What is a routine for self-care?
A regular activity or set of habits that are directed towards one’s well being creates a routine for self-care. We might already have such routines and not even realise its importance for our self-care! You might read a book right before you are off to sleep or have your evening coffee break at work. The morning run without which your day is miserable or a skin-care routine everyday are also some examples. Such daily activities in their own unique ways help you maintain a certain level of well being. Creating a regular schedule of self-care can lead you towards a healthy and fulfilling life.
How do routines help with self-care?
There are significant studies which state that individuals with higher levels of routinization have lower levels of distress. Having routines creates a great structure for everyday functioning, providing a sense of accomplishment. Waking up on time or making the bed in the morning is a great mental boost for many. When you don’t follow certain bits of your routine like not showering or being in your pyjamas all day, it can tend to instil lethargy and a lack of interest or effort. Set routines are also a great way to see how an individual is functioning. Swaying away from routines or patterns might have an unknown underlying cause - it could be a sign for mental health concerns in the person’s lives. These red flags might be noticed by the individual or their loved ones. Hence, routines are significant contributors to a healthy, productive & creative individual.
What to include in a routine?
A rule of thumb for creating routines is to cater to all aspects of wellbeing. A simple and straightforward routine for our physical wellbeing revolved around fitness, a balanced diet and a healthy sleep cycle. These routines are also accompanied with the activities we do before and after them, such as stretching before exercising, brushing and showering after we wake up and drinking plenty of water as part of our diet.
While our physical health is a pivotal part of self-care, it cannot overshadow our emotional, mental, social & spiritual well being. With regard to all of these, you can choose from activities that best fit your schedule & livelihood. Meditation can greatly cater to your overall overarching wellbeing.
Having a consistent routine is important to its longevity. However, you can alter your routine as a response to certain stimuli, based on what your needs are then. For example, on the days you eat an extra dessert, your workout regime can be a bit tougher. If you had a specific, uncomfortable event you would like to journal about, you can do so for that day. Being flexible with our routines to meet our needs helps make them genuine and self-care oriented.
Finally, make sure to include activities that are personally important to you. Spending time with your children/partner or engaging with a hobby that calms you down can be included in your self-care routines.
How to adhere to your routine?
We have got some good news for you! You most likely already have a routine in place and do not need to develop one again. It might just need some tweaking and/or greater routinization for better well being. Start small with regularizing your existing routine - increase frequency and create goals with existing routines. Adopt the basics of physical exercise, balanced diet & any form of meditation initially.
Throughout the process, try and identify any triggers or events that throw you off your schedule very easily. Try to be receptive and aware of what your mind and body tell you. The next time around, you can be proactive in identifying these events and managing them effectively.
Remember, do not be hard on yourself if you fail to follow the routine. You can always hit the reset button and begin all over again; this might mean picking up from where you left off or starting afresh with a routine better suited to you. As time progresses, the routine will become an automatic event.
If your routine is irregular and you are having trouble setting realistic goals for yourself, always feel free to reach out for help, either from your friends and family or from trained professionals.