When I first got into the ‘Life Coach’ world, the word self-care was tossed around as often as a sports fan mentions this week’s game. I felt silly because I didn’t really know what self-care was (beyond a basic definition) and I definitely didn’t have a regular self-care practice. After a couple of weeks of internet searches and many one-on-one conversations, I started to understand this brave new world. For the next few months, I started experimenting with different practices and spaces. Now, a full year later, I have a regular self-care routine in a sacred space I created in my home.
This guide is a creation of love for you based on all the self-care wisdom I collected. Enjoy!
Why (Self) Care?
Our society focuses on exercise and physical health, but rarely focuses on the importance of self-care. Self-care is the key component when it comes to mental and emotional health. It helps you to clarify what your feeling and how that is impacting your life.
Everyone has different methods for gaining clarity. When I’m at my most stressed, I find a park a shoot hoops. Growing up, I spent hours outside by myself perfecting my shot and being alone with my thoughts. Now I find comfort in the solitude of a basketball court. If I want to think something through, I take a shower and walk through options by talking to myself. If I’m sorting through emotions, I pull out a pen and paper and journal in a stream-of-consciousness style (see some random selections below).
Some people go into nature and meditate, others play a sport or move their body while others still create things with their hands. Maybe you write, or sing, or meditate. Or maybe your method depends on your mood (like me) or the time of year. If you’re anything like me a year ago, you have been stuck going in circles seeking clarity and you haven’t yet found your method yet. That’s totally okay. (If you’re stuck at this step, think about what activities help you sort out your thoughts.)
What is Self-Care?
How have you been feeling? How are you feeling right now? How would you like to begin feeling? Asking yourself questions like these will help you figure out where to go in your self-care journey.
Self-care isn’t random girl’s nights or spa treatments. It’s DELIBERATE. Self-care is a deliberate action taken to get in touch with one’s soul. It’s taking a break from the rest of the world for a while, and nourishing yourself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Self-care is an act of loving oneself.
Why is Self-Care Important?
Self-care is a crucial aspect of your health. It gives you a chance to process your life, experiences and feelings. Self-care is a powerful tool for managing anxiety, depression and many other issues.
It isn’t a magic bullet or one hit wonder. You have to practice it consistently. Think about a marathon runner. They (usually) don’t wake up able to run 26.2 miles in one go. They practice incrementally, and in time, are able to see the benefits of routine training. Sporadic self-care is as useful as a marathoner never running more than 2 miles at a time. Dedicated, consistent self-care helps you and your soul live more stably.
This practice puts you in touch with yourself and feelings on a regular basis. You create space to heal past traumas and wounded emotions. You will grow in understanding and confidence and gain inspiration and motivation for living the life of your dreams.
Which Self-Care Practice is Right for Me?
- Pulling oracle or tarot cards
- Meditating, deep breathing, praying mantras
- Making art (painting, drawing, creating)
- Getting those juices moving (running, walking, surfing, climbing, hiking, dancing)
- Sleeping or taking a nap
- Cleaning your living space
- Writing a gratitude list
- Listening to chill tunes
- Soothing bath or shower time
- Screen-free mornings/evenings
- Smelling the goodness of candles/essential oils
- Cooking your favorite meal
- Taking yourself on a date (lunch date, solo movie outing, coffee break)
- Massaging those sore muscles
- Detoxing from social media
- Clearing your schedule from activities you don’t enjoy
- Petting or cuddling with your pet
- Creating new goals
- Calling someone you love
- Changing your personal style
- Donning cozy clothes
- Tracking the lunar cycle
- Enjoying a cup of your favorite bevvy (coffee, tea, something juicy)
- Making decisions (saying no, saying yes, moving on)
- Planning a “stay-cation”
- Treating yourself to something out of the ordinary
What Self-Care Tools Should I Use?
What’s your thing? If it’s writing you love, get a pretty new journal, binder or special place to write your thoughts. Reading? Download, borrow, or buy a book on a topic that fills your soul. Cooking? Go get some fresh ingredients (or go to your favorite Trader Joe’s) and make a meal like your favorite YouTube vlogger.
Self-care doesn’t need to cost money. When I first began this journey, I gathered materials from my apartment that I already owned. I had some candles from Ikea, a journal I got as a gift, and a plant that I liked. I created a ‘Spirit and Soul’ playlist and then I was off to the races. With experimentation over the year, I’ve figured out what scents help calm me (or energize me), what colors bring me peace, what oracle cards balance with my spiritual texts, what crystals help heal me, and what music helps focus me (my current playlist is titled ‘Soul-dier, get it?!).
As I mentioned, journaling helps me tremendously so I always have a journal nearby. I don’t journal daily–it’s more of a therapy for me. Most of my entries start with “I’m currently feeling….” and then lots of emotional and dramatic scribbles! You can see in my writing that I calm down once I’ve gotten it all out, and more than just calming down I really do feel that I am provided guidance from my higher self.
When you resonate with an activity, it really does almost feel like a portal where you will receive divine guidance from whatever you believe in (higher self/spirit guides/the universe/goddess/god/Source etc.
Where Will I Practice?
You don’t need a full blown altar space to practice self-care. I didn’t have a separate space when I first started, but now I create a ‘sacred corner’. My corner isn’t always set up, but I keep my self-care toolkit (candles, sage, incense, oracle cards, bible, journal, etc.) together in a special bin and set it up as part of my daily evening ritual.
I recommend having a designated area in your house or storage bin to store your self-care items. Create a small area for yourself that holds your items that relieve, inspire or soothe you.
When do I Start?
There are times when you unexpectedly have a spare moment or two, but most times you have to plan your self-care time. I found that it’s best for me to break up my self-care practice into morning and evening routines. I have a quick morning practice (because who am I kidding?!) and a more in-depth evening practice to unwind from my typically long workday. The morning practice varies from 1-10 minutes, and my evening practice is anywhere between 15-60 minutes.
Your daily self-care rituals don’t have to take a long time, but the time should be dedicated and focused. When I first started, I forced myself to do an hour of self-care every morning. By the second month, I realized that it was making me resentful and tired. I would hate myself if I wanted to sleep in or hate the fact that I was tired by 9am. That’s when I realized that I’m at my best when I have a quick morning practice, that can vary in time depending on my schedule or mood.
If you have a partner or family, you’ll likely have to work out a schedule and area of the house that works for all of you. This might mean getting up earlier before the kids wake up or alternating who gets the kids washed up and in bed. Or it could be an individual practice that you do together. One of my good friends and her partner practice yoga together every morning in silence. They share the physical space and activity, but are deep in their own thoughts during that time.
Find a time and place that works for you. If you’re a morning person, plan to do the majority of your self-care practice in the morning. Night owls, the opposite. If you work long hours, figure out natural break times, and incorporate your practice throughout the day. I personally created a midday self-care routine for long workdays that I feel out of sorts.
You can do it!
Drop any expectations you have. You don’t have to spend a lot of time or money to practice self-care. Try different methods at different times. Don’t be afraid to drop something if it doesn’t bring you peace. Be sure to check in with your feelings as often as you remember. Find a place to practice where you can spend time alone. Create a toolkit that fits your personality. Recognize your needs. Set boundaries. Let go of what no longer serves you.
What I can say after a full year of practice, self-care gets easier as you build routines. Once I found the time and methods that worked for me, I was able to form a regular habit. After a while, I started to crave the time to yourself! My friends often ask me how my “dates with myself” go because I schedule one day of extended me-time every week.
Have fun with your spiritual exploration! xoxo Mo