Making Self-Care a Habit in 2018
When I sat down to create a habit tracker for January, I realized that what I’d been using in the past to track my habits wasn’t working. I would start out with gusto, miss a day and be discouraged, then stop looking at the tracker all together. Not ideal when you’re trying to track habits.
So the first, I organized my habits. I made a list of the things I wanted to do regularly and I noticed a pattern. 75% of the things I wanted to include on the tracker fell under the category of Self-Care. Interesting.
I learned last year that not taking proper care of myself led to some bad days. I want to minimize the number of bad days I have so I needed to incorporate self-care in a more intentional way. Good plan.
After a day or two, I realized the habit I most wanted to cultivate was self-care. Not once a week, not every once in a while, but everyday self-care.
This was radical because self-care in my vocabulary almost always equated to indulgence. Looking at self-care as a habit changed that way of thinking in a drastic way. It changed my thinking from it would be nice…to my mind, and body need this. Self-care became exciting, instead of something to feel guilty about.
For the month of January, I decided that I would keep a journal of my self-care. I challenged myself to come up with 7 acts of self-love each day. Each day, I logged them and then wrote a couple of sentences about how I felt and what I did. It was simple and effortless.
I made a list of things I consider to be self-caring acts and put it in the front of my Traveler’s Insert. Then I got to recording the days.
Here’s what I noticed:
1- It wasn’t hard to come up with 7 acts of self-care every day. It could be something as simple as flossing or finding 10 minutes to read.
2- I could still get my other tasks done. At first, I worried 7 different acts would just take over my day, but that wasn’t the case. I still had time to clean, do the laundry, pay the bills, make dinners AND take care of me. It was possible.
3- The benefits of self-care showed up in unexpected ways. Standing balancing postures have became more challenging to hold for me in 2017. I could get into position but I’d fall over within a few seconds. Within a few days of practicing this daily habit of self-care, I could find my balance in those poses.
4- Things connected. A small comment from yoga would worm its way in to my brain and connect with something else from meditation and then a revelation would strike me. These things I realized were big deals and major game changers for me. I might have missed out if I wasn’t making the time to be open.
5- Tracking the self-care was an important part of the process. I could do this without tracking what I was doing. Just pick 7 things and get on with it but writing them down and writing about them really helped me send the signals that this was an important habit. Not like doing the laundry that’s necessary because we need clean clothes but it doesn’t impact my self-worth or self-compassion.
6- Just because you practice self-care every day doesn’t mean every day is amazing. Some days I wanted to scrap the whole thing and revert to old habits, which surprised me. Wasn’t the entire point was to increase self-caring actions and see changes? I realized it takes repetition and coming back to the point of wanting to revert but deciding NOT to that creates the real change.
Making self-care a habit has positively impacted my life. January flew by and I completed a lot of projects, stick with challenges and goals I’d set for myself, and expand my notion of what was possible.
Taking the time to fill out a little review of the month and generate statistics was fun. The plan is to use this page for reference and comparison for future months (without judgment). January was a good month for me, and this snapshot reflects that. I’m sure I’ll have an off month and that snapshot will be different. Recognizing patterns and go-to activities will help when I find myself on unfamiliar ground again, because it’s always changing.