With the start of the new year, self-care is probably high on your list. In fact, 80% of adults living in the United States plan to start a self-care practice in the near future, according to a survey by Dr. Wayne Jonas and The Harris Poll. So chances are high you’re thinking about starting or updating your routine. Your self-care is an important part of your health. Starting a self-care routine does not need to be difficult. By starting small and doing the little things that will give you a big impact, you can build a simple practice that gives you huge payoffs. If you’re curious about how Erin practices the self-care of happiness, read here. Otherwise, here are 5 ideas for starting a self-care routine to set yourself up for success.
#1 | Define Your “Why?”
So many of the self-care habits and practices can sound good- and be good for you. Regular deep tissue massage? Check. Long walks through nature? Got it. Extra sleep? Sign me up!
But, no matter how good for you that self-care practice is, if you don’t have a full understanding of why you want to start the practice, it’s likely you will struggle to be successful. Think about it… If you think that it’s important you practice yoga, but you are a high-energy person who sits at a desk all day, it will be harder for you to get the full benefits of the yoga practice right away. Instead, taking a Crossfit class will more likely enhance your physical and mental state.
To find why you want to start a self-care practice, the key is to ask yourself why until you really get to the root of it. Maybe you think you should start a practice that includes meditation. But why? Because you want to feel calmer. Why? Because you’re tired of feeling short-tempered with your kids and partner. Why? Because you feel stretched too thin by life right now.
Maybe meditation is exactly what you need to start with. But maybe not. Now you can better determine what would serve you best and get you closest to your goal of feeling calmer.
#2 | Choose The Easiest Thing To Do
Maybe choosing the easiest thing to do first is a no-brainer, but it bears repeating. It’s the classic “Snowball” effect. When you start with something small, it’s easier to be successful. Then that success builds your ability to take on bigger practices.
It’s not just choosing the easiest type of practice to start, it’s also choosing an easy way to implement the practice. If you want to start walking outside for nature and exercise benefits, and you’re not a morning person, it isn’t in your best interest to plan to walk first thing in the morning.
Instead, you should follow your own natural rhythms and plan your ten-minute walk for when you are most likely to follow through.
#3 | Make It Fool-Proof
If you’ve struggled to keep your word to yourself in the past, making your new self-care practice fool-proof is important. Once you’ve chosen what self-care practice you’re going to implement first, plan to do it at the same time each day. While it will feel uncomfortable at first, with a few weeks of practice, it will become second nature.
There are a few ways you can use routine to follow-through with the practice. If you want to practice breathing more deeply, you can use the time it takes to brew your morning coffee as the time you’ll mindfully take deep breaths. You can also set alarms on your phone to remind you of when you should practice your self-care. Or maybe you use a regular event or item to trigger your practice. For example, you could use waiting at a stoplight to practice gratitude.
There is no “wrong” or “best” strategy. Go for the one that will help you keep your practice.
#4 | Add On Slowly
Successfully implementing a self-care practice feels powerful. The benefits we gain from taking better care of one area of our health can push us to want to do something in other areas. We want to ride the wave of one success into others.
But if we add on too much at once, it can backfire. We could end up dropping the practices we’ve already successfully implemented in trying to do everything. Instead, take your time in adding in new practices. When you’re not in a rush, you allow yourself to fully integrate the practice into your life.
One way to know you’re ready to add more practice into your life is when you no longer need to remind yourself to do the practice. When it is now part of your lifestyle -when you almost don’t remember not doing it- is when you’re ready to bring in something new.
It is valuable to know where you want to go with your self-care practices. Having a vision of where you want to go is a powerful tool for getting there. Just make sure you know you’re ready to take on more.
#5 | Reevaluate – But Not Too Often
Reevaluating your self-care routine is important too. As you grow, your needs change. Your self-care practice needs to grow and change with you.
Reviewing what your self-care practices are and if they are helping you take the best care of yourself should happen regularly. For example, if we’re in a season of extreme stress, being vigilant about the media we take it could be vital for our mental self-care. But when we’re in calmer times, we could be ready to loosen our self-imposed restrictions.
Habits take time to build, so make sure you give your new self-care routine time to build roots and give you benefits before you evaluate. Planning to change your routine too often gives you an “escape hatch.” You won’t need to do the work it takes, which will make you want to jump to the next practice. Aim to keep your practice for at least 3 months, but 6 would be better. If at the end of that time, you feel you’ve grown beyond the practice, or it’s no longer what you need, switch it up.
What self-care practices do you plan to begin this year? How do you plan to hold yourself to them?
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