Sometimes we do things for self-care sporadically and others we want to use routinely. For example, travelling every single month for self-care may not be feasible but planning to journal about favorite places you’ve visited is something you can do regularly. Use this guide to help you start a self-care routine and feel free to customize it to fit your needs.

  • Determine activities that bring you joy

This is the first step; you have to find out what sparks a desired feeling for you. Are you looking for something that provides excitement or brings you peace or calm? You must brainstorm what you’re looking for and then how to get there. A hobby you’ve always wanted to try, or even something you liked to do before life got in the way. Find something that will sprinkle joy in your days. Remember, you are planning to build a routine or habit. Think of things you can do regularly.

  • Choose one behavior to incorporate into your routine

Now that you have a clear picture of what things you want to try, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself. Pick one activity you want to focus on. An example could be, I will read for 30 minutes before bedtime or I will journal in the morning. Ideally, this should be something you can incorporate into your day-to-day life and schedule. It should be something that takes no longer than 15-30 minutes.

  • Practice that behavior every day for one week

Consistency is key! Try out your activity for one whole week. Prioritize setting this time side to take care of your needs. Plan ahead to avoid major disruptions to other areas of your life you need to tend to. For example, if your goal is to exercise daily after work but you know you have a meeting on Wednesday, plan to wake up earlier just that day to have enough time.

  • Reflect on how you feel

After one week of deliberately doing something for self-care, take inventory of your feelings. Do you notice any differences? Did this task bring you surprising results? The value in this reflection is not to seek immediate gains, but to allow yourself to think about how you feel and where there is room for growth. Perhaps you don’t notice much of a difference, or maybe you couldn’t complete this task daily for many reasons. This is the opportunity to see what changes you can make. You do not have to continue this activity daily, just for the first week to elicit these feelings and then you may adjust to something more suitable.

  • Add in additional practices when ready

It can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit and an average of 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic. Once you feel comfortable with your first self-care task, it can be time to add a new one. Tread slowly, you don’t have to implement 5 different things at once. That’s actually overwhelming and will lessen the chance that you will be successful. Do not set yourself up. Building a routine takes time and effort. It is important to be kind and patient with yourself throughout this process.

Ultimately, remember why you looked into implementing this self-care routine in the first place. Even if you “fall off the wagon”, it’s okay to reflect, recollect, and refocus your direction to try it again. This is for you. This is taking back your power and doing the things that bring you happiness. You deserve it.