Thursday, May 5, 2011

Self Care Routines

"For pragmatic reasons, I love the routine. I love the structure of it. I love knowing that my days are free. I know where I'm going at night. I know my life is kind of orderly. I just like that better."  -Andrea Martin

The benefits of having routines are many.   I find them very helpful in adding order and simplicity to my crazy, sometimes disordered and complicated life.  
It is true that disorder and complexity create struggle, and from what I have derived from life experience- personal growth happens best when we are uncomfortable.   But, while we may grow better when compelled by discomfort, many of us are paralyzed when we find ourselves in complete chaos.   We need  to strike a balance.   Some areas of our lives need to be stable and safe.   This is where routines come in handy.
I have three favorite routines:
  • Friday nights have always been Family Night in our home.   Now that we are "empty-nesters", Fridays are officially Date Night.   We usually watch a movie, but sometimes a game or two of Canasta or a night on the town happen instead.   We used to eat we usually have steak and salad.   
  • On Sunday mornings, Mr Self Care and I drive over to Whole Foods to do our grocery shopping.  It is a little out of our way, but we love this store.  Shopping here reinforces our healthy lifestyle too.   We grab a coffee and breakfast from the buffet there and sit and visit before jumping into our shopping.  
  • Our newest routine is our nightly walk.   We come home from work- change into our walking clothes and hit the park for exercise.   It is more together time.  We talk, we burn calories, we get some fresh air.   
Routines are also beneficial for effortlessly working in important self-care habits:
  • At night when watching your favorite television show- grab your dental floss. 
  • Once a week - as part of your shopping trip- grab a bouquet of fresh flowers.  I have been picking up tulips lately (3 bunches for $10).  
  • Once a week, create a small spa experience - put on a facial mask and jump into a bubble bath.   Light candles, turn on some soft music and give yourself a little "me" time.
  • Have a set time at work to get up from your desk and take a little stroll- find a co-worker to reinforce the commitment.   I have a friend who stops by my desk at 10am and 2pm each day.   We do a quick 15 minute walk.  
  • My sister has an exquisite chocolat stash.  Her favorite candy is Alpini bars from Thorton's in England.   (My husband travels to England a few times each year for his job, so replenishing her stash for her birthday and Christmas has become our routine!)   She treats herself to one of these decadent bars each month.  
  • Read for a half hour each night before bed. 
  • Get up early enough to enjoy a quiet house and a cup of coffee each morning. 
The real beauty of routines is that they require little thought and -in many cases- little preparation.  

Avoid sweeping changes and routines that feel like a chore- the aim is to reduce stress, not increase it!   Instead, be gradual in your approach to setting up routines; establish one small ritual at a time.  Think about what soothes you.  Think about something healthful and find ways to make the task effortless and pleasant.  
 Take Good Care!


Annabelle said...

These are great suggestions. I find the hardest part is setting up a routine, but once it's in place, the inertia just keeps me doing it. Love the idea of walking twice a day at work!

Self Care Girl said...

I really enjoy the work day walks to. So often we find ourselves sitting for hours in front of a computer! Having a set time to get up and move works!