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We all sometimes fall behind when it comes to taking care of ourselves. This could include burning out or just forgetting to treat yourself when you deserve it. Other times, our mental health can get in the way to the point where basic necessities become difficult to fulfill. 

 

Whether it’s a long work week, or a month of struggling to shower and get out of bed, we could all use a reset at times. 

 

Although my situation may sometimes become extreme, I can still recognize when a self-care day is necessary. If you find yourself in a similar situation, I’ve compiled a step-by-step list of my ideal self-care day. This can be used as a starter guide for self-care if you need some tips or want to try something new! 

 

Remember that self-care is not only a great way to relax and spend time with yourself, but is also essential for your mental health. When I’m feeling like I just haven’t made any time for myself, this routine is a great way for me to start getting back on track. In other words, I consider this step one for getting my sh*t together!

 

Step 1: Take a shower or bath


Woman shaving her legs in the bathtub
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

If you’re anything like me, your real step one is getting out of bed, which we all know can sometimes be the hardest part! Putting my phone down and engaging in my self-care routine can be a drawn out process, to say the least. 

 

Even if you have to force yourself out of bed, you are capable. Turn on the shower and allow yourself to relax. 

 

Once I’ve gotten that out of the way, I typically choose to take a bath; these are both great ways for me to unwind and lessen the tension in my mind or body. I like to light a candle or two, put on some music, throw in a bath bomb or bath salts, and pick out my favorite soaps. I’ll wash my hair, exfoliate, shave, moisturize, and get out feeling light, airy, and clean. 

 

Step 2: Skin care!


Her Campus / Higher Education Skincare

After getting out of the shower, I’ll put on clothes that make me feel good. Sometimes, this is an outfit like jeans and a cute shirt to help me feel put together. Other times (okay, most of the time), it looks like sweatpants and my favorite oversized sweatshirt. 

 

Regardless of if I’m going for comfy or energetic, I’m catering to my specific needs for the day. 

 

First up on my skin care routine is a face mask: I’ll pick out a clay mask, sheet mask, charcoal mask, or gel mask, and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. At this point, I typically put on a comfort movie or TV show to watch while the mask sets. 

Grab a smoothie, sandwich, or any of your favorite foods to kickstart your energy!

 

After washing off my mask, I move on to moisturizing: I’ll rub some Vaseline cocoa butter lotion all over my face, then put on my CeraVe moisturizer. I use a St. Ives refreshing mist, and put some Vaseline or Burt’s Bees on my lips to finish it off. 

 

After this, I’m feeling a little damp, so I like to sit down and watch the rest of my movie to let the moisture settle in. 

 

Step 3: Do my hair and makeup


woman holding black framed mirror
Photo by Kelly Sikkema from Unsplash

Self-care can look like a lot of different things for me, and feeling like my best self is one of them. This typically includes being more put together — starting with my outward appearance. 

 

Trying different hairstyles can be fun and uplifting, and I tend to start this process with a White Claw or a glass of wine! A cool updo, using a new blow dry technique, curling, or straightening my hair are all ways I like to spice up my look. If you have a go-to favorite hairstyle, that works perfectly as well!

 

To continue the fun, I’ll start doing my makeup. If I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll try something new or spontaneous, but even just a little bit of mascara and concealer can help me feel more awake and ready to take on the day. 

 

Giving myself a fun look is something I enjoy doing, and can also be so refreshing if I’ve been having difficulty even washing my hair for extended periods of time. 

 

In this step, I’m reminding myself that I have the power, and am capable of going the extra mile for my appearance and confidence. 

 

Step 4: Do something productive


woman reading book in bed
Photo by Prashant Gupta from Unsplash

Now listen, not every self-care day has to be productive. Sometimes, I choose to sit in my pajamas all day as a way to relax. However, this can turn into a depressing cycle where no matter how hard I try, I can’t help feeling guilty for getting nothing done. To combat this, I like to do one thing that makes my day a little more productive. 

 

Leaving the house can be difficult, so this sometimes looks like a trip to the store or a coffee run; for me, this is still an accomplishment. I might also choose to get my nails done, get my car washed, go to lunch with a friend, or go to Target or the mall just to browse. 

 

If I decide to stay home, I can read a book, do an assignment, journal, or straighten up my space. 

 

One of the keys to these self-care days is staying off my phone as much as possible. Social media can be such a trap when I feel that my mental health isn’t at its best, so scheduling in at least one motivating task throughout the day can allow me to relax without falling into a slump. 

 

Step 5: Surprise myself


Plants in fun pots on a shelf
Photo by Prudence Earl from Unsplash

Without realizing it, there are a lot of things I tend to hold myself back from. For me, self-care often looks like trying something new or off-brand in order to understand more about my own emotions and kick the cycle of just “going through the motions.”

 

This can include reaching out to a friend I haven’t talked to in a while, cooking myself a new food that may be out of my comfort zone, or trying a new activity. 

 

Activities like yoga, reading, or crafting aren’t necessarily included in my daily hobbies, but can still spice up my day in a positive way. Sometimes, I like to buy a decoration or a clothing item that’s not my typical style, or watch a movie that doesn’t fall into one of my go-to genres. 

 

By adding something new or unexpected to your day, you might just find yourself enjoying the outside of your wheelhouse! 

 

I typically choose this as my last step of my self-care day because it can include so many different things, and tends to tie together everything I’ve done throughout the past few hours. 

 

At this point, I’m often in a pretty feel-good mood, and can fully experience these fun surprises. Life can become draining, but you don’t need to count on others to keep it exciting! 

 

Takeaway:

 

Self-care days never look the same for everyone, but when I feel that I need a pick-me-up, any of these steps can serve as the perfect remedy. Some days I shorten it by a lot, and other times I spend the entire day thinking and caring for myself. 

 

Life is not a linear journey, and neither is your mental health. I understand how difficult it can be to take care of ourselves in even the most basic ways, but these steps are there for you when you’re ready to take back the reins. 

 

Self-care routines can be a great way to aid in the healing process, or to simply treat yourself when it’s well deserved. You are so worth it, so no matter what self-care looks like to you, never forget to make time for yourself.

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