Finding the right self-care routine can be difficult. We asked Positive Planner co-founder Finn for her top tips for a self-care routine.
1: What actually is self-care and why should we do it? What would you say to someone who doesn’t have mental health issues and says there’s no need for it?
Self-care in its simplest form is caring for ourselves. So eating, sleeping, personal hygiene and connection are all ways of looking after ourselves and most of us are lucky enough to be able to do these things regularly without much thought. I think we can take some comfort in knowing that self-care really does start with the simplest of actions and if we’re managing these things. then we’re already practicing self-care to some degree.
However, if we look at self-care in a broader sense and go a little deeper than meeting basic everyday needs, then it’s more about self-preservation, self-compassion and setting healthy boundaries. I would argue that self-care is an essential part of maintaining good mental health, so if you’re lucky enough to not have any mental health concerns, then you’re probably partaking in activities that make you feel nourished, give you a sense of connection and belonging, and help you to find moments of calmness and relaxation.
Unfortunately, the term self-care has become associated with spending lots of money in recent years, so often the assumption is made that self-care is going to a spa for the day, going on a retreat or buying the latest wellness trending product, and while there is, of course, a place for these things as acts of self-care, they are not exclusive. Self-care is about doing things that make you feel nourished and topped up enough to face day-to-day life in a way which is enjoyable and leaves you with enough reserves to care for others.
2: What motivated you to start a self-care routine and how has your routine changed since you first started The Positive Planner
Unfortunately, it took getting to the stage of complete burnout before I saw how essential it is to practice self-care. I was that person who cringed at the term self-care, as I understood it came with an expensive price tag and needed hours of my time, neither of which I had.
In hindsight I was already practicing free and affordable self-care like meditation and exercise here and there, but it wasn't a consistent habit and I was not making it a priority. When I was learning how to practice self-care, I had to actually schedule it into my diary to make sure it happened. Now it’s become a habit, my routine ebbs and flows alongside the natural ebb and flow of life. I have my go-to self-care practices such as breathwork, exercise, being outside in nature, reading, journaling and spending time with friends.
Because self-care is now habitual for me, I find myself naturally doing at least one or two of these a day and If I do have a few days of not doing some self-care, I quickly notice and make time to pick up the habit again.
3: What would your advice be to some who doesn’t know where to start with self-care?
Spend some time really considering what activities or practices make you feel most nourished and energised. Maybe keep a diary over a couple of weeks of how different things affect your mood? (you’ll find mood trackers in all our books or you can download our fab Monthly Mood + Habit Tracker for free from our online Resource Library.) You can access it here.)
Try to think of micro and macro things. So what are those small quick things you do that you know either have the ability to make you feel good in a very short space of time, or practiced regularly throughout your day help you maintain a good mood? And what are the things which might take a little more time or financial investment, but you know leave you feeling recharged for a longer period of time?
For me, a macro self-care practice is breathwork. I know that by taking 2 minutes a few times a day to breath mindfully, I’m more likely to stay mentally well as it reduces my anxiety. A macro self-care practice for me would be a long walk, dinner with a friend, or a day in a spa. These things require me to plan out longer periods of time, or spend money, neither of which I can do every day, but I know the benefits will long exceed to activity.
4: Where do you go for inspiration, tools and self-care suggestions?
Working in the wellness sphere, I’m exposed to many different self-care activities, which I find very inspiring. I make sure I follow accounts on my social media platforms which inspire me to try new things. Yoga and meditation is really grounding for me and helps to calm my nervous system, so I use YouTube a lot to find new experts sharing their videos.
I also love to journal (of course!) and find Pinterest very helpful for finding journal prompts. I also take workshops to try new holistic practices such as EFT tapping (expert Sarah Tobin did a wonderful Instagram IGTV Positive Planner Self-Care Sunday for us on EFT Tapping for Sleep. You can watch it here), and I have all of Suzy Reading’s books, which are full of inspiring ideas for self-care for times when I’m blank on what to do.
5: Do you find keeping a routine easy? What bumps you off course and how do you get back to it?
Much of my macro self-care has now become habitual, so I usually get one or two of these in a day without too much thought. That said, if I travel, or my routine is interrupted for some reason these habits can get missed and it is not until the anxiety creeps in, or I have a low day that I realise I need to get those habits in motion again. I also find it hard to make time for self-care that takes longer amounts of time. The only way I really can manage this is to schedule it in and commit to it.
6: As a parent to a young one, how do you find the time? How do you communicate to children the importance of self-care so that they give you space without feeling abandoned?
I’m personally someone who likes to be up early, so I try to make sure I do some self-care before my son wakes up. That could be a simple 10 minute stretch, or 5 minute meditation. Just something that helps me connect with myself before I start looking after someone else's needs.
It’s not always possible to do this though. Sometimes I’m too tired, or not motivated enough to get up early. I suppose on those days my morning self-care is listening to my body and resting for longer.
Regarding teaching self-care to my son, I encourage conversation around things that make him feel happy and prioritise those activities. Last weekend, for example, he told me he loved going on beach walks with me and collecting shells. So we spent two hours walking together doing this. He also loves baking and is always so happy and helpful when we bake. I try to find time to bake together a couple of times a month.
As far as his own day- to-day self-care, I always encourage him to do things to “look after himself” so if I’m trying to get him to brush his teeth, I remind him that it’s part of looking after and caring for himself, or if he’s looking tired, I’ll ask him what he needs and if that is half an hour watching cartoons, then this is looking after himself too. Resting and knowing what he needs at different times of the day.
7: How can you get kids involved and help them learn about their own self-care?
Let them see you practicing self-care and let them see you prioritising it!
If I’m doing some yoga, I won’t just stop if my son comes in. I try to carry on and most of the time he joins in. He's modelling my behaviour and he understands that that is Mummy looking after herself.
This morning I was doing a meditation and he woke up early and came to find me. I nearly stopped to tend to him, but thought to myself, let me see what happens if I carry on. It was so beautiful. He came in and sat next to me and copied me by crossing his legs, placing his hands on his knees and closing his eyes. Afterwards I explained that we were meditating together and it led to a lovely conversation about what meditation is and why Mummy loves it so much. He loves it too now apparently!
8: What is your go to self-care act for those times when all else fails?
Breathwork. Every. Single. Day!