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After a major change in my life a couple of years ago, I have become more and more aware of how important self-care is to me. There is no “one size fits all” to this. I believe that the secret to developing a strong routine is to customize it to your own needs, values, and personal style. What’s more, self-care is not selfish. We all need relationships—whether they’re with friends or a romantic partner. I’d like to suggest that taking care of oneself and connecting with other people work hand-in-hand.

Since I can only speak from my own experience, I am going to share my own self-care habits. Feel free to take what you like and leave the rest.

I cherish my self-care routine as a way of nurturing my body, mind, and home environment. While I understand that this routine is for myself first, it is not only for me. In fact, I think that having a structured routine has strengthened my friendships. I feel happy and confident about my routine, and I think the people around me pick up on this. 

  1. Caring for My Body

For me, a major part of caring for my body is regular exercise. I love cardio for staying in good physical shape, releasing stress, and clearing my mind of negative thoughts. Again, not everyone will practice the same routine. But it is important to think about how we want to treat our bodies and how we can nurture them. After all, my body helps me accomplish many tasks that are essential to my work and relationships.

I also like to think about how I dress and present myself to people. By this, I don’t mean that I spend a fortune on clothing. I simply mean that I choose pieces that reflect my personal style, and I make sure to keep them in good shape. I make sure to keep clothing clean and not to wear pieces out. For example, once I notice that clothing has holes in it or is stained beyond repair, I realize that it might be time to let it go. Do I really want to show up to a job interview or other important meeting with a button- down shirt that’s missing a button or two?

  1. Caring for My Mind and Spirit

I think this category has a few components to it. Sometimes taking care of my mind can be as simple as tolerating my feelings, even when they’re unpleasant. (Remember that I said simple, not easy.) Sometimes it can mean reaching out to a friend when I feel lonely or need an outside perspective on a situation. I also really like the practice of writing in a journal. Whether or not writing is your thing, a certain amount of “taking stock” can be useful. For example, in my journal, I reflect on what I’ve done well on any given day and areas in which I’d like to improve. I also take a few minutes to write down relationships that I’m grateful for and anything else in my life that inspires feelings of gratitude.

  1. Caring for My Environment

I enjoy keeping my home organized and clean. Some questions I ask myself are: What kind of environment do I want to inhabit? What kind of environment do I want friends to see when they come over? How does the set-up of my home affect my mental state?

Above all, I don’t forget to have fun. Self-care doesn’t have to be drudgery. Sure, I don’t always feel like doing the dishes or other household chores. It can even feel overwhelming to see a sink full of dirty plates. (In fact, it always does.) But chores can become fun when I focus on one project at a time, put on music or a podcast in the background, or simply take a moment to affirm the work I’ve put into them.

By: Shara L.

Shara is a visual artist living and working in Brooklyn, NY. She creates drawings and paintings of people. Shara has exhibited her pictures in Brooklyn and Manhattan. You can check out her work here: www.sharaladyzart.com.

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