A beginner’s guide to self-care

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If you’re curious at all about self-improvement, you’re going to want to get familiar with the concept of self-care. This simple yet beneficial practice helps you set yourself up for success in everything you do, whether you’re aiming to improve your sleep schedule, address certain mental health issues or approach life with a more positive and open-minded attitude.

But the word “self-care” is broad and covers so much, so it’s only natural to feel a bit overwhelmed by it. If you’re not sure how to get started, we’re here to help. This guide is meant for self-care self-starters who want to master their strategy for better health and wellness.

What Is Self-Care?

Let’s start out with the basics: What does “self-care” mean, exactly? To put it simply, self-care is what you do to take care of yourself with regard to your physical and mental wellness. It involves making sure you stay well-balanced in all things, including your mental health, physical health, work life, social life, environment and personal relationships. It may encompass everything from maintaining a healthy diet to getting adequate social interaction with friends and loved ones.

What Are Some Examples of Self-Care?

While many people think of self-care as relaxing activities like baths and spa days – indeed, those are great examples – a solid self-care strategy includes a broad range of tasks and activities that touch on every corner of life. Here are some of the best examples of self-care activities to get you started. Consider printing out this list or bookmarking it so you can reference it the next time you need a little boost.

  • Taking a warm bath with a luxurious bath bomb or bath salts
  • Reading a book beneath a soothing weighted blanket to help you relax
  • Practicing basic hygiene on a daily basis, like showering and flossing
  • Shooting hoops or playing softball with a group of friends
  • Visiting your doctor on a regular basis
  • Taking a personal day off work to relax or get things done
  • Setting boundaries with work, friends and loved ones
  • Getting plenty of exercise and spending time outside
  • Spending time with your pets or volunteering with animals
  • Dancing, whether alone or with your best friends
  • Painting your nails and getting your hair done
  • Going to brunch with friends or your significant other
  • Taking a hike with friends or your dog
  • Upgrading to high-quality bedding, such as a cooling blanket or sheets
  • Watching the sunset on the beach or from your favorite park
  • Reading a book by the fire or on the front porch
  • Doing a puzzle while listening to music
  • Lighting candles or burning essential oils
  • Eating healthy and avoiding trigger foods
  • Getting plenty of water each day
  • Keeping the alcohol consumption in moderation
  • Acknowledging and dealing with past traumas
  • Making the time to stretch in the morning and at night
  • Going to therapy and talking openly about your feelings
  • Practicing conscious breathing to help calm your nervous system
  • Going on vacation or taking a week off work to stay home
  • Catching up with friends on the phone or video chat
  • Taking 10 or 15 minutes a day to meditate or practice yoga
  • Taking your time completing the tasks you enjoy
  • Drawing, painting or writing in a journal

How to Start a Self-Care Routine

So now that you know what self-care involves, it’s time to start thinking about practical ways to incorporate it into your day-to-day life. While everyone is different, there are some universal tips that will help make incorporating new things into your life just a little bit easier. Here are some tips to get started.

  • Start Small – The most important thing to know when starting off on any routine is to create small, measurable goals so you set yourself up for success. Overhauling your entire life and instating huge changes will only put you in a position where you’re likely to fail, so make sure your goals are attainable. Start with one or two new practices each week and see what sticks.
  • Write It Down – Anytime you’re starting something new, it helps to write down your goals and sketch out an idea of what things you want to follow. This will help ensure that you settle in nicely to a self-care routine and make sure you do certain things each day. It will also help hold you accountable so you don’t skip over important components.
  • Leverage Technology – When it comes to mental health, technology can serve as both a fantastic tool as well as a problematic roadblock. On the positive side, it can set you up with invaluable tools which can help you reach a state of better self-care and all-around good health. From options like Gaia, that provides you with tons of resources for conscious living, to Lumen, which helps you hack your metabolism, there are some game-changing apps out there to help boost your self-care regimen.
  • Limit Technology – On the other hand, technology can stand in your way of living a balanced, healthy and happy lifestyle. In fact, studies have shown that social media can have a negative impact on your health and can significantly contribute to stress and anxiety while negatively affecting sleep, mood and self-esteem. Limiting how much time you spend online each and every day is key to good self-care.

Go Easy on Yourself

Ultimately, one of the best outcomes of a good self-care strategy is more self-esteem and self-love. Therefore, it’s crucial that you don’t put too much pressure on yourself when starting out on your new self-care endeavor. This will only cause you to think negatively about yourself and think of yourself as a failure. Be sure to go easy on yourself every step of the way to avoid doing more harm than good.

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