Over the holiday season, it’s so easy to get caught up in all the hustle and bustle that we tend to forget to slow down and check in with ourselves. Self-care is really important, but if you aren’t consistent, the benefits aren’t as great.
When we talk about “self-care”, many people think that means getting our nails done or having a spa day. While those things are great ways to spoil yourself from time to time, for most people that isn’t sustainable. When I talk about self-care, I’m referring to the things that we can do daily and sustain over a long period of time to take care of ourselves. It’s sounds trivial, but things like getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, and making time to move your body are all forms of self-care!
Practicing self-care shouldn’t feel like an escape from your life. True self-care should be part of your daily lifestyle, and the easiest way to make that happen is with your habits and routines. Getting started is usually pretty easy once you decide to do it, but being consistent and making self-care a habit is much harder. That’s why it’s important to create habits that can easily fit into your routine and is something you can sustain. Here are some ideas of ways to make yourself a priority:
1. Get some sunshine
Ok I know as you read this your first thought is “no thank you” since it is December and the weather here in the Midwest is less than ideal for sunbathing, but that’s exactly why you need to do it! Many suffer from Seasonal Depression, and the short and often gloomy days can make it hard to sleep at night. Making sure you get some sunshine is important to help balance your body’s internal clock and give yourself a little mood boost. Even if it’s gloomy, being in the natural light is good for body and spirit. If you can stand the cold, getting outside for a short walk will do wonders for you. If you’d rather do anything but step outside in this winter chill, finding a cozy window and sitting in the natural light will do the same thing!
2. Avoid caffeine after 12pm
Studies have shown that it can take 5-6 hours for half of the caffeine you consume to leave your system, which means if you have caffeine boost in the afternoon, your body could still be feeling some of its effects when you’re trying to get to bed. If you’re like me and truly enjoy the taste of coffee, cutting yourself off after noon will be a hard habit to break. I also always seem to hit that afternoon slump and crave a warm drink as a little pick-me-up. Instead of making yourself another cup of coffee, switch to a decaf option or go for a decaf tea.
Making this little habit change will do wonders for your sleep schedule and quality, and your body will thank you for it!
3. Move your body
It’s hard to be motivated to get up and move when it’s cold and gloomy outside, so falling into the habit of just not getting up much is a very easy thing to do. Even if you can’t get outside or have much time for a full walk, just getting up and taking a few laps around the office (or house if you WFH) or stretching your legs and back can make a big difference. Set a timer for yourself at least once every half-hour, and even if you’re in the middle of something, take a minute to get up from your chair, stretch, and get some steps in!
4. Create a ‘work-start’ routine
Getting yourself motivated to start working in the morning is usually an uphill battle. A way to combat this is creating a routine you do the first couple minutes of getting to the office. Instead of sitting down and forcing yourself into your work, take some time to get in the right mindset. Taking some time to do this will help you focus and make you more productive. I try to start my workday at the office by setting my things down at my desk, making a cup of coffee and making sure I have a full glass of water, putting on a playlist and then get my emails/to-do list. It really isn’t much and doesn’t take long, but it helps me focus and be in the right headspace to actually start my work. I’ve found that if I sit right down and start my emails as soon as I arrive, I get distracted and lose focus much more frequently.
5. Create a Wind-down routine
In the same way you create a “work-start” routine, it’s incredibly beneficial to also have a wind-down ritual at night before you go to sleep, and to be consistent with it. Studies have shown that having the same bedtime each night leads to better sleep. Even on the weekends, be sure to try to stick to your nighttime schedule as closely as possible!
Having a relaxing wind-down routine is a great way to practice self-care. Breaking it down into a scheduled hour is an easy way to be consistent and make it a daily habit. Spend the first 20 minutes of your routine getting ready for tomorrow (choosing your outfit, packing your lunch), the next 20 minutes for hygiene habits like brushing your teeth and skincare, and the last 20 minutes for a calming activity like reading, stretching, or meditating. Do your best to *try* to spend your wind-down hour without watching tv or getting on your phone, as having screentime too closely to when you go to bed can make it harder to fall asleep!
I hope this post has given you some ideas for adding some easy self-care habits into your routine. I encourage you to find comfort in your habits and try to stay consistent even when it feel like it would be easier to skip them!