How to Start a Self-Care Practice

With Valentine’s Day coming up soon, you may have love on your mind. The idea of love, relationships, and companionship may make you feel grateful and warm, but it also may make you think of past relationship trauma or your current needs being unfulfilled. If you’re not a fan of Valentine’s Day for any reason, you’re not alone - 14% of Americans report a negative feeling towards the day. While Valentine's Day is a holiday often associated with romantic love and relationships, it's important to remember that self-care and self-love are just as important. Self-care is the way we show ourselves that we matter - it involves upholding our boundaries, taking time to rest, enjoying hobbies not as production but as leisure, and engaging in healthy social relationships. It's also important to remember that self-care is not just about physical well-being, but also emotional and mental well-being. Take time to check in with yourself and practice self-compassion. Be kind and understanding with yourself, and remind yourself that it's okay to not be okay sometimes. Wondering what a self-care practice could look like for you? Check out these tips from Therapy Beyond Healing on starting a self-care practice! Take a Self-Care Assessment The first step to starting your self-care routine is a simple one - determining what your level of self-care is right now! We have a few suggestions on how you could do this:
    • Fill out a Wellness Wheel. The Wellness Wheel asks you to rate your level of wellness in eight categories - social, emotional, financial, occupational, environmental, intellectual, physical, and spiritual. You can use a blank template like this one to fill in how satisfied you are with each element of your life. If you’re struggling rating your level on your own, try out this quiz for each category of the Wellness Wheel
  • Take a self-care assessment. There are several self-care assessments you can take online, but we particularly like this one by Dr. Cook-Cuttone, who is a master of mindfulness.
  • Spend time in reflection. If you like to reflect more intuitively rather than with a quiz or template, consider sitting in meditation, making art, or journaling to reflect on your self-care quality. You can use these journal prompts to get you started.
Determine Which Goals Would Meet Your Values Now that you’ve determined what areas of your life you’d like to include more self-care in, it’s time to set some goals! Last month, we talked all about SMART goals and how to align your SMART goals with your values. In case you need a quick reminder, you can align your goals with your values by:
  • Determine your values. You can use a list like this one to pick out some values that resonate with you. 
  • Consider goals that match your values: Take your list of your values and compare them with your list of your goals. Which goals should stay, and which should go?
After you’ve decided which self-care goals would uphold your values, make them SMART by making them specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. More on that here. Put Your Plan Into Action The last step? Do it! While this may sound oversimplified, the hardest step is actually taking the first one towards your goals. Some tips to actually starting your self-care plans include:
  • Decide what would be realistic for you … then take it down one notch. For example, if your self-care goal is to learn to cook new meals on a budget to improve your financial self-care, your goal may be to learn one new recipe a week. If you think this is realistic, take it down one notch - learn two recipes a month instead.
  • Call on your social support. If you’re somebody who will follow through if you know someone is watching (that’s many of us!), let your social support system know your goals. Who knows - they may even want to go on this journey with you!
  • Incorporate self-compassion. If you don’t hit your goal, it’s okay. Putting undue pressure on yourself to do self-care is the opposite of self-care.
In summary, Valentine's Day is a great opportunity to focus on self-care. Take some time for yourself, reflect on the past year, set intentions for the future, practice self-compassion, and reach out for support if needed. Remember, self-care and self-love are just as important as romantic love. We’d love to be someone you can reach out to! If going to therapy is one of your self-care goals, we’d be happy to help. Reach out to us today to learn more. We look forward to hearing from you!