a walk together or a cup of coffee is even better. Connecting to others might just provide the spark you’ve been missing.
Change Your Perspective
A change of scenery can be a wonderful source of renewal, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot. Just heading out to walk in your neighborhood might help when you’re feeling stir-crazy in your home.
If you’re able to afford it, a low-cost staycation to a nearby location for a day or two is a fun way to switch things up.
While these are just a few of the countless ways you can indulge in self-care without spending much money, perhaps they’re just the jumpstart you need to explore this concept. You truly deserve to spend time, energy, and effort on your own well-being.
Don’t Feel Guilty For Practicing Self-Care
Earlier, we touched on the fact that many people feel guilty for spending time and resources on self-care. There are a lot of complex reasons for this within our society.
Despite what anyone else may say, you deserve to focus on your own needs. In fact, it’s good for those you love when you take care of yourself. You truly can’t fill another’s cup if your own is empty.
So, I’d like to take this opportunity to emphasize why you shouldn’t feel guilty for practicing self-care and encourage you to do so in every area of your life.
It’s Not Selfish
Understand that taking time to care for yourself is not selfish. Like, at all. It may be hard to get past the mindset that the needs of others are more important than your own, but overcoming this mindset is essential to allowing yourself to adequately meet your own needs.
Care isn’t a zero-sum concept. When you care for yourself, it doesn’t have to mean you don’t care about others.
Self-Care is Necessary
Self-care isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. It really is like the airplane air mask comparison. Ensure you can breathe before you can help those around you.
If you’re tired, rundown, and overwhelmed all the time, you absolutely cannot give your best self to others. You also can’t offer yourself the very best. Remember that self-care isn’t selfish.
It Sets a Good Example
If you’re a parent, investing in self-care is not only good for you, it sets a good example for your kids. Even if you don’t have children, taking the time to care for yourself might inspire or motivate those around you.
In order for a stigma to end, we have to normalize it. When more of us let the world know why self-care matters, they may change their minds about the concept.
It Demands Respect
It also sets a precedent for how you expect others to treat you. When you show that you value yourself and that you find worth investing time in yourself, they will respond in kind.
Learning to say no and set boundaries is good for your relationships. It teaches others how you expect to be treated and clarifies that you see yourself as a priority. There’s no reason to feel guilty for that.
It will take time to overcome a lifetime of messages society has given you and you’ve internalized. With practice, you can come to see the benefits of self-care and that it doesn’t have to be something that causes guilt.
Tips To Continue To Take Care Of Yourself Going Forward
Self-care is a process. It requires practice and dedication if you want to make it stick. Don’t get discouraged if it takes time to make this part of your life.
It’ll get easier, and you’ll probably crave your self-care activities so much you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them.
However, there will inevitably be times that are busier or more stressful when self-care may go by the wayside. If you find that happening, be sure to follow these tips to continue to take care of yourself.
Follow Your Gut
Sometimes we get so busy that we live on auto-pilot. That’s only natural during hectic times, but it’s critical that you attempt to listen to your instincts during these times to know whether you need a boost.
When you feel especially frazzled or fatigued, that’s not a cue to double down and work harder. It’s your body and mind telling you that you need a break. Listen to them.
Along these lines, look for other unusual signs that things are off balance with you such as irritability, eating poorly, losing sleep or indulging in bad habits. These things are telling you to take care of yourself.
Schedule It In
A trick that helps some people to fit self-care into their schedules when life gets busy is to actually write it in their date book or calendar. Treat your self-care commitments like any other appointment or event. Write the time you’ll start and finish. Be specific about the activity you’ll engage in.
Doing these things will increase the odds that you’ll actually follow through. It’s easy to put yourself on the back burner when life gets crazy, but don’t forget that these are the times you need self-care the most.
Create a Plan
Developing a self-care plan is crucial to maintaining your well-being. It’s so important to have a self-care toolkit at your disposal during life’s busiest and most stressful periods.
Keep your emergency self-care list and your care package together so they’re easily accessed when you need them.
You also make sure there’s a list of trusted contacts to call when you might need some self-care encouragement and accountability.
Your tribe can provide the motivation and support you need to take care of yourself.
One last word. Assess your self-care needs regularly. This will also help to keep you on track. Ask yourself once a week if you’re giving yourself enough time and attention.
Listen to your instincts. Make adjustments as necessary. Self-care is an ongoing and evolving process. It requires your constant attention.