Committing ourselves to a practice of self-care is wonderful, but what if we struggle with building that habit to make our self-care an essential and almost subconscious thing we do daily?
Believe it or not, 95% of what we do in a day is subconscious. That leaves only 5% of what we do as intentional.
Self-care is often purported to be a deliberate act that we must focus on and concentrate on. The problem with this is that it’s often hard to sustain, and our self-care becomes the thing we give up on when overwhelm takes over.
The real power in building our self-care is making it into a habit to subconsciously honour and care for ourselves. Self-care is, after all, what sustains us, fills our cup, and helps us survive those waves of life that hit us unexpectedly. So how can we create, build, and keep a habit of self-care and what barriers can pop up to get in our way?
Forming Self-Care Habits
Recognising the importance of self-care is one thing. Actively partaking in self-care is another. Understanding exactly what it means for you is another spanner to throw into the mix of building a solid and deliberate practice. Balancing our mind, body, and soul is the key to self-care. Once we understand how to do this, we can work on building a habit. So, first thing is first, check-in with yourself.
1. Check-In With Yourself
Self-care is entirely individual, making every habit as unique as your fingerprints or the parting of your hair. The first step in forming a pattern is to know precisely what you want to do and what you want to achieve by your new routine is to check in with yourself and write down everything you feel you would like to do that will positively affect your mindset.
Self-care habits are something you will gain from in a positive way, and most importantly enjoy. There is no point in doing yoga or going for a run if you hate those things. Find out what will help you connect with yourself, give back to you, and fill your cup.
Our self-care comes in so many forms, with dental checkups higher on the list than we may imagine. Tracking our menstrual cycle is an empowering form of self-care, as is figuring out a weekly or monthly meal plan. Checking in with ourselves to understand how to empower our lives as mothers and compassionately care for ourselves is key to forming self-care habits.
2. Brainstorm a Plan
When you have a list of ideas, think about how you can actively add these elements into your life. Incorporating self-care into our lives can include setting the scene for ourselves by using soft lighting, burning incense or diffusing essential oils for a calmer environment. A self-care plan does not need to be painfully scheduled but rather gently but prominently added to your daily routine.
A self-care plan can include focusing on one element and building on that habit before adding in another. So if lighting a candle and inhaling the delicate smell of a wax melt infused with juniper and lavender lifts your mood, it’s a perfectly gentle way to begin a routine of self-care. The idea, of course, is to include this habit so that it becomes instinctual.
As your self-care habits become more cemented, add more to your plan.
3. Set Goals
Goal setting is powerful to help you know when you are on track. For goals to be beneficial, they must be realistic and measurable, meaning there is no point in saying you will run 5km every week when life, especially in motherhood, is likely to get in the way and offset your plan and goals.
Goals should always begin small. If choosing to switch off from social media, try not to ban yourself for a whole weekend but rather begin with 20 minutes in the evening instead and build on your goals.
4. Be Compassionate in Building Habits
We can criticise and get angry at ourselves when our plans come undone. Building a habit takes time. Building a habit when so many demands are expected of you as a mother can take that little bit longer. On top of that, we are looking at incorporating self-care, which asks us to put ourselves first, which we all know can be a tricky thing as a mother. Be compassionate with yourself in building habits. Avoid making demands of yourself and be conscious that this is a process with powerful results.
5. Be Conscious of Your Approach
There will be bumps along the way, so be conscious of how you are approaching building this self-care habit. You will likely need to make adjustments. You will find out what works for you and what doesn’t work and what takes that little bit of extra effort with kids in tow!
Overcoming Barriers to Creating Habits
Of course, there are always blocks when attempting to create a habit.
We can be resistant to any kind of change or not understand just how much this activity will benefit us. We could be so overwhelmed that adding anything new to our already overloaded subconscious seems counterproductive.
We may simply forget, be too busy, tired, get distracted, become put off by the very nature of what we are doing or feel restricted by the daily practice.
In many ways, we are our biggest obstacle when creating a habit.
How do we overcome these obstacles when we are, in essence, that very obstacle.
1. Answer Your Objections & Clear Away Distractions
What starts with “I’m tired” usually ends with I’m tired and a blanket on the sofa. Answer your own objections to not partaking in self-care by asking yourself to go smaller. Take one minute instead of ten, and remind yourself why you are doing it. At the same time, remove distractions that will hinder you from actively creating this self-care habit. Hide the remote, put away the phone, and put what you need in front of you instead, such as your yoga mat or your walking shoes and have your essential oils to hand.
2. Look Towards the Freedom
We understand why we are building a self-care habit, but we are also too exhausted to be mindful of our actions in creating that soon-to-be natural routine. Looking towards why we are leaning into self-care is an important thing to remember. Why are you making this habit? To be more balanced centred, prioritise yourself, give back to yourself, build yourself up, honour yourself, love yourself, and care for every part of you that needs nurturing.
Looking towards the freedom our self-care practice will bring us is important to help us commit to this new routine. The freedom of expressing yourself, your wants and your needs. The freedom of knowing that you and your needs matter. The freedom of putting yourself first without guilt, shame, or anger.
The freedom of knowing that this self-care practice will fill your cup and energise your body and mind. And that, with time, it will move from sitting in that 5% of intentional thought to the 95% of effortless, intuitive, and subconscious action that will make way for those important and necessary elements of personal self-care.