When the idea of self-care first became mainstream a few years ago, it seemed impossible to scroll through social media without encountering images of bubblebaths and wineglasses.
Then, another idea emerged: self-care isn’t just about treating yourself to spa day. Sometimes, it’s about taking care of the tiny errands that nag you, or calling a friend to lift you up when you’re feeling down.
The truth is, there’s no right or wrong way to care for yourself. It is about you, after all.
As a major proponent of self-care routines, here’s my framework for creating a personalized ritual for caring for yourself any day of the week.
Chores: Clean, Organize and Refresh
Okay, so chores don’t exactly seem like self-care. But hear me out: chores can be a huge source of stress and anxiety. And I’m not just talking about doing the dishes, I’m talking about those pesky chores like cleaning out the refrigerator, cleaning the bathtub, or washing your sheets.
Chores are first in my self-care routine for a reason. Getting these things off your plate will free up more time to take care of yourself, and it’ll allow you to fully indulge in relaxing self-care activities without feeling that nag in the back of your mind.
Choose one chore that will make you feel fresher, more organized or more efficient. Maybe it’s as simply as laying out your clothes for work the next morning.
Inspiration: Listen, Learn and Dream
Next, I like to settle in with a bit of inspiring content to lift me up and ground me in my purpose. For me, I usually turn to a nonfiction book or a podcast for inspiration. It could also be a documentary (though I advise against anything negative that might cause stress and anxiety).
This is important for your self-care routine because, now that you chores are done, you’ve cleared out space in your mind to dream big. I’m especially drawn to podcasts because they make me feel like I’m hanging out with a supportive and intelligent friend — something especially soothing for those of us who live alone.
Choosing a podcast can be overwhelming, so I suggest starting with something you’re curious about. If you’re interested in travel, you could find a podcast related to a destination you’ve always wanted to go to. If you want to learn more about cooking or painting or picking up a hobby, there are tons of expert interviews across the podcast.
My go-to pick is usually something spiritual and uplifting, like Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations. Dear Sugar, Almost 30 Podcast and Call Your Girlfriend are some other favorites of mine.
Sometimes I like to spend this time lying in my bed listening, but other times I’m keeping my hands busy with baking something, tidying my apartment or doodling in a notebook.
Digital Detox: Turn off Your Phone
Shutting my laptop and putting away my phone is probably my favorite aspect of my self-care routine. Watching the screen on my phone makes me instantly feel better if I’ve had a stressful day.
When we’re so tethered to our technology, we sometimes forget how good it feels just to be. Setting a cap on your phone use in the evening can give you an hour or two of uninterrupted me time. Think of it as putting your phone to bed, the way that you would little child.
I like to set the controls on my iPhone so that my whole phone goes into sleep mode in the evenings. Don’t let conversations with your friends pull you back in, either: simply tell them you’re logging off for the evening and wish them a good night. Who knows — it might even inspire them to do the same.
Meditation: Tap Into Your Inner Self
Since I’ve started teaching yoga, I’ve had multiple people ask me how to meditate. I tell them that there are so many ways to meditate — it isn’t just about sitting with your legs crossed in silence for thirty minutes.
It is about tuning into your thoughts, clearing your head and finding you center.
Taking a few minutes to record your day in a journal can help you release any worries or anxieties floating around in your head. When they’re out on the paper you know that you can look at them later, so they won’t disrupt your routine.
One of my favorite ways to meditate doesn’t even involve sitting — it’s walking. I love to go for walks after dinner when the sun is setting. I put in my headphones and set out into the world, with nowhere to go but inside myself.
This clears my head and gives way to new ideas and inspirations. Whenever I return home after a meditative walk, I feel more clear-headed and ready to take on the day.
Other times, if weather conditions aren’t ideal or I simply don’t feel like it, I stay home and meditate with a yin or restorative yoga routine — which leads me to the next tip.
Release: Stretch and Reflect
My self-care routine is never complete without stretching. I’m not just saying that because I’m a yoga teacher. I’m saying it because stretching relaxes me and makes me feel amazing, no matter what kind of day I had.
The type of stretching I speak of is akin to a yin or restorative class; holding a pose for 2-5 minutes and letting the tension completely release from the body.
Don’t forget to set the mood here: candles, sage, palo santo — use whatever scents you like to settle in. Relaxing music also helps me ease into this (it’s okay to break the phone rule to put in Spotify!).
A few easy stretches you can try include:
- Child’s pose
- Reclined butterfly/cobbler’s pose
- Supine twist
- Thread the needle
- Wide legged forward fold (use a bolster or pile of pillows to hold up your torso)
I’m also a big fan of putting my legs up on the wall after a long day. Simply find an open area on the ground, scoot your bottom as close to the wall as possible (as if you were sitting on it) and extend the legs straight up. This allows for drainage in the legs as well as recirculation of blood. You can also try wide legged fold in this pose.
There you have it: tips for creating a personalized self-care routine. What are your favorite ways to practice self-care? Let me know in the comments below!