So. You decided that you need to change something in the way you treat yourself. You know you have to work on your mental health, your emotions, your body. “Self-care” has been on your mind for some time already, but you just can’t find a way to begin.
Well, hello there, I get you!
It’s been a while since I decided that the time has come: I need to relieve my everyday stress and find a way to focus on what matters.
The decision itself brought some sense of relief – but it was overwhelming too. What do I need?
You can find so many ideas out there! Guides and tutorials on how to make your bubble bath unforgettable or what’s the best place for meditation. But how should I turn my vision into reality?
I mean, I have some stuff to finish today and promised my sister to visit tomorrow. Maybe I could go out for scented candles on Sunday? Then I’ll grab my list of groceries and try not to forget about the bath bombs on the way to the store.
There are so many things to keep track of, so many places to begin with, and everything at once is just too much to handle.
Familiar with those thoughts?
Alright then, don’t stress out, don’t overthink – self-care is for you and your peace. You don’t need to be perfect here, you just need to listen to yourself. And just start wherever you like. Honestly, just do it.
But if you need a helping hand, let me show you a method I came up with – it’s quick, simple, creative, and efficient. Sounds interesting?
If you don’t have time right now, grab my free Self-Care Planner and print it out later. Everything you need to know is already in there – plus weekly and monthly planners for you to fill with your fresh self-care ideas! You can sign up here and get it in your inbox in a minute 😉
But if you’d like to focus on the details, stay with me here and I’ll show you the way to create a self-care routine on your own! Decided on what option you like more?
Great, then if you’re staying, come this way and let’s get started.
1. Determine Your Goal
Self-care is a very broad set of activities. It includes habits, ideas, one-time things, monthly treat yourself days, morning routines, etc. There are almost no limits: as long as something helps you grow and understand yourself and your needs better, it goes in.
But we all have different needs for different sides of ourselves.
You may be excellent at understanding and handling your emotions yet not have proper boundaries in social interactions. Likewise, I know how to take care of my mind’s needs – but spiritual self-care is just beyond me.
That’s why, to understand yourself better and from every side, you have to consider 6 types of self-care when planning your routine:
Each of them represents a different side of you, from body to soul, from brain to social network.
Take your time and think about which aspects you pay attention to naturally (in a healthy way!) and which need a bit of extra help.
Maybe you feel like your body needs more love and attention from you – then physical self-care is what you need to focus on. Or maybe it’s about your organizational skills and you need more clearance in your head? Learning how to journal and meditate may be beneficial for you.
And, of course, improving your mental health is a big reason to start with self-care. Our minds often need conscious help in dealing with negative thoughts and self-care may become a big part of your healing process.
On the other hand, you may not have a particular goal – and that’s okay. Self-care is beneficial for everybody, regardless of current needs and wishes. You’ll see which aspects of yourself need more attention later on. Feeling good is enough of a reason to start.
Just remember that you’re doing it for yourself. Don’t change your habits, your appearance, your everyday life for anyone else but you and you only.
That’s the point after all.
So, take your time and think about why you are here. Maybe even vaguely plan what you want to change and how. You may be familiar with some ideas already – use them to visualize what you want to achieve.
Even the first step should be taken in the right direction.
2. Create a List of Ideas You Like
If you scroll through Pinterest as often as I am, you must’ve seen these long lists of self-care ideas that look just a bit overwhelming for a beginner. Find them again.
Scroll through your Instagram or Pinterest feed. Check self-care accounts (or go to mine – I have a special section for self-care ideas). Use Google. Try any social media you’ve ever used. Look through blogs and articles. Use whatever source you like.
The point is to find as many interesting ideas as possible and write them all down. Yes, all of them.
Open a new page in your planner, check notes on your phone, create a new Word document. I chose to type the list on my laptop and print it out after – but you do whatever suits you best.
The whole list may consist of ten points or two pages, detailed or messy, finished in 15 minutes or 2 hours – there are no rules but one.
Choose what you like, what works for you and your goal.
3. Divide Into Categories
Now you have that long list of things you want to try. Gardening? Writing letters for yourself? Playing guitar every day? Yup, all in there.
It may look a bit overwhelming – and that’s what we’re going to work on. Let’s break that huge pile of things into three pieces:
- what you want to include in your daily routine
- what you want to do a couple of times a week
- what you want to try someday (but not yet)
You can go through your list and leave different marks next to every point, or you can make it pretty and rewrite everything into a new table. The first option is quicker but the second allows you to think through it – and that’s what you need right now.
Look at your list once again. Some points may turn out to be useless. Some of them can be merged together (for example, daily affirmations can be a part of journaling). Maybe some need to be trimmed or changed.
Take your time to work through the whole checklist. Imagine a perfect routine – but don’t think how exactly you’ll get there, leave it for later. For now, focus on what you want to do and how often.
Filled out our 3 categories? Now let’s talk about timing.
4. Create Schedule
First of all, take a look at the first category – these activities are at the top of your priorities. If you want to include something in your daily routine, it’s better to start as soon as possible. Any routine needs time to settle in.
Meaning, it’s time to think about time.
Different things in your list require a different amount of time. If it’s something like a sleep routine or less social media, you need some kind of schedule. Plan it out and write it down.
But most of the self-care activities have to have a time frame. 10 minutes, 5 minutes, 1 hour – think how much time you’re ready to spend on each of them. Do this for each category.
Noted? Alright, let’s choose dates.
You don’t have to stick to the schedule we used to categorize things. Remember, self-care is not a sprint. Don’t put everything on yourself at once.
Do you have a weekly planner? Monthly journal? If you do, reach for it, if not – find a place to write down your plans. Preferably somewhere you check often.
5. Fill Out Your Planner
Again, start with the first category.
Pick a few things you feel you can take right now. Choose at least 2 or 3 days next week to give them a go.
You may decide to stick to a daily schedule already – and that’s great! The quicker you’ll get used to it, the better. Just remember about your limits. Don’t force yourself to do more than you can or soon enough it’ll become a burden.
For now, you only have to start and be as regular as possible.
As soon as you decide on what and where, write it down in your planner.
Same with the second category. Don’t rush. At first, pick 1 or 2 things for the next week, see when you have enough free time, and put them under the date(s).
Repeat for every week for the rest of the month.
The third category can wait for now – but don’t discard it entirely! You chose these ideas for a reason. Just get used to the first two categories first and then go for it.
Flip to the monthly planner. Pick a few points from the third category, look for free days (usually, Sundays are perfect for self-care) – and, yes, write it down.
One of the benefits of these one-time things is that you can plan ahead without worrying about consistency. Any day is a great day to give it a go.
And there you have it, your first self-care routine for the whole month ahead!
6. Keep Track of Yourself
The most important part is to stick to your plans. It may be tempting to reschedule some things for the sake of your usual routine.You have a long way to get used to these changes after all.
But every habit starts with the first try.
Explain to your friends that you already have plans. Leave additional work for another day. Don’t reply to that email right away.
You are taking care of yourself, your mind, and your body. You chose that time and that day. Don’t allow excuses to trick you into thinking that it’s less important.
Maybe these first steps won’t bring immediate effects, but in the long run, it’s more important than anything else.
And soon you’ll see changes.
Remember them, feel them, better even, write them down.
Keep a journal to track how you feel, how your mood changes, how your body feels, what helps you less or more. Correct your routine according to these notes. Move points between categories. Add something, remove something.
Now it’s all yours.
And let me know what you think! If you’re just starting, did you try my method? Was it helpful? Or maybe you’ve been doing self-care for a while – what are your thoughts then? Would it help you when you were just starting?