By Jade Byrnell
Self-care is the buzzword of the day. Every blog, magazine, morning show and podcast seems to be touting the importance of self-care. But for all the time we spend talking about it, many of us still don’t really understand what it is or why it matters. Make no mistake, self-care should be your number one priority because you are the vehicle for everything else you value, including your finances, career and sex life.
Without proper self-care, your body, mind, and spirit can’t function properly. We tend to think of illness or pain as something going wrong with our body but it’s often just our body responding naturally to the way we’re treating it. Stress is treated as an inevitable part of adult life, but it’s often the result of us failing to practice good mental health hygiene.
On the other hand, a well cared for self yields incalculable benefits. A strong and healthy body is more resistant to sickness and more receptive to pleasure. A balanced mind is more efficient at work, more creative at home and better at remembering where you put your keys. Self care isn’t frivolous indulgence. It’s as essential as putting gas in the tank.
Here are some ideas for daily and weekly/monthly routines to help you maintain yourself. Pick what works for you and schedule it as frequently as you need to. There’s a basics list for those brand new to self-care and some more advanced options for those looking to step up their self-care game. Wherever you are on the self-care spectrum, it’s always possible to take better care of you.
Start With The Basics
Abraham Maslow created the Hierarchy of Needs theory to explain what motivates human behavior. It placed the most fundamental physiological needs at the bottom and the more elevated self-actualization needs at the top. It’s hard to be bothered by falling short of your full potential when you’re starving to death. So a good self care regimen always begins with the basics.
Essential Things To Do
If you’re not sure where to begin, try a few of these ideas and see how you feel after a month.
- Eat three to five nutritious meals.
- Drink more water. Eight glasses a day is the standard but most people fall well short of that. Rather than measure, just keep a reusable water bottle with you throughout the day and sip often.
- Check the next day’s schedule and weather in the evening and pick out an outfit suited to your day, including extras like shoes, umbrella or sun hat.
- Schedule your bedtime the way you schedule your wakeup time, early enough to ensure sufficient sleep.
- Practice good safety protocols. Wear seat belts and helmets. Look both ways before crossing the street. Wash your hands. Use condoms.
Weekly or Monthly:
- Plan your meals for the upcoming week or month. Make a shopping list for anything you need and put your prep time in your agenda.
- Check in with your core support team. Intimate partners, BFFs, mom … whoever is there for you when you need someone. Nurture those connections.
- Make a creative date with yourself. Draw in a sketchbook. Strum a guitar. Write in a journal. Take a dance class. Be all of you.
- Review your accomplishments and congratulate yourself.
How To Kick Things Up A Notch
If you’re going through something challenging or you’d just like to take better care of yourself, here are some things to consider adding to your routine.
- Sit down at a table to eat. Don’t work, read, or watch anything. Just chew and taste your food. Let your mind wander.
- Expand your water menu. Try throwing in some ice cubes, citrus or cucumber slices, frozen berries or fresh mint leaves. Have a cup of hot or iced herbal tea in the afternoon. Try chamomile in the evening. This all counts as drinking your water.
- Change into loungewear for your evenings at home. Sweats are fine but you can also be comfy in pajamas, a silky nightgown or yoga pants. Don’t forget a cozy cardigan or throw blanket if it’s chilly.
- Set a time to begin your pre-sleep routine. Leave time between the end of the day and falling asleep for things like reading, journaling or sex.
- Masturbate! It improves circulation, relieves tension and helps you sleep better. Check out the PleazeMe Shop to find your new favorite toy and lube!
- Plan to arrive ten minutes early to everything. This reduces your daily stress levels and strengthens your support system by letting others know they can count on you
- Meditate. Pray, Practice mindfulness or gratitude. Anything that allows you to be present in the moment helps reduce anxiety and improve your overall effectiveness.
Weekly or Monthly:
- Try a new food, dish or restaurant. Maybe you do like beets and just haven’t had them properly prepared yet.
- Take a nap. They’re not just for toddlers.
- Schedule a breast or skin self exam. Weigh yourself. Note any changes.
- If you’re in a relationship, carve out some time to nurture the connection by doing something you both love, trying something new together or just sharing your thoughts. If you’re single, do this with a friend. Or with yourself.
- Connect with someone important to you that you haven’t seen in a while. A quick text or phone call can be enough to keep you feeling safe in your relationships.
- Set your intentions for the week or month ahead so you’ll know what to congratulate yourself for.
- Challenge yourself. Train for a marathon. Learn a new language. Read that Russian novel. Take a cooking class …
The bottom line is that no one is going to take care of you except you. Doctors, therapists, friends and family can all facilitate your self care but you’re the one living in your body, thinking your thoughts and feeling your feelings. So take time to nourish yourself and you’ll be rewarded with improved health, happiness and relationships. And that is the definition of success.
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