Welcome to the 5 Day Chase Grace Challenge! As mentioned in my previous post, today starts the challenge of practical, honest tips to pursue more grace across 5 areas of life, over the next 5 days. Today, we’re talking about creating a self-care routine.
This challenge is community-focused, so I polled my Instagram followers to share what self-care means to them. Feel free to save this post for the list of self-care ideas!
Some posts about better ‘relaxing’ time & ‘self-care’ honestly bother me, because sticking on a face mask or running a bath doesn’t automatically solve life’s problems.
About a year ago, I was going through one of the toughest times personally, and I seriously struggled to relax at all, to the point of frequent anxiety attacks, the inability to fall asleep, and the constant chase of a never-ending to-do list. My mind was constantly running & worrying. I couldn’t relax! I didn’t know how to. And I felt like I couldn’t take a minute to myself.
I tried researching ‘self-care tips’ & similar articles for creating a relaxing routine to wind down, but I wasn’t impressed with what I found.
Then, I realized I had the wrong approach to relaxing & self-care all together. Self-care isn’t about just the physical aspects, like lighting a candle or using a bath bomb.
It’s the combination of practices AND the mental shift to allow yourself the ‘turned off’ brain-time. Self-care is about acknowledging when the ‘work day’ ends and when ‘you time’ begins. Without the distinction, my brain wouldn’t stop. I didn’t know when to stop. It’s not just about the practices, but what they represent.
It took me quite a while to realize why ‘self-care’ didn’t work for me. If you’re a worrier & busy-bee too, I’m sure you’ve experienced this, or still do.
We’re habitual beings by nature. Forming habits is a challenge. It might feel silly at first, but once you form a self-care routine & learn how to truly let yourself relax, you’ll find it much easier to enjoy your self-care time.
How to Create a Self-Care Routine to Actually Relax
1. Start small.
You might feel silly at first. Habits take time, & it does feel a bit like the Pavlov’s dog experiment (but hey, it works!). Similar to creating a sleep/nighttime routine, your body learns from habits & takes environmental cues. For example, putting on your pajamas, brushing your teeth, & turning down lights cue bed time, whether you realize it or not. Sitting at your desk with your textbooks open signals study time. Make sense?
So, if you’re missing these ‘cues’ for when it’s time to relax, it’s no wonder your body & brain don’t know when to stop!
READ MORE: How to Deal with an Overbooked Schedule
Start with a simple cue or action to specifically signal your self-care/relax time. For me, lighting a scented candle or turning on my diffuser with relaxing scents became my cue. When the candle is lit or the diffuser is on, I know it’s winding-down time. I don’t light the candle when I’m studying or working, it’s reserved for quiet, relaxing time only. This way, you form a simple, practical habit to distinguish resting time from the rest of the day. I know it sounds trivial, but it works when you let it.
Choose something simple, like lighting a candle, making your favorite (caffeine-free) beverage, or putting on a comfy robe, and keep that practice specifically for your self-care time, so your body learns when it’s okay to rest & unwind.
2. Make self-care special.
It’s much easier to practice self-care in your usual routine, rather than when ‘relax time’ only happens once a month (or less). Your self-care routine can include a variety of things, or just a few, but they need to happen regularly. Make it a habit to include at least one of these practices daily (or add it to your night routine), that you wouldn’t necessarily do otherwise.
Give yourself a few extra minutes in the morning to read daily devotionals without checking your phone. Spend the last 15 minutes before you fall sleep listening to worship/calming music. Let yourself take the time to paint your nails while watching a Netflix episode. (PS – I love painting my nails specifically because it prevents me from being busy while letting them dry.)
Give yourself the time to relax. Let it be part of your routine. Let’s quit feeling guilty over caring for ourselves, physically, mentally, & emotionally.
Don’t you perform & work better when you’re well-rested over drained?
3. Know what works for you.
This is key. I don’t like facemasks & I get bored sitting in the bath. These activities aren’t at the top of my ‘self-care routine’, but maybe they’re your favorites. I love painting my nails while watching YouTube or Netflix. I eat a lot of ice cream, because I truly love it. I take quiet time in the mornings to water & care for my houseplants. I spend extra time cleaning because a clean, organized home keeps me calmer. These work for me. Your self-care might look totally different, and that’s okay.
Self-care looks different for everyone. Learn what works for you & rest in those things.
I polled my Instagram friends to finish this sentence:
‘For me, self-care looks like…’
- Slow mornings & getting enough sleep
- Spending time playing with pets
- Being okay saying ‘no’ to plans when I’m tired & know I need ‘me’ time
- Keeping my room & house clean so my space feels organized & not chaotic
- Letting my close friends know when I am struggling so they can at least help or understand when I need time to recharge
- Reading for fun, otherwise I only read for school
- Taking a long shower, spending the night in, & treating myself to a facial
- Being in nature
- Sleeping, eating good food with friends, just listening to music
- Having a lazy day to just read & relax, and not feel that “I’m not being productive” guilt
- Going to sleep early & treating myself to delicious food
- Face masks, painting my nails, & wearing sweatpants
- Working out if I’m feeling it but staying in if that makes me feel better
- Taking time for myself to do things I truly love
- Exercise & eating healthy
- Prayer journaling
- Making time for myself
- Prioritizing my physical & mental well-being
- Taking time to breathe & sit still
- Making time for yourself even if that means a breakdown (& allowing yourself to feel things)
- Cleaning my room, working out, & eating well
- Making time for Jesus & prayer
I hope this post encouraged you to give yourself grace in taking time for self-care & learning what works for you. Thank you thank you to everyone who shared their self-care routine with me!
Self-care means something different for everyone. It’s so important to learn what works for you & what helps you be your best, most well-rested self.
I hope the examples helped gave ideas to add to your own habits. Feel free to save this post or list to try for your next self-care time!
If nothing else, I hope this helped you learn that self-care is much more than just bubble baths or eating chocolate (while it can include these things). It truly stands for so much more.