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Tips on How to Create a Self-Care Routine

Self care. A popular phrase utilized to rationalize that trip to the nail salon or night out with friends to relax. An act done when one is feeling overwhelmed and stressed, and finally decides to indulge in that “me” time to release the tension. While these activities may assist to reinvigorate your mental and emotional health short term, a self care plan that is incorporated into your daily routine can yield long term positive effects.

The goal of self care is to shift the focus onto your needs and improving your overall mental and emotional well-being. By taking the time to focus on yourself, you are in essence “recharging” your mind and body. While at first this can be uncomfortable, as our mind naturally strays to what we “should” be doing, this time is important. Building self care habits into your routine will assist in coping with stressors and challenging periods as they occur versus having negative thoughts and feelings accumulate until we reach our breaking point. Many times we internalize taking this time for ourselves as selfish and want to portray an independent and strong persona. However, it is healthy to prioritize your mental and emotional well-being, just as going to the physician for your yearly physical is a healthy tool to maintain your physical well-being. While many strides have been taken to de stigmatize mental health, much is still required to reframe this way of thinking.

These are three tips when developing your own self care plan:

  1. Gain an understanding of yourself; your strengths, needs, and limitations. Be honest with how you are feeling, and be gentle with that information. If you struggle with connecting to your emotions, therapy can be a useful self care tool to explore your feelings in a safe environment.
  2. Make a list of what you enjoy doing. When self care feels like something you “have” to do and do not enjoy, you are less likely to form the new habit. Self care plans are tailored to your tastes; what might work for someone else might not work for you. Your friend might be an avid participant in yoga but you find it boring.
  3. Actively plan your self care and with consistent, continued practice, you will find your own rhythm and self care plan that yields maximum effect. Process those initial feelings of “wrongness” with your therapist and/or support system and explore the underlying resistance to prioritizing your needs.

"It is never too late to be what you might have been." ~ George Eliot