Do you practice self-care? Before you answer that, remember this first: self-care is different for everyone.
Your mind may be jumping to visualizing some complex ritual that you may not have the time or energy for. You may be thinking of a little routine that you do every day, but since it’s a daily thing, it can’t be self-care, right?
Neither of those thoughts are wrong whatsoever, though they may not be right for you. Everyone’s perfect self-care routine varies, and that’s what makes it so important to find something to call your own.
If you don’t know where to start, that’s okay. The process to finding the perfect self-care routine for you can be a long one, but here’s some starting points.
First, What Do You Need?
We’ve all seen Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, that nifty pyramid dictating what every person is motivated by when they act a certain way. As self-care is based on you and your body’s needs, the first step to any successful routine is taking a moment to recognize those needs.
True, there may be a moment when you’re too upset to consider drinking a glass of water or taking a snack break, but taking a moment to recognize that you may need them is crucial. One of the tools that I used (and still use) for my self-care routine is a simple guide called You Feel Like Shit: An Interactive Self-Care Guide. It takes you through steps that make you stop and consider various possibilities, like “Are you tired?” or “Do you feel unclean?”. It’s very useful in the moments where you need to take a moment, collect yourself, and ask if you’re just hangry or if there’s something more going on.
Second, What Do You Want?
Many self-care routines that you see, be it from Tumblr or from Instagram, can be confusing as it blurs the line between one’s needs and one’s wants. To be fair, they are oftentimes closely linked, if not one and the same. While self-care is more than a “Treat Yo’Self” philosophy, it does help you figure out and fall into the perfect routine.
Want to spend the day reading a book instead of stressing yourself out over life as you know it? Cozy up and do it.
Want to break free from what society says is okay and do something that’s not? Put your wants first, you crazy rebel, you.
Third, Consider How Much/How Often You Need It.
As I noted before, some people have a routine that they do every day– like picking up their favorite coffee and taking a moment to enjoy it alone. Other people have an elaborate ritual that they do when stressed from exams and the like.
Both ways are okay, and they are great. You can incorporate both into your personal plan.
For instance, when I have a tough day, or when I know that I will be having a crazy week ahead, I make sure to pick up my favorite coffee each afternoon. It takes a moment, it’s an indulgence and it allows me to multitask while I sip and enjoy. I can do that little act of self-care every day.
Other weeks, like finals or just during a rough patch in general, I do every little thing that I can to prepare myself, which usually leads me to kicking my self-care routine into high gear. I make myself a self-care kit and schedule out the end of my day to pamper myself with a hot shower, a face mask, my favorite food and my current Netflix obsession.
It’s all about balance and knowing what to do when you need it. If there is a month that goes by and you don’t have to resort to daily self-care, that’s awesome! If you have one day that you have to have an emergency mental health day and devote a whole 24 hours to self-care, that’s quite alright too.
Just remember: the perfect self-care routine has to be focused on you.
When it comes to self-care, having a plan can make life easier because you know that you are strong, able and wise enough to handle whatever will be coming your way. Your mental health isn’t like anyone else’s– the same goes for a self-care routine that’s perfect for you.