What Self Care Is (and Isn’t) and How To Find Self Care Routines That Work For You

What self care is, Self care routine


What does self care mean to you? When you hear someone talk about a self care routine, do you picture bubble baths and candles? What if I told you that’s not really what self care is? Keep reading to learn what self care is (and isn’t) to help you build a self care routine that works for you.

What Does Self Care Look Like?: FAQs

Before we can talk about self care in depth, we need to be on the same page about what self care is and isn’t. So let’s dive in.

What Does Self Care Mean?

Self care is more than just a buzzword; it’s an essential practice for maintaining mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Understanding what self care involves can transform the way you approach your daily life.

Self care is …

  • A commitment to prioritizing your own needs and well-being
  • An act of self-respect and acknowledging your worth
  • A proactive approach to managing stress and preventing burnout
  • Creating boundaries to protect your mental and emotional health
  • Embracing activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul

Self care isn’t …

  • A selfish or indulgent act
  • Ignoring responsibilities or neglecting others
  • A one-size-fits-all solution; it’s deeply personal and unique
  • A temporary fix; it’s a continuous, lifelong practice
  • Something you have to earn through hard work or sacrifice

By understanding what self care truly means, you can begin integrating it into your routine in a meaningful way, empowering yourself to live a healthier, more balanced life.

What Is Holistic Self Care?

Holistic self care is a way to take care of your well-being by considering the connection between your mind, body, and soul. It means looking after your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health through thoughtful practices and habits. Instead of focusing on just one area, holistic self care aims for balance and harmony in your life. This approach encourages you to pay attention to your body’s needs, respect your emotions, and do activities that bring you peace and fulfillment.

What Is the Best Example of Self Care?

Most people think self care means doing specific activities, but it’s really personal and different for everyone. For example, a self care routine for a single mom juggling work and kids might look like taking a few minutes each evening to drink tea quietly and read a book, helping her relax.

For a busy executive dealing with high-stress projects, self care could mean scheduling regular exercise and meditation to stay physically healthy and mentally clear. For a college student under academic pressure, it might be making time each week to hang out with friends and do hobbies, giving them a much-needed emotional and social break.

In every case, self care is about what fits the person’s unique needs, focusing on balance and well-being.

What Is Poor Self Care?

Poor self care means not taking proper care of your physical, emotional, or mental health. It can include neglecting basic needs like sleep, healthy eating, and exercise or not managing stress effectively. Over time, poor self care can lead to feeling burned out, stressed, or even sick. It’s important to recognize when you’re not taking care of yourself so you can make changes to improve your well-being.

What Is a Self Care Routine?

A self care routine is a set of regular activities that help you take care of your physical, emotional, and mental health. It might include things like eating healthy meals, exercising, taking breaks to relax, and doing hobbies you enjoy. The goal is to create habits that make you feel good and balanced every day.

How To Start a Self Care Routine

If you don’t have a self care routine, there is no better time than now to create one! Follow these steps to develop a holistic routine that fits and enhances your lifestyle.

1. Assess Your Needs 

Take some time to think about what areas of your life need more attention. Consider your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. Write down any specific needs or goals you have in each area. For example, you might need more sleep or want to manage stress better. 

2. Set Clear Goals

Identify what you want to achieve with your self care routine. Your goals could be as simple as feeling more energized throughout the day, reducing anxiety, or spending more time on hobbies. Clear goals will help guide your routine and keep you focused.

3. Start Small

Begin with small, manageable changes instead of overhauling your entire lifestyle at once. Incorporate one or two new activities into your daily routine, such as a short walk after dinner or five minutes of deep breathing before bed.

4. Schedule Your Activities

Plan your self care activities as you would any other important appointment. Use a calendar or planner to schedule specific times for exercise, relaxation, hobbies, or any other self care practices. Consistency is key.

5. Be Flexible

Life can be unpredictable, so be prepared to adjust your self care routine as needed. If you miss a scheduled activity, don’t be hard on yourself. Simply reschedule it and move forward. Flexibility will help you maintain your routine in the long term.

6. Include Lots of Different Activities

Make sure your self care routine includes a mix of activities that address different aspects of your well-being. Here’s a self care routine list to help you get some ideas:

  • Daily Walks or Jogging: Spend at least 30 minutes each day walking or jogging in your neighborhood or a nearby park.
  • Healthy Meal Preparation: Plan and cook nutritious meals to ensure you’re eating balanced and healthy foods.
  • Stretching Exercises: Incorporate a daily stretching routine to improve flexibility and reduce muscle tension.
  • Mindfulness Meditation: Practice mindfulness meditation for 10-15 minutes each day to clear your mind and reduce stress.
  • Reading Books: Set aside time to read books that interest you, whether fiction or nonfiction, to stimulate your mind.
  • Journaling: Keep a journal to write down your thoughts, feelings, and experiences, helping you process emotions and reflect on your day.
  • Yoga Practice: Engage in regular yoga sessions to connect your body and mind, promoting inner peace and relaxation.
  • Nature Walks: Spend time in nature, whether hiking in the woods or simply sitting by a lake, to feel grounded and connected to the world around you.
  • Prayer or Reflection: Dedicate time each day for prayer, meditation, or quiet reflection to nourish your spiritual side.
  • Creative Hobbies: Engage in creative activities like painting, drawing, or crafting to express yourself and unwind.
  • Socializing with Friends: Make time to connect with friends and family, whether through phone calls, video chats, or in-person meet-ups.
  • Listening to Music or Podcasts: Enjoy listening to your favorite music or educational podcasts to relax and stay informed.

7. Track Your Progress

Keep a journal or use an app to track your self care activities and how they make you feel. Reflecting on your progress can help you stay motivated and make any necessary adjustments to improve your routine.

8. Prioritize Self-Compassion

Remember that self care is about taking care of yourself without judgment. Be kind to yourself, celebrate your successes, and don’t get discouraged by setbacks. Self-compassion will help you maintain a positive mindset.

9. Seek Support

Share your self care goals with friends or family members who can support and encourage you. You might even find a self care buddy to join you in activities like exercising or meditating.

10. Review and Adjust 

Regularly review your self care routine to see what’s working and what’s not. Make adjustments as needed to ensure your routine continues to meet your needs and enhances your lifestyle.

Ready To Make Self Care a Priority?

Now that you know how to start a self care routine, the next step is to take action. Begin by incorporating just one or two activities into your daily schedule, and gradually build from there. Remember, small steps can lead to significant changes over time. Stay consistent, be kind to yourself, and celebrate your progress along the way. You’ve got this!