This post is the second post in a series on self-care. To read part 1, click here.
In last week’s post, we covered the basics of self-care and learned how it’s different from self-comforting. Today, we’re going to learn about how to get the most out of our self-care routines by ensuring that what we’re doing is effective long-term.
Because let’s face it: when you’re burnt out and super-busy, the last thing you want is to constantly be addressing the same issues over and over again, right?
With an effective self-care routine, you’ll not only be able to find instant relief, but you’ll also be able to establish a routine that is sustainable and nourishing – so you don’t end up being burnt out all over again.
Sounds great, right?
It’s not as hard as you may think. Let’s break it down…
What makes a self-care practice effective?
As I mentioned in last week’s post, there is a big difference between self-care and self-comforting. But just knowing this difference isn’t enough to make our self-care routines effective.
Don’t just take it from me, this article from Inc. talks about it, too: having an effective self-care routine means taking the time to check in with yourself and your needs and building a routine that will meet those needs to really help you feel refueled.
For instance – if you’re new to working from home, you might be excited about all of the “extra” time you have at home now that you don’t have to fight traffic to and from the office every day. You might decide to fill this time with household chores or sleeping in, or any number of different activities.
And while this sounds and feels good at first, you begin to notice that even though you’re working from home, you’re feeling more burnt out than usual.
You might find yourself missing your morning and evening commutes. These drives were a time that you had all to yourself and helped you create a much-needed buffer between your work & personal lives.
Now that you’re home all the time, you need to figure out what you can do to create the same sort of buffer without relying on the drive time so that you can be fully present in each part of your life.
Enter your new, effective self-care routine.
By taking a look at what’s not working (feeling constantly burnt out even though you’re at home 24/7), and realizing what’s missing in your routine (in this case, not having a morning and evening buffer between home & work-life), you can make the needed changes for long-lasting relief.
You might decide to spend 30 minutes before you start work reading, or listening to a podcast while you drink your coffee. At the end of your workday, you might spend some time taking a walk or doing yoga before jumping into our home or familial responsibilities.
Effective self-care is more about creating long-term peace than short-term pleasure.
It involves self-reflection and really spending time looking at what’s causing you to feel stressed or burnt out, and figuring out what you need to do on a consistent basis to overcome this.
I’ve identified 4 main things to help whatever self-care routine you decide to adopt to be more effective. Take a look below:
The 4 Pillars of Effective Self-Care
Before we can begin to create an effective self-care routine, we need to spend some time really getting to know our needs.
Think about what you feel is missing, and what you feel you need more of. Do you feel tired all the time? Would getting more sleep help this? Or maybe you need to establish a nightly routine that will help you wind down so you can actually get restful sleep.
Are you feeling stressed out because all your coworker or friend wants to do when they talk to you is complain? Maybe it’s time to set some boundaries around how much time you spend with this person, and how you do it.
By making time to really identify your needs, your self-care routine will be much more effective than if you just tried things that you think you “should” do, or that someone else recommends.
This goes hand-in-hand with self-study. When you’re beginning to plan your new routine, and while you’re reflecting on its impact, it’s important to be honest with yourself.
Consider your needs truthfully, without worrying about what others may think or whether or not your routine ends up looking like someone else’s.
And be honest with yourself about the activities you choose to add to your routine. Will they really help you feel better in the long-run, or do they just look good on paper?
Did you choose things that are easy, but won’t really make a difference? If so, why do you think you’re avoiding things that will really benefit you?
While you may see immediate results from your new self-care practice, the benefits of doing it long-term will surely be more measurable.
Taking good care of yourself for one day is not enough to make the kind of changes that will really have an impact, so before you give up and decide you no longer need the routine, or that it’s not working, be diligent and dedicated.
According to Dr. Maxwell Maltz, it takes 21 days to form a new habit. This is the perfect trial period for your new routine – it’s long enough to know if you’re really benefitting, yet short enough so as not to feel overwhelming.
Whether you choose to do it for 21 days or not, committing to a specific time-frame will allow you to really assess the impact your new self-care routine is having, and whether or not further adjustment is needed.
Self-Compassion & forgiveness
You might wonder how forgiveness comes into play in regards to self-care, so let me explain: you’re going to fall short some days.
You’re human – it happens. Some days fitting in your self-care isn’t going to happen, or it’s not going to have the impact you want or need. And that’s ok. Show yourself some compassion and forgiveness for not being perfect.
Being gentle with yourself is paramount to this practice.
It’s also important to remember that self-care is not a reward you give yourself, it’s what you do so that you can show up for your life as your best self.
When we approach our self-care routine using these 4 pillars, we increase the likelihood of having the relief and reprieve our practice gives us last far beyond the time we spend on it.
We move from short-term results to long-term, sustainable peace. And that’s really what we want anyway, right?
Be sure to come back next week for part 3 in this series, where we’ll take a look at some common mistakes people make with their self-care, and how to avoid them. If you want to be the first to know when the next post drops, be sure to sign up below!
Until next time,