Every time I feel like I’m heading into a black hole, the reason is always the same: I’ve steered away from my self-care routine. I’ve spent a lot of time establishing this routine, and find that it helps me stay on track both mentally and physically. I’m the type of person that needs some kind of structure and organization in my daily life, otherwise I’ll feel negative emotions, particularly depression, easily creep back in. And once I get to that point, it’s harder to climb my way out. So staying on top of this routine is super important for me.
I’m a big proponent of self-care routines, regardless if you have mental health issues. They’re good for the soul and help to keep your energy high. And the best part is that they can look completely different for everyone. There is no one right way to care for yourself. If you don’t yet have a self-care routine, I recommend starting with one or two things and building from there so as not to overwhelm yourself with too much change at once. There are several other small things I incorporate each day, but here is the gist of my self-care routine:
Yoga & Meditation – ever since going through my training, I’ve tried to practice every day at some point. Whatever time I end up practicing, I always feel so much better afterwards. Yoga keeps me grounded and prevents me from over-analyzing everything about my life. As for meditation, I’m actively working to make sure I meditate every day, even if just for 5 minutes. Sometimes I like silent meditation, other times I like guided or background music. Meditating gives me perspective and clarity on what I’m going through at any given moment, and helps to chill me out.
*Self-care bonus: practice outside!
Good Sleep – I’ve found that the more I meditate, the better my sleep is, especially if I meditate at night. I am constantly tossing and turning in my sleep, so whatever I can do to reduce that I take advantage of (though sometimes I end up taking melatonin). I also try very hard Sunday-Thursday to go to bed at a decent time (I give myself a bit of liberty on the weekends) so I’m not dragging the next day at work. I try to get at least 7 hours every night.
Drinking Tea – A few months ago I gave up drinking coffee every morning and switched to loose leaf tea, and it has drastically changed my energy level for the better. Despite giving me a temporary boost, coffee would often leave me dragging the rest of the day, as I’m sensitive to caffeine. Now I’ll drink it only on the weekends, and often it’s not until late morning/early afternoon. I’ve enjoyed tea as an alternative and picking out different flavors is quite fun. I’ll also sometimes make my own tea consisting of fresh ginger, lemon and honey.
Taking Vitamins – I admittedly struggle with remembering to take my supplements every day, so I’ve had to resort to a phone alarm to remind me before I leave for work. I like to stay consistent with taking them to prevent getting sick and to help my overall functioning. My cocktail consists of vitamin D (because we’re pretty much all deficient in it), omega-3 and magnesium for mental health, and a probiotic for gut health.
Scheduling – My favorite activity! I have taken to keeping a daily planner by my side at all times. I’m a bit old-fashioned in that I like the paper book planners versus something on my phone. Not only do I not forget my appointments/commitments, I enjoy finding things to fill my available days with. I spend a lot more time with friends, going to yoga classes, and doing other fun things around Charlotte. It keeps me on track, which prevents that overwhelming feeling of remembering all that I need to do each week.
Setting Boundaries – This goes along with scheduling, but also applies in a mental sense. Saying no is probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn how to do. I’m a people-pleaser by nature and hate the thought of someone being upset with me. But I have started to put myself first these days, because I’m not going to cause myself emotional distress just to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. I’ve learned it’s perfectly okay to say no and set personal boundaries. It’s not selfish if it’s self-care.
Massage – I wish this one was daily! I started getting massages back in February from my friend and licensed massage therapist and have made them a regular monthly occurrence now. Aside from a relaxing experience, I get them to maintain my body health. Massage is great for circulation, flexibility and muscle health, in addition to stress relief and mental health, and I find they complement my yoga practice greatly.
Other things – Not to say these aren’t important, I just need to keep this post length reasonable. But I also incorporate the following on a daily/weekly basis: reading, nature/getting outside, exercising, journaling, buying flowers, spending time with the kitties, eating healthy and cooking for myself, baking, music/podcasts, calling/texting close family & friends, doing something creative and curling up on the couch to watch something.
Do you have a self-care routine? Share what’s in yours below!