New habits take time and care to add into your life. They can feel rather tricky in the beginning before you cross the threshold of adoption and integration into your life. You might be wondering right now, "Okay, Dianne - new habits, check. Promising idea, but when will I manage to do anything for myself with MY schedule?"
To make something a habit - good or bad - it's got to happen regularly and consistently. Keep reading, and I'll show you some tricks to help you make self-care a routine part of your life so you can enjoy the benefits.
Trick #1: Make It Personal
When creating and sustaining a self-care ritual that will fit into a busy, overscheduled life, the first thing you should do it choose activities that you enjoy. It's YOUR practice - it can be as unique and special as you are, and to get the maximum benefit, it should be customized to fit YOU.
Start by making a list of things that help you feel relaxed, peaceful, happy, or excited. These activities shouldn't take a lot of time. It's harder to carve out three hours for a professional massage and spa treatment than it is to carve out 15 to 20 minutes for a journaling session with inspirational music.
Choose activities that fit into our life without the need for special tools or equipment - keep it as simple as possible to help you be consistent and inspire you to keep going.
Trick #2: Make Space and Fit It In
Include your self-care rituals in the most convenient parts of your day - choosing times that are already flexible instead of rigid makes it less stressful when adding something into that space.
Many people use specific rituals to start and end their days - a morning journaling session can set the tone for your day ahead, and an evening relaxation session can include dumping all that "stuff" out of your brain and down on paper so you can sleep more deeply.
Try getting up 5 to 15 minutes earlier each day and set aside a similar window of time in the evening. Starting slow and building up over time is easier than trying to get up an hour earlier in the beginning. Track your sleep and aim for 8 hours a day when possible.
You might also consider building some self-care time into your lunch break - a short walk during your lunch hour might just be what you need to revamp your mindset and emotional state and send you into your afternoon with recharged energy and focus.
Finishing your day with an entry in your Gratitude journal might be just the thing to help you refocus on the positive before retiring at night. Give yourself the grace of a period of trial and error while you figure out what works best for you. You deserve to spend time ON yourself, FOR yourself.
Trick #3: Adopt the Principle of Semper Gumby - Forever Flexible
In a perfect world, we'd design a self-care routine that just eased right into our days and stick with it - no problem.
Since that's NOT where most of us live, committing to a regular routine that works for you and sticking with it is a more reasonable and doable task. Creating a new habit takes 21 to 30 days, and may even take longer, but if you never get started, that period can stretch to infinity.
Cut yourself some slack - there will be hectic days when it's all you can do to keep it together, let alone worry about your self-care, but don't give up. Tomorrow is a new day, and you can get back into your routine right at the start of the day.
After a while, the benefits and good feelings will encourage you to take part in your rituals and staying on track will be easier. Keep reinforcing that you are WORTH it and you DESERVE to devote time to your own self-care. Keep finding ways to incorporate favorite activities into your schedule, and they'll become part of who you are and how you live your life.
Getting started with self-care practice doesn't have to be difficult. The rewards are definitely worth it, and if you make a few adjustments to your existing schedule, you might even free up some space in your day. Choose activities that create anticipation of a positive result, those which refresh your body, mind, and spirit, and that are simple in nature.
Keeping it simple and focused will make adopting your new self-care habit a breeze.