So, you made a plan to incorporate self-care into your daily routine. You’re excited about nourishing your body and mind by taking time for yourself and it’s going pretty well until...life happens. Whether it’s a busy season at work, a family member’s health issue, or just the blahs of life, it can be easy for your self-care routine to fall to the wayside. We’ve all been there. After all, it may be one of the only things in life that you can remove from your day without feeling immediate backlash and consequences since it only affects you. However, the truth is that cutting self-care out of your life, whether intentional or not, is going to have negative impacts. What can you do? The last thing you want to do is make self-care a chore, but it is important to hold yourself accountable. Here are some fun and easy ways to keep yourself on track with taking good care of yourself!
Use a bullet journal.
Or, to be more specific, use a habit tracker, one of my favorite features from bullet journaling. If you are someone who is motivated to tackle their to-do list by the ‘high’ of checking something off, then this is for you. It’s simple. Just grab some graph paper or make your own and make a box for each day across the top with a line for each habit along the side column. If one of your self-care priorities is to spend time outside each day, put that in one line and fill in the rest of the self-care habits you are working on. At the end of each day, fill in or x out the boxes that you did complete while leaving the incomplete ones blank. Your goal is to have as many boxes filled in as possible at the end of the month. Not only is this a good way to hold yourself accountable, it’s also an effective way to see what habits clicked and what didn’t. Take a moment at the end of the month to evaluate what worked and what flopped and consider making adjustments as you head into your next month of self-care.
Tell someone else.
There’s something about telling someone else that you are making time for self-care that makes it sound more firm and final. It’s like when you tell someone that you are going to go to the gym. You have to do it now because otherwise you won’t know what to say when they ask how that whole thing is going a few days or weeks down the road. Pick someone who will actually check in with you on your progress and commitments. The best sort of accountability partner is one that you can hold accountable for something as well. That way, it’s more of a partnership. Better yet, try to plan a self-care activity like a Saturday picnic together. That way, you both get to spend time together while taking care of yourselves.
Use an app.
If the idea of telling someone doesn’t make you want to follow through on your self-care promises to yourself and a habit tracker just won’t stick, try using an app on your phone such as StickK, an app developed at Yale University designed to ensure commitment to the goals you set for yourself. It even comes with a contract! For more of a social media feel, you can try Habitshare which encourages you to connect with family or friends to build habits together and hold each other accountable (basically an electronic combination of the previous two tips). And there are countless others all dedicated to the basic idea of helping you stick to your habits.
Schedule it until it becomes a habit.
Sometimes, the very act of putting something on the calendar is enough to make it happen. If you schedule that bubble bath and block out time for it, it’s got a much better shot of happening than if you decide to wait until you ‘have more free time.’ For daily habits that you are trying to instill, try to find a specific time of day in which you will do them. Maybe it’s practicing yoga soon after you get up in the morning or reading a book before bed. Whatever it is, put it on the calendar and treat it like you would another appointment or meeting. After all, it should be prioritized.
Cheer yourself on.
I’m honestly not a big fan of the ‘reward yourself for taking care of yourself’ bandwagon - mainly because it doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on me - but if it works for you, by all means go ahead. Perhaps meeting your self-care goals for the week means that you get to watch an extra episode of Outer Banks one night or buy whatever catches your eye at the Target Dollar Section. Just be careful with this one not to make the reward something excessive. It’s great that you took care of yourself this week, but that still doesn’t justify the purchase of a new iPhone. Anyway, in my experience, small rewards are typically more effective anyway which is probably why Target runs feel so therapeutic. If rewards aren’t your thing, you can still cheer yourself on when you successfully hold yourself accountable to reach your goals! Positive self-talk is so important and being your own cheerleader is an important skill to have.
Remind yourself of your ‘why.’
If nothing else works for you, remember your ‘why’. Why are you doing this? Why are you prioritizing self-care? And no, the reason isn’t just because everyone else is doing it or that it’s a catchy phrase. Perhaps your ‘why’ is to reduce stress, to make a healthier you, or to be the best you that you can be for those around you. When you’re conflicted over whether or not to make the effort to practice self-care, thinking about why you started in the first place can be an incredibly powerful tactic.
No matter what you do, life will always happen and some habits will get thrown to the side from time to time. That’s okay. However, with these strategies and the general principle of accountability, you should be able to more fully assimilate self-care into your hectic life. It may feel like you are climbing a mountain, and metaphorically, you are, but the self-care is worth the effort and time for the rewards you reach along your climb.