Incorporating Self-Care into Your Daily Routine

6 Oct

Self-care involves taking time and energy for “self.”  It is not to be confused with selfishness or over indulgence, which is extreme.  Rather, self-care is a necessary component of combating stress and anxiety.  Self-care is an essential part of promoting balanced mental health.  It can be difficult to engage in self-care/restorative actions.  In a previous post, I discussed how self-care relies on self-monitoring and the importance of incorporation in order to prevent professional burnout: “Self-Care Relies on Self-Monitoring to Prevent Burnout.” In that same post, I also linked to examples of self-care such as: exercise, meditation, art, reading, etc.

However, fitting in time for self-care between work, school, kids, housework, etc. can feel impossible.  There is only so many hours in a day, after all.  I’ve developed some ways to adapt self-care into short, medium, and long – time frames.  From there, these time frames can also be approached from a multi-purpose perspective.  For instance, going out for a walk can be fun, relaxing, and a form of self-care; it is also exercise, and can be part of health-care goals.  Meditation can be both restorative and religious/spiritual.  Combining self-care with personal goals is a good way to give self the time and attention that is required, while also making small but measurable progress at the goals that are often set aside in favor of practical priorities.

(A step-by-step illustration of multi-purpose self-care after the jump!)

Self-care does not have to be lengthy.  It can involve taking a hot bath, reading a chapter of a book, or writing a brief blog article.  Self-care is specific to self.  Make a list of the things that you enjoy!  The following is a list that I created, but it will vary depending on your likes/dislikes, etc:

  1. meditation
  2. hot bath with bath salts/oils/& scented candles
  3. taking walks
  4. writing
  5. reading
  6. playing video games
  7. hot tea/coffee
  8. listening to music

This short list of some examples of things I enjoy can be combined with responsibilities that would otherwise be time consuming.  Examples of combining self-care with responsibilities in order to make more time for self during a busy day are as follows:

  1. meditation – is combined with religious practice, I attend a Tibetan Buddhist center once a week
  2. hot baths – we all need to practice good hygiene, setting aside an extra 10-15min or so can allow one to add a few “special” items to ones bath/play some music/ and relax (I recommend setting a timer if you do this, so that you don’t have to worry about keeping track of time.  The goal is to relax after all.)
  3. taking walks – I’m trying to lose about 5lbs and tone up a little more.  Walking combines exercise with enjoyment.  I also have a new puppy at home, walking serves as meeting a responsibility to that new puppy.  This makes it both a necessary chore and a chance for self-care/exercise.
  4. writing can be fun but it can also be “homework”…which isn’t fun – blogging daily promotes good writing habits that will hopefully transfer into the new school semester while providing a restorative outlet for expression.
  5. playing video games – if i could figure out a way to incorporate this with a responsibility…I’d be set 🙂 As it is, I don’t really get time to do this that often.  I try to set aside time once a week to either play video games/watch tv/do something that falls under mindless entertainment.  Of course, this winds up at the bottom of the priority ladder 😦
  6. Every morning I get up, let the dog out, and make myself either some hot tea or coffee.  I like to relax, wake up, and watch the news for 5-10min before starting to get ready for the day.  It’s important to have a morning ritual.  At work, I’d give myself a “tea-time” even if couldn’t take a full lunch hour.  I’d make a cup of tea and give myself 5min or so at my desk before getting back to work.  I always felt better and more productive taking time out for myself throughout the day (as compared with rushed/hectic days).
  7. Listening to music – driving to work, I love to crank up the radio…at home while working on homework, I’ll play Pandora in the background.  It helps keep me awake, on-task, and also makes me feel better.

What are some things that make you feel good?  How could these things be incorporated in your daily routine to maximize time, responsibility, goals, and self-care? Check out the following link for more information on the psychology behind self-care: “Self-Care Relies on Self-Monitoring to Prevent Burnout.” And remember, self-care does not have to be huge time consuming or costly activities.  It’s the little things that are the most effective.

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