Definition of Self-Care
Self-care is defined differently for each person, and it should be. It really does look different for each person. Everybody has unique personalities, characteristics, goals, fears, strengths, and flaws - and these all play into what optimal self-care looks like for a given individual. However you choose to define self-care, there are some fundamental principles that can provide effective framing for all self-care definitions and routines.
At the end of the day, self-care means taking specific, intentional actions to maintain your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health. These pillars aren’t going to be perfectly balanced all the time, but that’s the purpose of implementing a self-care process - to start implementing the routine actions to help you get there.
Self-care doesn’t always mean mud baths and face masks, or eating donuts whenever you crave one. In fact, mistaking these “feel good” things for impactful self-care can actually be detrimental to your health in the long term. Sure, it’s nice to do things for yourself that physically feel good and satisfy cravings or needs for comfort. And yes, you should feel comfortable treating yourself every once in a while. But, much in the way that simple surface pleasures can be a substitute for true happiness when they’re done without intention, real self-care takes a little more work and forethought to be effective. True self-care goes much deeper than donuts.
The self-care journey is about discovering what true wellness actually looks like for you. It’s not about eliminating pain and discomfort in the moment. It’s about uncovering what you really need to be happy and healthy - and what you need to find fulfillment.
When you’re able to care for yourself on every level, you become better able to pursue your goals and better able to support the goals of others, enriching the lives of the people around you.
With all that said, let’s get into some tips for establishing a daily self-care routine and some common activities to explore.
Start with small changes. Over time you will discover which self-care activities are actually realistic and beneficial to you. You'll also be able to gradually start incorporating more and more activities into your routine as you get comfortable with your practice and new habits.
Self-care needs to be something you actively plan and stick to, not just something that happens when it’s convenient. True self-care must be intentional. And above all else, it requires commitment. Schedule it into your calendar the same way you would with any other commitment or regular activity. Share your plans with your partner or friend to help keep you accountable.
Find something you love to do and do it. It doesn’t have to demand skill or energy. If your thing is playing video games, play video games. If you love knitting, go ahead and knit. And if you’re a fan of karaoke, get up there and sing! There is a really important distinction, however, between activities that bring you joy and activities that serve to kinda numb you from the world. Think of it like watching television - there are some shows that you love, and then there are shows that are better background noise than actual content.
Be present. This can be the most difficult practice to master, but it’s also the most important. “Keeping a conscious mind is what counts,” says one mental health coach. Mindfulness, or being present, involves focusing your attention on things that are currently happening. Not planning for the future. Not ruminating on yesterday. It requires rebelling against the dopamine drive of endless scrolling to focus your attention on the sensory experience of now.
Spend time with people who support you. Choose your inner circle wisely - who you spend your time with has a huge impact on who you become as a person. Detoxify your friend list and use the extra time and space created to surround yourself with people who truly love you and help you become a better person.
Self-Care Activities & Exercises
Start a daily CBD routine. A CBD regimen and an effective self-care practice share the same goal: to promote homeostasis, health, and wellbeing. CBD is kinda the ultimate self-care supplement. And there are a plethora of options available, making it easy to find a way to plug it into your daily diet or routine.
Related Article: 2019 Beginner’s Guide to CBD
Practice meditation. This doesn’t mean you have to sit cross-legged and chant “om” for an hour. There are so many different kinds of meditation exercises for beginners and experienced meditators alike. Our very own Bluebird marketing team even practices daily meditation together! Our team loves Headspace, an app with pre-programmed, guided meditations that focus on various topics like productivity, creativity, problem-solving and more. If you don’t feel like paying for an app (Headspace offers a free 7-day trial, then costs $8 per month going forward), there’s a free one called Insight Timer with customizable programs. You can also practice this easy meditation exercise for all levels that we borrowed from Harvard Medical School:
- Sit on a straight-backed chair or cross-legged on the floor.
- Focus on an aspect of your breathing, such as the sensations of air flowing into your nostrils and out of your mouth, or your belly rising and falling as you inhale and exhale.
- Once you've narrowed your concentration in this way, begin to widen your focus. Become aware of sounds, sensations, and ideas.
- Embrace and consider each thought or sensation without judging it good or bad. If your mind starts to race, return your focus to your breathing. Then expand your awareness again.
Adopt a simple exercise and stretching plan to practice from the comfort of your own home. Don’t worry about becoming the next fitspo model on Instagram - develop a daily exercise routine that you can absolutely stick to, even if it’s just for 20 minutes a day. Try writing down some exercises or stretches and hanging them up somewhere you frequent regularly as a reminder.
Get into meal planning and prepping. Again, this doesn’t have to be the kind of meal-prepping you see on Instagram or Pinterest. The whole point of this is to set yourself up for a successful week of nutritious eating. Many people, including yours truly, abhor the idea of coming home from work every weeknight just to have to slave over a mediocre dinner for yourself. It makes McDonald’s look a lot more tempting. That's why planning nutritious meals for every night of the week and preparing them in advance as much as possible makes it significantly easier for you to consistently eat healthy, nutritious food and focus your energy on other things during the week.
Pick a period of time to unplug daily (ideally right before bedtime). Countless research studies have shown the negative physiological effects of staring at mobile devices or television screens right before bedtime. Beyond physiological effects, though, unplugging from your technology devices is also important for your mental health. As discussed above, constant screen time completely obstructs mindfulness. Being glued to your screen and what’s going on around you prevents you from centering and focusing on yourself and your needs. While it may feel difficult to step back from your phone for an hour at first, you’ll likely find it’s a breath of fresh air after all.
2019 Reading List For Self-Care
Our self-care book list contains insights on important self-care concepts such mindfulness, creativity, daily habits, mental space, resilience, change, and more. Check out our favorite self-care books right now:
The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle
Braving the Wilderness - Brené Brown
Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life - Admiral William H. McRaven
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck - Mark Manson
Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard - Chip Heath & Dan Heath
Silence In the Age of Noise - Erling Kegge
Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness - Rick Hanson, Ph.D., and Forrest Hanson