How to Make Your Self-Care Routine an Everyday Thing — in Mental Health Awareness Month and Beyond

Burnout is very real, especially with everyone in full hustle mode these days. The good news? It’s never too early to pour a little love back into yourself. “Build the healthy habit of self-care while [you’re] really young, and it’ll save a lot of hardship when you get older,” says Dr. Catherine Jackson, a licensed clinical psychologist and board-certified neurotherapist based in Chicago, Illinois. “It [will become] a habit by the time [you] get to your younger 20s, college age … It’ll be a natural part of [your] routine.” Here are five tips to make your self-care routine an everyday thing.

By Princess Gabbara

Make positive affirmations a daily vibe.

Real talk: Words are more powerful than you could ever imagine. And if you’re not careful, negative self-talk can turn you into your own worst enemy. It might feel a little silly the first couple times you do it, but repeating positive affirmations on the regular can reprogram your mind and force you to examine your own thought patterns, serving as a much-needed reminder to be kind to yourself. “We spend way too much time focusing on things that are negative, but with positive affirmations, you’re not waiting on that outside validation, so that helps to build up your mind’s power,” explains Jackson. I am enough or I will not compare myself to others are great ones to start with. Not into saying those phrases aloud? Write ‘em down on sticky notes and pin them to your bathroom mirror, inside your locker, or someplace else you’ll see those mantras every day.

Unplug from social media.

Insta and Snapchat are great for posting selfies, catching up on your favorite celebs, or sharing funny memes and videos, but they can also be draining when you’re constantly living so much of your life there. According to the study “Association of Screen Time and Depression in Adolescence” published in the American Medical Association’s journal JAMA Pediatrics, teens who spent more time on social media were more likely to experience symptoms of depression. To avoid social media burnout, set time limits or turn off your notifications for a short while. “People are not going to forget about you if you take a couple hours away from being online,” says Jackson. “In fact, you’ll come back stronger and connect with yourself a lot more … You have to stop and just kind of sit and be with yourself for a little bit.”

Tap into your joy.

Whether it’s prepping for the ACTs or SATs or picking up more extracurricular activities in hopes they’ll make your college application stand out, you are under more pressure than ever before. Finding a hobby that you enjoy and won’t get graded on can boost your overall well-being and happiness. “[Me time] comes in so many forms, and when we’re talking about finding that thing you love — it can be dancing, art, whatever — I call that tapping into your joy,” says Jackson. “[We] have to look for things that are going to bring us pure joy because we give so much of ourselves.” Plus, doing more of what you love naturally increases your dopamine levels, aka that happy feeling, in the brain.

Level up your meditation skills.

Sitting alone for 30 minutes without a single thought racing through your head might seem impossible, but turns out, there’s no right way to meditate. Even a two-minute deep breathing sesh can help you to de-stress. “It’s a way of slowing down and quieting your mind,” says Jackson. “In stressful situations, if you practice meditation enough, it will become second nature for you to get yourself into that eased mode when you’re going through something that’s really stressful, like a paper due or big test coming up.” Never meditated before? Headspace, Breethe, and Calm are extremely user-friendly apps that allow you to find your zen practically anywhere. And if sitting still to meditate just isn’t working, try mindful movement, a practice that allows you to move your body while staying in the present moment — think walking, yoga, biking, or swimming.

Prioritize yourself.

The strong Black woman archetype was meant to lift us up, but it often does more harm than good — and it’s time to do away with that way of thinking, tbh. “From a young age, Black women and girls are programmed to take care of everybody, and it’s kind of a natural thing to neglect yourself, but you have to take care of yourself. It does not mean that you’re not strong. It doesn’t make you weak to take care of yourself, to slow down a bit,” says Jackson. “Have somebody that you can let those emotions out with and really express them, and don’t let [them] build up and become explosive.” And to keep it all the way 100, your form of self-care doesn’t have to mirror anyone else’s. Whether it’s meditating, shopping, or watching Beyoncé’s Homecoming on Netflix for the millionth time, self-care is all about doing whatever makes you feel good.

Main Image: Addictive Creatives/Stocksy


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