In your everyday life, do you check in on yourself? Do you show yourself love? When do you take the necessary time and space you need to just breathe? These questions are not meant to make you feel bad, but they are intended to shine a light on the parts of you that are being neglected. That’s what self-care is for. It reminds you that you are loved and you deserve to be loved on by your own self. I’m not talking about ditching work for a spa day, although that does sound lovely and rebellious. What I’m talking about are the teeny proactive measures you can take that may keep you from having a total meltdown.

The smell of warm lavender fills the room as I sip on my tea this morning. The clouds are hanging low in the sky, yet I am filled with an inner glow. Why? Because I woke up with peace. I didn’t wake up to a loud alarm or the rush of the morning hour. I awoke to love—self-love. The small acts of self-care I practice regularly remind me to love and honor myself. 

My Morning Self-Care Routine

Quite a while ago, I determined that my usual way of getting out of bed in the morning was making me miserable. It would set me up for having a bad day. You know the routine: the alarm screams “Wake up!” You press snooze one too many times. When you finally get out of bed, you realize that you’re already running late. You don’t have time to make a decent cup of coffee or tea. You get stuck in traffic and get into work a tad bit late. Of course your boss notices. Now you have to spend the first half of the day trying to overcompensate for your lateness by attempting to be an overachiever. You eat lunch at your desk and end up staying late working on a project. By the time you get home, you’re exhausted and miserable. As you fall asleep after that long day you wonder “Where did I go wrong?” The worst part is that tomorrow you’re going to wake up and do the same thing all over again. 

Because I am a morning person, I strongly believe that self-care rituals start the moment you open your eyes in the morning. Recently my mother told me that she always tried to wake me up gently every morning for school so that I wouldn’t feel rushed and nervous. This is a practice I’ve now incorporated into my adult life. I don’t wake up to a blaring alarm. I use a sound that gently wakes me up and increases in volume the longer it goes off. Realistically, your internal clock senses when it’s time to get up. Your alarm is there to make sure you’ve gotten the message. 

One of the first things I do each and every day is show gratitude. In prayer and out loud I say that I am thankful that I am breathing and that I have a new opportunity to live my best life. Then I look down at my cat who is warming my feet and tell him I love him. That little furry thing shows me affection and gives me comic relief exactly when I need it. Before I get out of bed, I quiet my mind and meditate. Maybe it’s only for a few minutes, but I take that time to prepare myself mentally for the day ahead. Another way I clear out the clutter in my head is by journaling in the morning and also sometimes at night. 

By the time I get in the shower, I’m not stressing over all the things that were left over in my brain from the previous day. I’ve already let all that go. While I do my beauty routine in the mirror, and use my jade roller to smooth away my worries, I repeat my affirmations like a mantra. “You are loved. You are enough. You are worthy.” As someone who has dealt with anxiety all my life, I am realizing that those morning self care rituals really do set me up for success. 

Self-Care Throughout My Day

Once I step foot out of my home, I’ve already set the precedent for how I would like to be treated by others. Self-care teaches me to speak up for myself in business meetings. Self-care reminds me to eat lunch without doing any work because my brain needs a break. I’ve also decided that I need to get outside and take more walks in the day. Being in nature truly is incredibly therapeutic and it makes me happy. 

My Nightly Self-Care Routine

You’ve heard the saying “never go to bed angry.” What may have started out as something intended for couples, I have applied to myself and my day. Whatever has been nagging at me and playing on repeat in my head, I release myself of that at night. Some evenings I take a long hot bath in candlelight and relax away the frustrations. Other times through journaling and kundalini yoga, I am able to let go of the negative self-talk. Before I fall asleep, I’ll rub a little lavender oil on my neck to further calm me down. My last thoughts as I close my eyes are thoughts of grace and gratitude.  

Self-Care on the Weekends

Taking really good care of myself means I’ve had to set some ground rules. My weekends are strictly reserved for rest and play. Just like we set boundaries for others, we must set boundaries for ourselves. I decided a few years ago that I would absolutely not do any work on the weekends. No checking emails. No prepping for Monday. Instead I do things to nurture my inner child. Together me and my younger self color, we watch cartoons, we run around in the backyard, and we even have dance parties. Instead of worrying about the week ahead, I practice rituals that nourish my soul: kundalini yoga, reading a good book, a nice long bath and a face mask. It’s heavenly. 

Take a moment right now to check in with yourself. Notice where you may be feeling tension. Where did that feeling originate? Give yourself grace. It’s okay to feel what you are feeling, but let’s reframe. Shift your focus from the negative to the positive. What can you do right now to make yourself feel better? When you feed into yourself, when you fill yourself up with self-love through self-care, you cut out so much of that everyday anxiety and negative feelings. You free your spirit and open yourself up to happiness.