How to Create a Self-Care Routine and Stick to It

Okay, let’s get real for a minute. We all know self-care is important: the deep breaths, healthy food, moving your body…all that good stuff that keeps us sane. 

But let’s be honest, actually making it happen? 

That can feel like climbing Mount Everest in flip-flops. 

I used to be the queen of abandoned yoga mats and half-eaten salads left to wilt in the fridge. 

But something changed

I figured out how to create a self-care routine that actually works for me – one that fits into my real life, not some Instagram fantasy. 

And the best part? 

I’m finally sticking to it, most of the time anyway! 

So, if you’re ready to ditch the guilt, embrace the occasional lazy night, and discover self-care you’ll actually look forward to, keep reading! 

Let’s turn those good intentions into lasting habits.

What is Self-Care?

You know, when we all think of self-care, we immediately start to think that it might be getting hair extensions or acrylic nails done. 

Basically anything that feels like giving ourselves a little upgrade, a little pamper sesh.

But trust me, that’s not true. 

The true definition lies here – 

Self-care is a commitment to nourishing yourself holistically – body, mind, and spirit. It involves deliberate actions that prioritize your overall well-being on multiple levels. 

Think of it like the oxygen mask analogy on airplanes. You’ve got to put yours first before helping others

Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s ensuring you have the resources to function at your best, in turn allowing you to be more present and helpful for yourself and those around you.

a woman with a face peel off mask on

The Many Facets of Self-Care

True self-care goes beyond surface-level treats. 

It includes:

  • Physical: Caring for your body’s basic needs– getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, eating nutritious foods, moving and exercising regularly.
  • Mental/Emotional: Setting healthy boundaries, addressing negative thought patterns, learning to manage stress and emotions, seeking professional support if needed.
  • Social: Cultivating meaningful connections, seeking out supportive relationships, saying “no” when overwhelmed.
  • Spiritual: Whatever nourishes your soul– meditation, prayer, time in nature, connecting with something larger than yourself.
  • Practical: Managing daily tasks, finances, and responsibilities in an organized way to reduce overwhelm.

Examples of Real Self-Care

Instead of a salon visit, self-care might look like:

  • Going for a long walk outdoors to clear your head.
  • Saying “no” to a project you don’t have the capacity for.
  • Scheduling a therapy session.
  • Setting aside time for a hobby you love.
  • Cooking yourself a nourishing meal.
  • Journaling about your emotions.

How to Create a Self Care Routine? [The 20-Step Approach]

Now that I have blabbered a lot on what Self-Care is and what are it’s examples, here is a simple classic way on how to create a self-care routine and stick to it. 

Now this is going to be a detailed routine, ok? 

I mean not just 5-6 steps where you can decide whatever you want to do and NOT stick to it. 

Each step has been carefully planned and curated by me – with epic detail and utmost perfection. 

So without further ado, let’s begin. 

closeup of a smiling woman with a green face pack on, wearing a bathrobe

Step 1 – Identify Your Needs

Let’s talk about getting real with yourself about what you need. 

It’s like that moment you sit down with your best friend, and they’re like, “Okay, spill it. How are you really doing?” 

You need to have that same kind of chat with yourself. 

Be honest about where things feel a little off. 

Are you exhausted all the time? 

Super stressed and cranky? 

Maybe you just feel emotionally blah? 

Don’t just focus on the big stuff either – think about whether you’re taking care of your body basics. 

Are you eating well, actually moving around, and getting decent sleep? 

And how are your relationships – are they making you feel good or draining you? 

Remember, your mind, body, and emotions are all connected, so getting real about all of it will help you figure out the best way to hit that self-care reset button!

side view of a woman wearing a bathrobe with a white cream on her cheeks, yellow background

Step 2 – Define Your Self-Care Goals

Okay, now that you’ve figured out what needs some extra love, it’s time to dream a little! 

Imagine how you want to feel after your self-care routine. 

Do you want to melt away stress and walk around with a chill, zen vibe? 

Or maybe you’re totally run down and need a serious energy boost to power through your days. Perhaps your brain feels scattered, and you’re craving a bit more focus. 

Or, maybe you just want to feel happier and more content with life in general. It’s totally okay to want a mix of everything! 

The point is, picture that awesome end result – it’ll help you choose the perfect self-care activities to get you there.

Step 3 – Make a Self-Care Menu

Think of this as creating the ultimate menu of happiness for yourself. 

Grab a notebook, your phone, whatever works, and let the ideas flow. Start with the obvious stuff – those activities that always make you smile, like a warm bath, jamming out to your favorite music, or snuggling with your dog. 

Now, let’s get a little more creative. 

Don’t be afraid to include those tiny pleasures – a few minutes of peaceful daydreaming, making a perfect cup of coffee, sending a silly text to your friend. 

Think about what makes your body feel good – a brisk walk, some gentle stretching, or busting out some goofy dance moves. 

Remember those things you loved as a kid

Maybe it’s time to bring back a bit of that simple joy – coloring, playing a board game, blowing bubbles. 

Self esteem young African American lady with moisturizing sheet mask and towel on hand wearing trendy sunglasses while standing against blue background in bathrobe after shower

Don’t hold back! 

Let your imagination run wild. 

The goal is to have a whole bunch of options ready when it’s time to put together your awesome self-care routine.

Step 4 – Categorize Your Activities

You’ve got an amazing self-care menu going! 

Now, let’s organize those awesome activities to make building your routine a breeze. 

Here’s how to think about the categories:

  • Body Basics: This is where you focus on feeling good physically. Think exercise, healthy food, good sleep, a relaxing massage – anything that takes care of your body.
  • Emotional Boost: This is all about nurturing your feelings. Include things like journaling, spending time with people who make you happy, talking to a therapist, or practicing a little self-compassion.
  • Mind Power: Stuff that gives your brain a boost (or a break!). Include meditation, reading, learning something new, or anything that helps you focus.
  • Spirit Fuel: These activities make you feel connected to something bigger. This could mean time in nature, practicing gratitude, spiritual stuff, or simply being kind to others.
  • Just for Fun: Because life needs some pure joy! Include your hobbies, listening to awesome music, watching your favorite show, or anything that makes you smile.

Step 5 – Start Small

Okay, you’ve built this awesome self-care menu, but now’s the time to be realistic. 

Let’s talk about starting small! 

Think of this like trying a new recipe – you don’t want to make a giant feast on your first go, right? 

Instead, pick 2-3 activities that you can actually fit into your life. 

The key here is consistency. 

It’s better to do a quick 10-minute meditation most days than try to squeeze in an hour once a week and then feel bad when life gets in the way. 

Remember, even tiny moments of self-care count! 

Don’t be afraid to start small and gradually add more as you find your groove.

blonde woman applying serum on her face

Step 6 – Find the Right Time

Alright, now it’s time to figure out when to squeeze in your self-care goodness. 

Are you a morning person? 

Maybe a quick yoga session or a few minutes of journaling with your coffee is the perfect way to start your day. 

Or maybe you hit a slump in the afternoon and need a little pick-me-up – a brisk walk or a few minutes to listen to your favorite song might be just the ticket. 

Perhaps evenings are when you finally have a chance to breathe, so a relaxing bath or reading a chapter of a good book helps you unwind before bed. 

The perfect time is different for everyone, so experiment a little until you find what works best for you!

Step 7 – Set Realistic Durations

Okay, we talked about starting small with your activities, now let’s talk about keeping those time blocks realistic too! Especially in the beginning, aim for short bursts of self-care – think 5 to 15 minutes. 

This makes it way easier to fit into your day and you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed or skip it altogether. 

It’s kind of like starting a new exercise routine – you don’t jump straight into a marathon, right? 

As you get into the self-care groove, feel free to gradually increase those time blocks. But remember, even those quick 5-minute sessions add up and make a difference!

Step 8 – Create a Designated Space

Now, it’s time to find your self-care sanctuary! 

Think about where in your home makes you feel the most relaxed and comfortable. 

Maybe it’s a cozy corner of your bedroom with a comfy chair and soft blanket. Or perhaps a sunny spot on your balcony or porch. If you crave quiet, maybe your bathroom can transform into a mini-spa during bath time. 

The key is to choose a spot that feels good to you and where you’re least likely to be disturbed. 

Don’t worry if it’s small – even a tiny corner can become your little oasis of calm!

Step 9 – Gather Your Supplies

Think of this as creating your own little self-care toolkit. 

Do you need some aromatherapy candles to set a relaxing mood? 

That journal you’ve been meaning to start, with some colorful pens to make it fun? 

Maybe some luxurious bath products for a soothing soak, or your favorite workout gear to get you pumped for a walk or quick exercise session. 

Having these things on hand makes taking care of yourself easy and inviting, and turns it into a little ritual you’ll look forward to.

a woman practicing yoga in the midst of nature

Step 10 – Experiment and Have Fun

Your self-care menu is your playground! 

Now’s the time to try different activities and see what sparks joy. 

Did you think meditation would be boring, but find you love focusing on your breath? 

Or that a nature walk would feel like a chore, but it actually clears your head and makes you feel great? 

Be open to surprises, ditch anything that feels blah, and embrace those moments that make you feel truly nourished.

Step 11 – Schedule It In

We all make time for important things – meetings, appointments, even catching up with friends. Now it’s time to make your well-being an equally important priority! 

Block off those self-care sessions in your calendar, just like you would anything else. 

Whether it’s a 15-minute morning meditation or a longer evening wind-down routine, this shows yourself you’re committed. Protecting this time makes it more likely to actually happen!

Step 12 – Be Consistent (We are coming to it later)

The magic of self-care really starts to happen when you make it a regular part of your life. 

Aim to practice most days of the week, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Think of it like brushing your teeth – a little bit every day is way more effective than the occasional deep clean. 

Consistency helps build those feel-good habits that make a real difference over time.

Step 13 – Eliminate Distractions

Time for some serious focus! 

When it’s your self-care time, do your best to shut out the rest of the world. 

Turn off your phone (or at least put it on silent), close those email tabs, and let the people around you know this is your special “do not disturb” moment. 

Eliminating distractions lets you truly sink into relaxation and get the most out of your self-care time.

bunch of bath and self-care essentials lying on the bathroom table, mirror above it

Step 14 – Be Kind to Yourself

Sometimes, a little voice might try to convince you that taking time for yourself is selfish or that you should be doing something else. Don’t listen! 

Self-care isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. 

Remind yourself that by taking care of your own needs, you’ll have more energy, patience, and joy to give to everything else in your life. 

Treat yourself with the same kindness you’d show a best friend – you are so worth it!

Step 15 – Don’t Give Up

Let’s be real, some days you’ll be super excited about your self-care routine, and other days…not so much. 

That’s totally normal! 

On those less motivated days, don’t throw in the towel. 

Remember, even the smallest act of self-care is a win. Maybe instead of a full workout, it’s a 10-minute walk. 

Or if journaling feels like a chore, just jot down three things you’re grateful for. 

Celebrate those small victories, and be kind to yourself.

Step 16 – Reflect and Adjust

Your self-care routine isn’t set in stone! 

Regularly check in with yourself– are you enjoying the activities you chose? 

Are they helping you reach your goals? 

Maybe that bath that felt amazing at first now feels boring, and it’s time to try some energizing dance breaks instead! 

Be honest with yourself, and don’t be afraid to switch things up to keep your routine feeling fresh and effective.

Aged female in gray bathrobe and with towel on head standing on gray background and looking away in sunglasses with sheet mask on face

Step 17 – Be Flexible

Life happens, and your needs will change along with it! 

Maybe you have a super busy week and need short bursts of self-care to squeeze in. 

Or a stressful period might mean you crave more calming activities. 

Your self-care routine should flow with you, not be another rigid thing on your to-do list. 

Listen to what your body and mind are telling you, and adjust accordingly!

Step 18 – Seek Support

Sometimes, taking care of yourself can feel overwhelming. 

If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out! 

Talking to a trusted friend or family member can be incredibly helpful – just venting and feeling heard can make a big difference. If you need more guidance, a therapist can provide tools and strategies tailored to your specific needs. 

Remember, support comes in many forms, and seeking it is a sign of strength!

Step 19 – Celebrate Your Progress

Taking care of yourself is a journey, and every step forward deserves to be celebrated! 

Did you stick with your meditation practice for a week? 

Nailed that self-compassion exercise? 

Even just remembering to put your phone away during self-care time is a win! 

Acknowledge your effort and take a moment to feel proud of yourself. 

These little moments of recognition will keep you motivated and excited about your self-care routine.

Young African American female with perfect skin and towel on head touching face and looking at camera after shower

Step 20 – Enjoy the Process!

Your self-care routine isn’t supposed to feel like a chore! 

The whole point is to find activities that nourish you, make you smile, and bring you a sense of peace. 

If something feels draining or blah, ditch it! 

Keep exploring until you find that mix of activities that lights you up. 

When self-care feels joyful and fulfilling, it becomes something you naturally crave, not something you have to force yourself to do.

How I Stuck To My Self-Care Routine?

Now that you know how to create a self-care routine, it’s time to stick to it. 

But with my ever growing symptoms of being extremely fickle-minded, I often found myself difficult to concentrate. 

In spite of that, I did not give up and stuck to my plan. 

And how did I do that. 

Here’s a summary of it. 

I Made it Realistic

Let’s face it, I’m not going to magically become a yoga guru who meditates for an hour every morning. 

I’d seen those Instagram posts with people in perfect yoga poses at sunrise, looking all blissed out. Honestly, it just made me feel like a failure before I even tried. 

So, I threw those unrealistic expectations out the window. Instead, I started small. 

Ten minutes of stretching while my coffee brewed felt doable. 

Or scribbling a few thoughts in my journal while still in my pajamas. Some days, success meant just putting down my phone and truly tasting my coffee instead of mindlessly scrolling. 

It wasn’t glamorous, but it was real, and it was a start I could actually stick to!

My Toolkit Was Key

I started thinking of it like my self-care toolkit. 

It wasn’t just about the activities themselves, but the whole experience. 

Those ridiculously fuzzy socks made my cozy reading time feel extra indulgent. I created a playlist with songs that always made me want to dance – it was my instant mood-lifter. 

Person Holding A Hand Cream

And finding bath salts that smelled like a tropical vacation turned a regular soak into an escape. 

These little things weren’t essential, but they made those self-care moments way more enjoyable. 

It became less of a chore and more like a treat I was excited for!

Time Was My Friend

At first, trying to find time for self-care felt impossible. 

But then I started looking at my day differently. My commute used to be mindless – either stewing in traffic or scrolling through depressing news. 

Instead, I downloaded some interesting podcasts and started practicing breathing exercises – a mini mental reset before and after work

Those 15 minutes felt surprisingly powerful. 

My lunch breaks? 

Instead of eating at my desk, I’d walk around the block. 

Even if it was just a quick loop, getting fresh air and moving my body made a huge difference in my afternoon energy levels. 

The lesson learned? 

Even five minutes can make a difference if you use them wisely!

“Good Enough” Was Awesome

I used to have this all-or-nothing mentality. 

Either I crushed my workout, cooked a super healthy meal, AND meditated, or it was a total self-care fail. 

Sound familiar? 

This just led to me feeling discouraged and giving up more often than not. 

Then I had a revelation: some days, self-care looked like nailing my routine. 

Other days? 

Ordering takeout and zoning out to a mindless reality show was exactly what my brain needed. 

At first, this felt like cheating. 

But then I realized, those “lazy” nights helped me recharge, so I could come back to my healthier habits feeling refreshed instead of burnt out. 

Letting go of perfection made self-care more sustainable and way more enjoyable!

Photo Of Woman Touching Her Face

I Listened to My Body

I used to force myself through workouts even when I was exhausted, thinking I was being tough. 

Turns out, that was just setting myself up for injury and hating every minute. Then I started paying attention to how my body actually felt. 

Some days, I woke up with tons of energy, ready to tackle a challenging run or workout class. 

Others, my muscles were sore, my brain foggy. Instead of fighting it, I adapted. 

Gentle stretching and walks replaced intense exercise when I needed recovery. Amazingly, this made me way more consistent. 

Some days I crushed it, others I simply moved. It all counted, and it made my routine work with me, not against me.

Accountability Buddies Helped

Honestly, some days the motivation just wasn’t there. 

I’d have all the excuses ready – too tired, too busy, whatever. That’s where my friend Sarah became a lifesaver. 

Now I wish I could add a picture of Sarah, but she is like that super-introverted girl and hence, no chance of bringing her up in this blog. 

I’d text her when those lazy urges hit, and she’d either give me a pep talk or better yet, suggest we walk together. Having someone to walk and chat with made it a social thing, not another obligation. 

Even just knowing Sarah might ask if I’d gotten my movement in for the day nudged me in the right direction. 

Finding an accountability buddy, whether it’s a friend, family member, or even an online group, made it way harder to bail on myself!

Woman Doing Yoga Inside A Room

Progress, Not Perfection

There were amazing weeks when I stuck to my routine perfectly, and then weeks when I’d barely manage a 10-minute meditation. 

In the past, those off-weeks would have made me want to give up entirely. But this time, I tried something different. Instead of obsessing over every missed workout or healthy meal, I zoomed out. 

Had my overall stress levels decreased since starting my self-care routine? 


Was I coping better with those days when everything felt overwhelming? 


Sure, it wasn’t a straight line, but the overall trend was positive

That long-term view was incredibly motivating – it showed me, even those imperfect bits were adding up to real change.

Celebrating the Wins

Before, self-care felt kind of like homework – something I should do, but didn’t really enjoy. Then I started making a point to celebrate even the smallest wins. Nailing a full week of my morning routine? 

Time for a little happy dance! 

Finally remembering to savor my tea instead of gulping it down distractedly? 

Heck yes, that deserved a mental high-five! 

It sounds silly, but taking a moment to acknowledge my efforts made a huge difference. 

Suddenly it felt like a journey I was excited about, not a chore I was forcing myself through. Each little celebration fueled my motivation to keep going, even when things weren’t perfect.

And that’s how I am still managing my self-care cores. 

Not planning to stop anytime soon. 

an empty small glass container lying on the ground

Before You Leave

Remember: Self-care is personal and dynamic. What works for you might change over time, and that’s okay. The key is listening to yourself, discovering what truly replenishes you, and prioritizing it as a non-negotiable.

Let me know if you liked this blog post on creating this perfect self-care routine.

The comment section is open for you all. 

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