To many, self-care seems like a luxury, something only those rare non-busy individuals can fit into their calendars.
But no matter what your schedule looks like, you should be incorporating self care into your lifestyle on a regular basis. A daily self care routine is important for everyone—especially the “busiest” members of our society.
Not sure how to create a self care plan? Below are 15 tips and an example of a weekly self care schedule. Your future self will thank you.
15 Tips for Creating (and Keeping) a Well-Rounded Self Care Routine
1. Make Time for Hydration and Meals
At the most basic level, taking care of yourself means nourishing your body. So drinking water and eating healthy foods should be at the top of your self care activities list. Failing to hydrate can impact your cognitive functioning, digestion, and more. And when it comes to food, your body simply needs fuel throughout the day.
2. Choose Activities You Enjoy
Simply put, don’t make yourself do something because someone else does it. Hate when people touch your hands? Don’t get a manicure. Loathe cycling? Don’t drop thousands on a fancy at-home spin bike. Just because something works for others doesn’t mean it’ll work for you—and trying to force it into your lifestyle will produce the exact opposite effect that self care is supposed to have.
3. Set a Daily Intention
It’s natural to roll out of bed and dive into your to-do list. But that’s not really the best way to start the morning. Instead, spend a minute or two choosing an intention. It’s a great way to press reset, and you’ll start the day with a clear and positive mindset.
“A lot of us start our mornings unintentionally,” says Nisha B., teacher of The Ultimate Morning Routine for Productivity & Self Care. “Looking at our phones or jumping into work first thing. And while it may feel like by jumping into work you are being productive, it actually can derail your productivity for the whole day and make you feel more stressed out.”
4. Get Moving
The benefits of physical activity are endless. There are several ways to move your body—figure out which works best for you, whether it’s going on a walk between meetings, having a dance party in your living room, or investing in a slow-speed treadmill that fits under your desk.
5. Get on a Regular Sleep Schedule
Like it or not, you need ample shut-eye. It’s crucial that every single system in your body has a chance to recharge and refresh. For adults, the recommended amount of sleep is seven to nine hours a night, but you should also get your body (and mind) into a sleep rhythm. Each day, try to go to bed and wake up around the same time.
6. Find Time Each Day to Completely Unplug
We spend a whole lot of time staring at screens. Even if your job doesn’t require much screen time, you’re likely “plugged in” in some way. Build in time each week to do things that don’t require a connection to the outside world, like playing an instrument, meditating, drawing in a sketchbook, or reading.
7. Make Time for People You Love
Though it’s labeled self care, it does in fact include other people. Don’t choose isolation and loneliness for the sake of fitting in another healthy habit. Instead, find a way to regularly connect with the people who support you and lift you up. You don’t have to plan a weekend trip to see every one of them—try starting with a 10-minute phone call. (Just make sure you don’t dedicate time to people who drain your energy.)
8. Get Outside (or Bring Nature Indoors)
The effects of nature on human wellbeing are so strong that there’s a field of study called ecotherapy. Take a walk in the park, sit on your porch for lunch, go for a hike on the weekend, make driveway chalk drawings with your kids, you name it. You can also bring aspects of nature inside for similar benefits. Face your desk toward the window, play a nature soundtrack, or decorate your space with plants.
Bring Nature Into Your Home
Plants at Home: Uplift Your Spirit and Your Space.
9. Find a Space to Share Your Feelings
Your mind can be an overwhelming place, especially if you keep all of your thoughts locked up inside of it. Consider starting a journal and writing in it daily. Even getting your thoughts down onto paper can be a powerful mental release and de-stressor. To supplement journaling, try visiting a mental health therapist, if that’s something you’re able to do (note: this is especially recommended if you’re looking for a self care routine for depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issue you may be facing). When you find a good fit, the outside perspective on your life can be incredibly helpful and enlightening.
10. Keep Tabs on Your Finances
Money is a huge stressor for most Americans. So, it makes sense that getting control of your personal finances is an integral part of self care. Keeping a budget, even if it isn’t very detailed can help eliminate some financial stress and allow you to focus on other aspects of your life.
11. Flex Your Creative Muscle
Kids dabble in art all the time. It’s a joyous experience, likely because they’re very much in the moment and don’t care one bit about the end result. Most adults stop creating things for fun—but they shouldn’t.
“Creative self care is good for you because it can get you out of your head and into the present moment, helping ground you and letting you forget everything else for a few minutes,” says Jennifer Patterson, an art therapist who teaches Creative Self-Care: Drawing as a Meditation. So pick up a sketchbook, a paintbrush, an instrument, whatever you want, and start using it just for fun.
12. Treat Yourself
Without a doubt, you should indulge every once in a while, whatever that means to you. Schedule a massage, buy your favorite dessert, and so forth. Be mindful of your budget, though. There are ways to pamper yourself without breaking the bank. And if you’re dead set on spending a few hundred at the spa, just starting mindfully saving for it.
13. Check in With Your Plan Each Week
Life gets in the way sometimes, but you can get ahead of it. Each week, take five to 10 minutes to review the days ahead and adjust accordingly. Can’t join that online Zumba class because you have a (virtual) happy hour? No problem. Go for a walk during lunch. This is also a good opportunity to remove self care activities that just aren’t working for you. Be flexible with and kind to yourself throughout this journey.
14. Set Up a Rewards System
Fully adopting a daily self care routine will take time, effort, and commitment. To help you get to the point where it’s second nature, try a rewards system. For example, perhaps when you successfully complete your self care plan for a full week, you can binge watch your favorite show or buy a fancy coffee. Eventually, you’ll find you don’t need the rewards anymore.
15. Incorporate Self Care Into Your Current Lifestyle
The idea of adding more things to your plate, even if they’re supposed to be good for you, can be intimidating. And while you should definitely find room in your week for your self care routine, not every activity has to be an extra. You can incorporate some of them into your current routine, like preparing meals for the week while watching your favorite show, stretching while you’re on the phone, or chatting with a loved one during your commute.
Weekly Self Care Routine Sample
The great thing about your self care plan is that it is yours and yours alone. That means you can make it look however you want, as long as it works for you.
In case you’re not sure how to create a self care routine, here’s an example of what one could look like—you might be pleasantly surprised that in each day, there’s usually time left over. See? Taking care of yourself doesn’t have to be a burden.
- Wake up, eat breakfast, drink a glass of water
- Write in a journal, set a daily intention
- Fill a water bottle and start working or doing other responsibilities
- Eat lunch
- Grab a snack, go on a quick walk around the block, refill water
- Stop working for the day, meditate for 10 minutes to wind down for the day
- Eat dinner
- Go to sleep
- Take a 30-minute online strength conditioning class
- Call Mom
- Update weekly budget
- 60-minute therapy appointment
- Take a 50-minute Zumba class
- Call best friend
- Take a 30-minute online strength conditioning class
- Practice playing the guitar
- Take a 30-minute online cardio class
- Virtual happy hour with college friends
- Take a 45-minute online yoga class
- Watch a favorite movie
- Go on a long hike with friends
- Hang out around the house
- Practice guitar
- Take a 30-minute photography class
- Call Dad
- Review schedule and self care routine for the week ahead
Ready to Get Creative?
Self-Care Through Creativity: Turn Your Anxiety Into Art.