Everywhere you turn, someone is talking up self-care. In fact, it seems like you can’t go on social media or stroll down a self-help aisle without self-care being thrown at you. But, there’s actually plenty of reasons why.
Self-care has been found to improve all areas of our lives. Thanks to self-care, everything from our physical and mental well-being to nurturing relationships to productivity at work can be improved.
At the same time, if you already struggle with anxiety, self-care makes things worse. “Taking time to administer a healthy dose of self-care can trigger feelings of guilt (I should be working/cleaning/spending more time with my kids), or stir up unresolved feelings related to self-worth (I don’t deserve this or I’m not good enough for this),” explains therapist Melinda Haynes on Healthline.
Haynes adds that those living with anxiety “typically cannot experience the simplicity or peace of ‘just self.’ There are too many to-dos and what-ifs flooding the mind and body at any given moment. Taking a timeout from the busy pace of life only highlights this irregularity... hence, the guilt or low self-worth.”
Even worse, some of us have become obsessed with self-care.
“Self-care is fetishised and has become instagrammable,” Dr. Perpetua Neo explains. “People think there are checkboxes to tick, standards to upkeep, and yet they don’t understand why they do what they do.”
“If you find yourself obsessing over the ‘correct way’ to self-care, and feel like crap consistently after it, then it’s a big sign to stop,” she adds.
It can also be stressful trying to implement self-care into your already packed schedule.
To make sure that you’re getting the most out of self-care without adding to your stress or anxiety, here are some realistic ways to incorporate it into your daily routine.
Plan ahead and schedule a time for your self-care.
If you don’t make the time for self-care, then something else will always take its place. Just like a doctor’s appointment or work deadline, block out a non-negotiable time period for yourself. For example, if you have 20-minutes in the morning before your kids wake-up, use that to read, exercise, or catch-up on your favorite sitcom. After you eat lunch, go for a short walk outside. And, on the weekends, do the thing that you enjoy the most.
One thing to remember here though. You may have to start saying “no” more frequently. Let’s say that you already have plans to relax this weekend because you finally have the house to yourself and you get invited to an acquaintance’s party. Just politely decline the invite and stick to your plan.
Keep your self-care routine simple.
Despite what you have seen or heard on social media or online, attending to your self-care doesn’t have to be an elaborate, expensive, and luxurious event. It can be as simple as taking a bubble bath, cooking a healthy meal, journaling, organizing your workspace, taking your dog for a walk, or grabbing coffee with a friend.
When your self-care routine isn’t complicated or pricey it will be less stressful to implement and you’ll be more likely to follow through with it.
If you need some ideas to get started, here are 45 simple self-care practices for a healthy mind, body, and soul courtesy of Tiny Buddha.
Don’t do something just because everyone else is.
“Your self-care doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s,” writes Kristi Pahr. “It doesn’t need to have a hashtag. It just needs to be whatever makes you feel good.”
So, if you hate going to the spa, then stop doing it because “everyone” is telling you how amazing it makes them feel. If you’re happier watching your favorite comedy on Netflix, doing hot yoga for an hour, or treating yourself to a decadent treat or new outfit, then focus on those instead.
Don’t pack your schedule so tight that there isn’t any wiggle-room. You need to have a little flexibility.
For example, you may have an incredibly busy day between work and attending your kid’s basketball game. As such, you may not have time for an hour-long workout. But, you may have time to go for a short walk or purchase your favorite latte. However, take advantage of the days that you do have more time to engage in self-care activities that are more time-consuming.