Self-care has become incredibly popular as of late. Recently though, it seems as though self-care has become more of a competition, an aesthetic goal to reach. If you watch videos of people’s self-care night routines, you might have noticed that while they are fun to watch, they seem difficult to execute in the real world. For myself, I find that many of the activities, tips, and tricks that people give for self-care, are not so relaxing or rejuvenating. I don’t particularly like taking baths or spending an hour on skincare when I’m dead tired. And I certainly don’t have the money to be spending on all the aesthetic self-care items that are out there. I found myself thinking, what are some practical habits we can incorporate into our day to have a little more self-care in our lives? These are things that don’t necessarily require money spent or a boatload of extra time in the day. Instead, these are practical little ways to be kinder to yourself on a daily basis.
Create a Daily Meditation Practice
So many people recommend a daily meditation habit, myself included. It’s not just because it’s trendy but because it has so many brain-boosting benefits. Meditation is used in so many mental health settings because it can transform lives. It is essentially training your brain to become aware of the thoughts that go whizzing through your brain. Many times, in guided meditation you are told to clear your mind, but that’s not the purpose, to have an empty mind. Instead, it’s practicing the ability to recognize the thought and let it go. Instead of chasing every rabbit that runs in front of your mind’s eye, you simply acknowledge it and let it pass. You may get to a point where you can sit in the quietness of your mind. Meditation takes practice, but once you start getting the hang of it, you will notice changes in your ability to handle your emotions and thoughts. Take five minutes to practice every day, and gradually increase if you have more time.
Journaling is a good way to get us thinking about our emotions and the state of our being. Journaling regularly can help you not only reduce stress but also help you work through any problems you might be experiencing. Throughout my life, while I have not always journaled frequently, I found it to be a very cathartic experience. To be able to write down all my thoughts and feels, was a way of helping me process through them and find solutions. Even if I did not find solutions to my problems or feelings, I was able to put them out there and recognize them in a similar way to meditation. I encourage you to do the same. Journaling through all your worry and anxiety can help you gain clarity on what may be causing it and how to deal with it. I also found it helpful to return to previous passages to gain further insight into a problem. Take a bit of time to journal a page or even just half a page. Think of something that has bothered you and put it down on paper. You might even find it a bit liberating to get it out of your mind and onto paper.
Set a Time to Stop Working
Many productivity gurus will recommend this as a way to stave off burnout. I think it’s a great way to be kind to yourself daily. Instead of pushing yourself for hours and hours, taking work home with you, set a time where you are done for the day. No more work, no more stress. Continuous work won’t produce better work. I understand if you have many things on your plate that you need to get done but please do be kind and give yourself a little freedom. Otherwise, burnout will appear on the horizon sooner than you’d like. It doesn’t have to be the same time every day either since many of us have many different obligations at different times. But when you do set a time, be firm with yourself, and stop when it’s time to stop. If you wait until you are burnt out to give yourself some breathing room, it’s too late. You will be taking time to deal with mental exhaustion and health as well as physical symptoms before you can relax. Try different times of the day. Even if it is only an hour before bed, take a bit of time to step away and take care of yourself.
Develop hobbies you thoroughly enjoy
Finding a hobby you truly enjoy is another fantastic way to care for your mind. I know for myself when I am working on a hobby project, it gives me something to look forward to at the end of the day. I love being creative and working with my hands so when I get the chance at the end of a long day, I find it to be incredibly relaxing and fulfilling. It can feel especially good when our hobby is something we are passionate about, but may not be able to pursue full time. So many are in stressful jobs that they do not want. Having something you can pursue on the side is worth exploring. Burning yourself out on a job you hate is an awful experience for anyone. Take some time and explore. Maybe when you stop working for the day at your set time, as suggested previously, you can take some time and learn to draw or knit or play guitar. Even the exploration of hobbies can be exciting and fulfilling.
Dedicate One Day a Week
I like to dedicate my Saturdays (or whichever day works best), to a day where I don’t have to do anything at all if I don’t want to. Generally, I do end up working on something, but there are some days where I just need the time to recharge. Now, it’s completely understandable if this is near impossible for you. Many of us have so much going on that we simply can’t sacrifice a whole day. I encourage you to try and pick a half-day if you can. Or if neither of those is possible, go back to my previous tip of setting aside time every night to be done. Maybe set aside a day once every two weeks. Many times, we feel lazy about those days we end up doing nothing, but they can be incredibly restorative. You can still work on things on these days, but make sure they are not work-related, or at least very lightly work-related. Do not trick yourself into thinking you want to get work done when in fact you merely feel obligated to get work done. Take this time to get some errands done or clean your house. Whatever you do, take this dedicated time to unplug your brain from work or other stresses.
Practice Being Easy On Yourself
Monitoring your self-talk is a simple, yet effective way to practice self-care all day long. The best way to start this is to start taking notes or journaling when you find yourself becoming stressed. If you set out to track this, it’ll become more cognizant for you and you’ll start noticing patterns in your thinking. Once you start noticing your thought patterns, you can start correcting them. Often, we don’t notice that we are having negative thoughts or destructive self-talk when something stressful is happening. If this is the case with you, as it was with me, take some time to think back on your day and evaluate either your overall thoughts for the day or a particularly stressful situation. Why was it stressful? Were you thinking anything in particular? Why were you thinking of those particular things? Simply taking time to reflect on your thoughts can be incredibly helpful for breaking down where your thoughts and feelings turn sour. You can incorporate charting your thoughts into your daily journaling habit as well.
Tough Love Self Care
We all put things off to some degree. Usually, because something about doing that one thing scares us. We don’t want to tackle the mounting dishes in the sink because it seems daunting. We don’t want to confront our bills because we don’t know if we have the money. While these tasks seem like insurmountable mountains, getting them done can be some of the most gratifying self-care out there in my opinion. I call it tough-love self-care because we often do not want to do these tasks and find them stressful. But in fact, it’s one of the kindest things we can do for ourselves, including our future selves. When we take care of those scary things, we are reducing the worry and stress that keeps mounting when we put them off. Instead of letting those things build bigger and bigger, tackle them head-on. This will take that stress off of you, making one aspect of your life that much easier. Think of your future self and what kind of things you can do for them. Prep all your meals for the week so that future you don’t have to stress about finding healthy lunches during the week. Organize your closet so future you does not have to stress about finding outfits for work.
I hope this list of practical self-care tips will inspire you to find simple and effective ways to be kinder to yourself. If you are experiencing burnout, anxiety, depression or anything else, please make sure to talk to a professional.
Let me know if you have any simple ways you take care of yourself and keep burnout at bay. I’d love to hear.