We hear it said a lot. “Take care of yourself.” or “You should have a self-care routine.”
But what does all of that really mean? What does it look like to truly implement a self-care routine and how do you know if it’s one that’s actually working for you?
If ever there’s been a good time to take this seriously, it’s now. With all the unknowns and anxiety in the world, even the most stress-free person would likely be feeling like they need a little R&R by now. And that’s ok. In fact, having a solid and reliable self-care plan is what can keep you feeling creative, inspired, and moving forward.
But only if you know how to do it.
Lucky for you, that’s what we’re talking about today! If you’re not sure where to start, consider this your step by step guide to building a self-care routine that works for you.
Make a list of what lights you up
Start by making a list of the things you know for sure light you up. There should be a few definites that pop up for you right away like: playing an instrument, your hobby (skateboarding/design/photography/etc) or spending time with friends. But some of it won’t be clear right away. That’s ok—keep a note on your phone so as you’re going through your days you can make note of those moments you really feel like yourself, and then, write them down.
The point of this is to start to incorporate more of what you enjoy into your daily schedule. Sometimes it’s specific to work but sometimes it’s not. For instance, you might find you really enjoy drawing, and you decide to make it a part of your week, by spending an hour every day on it. Or you might realize you actually love doing marketing, and so you incorporate that into your days or weeks. The important thing is that you make these more of a priority. The more you fill your life with the things you enjoy, the happier you’ll be, the more productive you’ll be, and the more progress you’ll see.
Sound simple? It is but—it’s actually implementing it that’s key.
…And what burns you out
Just as important as the things you love, is knowing what absolutely burns you out. Like the above example, jot a few things down, but keep a running list as well. As you’re going through your day, try to pay attention to what gives you energy and what has you feeling tired, cranky, anxious, or drained. Then, write it down. This could be anything from emails to your own PR to cooking dinner to having to choose your clothes for the day. Just write it all down.
Then, as hard as it seems, I want you to cut out as much as you can.If you can, delegate or hire out or limit how often you do that thing. For instance, if cooking dinner is exhausting you, pick a day to meal prep for the week. If choosing an outfit every morning is starting your day off on the wrong foot, pick it out the night before.
For me, it was my emails. I find being in my never-ending inbox extremely draining. No matter what I do, I always have at least 50 emails waiting for me and if I try to get to inbox zero every day it takes up about 3+ hours and all my energy. So, I just don’t do it every day. Instead, I only respond to emails 2-3 times per week. It helps me get out of the negative space that living in my inbox creates, and sets boundaries that I’m comfortable with.
Scour the internet for ideas
Next, start to look for how others are doing their own self-care routine. This isn’t a one size fits all solution, so don’t just blindly copy someone else’s self-care routine, but do feel free to look for ideas online, ask your friends, search groups, etc, to get ideas and see what stands out to you.
For instance, part of mine is to read for 20 minutes a day. If you’re not a reader, maybe for you it’s listening to a podcast or watching a funny YouTube video.
Or, maybe you love a good bubble bath. For me, that’s something I’ve tried more than once and it turns out, it’s not for me. But you know what I do love? A nice shower followed by a facemask (and more time to read.)
So, take note of ideas, and try them out, but don’t be afraid to customize them to yourself. Remember, this is all about what makes you feel good.
Create a rewards system
Having little rewards throughout the day is one of my biggest secrets to sanity. I sprinkle these throughout each and every day so that every few hours I have something to break up any anxiety I’m feeling, and put me in a lighter mood. Sometimes it’s a cup of tea, sometimes it’s a meal or a snack (I’m big on food rewards as you can see…) sometimes it’s taking a break to walk my dog and listen to a podcast, or read, or text back a friend—but it’s always something that takes me out of any mood I might be slipping into, and instead helps me re-focus. What could your rewards be?
Put together a self-care calendar
This is the big one—put it on the calendar! While I want you to incorporate little things into your day to day like we’ve talked about, I also know that for some of the bigger self-care tasks like say, an afternoon off, or working on your art, or taking a bubble bath, you need to plan ahead. So that’s exactly what I want you to do. Pick a time, put it on the calendar, and make it happen. Because we all know if it’s not on the calendar, it’s not happening.
What does your self-care routine look like?
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placements on Alternative Press, Noisey, Substream, Spotify and more as well as the THRIVE mentorship community. You can get more info on how to create a profitable Patreon + other ways to make extra money online via her workshop.