How to Develop & Stick to a Self Care Routine

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You may wonder: What is a self-care routine? Self-care is being a kind friend to yourself. As humans, we have a diverse set of emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical needs. An ideal self-care routine meets each individuals needs in a way that is satisfying to them. One person may need a half hour walk each day while their best friend needs a vigorous kick boxing workout. Another person may require quiet time daily while their partner likes to be surrounded by conversation. By following your personal routine, you can increase your level of happiness and productivity in life. This will bring you satisfaction and boost your ability to help others in your life.

Identifying an aspect of your life that you are not satisfied with is the first step in setting a personal wellness goal. Once you establish your goal, breaking it into small steps allows you to work at incorporating each step into your self-care routine until a new habit is formed.

Each individual’s unique wellness goal will have steps that help them to establish new habits to support their goal. Within these steps you need to address any obstacles that may prevent you from meeting your goal. As an example, I have been working over the past couple of years to create a stronger self-care routine for myself. I have addressed emotional needs by building mindfulness meditation into my day and physical needs by riding my bicycle to campus daily. My current wellness goal is also in the area of physical need as I work to consistently eat a healthier and more balanced diet. I am on the path of eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

With the summer bounty of my favorite berries and a vegetable garden in my yard, this has been relatively easy to achieve. However, it will be important for me to learn how to maintain this over the school year as the season’s change and my days become more hectic. One obstacle I foresee is that it will be harder to buy yummy local fresh fruit.

The tips that I have found useful for sticking to my new habit of eating five fruits and veggies a day are:

  1. Planning ahead: preparing my servings for the day the evening before has helped me have them ready to take out the door with me in the morning. I know from experience in my first year that it was easier to grab a carb snack on campus, so this nightly prep should be something I can maintain into the school year.
  2. Being realistic and specific with my goal: Writing down this specific goal, with your start date, in a place where you will see it each day helps you stay on track. Canada’s Food Guide recommends eating 7 – 8 servings of fruit/vegetables per day for females of my age. That’s three more servings than what I intend on eating! While reaching Canada’s Food Guide’s recommendation is a long term goal, I know that as someone whose current diet is mainly composed of carbohydrates, it isn’t realistic to achieve that initially.
  3. Finding ways to refresh my motivation: For me, acknowledging that I am stronger and more energized is my main motivation. I also try to beat my daily five some days just to show myself that I can do it! Moving to the next step on your plan will also inspire you as it shows you have succeeded.
  4. Surrounding myself with others who want me to succeed: I have made sure to gain support from my family and friends. When others are aware of what you are trying to achieve, they can help you to be more accountable and to make better choices. Initially I made 5 ticks on a fridge calendar to show I had met my goal for the day. Family members would then comment on my success. In addition, my friends and I have started a routine of meeting one night per week to try out new healthy recipes and enjoy a meal together. The social support has been a strong motivator.

Creating new habits within our self-care routines can be challenging. Luckily, UBC has many resources available to its students, such as Peer Wellness Coaches. Peer Wellness Coaching “offers personalized online support to help you set goals, live well, and achieve success”.

Good luck!