Summer Self-Care, Part 4: Make Self-Care a Habit

Welcome back to the blog, and to the end of August.  Am I the only one who can’t believe that next week is the last day of August and the start of September already?!? (I’m not ready to say goodbye to summer yet, though since fall technically doesn’t start until later in September, fortunately I don’t have to!)  We’ve spent the last few blog posts talking about self-care: how important it is, how to tackle some of those obstacles that get in the way of self-care, and how to make it fun and playful.  So now is the perfect time to discuss ways to make sure that self-care isn’t just an occasional thing that we treat ourselves to–but rather a habit and regular part of our routine.  True, we might not be able to do “special” things like get a massage or go on a vacation on a daily or regular basis, but there are still things we can do to incorporate self-care into our everyday lives.    

Incorporating Self-Care Into Your Daily Routine

A little self-care can go a long way toward improving your mood and turning a bad or stressful day around.  Here are a few things you can do to set yourself up for a better mood and to center self-care in your day-to-day life.

  • Get Enough Sleep. Set your alarm to go off about an hour before you need to get into bed. Turn off all electronics, turn down the lights. Set your thermostat to a comfortable overnight temperature, if you’re able to. Avoid eating too late. If it helps you to calm down, get in bed with a good book. Getting a full night sleep is vital to waking up in a good mood. You will feel energetic and much more willing to start out your day without resentment.
  • Get in Some Movement or Exercise Time. Physical activity is known to release endorphins to the brain. Endorphins are hormones that are responsible for making you feel happy. Find time for whatever type of movement gets your endorphins going–whether that’s a hard gym workout, a walk around the neighborhood, some dancing, or restorative stretching.
  • Stay Hydrated. Dehydration can be responsible for headaches, dry skin, fatigue, and dizziness. The standard rule of thumb is to drink either half your body weight in ounces of water or try to drink 8 glasses or 64 ounces of water a day. Raw veggies and fruit can also be hydrating.
  • Take Your Breaks.  Don’t pass on fitting in a work break where you can. Use this time to relax and focus on something else that makes you laugh or just sit down and breathe. If you work for yourself, try to schedule in 10 to 15-minute breaks at least every four hours.
  • Ask for Help.  Asking for help can be challenging for some people but you should never be afraid to ask. Ask your friends and family to help you out every now and then to relieve some pressure off everyday tasks. More than likely they will be happy to help. If you are finding it hard to take care of yourself don’t be afraid to ask a professional either. Mental health is the most important.
  • Learn to Say No. If you are overwhelmed, too busy, or just don’t want to do something saying no is perfectly fine. You have permission. Taking on too much work or doing things you don’t want to do leads to poor quality work and some unhappy people. Don’t do that to yourself. If you keep everything scheduled you can easily look at your calendar and say “No, that date doesn’t work for me”.
  • Decompress. Take time out each day and relax. Get away from people or go get a massage, some coffee, or a cup of tea. Your time to decompress is important to a good attitude.

Feel free to adjust these ideas to your own individual needs and remember to make it simple. Some people find great comfort in knowing that they can take care of themselves, get away, and practice self-care without guilt because it’s something they have a right to do.

Create a Self-Care Survival Kit

A self-care survival kit is a personalized box of fun things to use to pamper yourself. When you are feeling sad, stressed, or just feel like it, pull this box out and enjoy. The survival kit will help you loosen up and just relax and feel a sense of self-pride. Making a kit can be just as rewarding as using one. This can be a fun activity to do with friends and family or even just by yourself to unwind.

The first task that needs to be done when creating this kit is finding a box or basket to put things in. Buy colorful markers, glitter, and ribbons to decorate the outside if you want to. This can be super creative or just simple. Decorate until you are happy with the way it looks.  Now it’s time to figure out what items to put in the survival kit. Essentially you want to fill it with anything that makes you feel good, brings a smile to your face, or relaxes you.

A good way to help you get started is by using all five senses as you fill your kit. Let’s look at a few ideas:

  • Sight. Photos of loved ones, a favorite book or magazine, a list of affirmations, postcards from friends and family, or adult coloring books.
  • Smell. Scented candles, incense, or essential oils in a scent that you find relaxing or invigorating can be a great addition to a self-care kit. 
  • Hearing.  Favorite music playlist, an audio book, or a list of your favorite videos on YouTube.
  • Touch. Anything that you can feel and want to touch. Avoid textures that make you uncomfortable. Cleansing or moisturizing facial masks, foot scrubs, calming lotions, stress ball or extra paper or a journal to write poems or thoughts. Silly putty and kinetic sand are other great stress relieving toys.
  • Taste. Little treats like a piece of chocolate, a couple of pretzels, or nuts can go in your kit if those are snacks you enjoy; gum, flavored lip balm, mints and tea bags are also good options.

Add as many items in each category as you like. If there are certain categories you don’t care for feel free to avoid it. Maybe you want complete quiet when doing these activities so you might add in some ear plugs instead of music. You want to feel excited when you open this box so make it worth it.

Keep this box somewhere you can see it every day and easily get to. Don’t hide it away. This box is a way to remind yourself that you need time for you. The more you see it the more you will remember that you are just as important as everything else going on in your day. Eventually, it will become a good healthy routine. 

I hope this gave you some good ideas to inspire you to make self-care a part of your everyday life! I understand it can seem challenging, since I definitely still struggle with carving out time for self-care–I’m still working on putting together my “kit” but so far have added books, card games and affirmations–but don’t stress about it! We’re all a work in progress and the idea isn’t for self-care to be one more thing on our “to-do” list but rather something that brings us calmness and joy.  So, keep working on those small ways to make self-care a habit and feel free to share in the comments what daily self-care means to you! 

In the spirit of self-care, I’m taking the “extra” 5th Thursday in August to recharge, so there won’t be an August 31st blog post next week, but I’m excited to resume in September with a new theme.