Keep reading for tips to gauge how to tell if it’s time for a ritual shakeup, then get self-care ideas from experts that’ll breath new life into your tired routine.
5 steps to assess whether you’ve hit a self-care rut
1. Assess how your self-care routine makes you feel
The first step of completing a self-care audit is assessing how your current rituals make you feel. Do they make you feel grounded, alive, and nourished? If not, it’s definitely time for an edit.
“If your self-care routine isn’t supporting you anymore, it could be a sign that you’re up-leveling and you need an upgrade to keep growing to the next layer of yourself.”—Gwen Dittmar, life coach
“If you observe that your current self-care routine is not supporting you anymore, it could be a sign that you are up-leveling,” says, life coach and breathwork teacher Gwen Dittmar. “When we up-level, the things that used to serve us stop working because our system needs an upgrade in order to keep growing to the next layer of ourselves.”
2. Rate the level of your self-care tank
Rate your self-care tank to gauge how your current rituals are working for you, says Leslie Saglio, life coach, Reiki practitioner, and yoga instructor. Use a scale of one to five, with five meaning your self-care tank it totally full.
If you’re not at a five, get clear on what you need in order to get there. For example, would more sleep help or different nutrition choices? “When you write this all down, it’ll help to see clearly what you personally need in order to keep your self-care tank full,” Saglio says.
3. Analyze what’s not working and make tweaks
Sometimes you may benefit from exploring new self-care ideas, but other times, getting back into a groove may only require a few simple tweaks. For example, Saglio says, if you’ve set a goal to practice yoga four times a week but only make it to one class a week, consider why that might be and what changes you could make to help you hit your goal. Maybe it’s trying a new studio or teacher or starting an at-home yoga practice.
“See what truly resonates with you, your energy, your schedule, and your lifestyle,” Saglio says. “With your increased confidence, you’ll be better equipped to stay on track.”
4. Drop the “shoulds,” and focus on what feels good
There are endless self-care ideas available to explore, but not all of them will work for every person. That’s why women’s empowerment coach Alyssa Tennant recommends focusing on the practices and rituals that feel good for you, not what everyone says you should be doing. For example, if a morning meditation isn’t your thing, but setting an intention and dancing fuels you up, then do that instead.
5. Try new things
An easy strategy for making your routine more exciting is to explore new self-care ideas. “Just as you try new recipes and experiment with food in the kitchen is how you can approach your self-care routine,” says Sophie Jaffe, a wellness expert, yoga teacher, and founder of superfood company Philisophie. Listen to your intuition and follow what feels fun.
11 expert-approved self-care ideas to try
1. Practice gratitude
Adopting an attitude of gratitude will help create more joy and peace in your life. “Philosophers from every spiritual tradition have lived a life cultivating gratitude as the key to experience deeper levels of happiness, fulfillment, and well-being,” Saglio says. You can keep your practice simple by writing down three things you’re grateful for in the morning and again before bed, and challenge yourself to ideate new concepts every time.
You can also focus on self-appreciation, meaning expressing gratitude for yourself, your gifts, and the way you show up in your life. “Most humans have a habit of self-doubt or self-deprecation, so a daily practice of self-appreciation goes a long way,” Dittmar says.
2. Take a bath
A weekly luxurious soak is a nonnegotiable for Jaffe. “Sometimes it looks like time to myself, where I light some candles, turn off all the lights, enjoy a cup of tea, and disconnect,” she says. “Other times, a bath includes my babies and me for a soak with lots of bubbles, laugh, and joy. It’s a self-care practice that immediately allows me to drop in and restores my energy.”
For Tennant, dance is a go-to self-care practice. Whether you twirl around your bedroom in your undies, take a class, or hit up your local dance hot spot, there is an undeniably energizing quality about unleashing your inner Beyoncé on the dance floor.
Want to give your self-care dance ritual a fitness edit? Try our dance-cardio workout below:
Self care is about taking care of all your needs, right? That’s exactly why penciling in a steamy date with yourself is important. “Making time to connect with yourself sexually, whether you are single or in a relationship, is incredibly empowering and energizing,” Tennant says. “Self-pleasure releases feel-good chemicals like oxytocin and dopamine that help counter stress and elevate one’s mood.”
Self care doesn’t just have to be about giving to yourself. Spreading the love around can be just as nourishing. “You know that warm cozy feeling you get when you do a good deed?” Tennant asks. “That’s good for you and the people you help.”
6. Spend time in nature
When life is busy, it’s easy to forget to go outside and immerse ourselves in Mother Nature. “A run in the park, a weekend hike, or a few minutes spent enjoying the sun on your face can make all the difference,” Tennant says. “It’s really simple but can be so effective.”
7. Do stream-of-conscious journaling
If you have a million thoughts swirling in your mind, getting it all down on paper without judging or editing your words can help quiet the mental chatter. “This process will allow you to self-reflect on how you’ve changed and what you’d like to do to improve, as well as relieve any harbored stress,” Saglio says.
The way you start your morning can set the tone for the rest of the day. That’s why Saglio loves beginning with a meditation sesh. “Take some deep conscious breaths,” she says. “Focus your awareness on your body, thoughts, and feelings. This has the power to make you less reactive and more mindful throughout your day.”
9. Move your body
Exercise can help relieve stress and boost your mood, and it doesn’t require blocking out time for a full-blown workout, either. “Shift your physical body to positively move your mental and emotional states,” Saglio says. “I personally love to do yoga and go swimming, but do whatever you enjoy.”
10. Practice breath work
“Our breath is our life force and our connection to being in this life,” Dittmar says. “Engaging in regular breath-work practices can support your nervous system, your parasympathetic system, your immune system, your healing, your connection to yourself, and an energy that is much greater than you.”
Whenever you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed and need a quick dose of self care, Dittmar recommends breathing in through your nose for four counts, holding it for seven counts, and then exhaling through the mouth for eight counts.
11. Forgive yourself
When we don’t feel good, there is usually a negative thought or a judgment we’ve placed upon ourselves that’s making us feel that way. Enter: self-forgiveness. “When we forgive ourselves, we put down the rocks of judgment and let our physical bodies and hearts feel lighter,” Dittmar says. See those moments of not feeling good as opportunities to release the thoughts and judgments and shift into a better-feeling state.
Want more self-care ideas? Here are the smallest acts of it 22 different people do for themselves. And here’s how self care became a commodity in the past decade.
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