Tips On Starting Your Own Self-Care Routine

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What is self-care? Anything from lighting a candle to a trip to the beach will qualify. For me, it’s taking the back roads with less traffic, because that’s what makes me happy. It’s also asking others to wait a minute if that’s what’s best for me at that moment. Society strongly encourages us to be kind, to be patient, to be polite -- all great virtues. However, when these come at our own expense, they are interfering with our self-care.

Who is in charge of your self-care? Well, you are. Nobody else knows what and when you need the things you do.

Where do you begin? You get to become the expert in determining your own self-care. Start simple and let new preferences evolve over time. And if you need help getting started, talk with your therapist about some suggestions.

Is it hard to do? Self-care feels difficult to begin and is sometimes challenging to maintain. We gain the ability first to understand, and then to express what these needs are to ourselves and others.  

What does taking action look like? Start with brainstorming a list of ideas that you can pull from when you make time for your self-care. You can even create a running list on your phone for while you’re on the go.  

No time? Self-care will require a little dedicated time in the beginning. However, like anything, the more often you do it the more automatic it will become.  For example, I love candles. I’ve found that these are one of the quickest and simplest ways I can regularly engage in my own self-care. I keep candles on my shopping list and try to have them on hand at all times. This might sound silly. But enjoying a candle is one thing I do to feel calm, relaxed, present, grateful and in touch. Who knew lighting a candle could do all that? It may not for you, but I’ve found it does for me.      

Stepping it up.  Have you gotten off to a good start?  If so, a deeper level of self-care is becoming attuned to your own needs on a regular basis, especially in settings you may not be able to control. This involves checking in with yourself often. One subsequent step that follows is the ability to identify and share times when our needs are not being met. Being aware of this, even when we can’t yet do anything to fix it, is a great and important step in self-care.

What’s in it for you?  So many positive and exciting things! Including an improved relationship with yourself and others. You might also find insight, respect, calm, the ability to decompress and recharge, and to connect with yourself and others in more intentional ways. Also, fun!  Self-care can be really fun. It may feel like work in the beginning, so pick your favorites. For me, my favorite types of self-care are walks outside, time with family and friends and massages. Start simple and build!

Isn’t self-care selfish? Self-care not only benefits us, but it can also benefit others. It allows us to remain intact and feel better. It can also enable us to function at a higher level and to be more present in our interactions and relationships with others.        

How do I know?  I work with both individuals and couples to improve their relationships. In my practice, I consistently see that communication around this dynamic can be such a key component in relationships of all types. If we are not caring for and refueling and recharging ourselves, how can we possibly expect to show up for others? Self-care is one of the most important things I do on a regular basis that allows me to be my best self in my relationship with others.

Ideas for self-care: There are five pillars of self-care that you may choose to tap into:

  1. Physical
  2. Psychological
  3. Emotional
  4. Social
  5. Spiritual  

Anything nice you might do for someone else, you can also do for yourself. A few ideas are:

  • Being outside in nature
  • Do something active like hiking or skiing
  • Do something calming like yoga or napping
  • Pamper yourself – think pedicures (men can get these too!), massages or getting your hair done  
  • Listen to or playing music
  • Light and enjoying candles
  • Cook and/or eat foods you enjoy
  • Spend time with friends, family and loved ones
  • Complete chores and errands
  • Take a hot shower or a bath (make it a bubble bath!)
  • Take important days off from work (i.e. your birthday, when you are sick, etc.)
  • Take a vacation
  • Buy yourself flowers
  • Watch or go to a movie
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Get quality sleep
  • Read something you enjoy or listen to a podcast
  • Go to therapy
  • Have social outlets where you feel supported
  • Spend time contemplating your goals and values
  • Identify your needs -- and then fulfill or ask for them to be heard and met

Starting on your journey toward quality self-care can be daunting, but the rewards are worth it!    

Last Updated:
First Published:
March 21, 2019
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