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We all know that self-care is important. No one wants to be running in circles, stressed out of their minds. The hard part about maintaining a daily self-care routine isn’t understanding WHY we should practice self-care but HOW the heck can we fit it into our daily schedules.
For me, self-care plans were always the first to go if something urgent came up. Probably because we’re so used to ignoring our need for self-care.
We physically can’t ignore our need to eat because we get hangry. We all know it’s time to sleep when we start to nod off. But no one goes running towards a self-care routine in response to stress.
We see stress as motivation. It’s not unusual for us to pile on responsibilities & become workaholics. I know I’m guilty of it. As much as we don’t like to admit, it’s easier to stay busy than to make time for balance.
Self-care is never a priority until you make it one.
Here are 5 steps to lock in a daily self-care routine for good:
1. Find which aspects of self-care you want to prioritize
I know how tempting it is to want to become a self-care guru. It all seems so easy. Just meditate. Breathe deeply.
But it’s best to ease into it. If you rush it, your self-care priorities might just become another New Year’s resolution you never followed through with.
First, start with a brain dump of all the self-care habits you can think of. It can be anything from exercise routines to watching your favorite comedy show. Think of happiness & fulfillment as the goal.
Choose 3 new self-care habits you want to prioritize. For example, I prioritized meditation to build focus for pharmacy school, yoga to relieve stress, and quality time to nurture my relationships.
2. Time block your daily habits & self-care rituals into Morning, Afternoon, & End of Day blocks
These blocks will include the habits you already have, such as eating meals, taking a shower, or walking your dog.
Why is it important to account for these small parts of your day? Well, they’re already part of your daily routine. And if you add a few self-care rituals into a routine you’re already used to, it’ll be easier for self-care to become a part of your everyday life.
Here are my time block checklists on Asana:
The time ranges take into consideration unusually busy days. For example, my END OF DAY block ranges from 2 HRS and 20 MIN to 2 HRS and 50 MIN. If I’m having a hectic day, I usually skip “Gratitude” (since I already have Yoga/Workout), “Pick outfit for tomorrow”, and “Pack up for tomorrow”.
Also important to note, please don’t think you need to check off these tasks forever! I stopped using this checklist once it naturally became a part of my daily routine.
3. Take an hour every weekend to plan your ideal schedule a week ahead
Now that you know how long your morning, afternoon, & end-of-day routines take, you can plan them around your work or school schedules.
If you plan a week ahead, you’ll no longer sweep self-care under the rug. I used to do yoga and spend the entire time thinking about what I needed to do that day. Of course, I didn’t get the full benefits of yoga with anxiety & stress weighing me down.
It’s important not to leave any empty spaces on your calendar. Make sure to incorporate travel time, like your commute to work or running errands. If you have any empty spaces, you could fill it in with “Resting Time” or “Catch Up with Friends”–anything you would normally do in your downtime.
Remember, this is your ideal schedule. It isn’t set in stone, and you can move it around as much as you want. This way, you can be confident that you’ve made time for everything: your responsibilities, your ambitions, and your needs. It won’t feel like self-care is a waste of time because you already planned your week for success.
I use Google Calendar to time block my entire day. I have a separate calendar titled “Ideal Schedule” to keep my expectations separate from my set schedule. Here is an example of my ideal schedule for the week ahead (left) and a schedule I ended up moving around a few weeks ago — my dog peed on my bed, so you can see how my schedule drastically changed (right):
4. Do away with multitasking
Whenever the word self-care is brought up, intention always tags along. The biggest enemy of intention is multitasking.
With multitasking, what is the actual goal? To do all the things? Because when we try to do everything, we usually accomplish nothing. And you just end up with an unsettled feeling & flustered mind.
When you do things with intention, you need focus. I’ll bring back the dog walking example. I used to think the goal was to get my dog to do his thang and my job was done. But really, my true intention was to take care of him.
When I stopped scrolling through Instagram or talking on the phone while walking him, it became more of a ritual than a chore. It became a time where I could clear my mind. That 15 minutes of responsibility became 15 minutes of intentional bonding with my pup. Yes, bonding can occur with a poop bag in hand.
Another form of multitasking is allowing distracting thoughts to change your schedule. My favorite way to combat this is from Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind. If you suddenly have a great idea or you realize you forgot something important, write it down on a post-it & schedule 10 minutes to review the list later. This way, you can stick to your schedule & stay focused.'The biggest enemy of intention is multitasking. When we try to do everything, we usually accomplish nothing.'Click To Tweet
5. Set aside time for activities that make you happy but easily distract you (social media, Netflix, etc.)
It feels odd to schedule out time for Instagram or Netflix, but it’s easy to mistake downtime for self-care. Even though you enjoy watching Stranger Things, is it really self-care if you’re sitting on a chair in full panic-mode for an hour? And we all know Instagram or Facebook can get stressful real quick. FOMO is real, and it is far from self-care.
If you plan 30 minutes to an hour for each activity into your schedule, it won’t be as tempting to pick up your phone or open up a Hulu tab. You won’t feel like you’re missing out because you made time for it later.'It's easy to mistake downtime for self-care.'Click To Tweet