Self-care is a term that has become a buzzword in our culture. But I realized that most people need to learn what authentic self-care entails. It’s not just massages, facials, and manicures. Although those things can be a part of your self-care routine, understanding the foundation of complete self-care will help you prioritize your mental health. Here are a few things I practice to help me invest in my self-care routinely: DO NOT reach for your phone in the A.M. I said it. I realize how easy it can be to get sucked in by minor things such as answering a text, reading an email, checking social media, or even checking the weather. I keep phone checking for particular parts of the day. Jumping online before I start my day can derail my morning routine and overall productivity. Designate blocks of time for specific tasks. I check my email during certain times of the day. I intentionally do not check my work email once I finish the day. Just as in #1, it is easy to get thrown off track by an email. The next thing you know, 30 minutes have passed, and you are off the task without much to show. Often this is where procrastination can come in. In today’s culture, most of us operate on the hustle mentality. Unfortunately, it can make us feel busy, but that does not mean we are productive. Also, by setting designated times to respond to emails, you teach others that you are not always available.
Have boundaries with your time, energy, and effort. Most people are aware that we need to set boundaries with people. However, I noticed that most people, myself included, must set boundaries around our time, energy, and effort. You can unintentionally derail your sleep if you respond to an email outside of work hours or right before you go to sleep. How? If you read and respond to a complicated email, your mind can become hijacked with overthinking while trying to sleep with thoughts such as, “Did I remember to address everything in that email? How are they going to respond to it? What do I need to do tomorrow as a follow-up to the email? You are making a HUGE investment in self-care and overall mental health by having boundaries with when and how you spend your time, energy, and effort. Have a good sleep routine/ritual. We can go to sleep whenever right!? From the time we hit adolescence, our nighttime routines often go out of the window. Most of us fail to realize that lack of sleep can contribute to several things, such as increased symptoms of depression and anxiety, irritable mood, poor focus and attention, and even weight gain. In short, sleep is the charge that the human body needs to function optimally each day.
I am currently training myself to keep a nighttime ritual. I have planned steps to help me optimize the sleep I get nightly, such as preparing for the next day at night (i.e.-do, do I have enough gas in the car, will I stop for coffee or make it to the office in the AM? What time do I see the first client of the day? Am I going to the gym before work? If so, lay out workout gear, maybe even sleep in it!!!) All of this prep starts the moment the day is over! Once I get home, I plan to be in bed between 9:30 and 10 pm. I may not be sleepy, but I keep this routine. Usually, I am asleep within 30 minutes.
Self-care is not solely about the occasional pampering with massages and facials. These tips are the foundation of not only self-care but mental health. Consistently practice these core self-care components & invest in your mental health. Interested in more mental health strategies?