How to Make Self-Care a Habit

How to Make Self-Care a Habit

As a therapist, I constantly hear about the importance of self-care, but I rarely hear about how to consistently engage in self-care practices.  I’ve heard motivating speeches or those compelling calls to action to make self-care a priority. I have said, “Okay today is the day I change!”, only to look back in a week or so to see that my self-care train was derailed along the way.  Making self-care a habit took intentionality and a shift in how I viewed it. 

 I recently took a self-care assessment (can be found here).  I was not impressed with my results. I realized that I was waiting for a perfect moment to take time for myself, that seemed never to come.  I often thought “I am really going to relax on this vacation”, however, it was two months away.  Two months is a long time to run on empty.  I decided that I was going to be intentional moment-to-moment about my self-care rather than of hoping and waiting for a perfect time or event. I was going to intentionally make self-care a daily habit. You can do it too!

Being Intentional:

 I love the word intentional.  It is so powerful.  Wikipedia defines intentional as: “done on purpose; deliberate”. 

Instead of waiting for self-care to randomly wonder into our lives we must seek it out on purpose and be deliberate about doing so.  We must find ways to frequently remind ourselves to engage in self-care. 

Here are three ways to be intentional about self-care.

1. Schedule self-care into your day.  There are great planners out there that allow you to set goals and monitor habits, such as the Therapist Planner, Passion Planner or Freedom Mastery Planner.  Take a moment to look at your day and intentionally plan self-care into your day.

2. Get an accountability partner.  Bringing someone into your life who is committed to checking-in on your progress, helping you find hidden motivation and stay on track with self-care habits.  Allowing you to report your successes instead of making excuses.  Your partner will not want to hear you say: “Well, see what happen was…”and will help you stay on track.

3. Find Apps that remind you to engage in self-care.  Happify is a great app to use to help you select mental health goals, while giving you fun ways to achieve those goals.  Headspace is an app designed to walk you through guided meditations on several different topics, ranging from restful sleep to starting your morning on the “good foot”.  Lastly, Shine is an app designed to provide you with daily motivation and a library stocked full of audio files called Mindful Moments.

Self-Care in the Small Things

It is important to see self-care in the moment-to-moment events. 

Here are 10 small, yet effective, self-care activities we can do as therapists:

1.       Take a quick walk in between sessions

2.       Talk to friends and family between sessions via text, phone, video chat or social media

3.       Enjoy a healthy delicious snack

4.       Intentionally place things in your office that bring you joy, then actually enjoy those things (i.e. fresh cut flowers, inspiring art work, photos of important people/animals in your life, etc.)

5.       Listen to a pleasant song on the way to work, on the way home or between sessions

6.       Wear a favorite article or color of clothing to work

7.       Take a nap between sessions

8.       Create boundaries with your time.  Schedule clients the way that works best for you

9.       Take a moment to be mindful of (and practice) grounding activities

10.   Actually, use the bathroom in between sessions…you would be surprise at how much we put off taking care of that basic need

It can be easy to engage in self-care.  Do it on purpose.  Slow down, notice the small moment-to-moment things we often overlook.  It might not be something that comes naturally but with a little intentionality self-care will become a habit. 

Comment below on ways that you are intentional about making self-care a habit with the small things in life.

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