Why Self-Care Matters (and How to Develop a Routine)

When life is busy, stressful, or uncertain, do you ever start to feel burned out? You’re not alone. During difficult times, your energy can run low. You might struggle to remain in the present moment. And you may feel like you’re not bringing your best self to your work or relationships.

The good news is that there are practical things you can do to avoid burnout, even when you’re facing challenges. Developing a self-care routine is a simple but powerful way to invest in your mental and emotional health so you can continue to do the things that matter most.

What Is Self-Care?

Self-care is any activity you do intentionally to take care of your mental, emotional, and physical health. Self-care activities should be something you enjoy doing—not something you force yourself to do. The goal of self-care is to take care of yourself so that you can continue to support others.

Self-Care Practices

Every person’s self-care activities will look a bit different depending on their likes and dislikes. Here are a few ideas you can incorporate into your daily routine

  • Stick to your bedtime, or take a power nap during the day. Sleep is one of the most important ways you can care for your body and mind. 
  • Cook or eat a delicious, healthy meal. Try a new recipe to mix things up. 
  • Do a physical activity you enjoy. Even 15 minutes of jogging, yoga, swimming, cycling, or other exercise can help you stay energized during a long day. 
  • Meditate or practice relaxation exercises that help you stay grounded in the present. 
  • Connect with family or friends, whether in person, on the phone, or over video. 
  • Hang out with your pet(s). Play with a toy, go for a walk, or simply take time to cuddle. 
  • Spend time caring for your body with a bubble bath, massage, facial, or other activity.
  • Work on a fun personal project. Organize your closet. Tend your garden. Break out the paint set. Edit some photos. Whatever brings you joy!
  • Take a break from activities that are stressful or unpleasant. When you return, you’ll be in a better place to tackle them.
  • Listen to music you enjoy, or practice an instrument if you play one. 
  • Find something that makes you laugh (movies, books, TV shows, standup routines, etc.).

Tips to Develop a Self-Care Routine

Turning occasional acts of self-care into a regular routine requires consistency. These tips can help you develop new habits and stick with them over time. 

  • Start small. Self-care doesn’t have to be complicated. Sharing a meal with family, going for a walk, or even just turning your phone off for an hour are all simple acts of self-care you can practice regularly.
  • Schedule time every day. Try doing your self-care routine at the same time every day. Set a timer or reminder so you don’t forget. If you have a busy schedule, try 15 minutes to start and work up to longer periods over time. 
  • Hold yourself accountable. Make self-care a priority. There may be days where you just can’t find time, but otherwise, stick to your plan. If it helps, ask someone to check in and make sure you’re taking time for yourself.
  • Add to existing routines. It’s often easier to commit to a new habit when it’s an extension of your existing routine. For example, if you usually watch TV in the evening, you could end 10 minutes early to listen to a guided meditation before bedtime.
  • Identify specific activities that work for specific moods. If you’re feeling down, you may feel unmotivated to do certain activities, even if you usually like them. If you’re feeling anxious, some self-care habits may bring. Take time each day to notice how you’re feeling and pick a self-care activity that works for you. 

Remember: Self-care isn’t selfish. It’s time you take to recharge so you can show up for the people you care about.