3 Tips to Develop a Self-Care Routine That Works for YOU!

Self-care became a 2020 buzzword, and it's making its presence known in 2021, too.

But what exactly is self-care?

Oxford dictionary defines self-care as "the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health."

What's important is that self-care should be PROACTIVE instead of reactive.

Proactive self-care is

  • Scheduled in advance

  • Part of your routine

  • Activities that can be as short as 60 seconds that help you stay on top of your stress level


By contrast, reactive self-care is realizing you're burnt out and then taking action.

You've already gotten to that burn out point. Now you're try to reclaim your sanity instead of proactively protecting it.

Finding a self-care routine can seem impossible. You might think of excuses such as time or money.

Remember when we talked last week about how defaulting to traditional defenses just adds to your stress?

This applies here, too! Prioritizing self-care doesn't mean downloading just another app. It means actually making time to make self-care happen!

Here are 3 tips to refresh your perspective on self-care:

1. Define self-care on your own terms.

I often here, "But I can't afford a massage" or "I don't have someone to watch my kids while I get my nails done."

Spoiler alert: Self-care doesn't have to be pampering time!

Self-care looks different to different people. For me, self-care means putting social media limits on my phone (which you can do by following these instructions). Self-care to my husband means time alone to play some video games. Self-care to others might mean taking a walk outside and getting fresh air.

The point is: self-care is unique to YOU. Only you know what you need to support your physical and mental health.

2. Beware of all-or-nothing thinking.

If you've heard me talk about why diets suck, you know that part of the reason I'm an anti-diet dietitian is because diets perpetuate black-and-white or all-or-nothing thinking.

What do I mean by this?

I mean that you think if you can't spend 2 hours at the spa, you can't possibly practice self-care.

I'm challenging you today to spend 60 seconds -- just 1 minute -- on self-care. If you're struggling to think of what you can do with just 60 seconds, here are some ideas:

  • Walk to the mailbox and leave your phone in the house

  • Breathe in for 3 counts and out for 6 counts. Repeat for 60 seconds.

  • Stand up from your desk and stretch

Remember: You don't have to see the whole staircase. You just need to take the first step.

3. Incorporate self-care into your current routine.

James Clear talks about habit stacking in his book, Atomic Habits.

Habit stacking is the concept that we attach a new habit to a current one. For example, you already brush your teeth every morning. That is a routine habit. You can habit stack by then adding something like flossing your teeth to that routine.

Another example? You're already preparing your purse for work in the morning. At the same time, start the new habit of packing your gym bag.

This incremental step can help you prioritize self-care by showing you that you do actually have the time!

What steps are you going to take today?

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