- Lee Clark, LMFT
Investing in Yourself: Starting Your Self-Care Routine
More and more people are embracing the concept of self-care in their lives. You may have heard a friend, family member, or coworker mention self-care and wondered whether you should establish your own self-care routine. If this sounds like you, read on for tips on establishing your own self-care routine.
Self-care can be defined as: “Any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.”
You will notice a multitude of benefits in many areas of your life when you effectively incorporate self-care into your daily routine. My clients who build and cultivate self-care routines report:
Decreased symptoms of anxiety and depression
Improved sleep quality
Improved stress management
More frequent experiencing of joy, gratitude, and contentment
Better quality relationships
(Just to name a few).
One way to think about self-care is to imagine that daily practice is like putting money in the bank. The only way that you will be able to make a withdrawal is if you have been making deposits. The bigger the withdrawal you need to make, the more deposits you will have had to make. We cannot predict what financially, emotionally, or socially stressful situation may occur in the future. Will there be a health crisis? Loss of income? Perhaps an important relationship will become strained and require additional attention and investment to improve. Because we don’t know whether our future stressors will be little or big, it’s best to make regular “deposits” into our self-care “bank”.
Practicing daily self-care can serve to address regular stressors before they can build up and become more difficult to manage.
Daily practice also provides an opportunity to build habits that will ultimately be easier to draw upon in an emergency.
When thinking about building a self-care routine, I recommend thinking of the skills, activities, and resources you will build and cultivate as your “toolbox”. A good toolbox has a variety of tools that are useful in a number of situations. Having a hammer when you need one is great, but it doesn’t make a very good screwdriver.
In your self-care “toolbox”, you should have a variety of “tools” that help you cope with daily stressors, and those to help with emergencies or crises.
Assess the areas in your life where you are using effective self-care and the areas in which self-care can be incorporated or increased:
How are you regularly caring for your health, mentally, emotionally, and physically?
Do you eat regular, nutritional meals, engage in regular exercise, and get enough sleep?
Have you addressed symptoms of anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns?
Do you allow yourself breaks from work and other responsibilities?
Do you spend regular time engaging in hobbies and interests that are meaningful to you?
Do you spend enough time with loved ones? Do you spend enough time alone?
Do you manage your boundaries and limits?
Are you aware of the non-material aspects of your life?
Have you identified what is meaningful to you and noticed its place in your life?
Pick a skill, activity, or resource that you feel would be meaningful to you and your overall self-care and then start practicing it regularly. Do this step over and over again, until you’ve built a “toolbox” that is versatile, manageable, and effective.
Building a self-care routine is easy and the benefits are both immediate and long-lasting. Try assessing your own life and needs to determine where to start making small, manageable changes to improve your self-care and build your “toolbox”. You will be so glad that you did.
If you are interested in scheduling an appointment with Lee, you can reach her
via email: email@example.com
call our intake line: 608-709-6972
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[This article does not create a client-counselor relationship. This article is general counseling information and is not to be considered legal or medical advice. Please consult with your mental health professional before you rely on this information.]
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