Think about the last time you truly nourished yourself—not just with a good meal or a long weekend nap, but with something that replenished your soul. Maybe it was a calming yoga session, an invigorating hike in nature, a conversation with a trusted friend, or reading a compelling book while sitting by a crackling fire (my all-time favorite). Whatever it was, it probably made you feel lighter, more centered, and at peace.
Self-care is the foundation of every healthy person, relationship, family, and successful leader.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes. Self-care practice: 30 minutes
What Is Self-Care?
Self-care is all about giving yourself the love and support you need to live your best life.
Self-care no longer is a trite topic. Ever since people experienced the pandemic with the “new normal” that has disrupted our lives, self-care is a term that has become a buzzword.
In fact, a recent HuffPost article, I Can’t Self-Care My Way into Feeling Better Anymore conveyed the writer’s discouragement and sense of feeling more and more lost. Perhaps, you are feeling similarly. Even though the article gave a brief guide, what it didn’t address is the underlying need for resiliency itself.
Why Is Self-Care Important?
The bottom line is that taking care of ourselves is the bedrock of resiliency to handle today’s challenges. It is our primary defense against the dis-ease of discouragement and apathy.
Self-care is no longer negotiable; it’s our new oxygen.
When we’re well cared for, we are better equipped to handle whatever is thrown at us, making us much more resilient. Yet, it’s so easy to get out of sync with ourselves, especially in today’s world, isn’t it? The best way to connect to and realign with our best self is through self-care. The benefits of self-care are plentiful!
Related Reading: What’s All the Fuss About Self-Care?
But sometimes, it feels like self-love and self-care are out of reach; we think that we need more time, energy, or money to truly take care of ourselves. However, the truth is, though: we can all find ways to take better care of ourselves that fit into our busy lives and within our budget. It just takes a bit of creativity and effort.
Personal self-care must morph into a different form of caring for ourselves through the different seasons of our lives. During a global crisis like the pandemic or the Russia-Ukraine war, it might mean limiting the diet of negative news features or becoming a more active component for social change. Or practicing mindfulness so you can more easily reframe your discouraging thoughts to greater hope and assertive action. Or maybe get a release through one of the latest trends: axe throwing. Instead of your usual weekly yoga class, spend an entire day in nature to rejuvenate and recharge.
When we are raising a family, our self-care practices will look different than when we're empty nesters. If you're in the thick of a PhD program, your demanding schedule will require a completely different strategy. And if you're a single person or a single mom, again, the way you find your work-life balance and care for yourself will be unique.
A Formula for Self-Care
The formula below will show you how to design a personalized self-care routine that can help you achieve enhanced inner peace, even through difficult times. It’s a tool that you can use repeatedly whenever you need to change things up. Sometimes changing our environment and activities can be highly effective and give us a boost.
First, set aside a half-hour to plan a self-care routine that will support you—you can do this! Grab some tea, a pen, and some paper, and begin:
Imagine your ideal life or a time when you felt like you were at your very best —mentally, emotionally, physically, and energetically! What were you doing? What was your schedule like? What was different when you felt fantastically YOU!?
Write down your big and little dreams. Jot down your hobbies, favorite foods, and fun activities that renew you and fill you with energy and joy! Connect with what turns your lights on inside!
Let your mind—and heart—explore the many possibilities.
Now, review your list. Make sure it includes all the basic things you know you need to do to stay balanced, healthy, and happy—and keep your sense of humor (enough sleep, regular and nutritious meals, etc.). And remember to include emotional fitness, too.
Don't forget the self-nourishing actions like scheduling a massage or having a weekend with friends. Make sure to include the big and small actions that are crucial to you personally! And don't allow your mind to discourage you by saying things like, "Yeah right! Like that will ever happen!" or "We don't have time (or money) for that activity in our life."
Anything is possible. And unless you KNOW what makes you feel your best, you will be less likely to make it happen. Remember, you're creating a design that supports your best self.
Next, prioritize the activities by putting a star next to every idea that energizes and renews you the most. (Or you can do a scale of 1-5; five being the most renewing or enjoyable.)
Once you have your favorites identified, take a clean sheet of paper and divide it into four equal squares. At the top of each square, write: “Daily,” “Weekly,” “Monthly,” and “Yearly.”
Then, extract from your brainstorming list and add items in the appropriate squares. Maybe you can’t go skiing every day, but you can ski once on weekends. Perhaps, you love getting massages as a couple, put them into the monthly quadrant for a nurturing routine. (And yes, include that long-desired vacation to the Bahamas! You may not be able to make the trip this year, but you can dream, save, and make it a long-term goal.)
Now, begin scheduling some of these things onto a calendar or in your daytimer. If you have a joint scheduling app with your partner, decide the dates that work for both of you. (And maybe even have your partner do this process on their own... and then do it together as a couple!)
Post your organized list as a reminder to take care of yourself. A bathroom mirror is a good place—read it while you’re brushing your teeth in the morning. It will encourage you. Self-love begins with self-care.
It's so easy to let self-care slide with our busy schedules. Parents often sacrifice their needs when they're raising a family. Or it can be a trap to push ourselves to get one more thing checked off our very long to-do list. Don't! Give yourself the gift of caring for yourself not because you have to but because you deserve it!
When we take care of ourselves, the by-product is self-love. You’ll feel better about yourself when you make yourself a priority. You can even turn this exercise into your own personal self-care checklist to help keep you on track!
Lastly, do yourself a favor and take action. Nothing changes without action toward our goals.
Do one kind thing for yourself every day. Add some of the things that give you joy each week, whether it’s a hobby you’ve ignored or a creative talent you’ve let whither; it’s time to invest in you. Soon, inner peace will begin to sprout. Practicing extreme self-care is also one of the best ways to maintain our equilibrium and inner peace.
Related reading: “Self-Care Is Foundational to a Healthy and Happy Life.”
And if you’d like support or customized coaching or more self-care resources to accelerate your goals or transformation, contact us at email@example.com.