Adopting a Self-Care Routine To Improve Your Mental Health
Like any other healthy habit, practicing self-care may seem simple in theory, but following through daily is often tricky. Life gets in the way, setbacks and distractions happen and before you know it, that new self-care routine you wanted to create for yourself gets pushed to the wayside.
It IS possible to establish a self-care routine that you can stick to, and doing so can vastly improve not just your mental health but every aspect of life.
First and foremost, what exactly do I mean by “self-care”? The term can be vague, ranging from lighting a candle to spending a week at a spa. Mental and physical health professionals have researched this practice to understand it better. The authors of one study conclude that self-care is “the ability to care for oneself through awareness, self-control, and self-reliance in order to achieve, maintain, or promote optimal health and well-being.”
So, self-care is multifaceted and can include many different thoughts and actions. Still, one psychologist, Dr. Stephanie Freitag, recommends that self-care should be something you look forward to, not something you dread. Even if you don’t enjoy the activity at the moment, such as cleaning your room or running a mile, the result should boost overall well-being and peace of mind. Your room is now clean, which benefits your health, or you’ve gotten some needed exercise.
Here are Just a Few Ways to Practice of Self-care:
✅ Physical Wellbeing Practices
- Such as working on getting more quality sleep, improving your dietary habits, enjoying nature more, or getting more exercise.
✅ Mental Wellbeing Practices
- These include anything that aids in managing your emotional well-being, such as reducing stressors, finding ways to relax, or spending quality time with loved ones.
✅ Spiritual Wellbeing Practices
- Due to the nature of spirituality, this one will look different for everyone. For some, it may be attending a worship service; for others, it may include deepening one’s connection with nature or meditating.
Now that we have a better grasp of self-care let’s get into how we can adopt a sustainable, beneficial routine.
✅ Find What Brings You Joy
Everyone is different, so no self-care practice is perfect for everyone. You need to find what makes you feel centered and peaceful. Write down things that make you feel connected with yourself or that make you happy. These can be anything, like reading, the beach, certain smells or colors, music, or laughing with friends.
✅ Brainstorm Daily Habits
After coming up with the list of things that bring you joy, brainstorm ways to bring that into your life daily. Some things will be easier than others, such as music or reading. You can play your favorite songs while cooking or light a candle while taking a bath or reading.
✅ Set Yourself a Goal
Once you’ve identified some possible habits, try setting small, achievable goals, like trying a new recipe or reading for twenty minutes before bed every day. When setting your goals, psychologist Matthew Sacco suggests following the SMART concept:
- Specific: What are the specific details of your goals?
- Measurable: How will your progress be measured?
- Achievable: Is your goal realistic?
- Relevant: Will the goal cause a positive change in your life?
- Time-bound: What will your time frame be for reaching the goal?
If you have health goals, check out this post about creating an action plan.
✅ Find Support
Having accountability and support makes all the difference. Rely on your support system to keep these practices sustainable, and try to find people with similar goals so you can work together. For example, if you want to read more, try joining a book club.
If your goal is health or food related, consider Joining our 30-Day Challenge, which comes with a private support group perfect for finding accountability!
✅ Adjust Accordingly
Just because you initially set a goal doesn’t mean that it’s rigid and unchangeable. Look at how your daily habits work and if the changes are positive. Adjust your approach as needed; don’t let bumps or setbacks discourage you.
Remember, it’s progress OVER perfection.
If you’ve hit a barrier, don’t worry. First, explore where this barrier is coming from to better approach it. For more tips about overcoming plateaus, check out this post. Try journaling or speaking to a professional if the roadblock doesn’t seem to be budging.
If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, take a step back and consider how you can take care of yourself at the moment. It’s okay to acknowledge your own needs and make time for yourself.
Self-Care is Vital to Our Overall Health.
Self-care is meant to help you, not make your life harder or less enjoyable. But remember that self-care routines aren’t a substitute for getting professional help for serious mental health concerns.
However, they can be a great addition and daily upkeep. And the routine you adopt should work for you, not against you.
Let me know your favorite way to practice self-care in the comments below!