And that's the single most important thing you can start doing to engage in self-care - to carve out some time for yourself in your daily routine. Call it a day by a set time every evening, and then let your personal time begin. Be intentional about how you use this personal time. Find things that actually bring you joy and relaxation.
This is where it also becomes essential to separate relaxation self-care from recreational self-care. Each has its own unique purpose and benefits for your well-being.
Relaxation self-care describes things that help you unwind. They are not necessarily exciting or thrilling, but they help you feel calm and grounded, such as meditation, taking a bubble bath, or listening to classical music.
On the other hand, recreational self-care helps you feel excited and happy, such as a movie night, going for a hike, or spending time with friends. Things that you actively engage in.
What works great for one person might not work so well for another. Self-care is individual; it's personalized. Still, there are 4 things that I have seen work for most people that I want to share with you - things that will help you get started on your self-care journey:
Moments of stillness - Taking some time away from your phone, tv, all the noises, and distractions - to just be silent and alone with yourself. It's so powerful to spend even 5 minutes of uninterrupted quality time with yourself. Focus on your breath, focus on how your body feels, ground yourself with meditation - whatever works for you. But be sure to nurture your relationship with yourself every single day.
The second suggestion is to connect with someone you don't live with every day. Whether building a new friendship or nurturing an existing relationship, your connections with other people fulfill your mind's need for connection. Which is why spending some intentional quality time with your loved ones can make a huge difference in emptying your stress bucket.
The third suggestion is to do something active every day. Whether that's bursting into some dance moves, going for a nice calm walk, or even a 10-minute yoga exercise. Movement and physical activity release endorphins in your body, which counteracts the stress hormones produced by your body produces throughout the day. And if that's not sufficient, these endorphins also trigger the happy centers of your brain, which is why you often feel so good after a nice walk or a workout.
And the fourth thing is having some personal "me" time, especially before going to bed at night and before starting your day. That hot shower and skin-care routine before going to bed or calmly enjoying your morning tea before starting your day helps bring groundedness to the key moments of your day. It will prevent starting your day in an anxious manner or wrapping up your day with stressors still on your mind.
In the end, remember that self-care is all about practice. It's a lifestyle, and there isn't a right or wrong way of doing it. It all comes down to taking a few minutes away from the world and focusing instead on yourself - taking care of your mind and body. Because you matter.