• An effective self-care strategy requires identifying practices that work specifically for you: practices that you’ll enjoy engaging in and stick to.
  • You can identify these practices by asking yourself, “What self-care practices align with my values and my interests?’
  • For example, if you’re a people-person and relationships are most important to you, think of self-care practices that involve engaging with others.
  • Once you’ve identified your values, interests, and self-practices that align with both, follow a few additional tips for creating the right approach to a new self-care regimen.
  • First, decide to be kind to yourself, much like you are to your friends and family members, and realize that you deserve this.
  • Also, think about what you want to accomplish and see if that spurs new, smart self-care ideas; and consider incorporating journaling or another form of writing into your routine.
  • Finally, if you would like some additional help or guidance in making changes that lead to greater health, happiness, or success, consider working with a life coach or counselor.

Last December, in thinking about my New Year’s resolutions, I decided to focus on me. That was my goal. To do whatever it took in the coming year to prioritize and improve me, my well-being, my happiness. I know, I know… this isn’t technically a SMART goal. It is absolutely attainable and realistic, but it isn’t specific, it isn’t measurable, and it isn’t timely—which typically means it won’t equate to success. But I guess I looked at it as more of a mission. A process. A journey. And the little goals that I set along the way would get me to my destination.

A big step in the right direction has been employing healthy self-care strategies: exercising throughout the week, eating well (and indulging every now and again), journaling, practicing mindfulness… the list is never-ending. Now, every single one of these practices has proven to benefit me in some way. But the trouble has been finding the ones that stick, the ones that truly work for me and my lifestyle.

It took me some time, but I’ve finally learned how to choose the right self-care routine for me. And lucky for you, I’m going to share my secrets so you can start employing effective self-care strategies, too!

Aligning Self-Care Practices with Values and Interests

There is no self-care technique out there that is guaranteed to work for you or to work for me. Why? Because each the effectiveness of any given practice is dependent upon the individual employing it. Their strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, goals, desires. “What’s most important is matching self-care skills to who you are and what you value,” Rachel Stanton, a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, explains. “The best self-care techniques are actually the ones that you are personally more likely to engage in. So, if mindfulness turns you off, it doesn’t matter how effective it is for others—it’s not going to work for you.”

Set aside a few minutes to brainstorm what self-care activities best align with your values and interests. Are you a big bookworm? Is exercise important to you? Do you enjoy painting or writing? This brainstorm can help you narrow in on self-care activities that’ll best benefit you. Stanton explains: “If you are someone who really values your appearance and feels best when you look your best then self-care skills should focus on things like getting a makeover, spending extra time in the morning to get your makeup just right, getting your nails done, etc. If relationships are most important to you then your self-care skills should involve ways of maintaining your relationships.”

Additionally, it’s best if you incorporate the practices you do decide on into your current routine or lifestyle. This will increase the odds of you sticking to your self-care regimen! “It’s most important to tie your self-care skills to activities you already have to do regularly. You will be more likely to remember to do them,” Stanton explains. “For example, engage in deep breathing every time you wash your hands. Say a positive affirmation every time you brush your teeth. Go to the gym on your way home from work…” The possibilities are endless.

3 Additional Tips for Creating the Right Self-Care Regimen

Now that you’ve learned the key to choosing effective self-care techniques—aligning them with your values and interests—consider Caleb Backe’s advice in employing your new routine. “Interestingly enough, some of the best self-care techniques revolve around the idea of approach,” Backe, a Health and Wellness Expert, explains. With this in mind, the following steps can help you create a plan that is not only beneficial but easy for you to begin and keep up with:

1) Decide to be kind to yourself, much like you are to your loved ones.

Often, we’ll go out of our way to help our loved ones and make them feel special—but we aren’t so kind to ourselves. “Start treating yourself as if you are someone who is worth being helped,” says Backe. “Treat yourself as if you are looking after a friend, a lover, a family member. Talk to yourself and encourage yourself, as if you don’t know who you really are; as if you are someone who you really want to take care of. That is the best self-help there is since it gets you into the right mindset.”

2) Think about what you want to accomplish.

Remember my big New Year’s goal? I decided I wanted to focus on me. To prioritize and improve me. Take a moment to think about what you want to accomplish—and no, you don’t have to wait until the new year to get started. The goals you identify can help you decide on your self-care go-tos, too. And it’s always a good idea to start with the basics. “Mental wellbeing is, in most cases, intertwined with one’s physical wellbeing,” explains Bake. “Setting goals—practical goals like sleep, diet, and exercise—is utterly crucial to the process. If diet, sleep, and exercise are not your thing, or you want something more geared towards the mind, then silent sitting mediation is one technique that can help you improve your abilities and help you to clarify things through inaction.”

3) Consider incorporating some form of writing into your routine.

You might not be a big journal-keeper, but you should consider giving it a try or incorporating some form of writing into your new self-care routine. “Chronicling different things in your life can have a major effect on your mind, since—much like meditation—it helps to declutter it,” explains Backe. “Keeping a journal (not a diary, per se, but a journal), reminds you of the fact that you are on a journey, and that to a great degree, your mental wellbeing is in your hands. We cannot change the world, we can only change ourselves. And the ability to see that process unfold through writing is thrilling, no matter what ups or downs you may go through because you can see it is all part of an ongoing process, and this, in turn, helps to keep your mind more at ease.”

Strategic Self-Care Is the Best Self-Care

Self-care is the practice of maintaining or improving our health and wellbeing. To be successful in incorporating effective self-care techniques into our routine, it is essential that we all have a personalized regimen that takes our interests and values into account. Additionally, in creating our self-care routine, we should make a commitment to treat ourselves with kindness, consider what we want to accomplish in life, and also consider incorporating journaling or another form of writing into our plan. And if we’d like to take this initiative a step further, we might even consider talking to a life coach or counselor, who can help us improve our health, happiness, and success.