These might not be what you think...
But I strongly believe that self care is more of a mindset than a bubble bath. Baths and candles are great, and may be a part of your self care routine, but they do not describe the true definition of self care.
My favorite self care strategies involve setting boundaries, deciding my own priorities, and sticking to them. My goal is to create a life that I don't need to "escape" from, but a life that is full of little self care moments all throughout the day.
Here are a few of my favorite strategies:
•Put yourself first.
Make sure you are asking yourself what YOU need right now. Not just noticing what others need around you. The best way to do this is by literally putting your needs first in the day. Carve out some time to journal in the morning, make your favorite breakfast, or just to sit and drink your cup of coffee instead of running out the door with it.
•Learn to say “I’ll see how I feel”.
If you know that you for sure don’t want to commit to something, just say no. It’s ok to set that firm boundary. But if you find yourself overcommitting to events that seemed liked a good idea at the time try saying “I’ll see how I feel” rather than yes or no. It’s easy to say yes to the good. But if possible, give yourself an out in case you change your mind. This helps to minimize feelings of guilt if you back out of a commitment and it’s kind to the other person involved because they know where you stand.
Prioritize sleep in your schedule even if it means losing time to get that one extra thing done. This is a difficult one to remember, but it is so true that you will be much more productive on a good amount of sleep. Chronic lack of sleep can lead to lack of motivation and make it more difficult to manage strong emotions. You will be more focused, emotionally regulated, and motivated with the right amount of sleep.
Find something you enjoy to get moving! For me, accountability is key. Try scheduling a gym class with a penalty for cancellation, or ask a friend to be an accountability partner to go on a walk with you. Join a community sport or sign up for a 5k so that you have a goal you’re working towards. Anything you can to get moving!
•Schedule out “down time” on your calendar as if it is an actual appointment, that you can’t cancel.
Take time to let yourself feel inspired without a goal in mind. This might look like binging tv at first, but that’s ok- you might need to catch up on rest. If you consistently give yourself down time you should eventually find the freedom to explore your creative side. This can look anyway you want it. It could be doing things outdoors, crafting, time with others, time alone reading or journaling, or it could take the form of cleaning or organizing. Whatever you feel inspired to do!
Remember, self care is individual to you and your personal priorities. Take some time to reflect on those priorities and create your own list of favorite strategies!