How to Restart Your Self-Care If You've Been Neglecting It For A While
In this article:
- Why You Need Self-Care in Your Life
- 4 Tips to Restart Your Self-Care Today
- Easy Ways to Ease Back Into Self-Care
- Some Final Thoughts on Restarting Self-Care
In an ideal world, self-care would be a seamless part of your day and feel almost like second nature, rather than something on your to-do list. Your self-care practice would fuel your body and ground your soul, all while supporting you on your path to wellness.
Well, the reality is that, for many of us, self-care quickly falls by the wayside when life gets crazy. It’s typically the first thing to go when time, money, and sanity feel short.
For some, it may almost feel easier to neglect self-care in the short term than struggle to make the space for it in your busy life. Plus, diving back into caring for your needs can feel daunting - or even paralyzing - and often paired with feelings of overwhelm or guilt. Don’t worry; the good news is that your self-care doesn’t have to be that way. You can restart your self-care practice on your terms and integrate it into your life in a way that feels genuinely supportive.
Because the truth is, it’s critical to prioritize your wellbeing and work on getting back into your self-care routine. As with anything, the more that you practice, the better you’ll become. Keep reading to learn five tips to stop neglecting your needs and restart your self-care—but first, let’s examine why self-care is so important in the first place.
Although it can feel indulgent or luxurious to take time out of your busy schedule to slow down and tend to your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, it’s essential for your wellbeing. It’s vital to keep in mind that this genuinely supportive type of self-care isn’t simply taking a bubble bath and throwing on a face mask (though those are great!); it’s a practice much deeper than that.
The supportive kind of self-care that can genuinely transform your life can include: asking for help, setting boundaries around your time and energy, having a difficult conversation, communicating your feelings, and being vulnerable about what’s going on in your life.
Without self-care, it’s easy to fall into cyclical feelings of stress and overwhelm, all while continuously neglecting your needs and pushing them down even further. The more we ignore what our body and mind are trying to tell us, the worse we can begin to feel.
With continued neglect, one can start to feel depressed, anxious, overwhelmed, resentful, and frustrated, all because of a lack of proper self-care. In our stressful world, those are all feelings that we certainly need less of, not more.
Curious about how to dive back into your self-care routine? Good! Let’s get started. Check out the below tips to begin tending to your needs today. And remember, we all have to start somewhere.
1. Understand Why You Stopped in the First Place
Before sharing some actionable advice on restarting your self-care, it’s essential to understand why your self-care practice fell by the wayside in the first place. Take a moment to consider what it is about your last stint with self-care that didn’t work out, and then dive deeper to examine what you could do differently this time around to make your practice stick.
If you’re stuck, ask yourself the following questions:
- What did you love most about your self-care practice?
- What did you not enjoy about your practice?
- Was self-care a genuine priority for you? If not, how could you better prioritize your needs?
Once you take the time to examine why your self-care didn’t stick the first time around, you’ll have a more stable foundation from which to move forward in trying again. Also, remember to be grateful for the opportunity to learn how to do better with your self-care and the chance to create something more sustainable for yourself.
2. Add It to Your To-Do List (But Not For Long)
Putting self-care on your daily to-do list is a great way to keep it top of mind while you’re getting used to integrating it back into your routine. Once you’re more comfortable with your practice, though, you may want to consider removing it from your to-do list, and here’s why.
The last thing you want your self-care to feel like is a chore or something else on your neverending list of things to finish up for the day. Ideally, your self-care practice will be a seamless part of your day—no matter how big or small—and not something that ends up stressing you out because you can’t cross it off of your list.
Also, self-care is designed to be adaptive—something that can change, morph, and grow with you as needed throughout your life and day. If you stick to the same old routine that’s written on your to-do list day after day, you may end up bored or find yourself not reaping the profound benefits of your practice.
Bottom line: It’s easier to ignore what you need when self-care is simply a part of your to-do list and not a synergistic relationship to adapt over time. Keep this in mind as you reboot your practice.
3. Start Small and Be Realistic with Yourself
Over-committing to your self-care practice is a surefire way to set yourself up for failure and disappointment. You must be realistic about how much time, energy, and resources you have available to dedicate to your practice. If it helps, write down a sentence or two about what a realistic self-care practice looks like to you and begin to craft your care around what you discover. Make sure to consider your daily schedule, availability, and current needs.
Keep in mind that when restarting your self-care, it’s best to start small and set aside a few minutes each day to care for yourself based on your needs at the moment. Even a few moments of deep breathing can have a positive effect on your mood, so don’t knock yourself if you don’t commit to an elaborate meditation and yoga practice off the bat—more on this below.
4. Count Your Wins (No Matter the Size)
To encourage a healthy and sustainable self-care practice, it’s essential to celebrate yourself every time you make an effort to tend to your needs. Whether it’s thirty seconds or thirty minutes, self-care is self-care, and every attempt is worth celebrating. Even the tiniest moments of tuning into your needs can positively impact your health and wellness.
Try to get in the habit of patting yourself on the back (either literally or figuratively) when you find the time to self-care. Doing so will help you begin to create an even more positive association with tending to your needs.
With so many mixed messages and the ongoing commercialization of self-care, it can feel easy to get caught up in the mindset of “I should be doing more of XYZ” and beat yourself up for your perceived lack of trying. Remember, every effort is valid and counts towards your self-care success. You’re doing a great job!
Hopefully, after reading the above tips, you’re feeling confident and ready to ease back into your self-care routine once again. Keeping all that you’ve learned in mind, check out some simple (and practical) ways to begin to practice self-care today.
- Put down your phone for 20 minutes.
- Drink enough water throughout the day.
- Protect your immune system and take your multivitamin
- Take a few deep breaths when feeling stressed
- Treat yourself to a fun and fizzy bath bomb-infused bath
- Ask for support if you’re feeling overwhelmed
- Make yourself a cup of organic herbal tea before bed
- Read a few pages of your favorite book
- Wear a mineral sunscreen daily (even when it’s cloudy)
- Move your body for 15 minutes a day
While the above list isn’t exhaustive, hopefully, it will inspire you to see that self-care doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Sure, there will be times when your self-care will require a little extra effort or a difficult conversation, but there are plenty of ways to begin to care for your needs in an approachable way. Pick one or two from the list and start there. Your self-care practice will start to morph and grow over time based on your current needs.
As you begin to reintegrate self-care back into your life, do your best not to get discouraged if you don’t go about your practice perfectly. First of all, there is no such thing as a perfect self-care practice, and secondly, you are the only one making the rules on how to care for yourself and your needs.
Stay true to yourself and stay the course; taking your self-care practice one moment at a time will help it stick around for good this time. And remember, if you find yourself neglecting your needs, take a look at what’s not working and get back to what you need most. Only you know the answer to that, my friend.