Hey mamas! Are you feeling run-down, burned out, and like you need to seriously prioritize your self-care routine? I’ve got tons of tips in this article, but if you want to put it into practice, be sure to sign up for my FREE self-care planner pack by clicking below, which includes a self-care checklist and more.
I used to think self-care was for sissies.
When a friend in college told me she got nine hours of sleep every night, I scoffed. Any self-respecting person, especially someone claiming to be a Christian, wouldn’t indulge in such luxuries. We’ve got limited hours in a day, so let’s fill them to the brim right?
Even if you’re not as driven as I am, many of us hit a sort of wall when we hit motherhood. All of a sudden, these merciless little humans who really don’t care about your needs suck up whatever time and energy you may have had.
While it’s tempting to wear burnout and exhaustion like badges of honor, the unfortunate thing is that being burned out and exhausted doesn’t really make us the best moms. Or wives. Or people in general.
Yet you’re a daughter of God, my friend. It might feel selfish to take time to care for yourself, but I don’t think that “exhausted mess” or “doormat” was Jesus had in mind for you when he referred to “life to the full” (John 10:10).
Plus, think about what kind of person you want to be for your own children: well-rested, content and overflowing with joy so that you can give them your best.
I’ve done a lot of research on self-care. A lot of people get mixed up and define it as doing things that they like, like getting their nails done or going out with their friends. While there’s nothing wrong with those things, that understanding is not entirely accurate.
I like to differentiate between self-care and escape. True self-care—or biblical rest, as I like to define it—recharges you physically, mentally and spiritually. It is best when intentionally practiced daily, weekly and seasonally.
Daily Self-Care Routine Ideas
Habits are powerful. Much of what we do every day is on autopilot, meaning we don’t think about it. Once you’ve built a habit, it will be natural to practice it as part of your daily routine.
So if you want a daily self-care routine that works, it only makes sense to develop habits that will follow automatically.
I’m going to list some daily self-care habit ideas that can potentially transform the way you feel. One caveat before I continue, however.
Please don’t look at this list and then proceed to feel all mopey about all the things you’re doing wrong, or overwhelmed at the thought of what you’re missing. Rather, look at this list as target to shoot for, as well as a gauge to measure where you’re at.
You’re not going to hit the target every day (I don’t!). But if your life feels out of balance, here are some adjustments you can start working on. (Be sure to download the checklist if you want to take a full assessment!)
1. Get 8+ Hours of Sleep
To most moms I know, this sounds like a lofty goal. And for some of us, especially those with little babies, it really is impossible.
However, I think the point here is to prioritize this need as much as you can. When you miss sleep, your cognitive ability suffers, which pretty affects every area of your life from emotional control to your ability to focus.
2. Exercise Daily
Again, this might be a lofty goal, and you probably know you need to do it. But I can’t emphasize enough how much it not only helps you maintain a healthy weight but also improves your mood and energy levels substantially.
Remember, doing something is better than doing nothing. The benefits of just a few minutes of walking or stretching are enormous. So if you don’t make it to the gym one day, don’t give it up as a lost cause.
3. Track Your Water Intake
Did you know that being fatigued is a sign that you’re dehydrated? Your body has to work harder to pump blood and perform essential functions, which makes it try to conserve more of its energy. This is an easy one to fix! Get at least ½ an ounce per pound of body weight per day.
4. Eat Sit-Down Meals
I’m bad at this one sometimes. It’s so tempting to eat while standing in the kitchen multitasking or while on the go.
Sitting down and enjoying a meal helps you be more mindful about your eating habits and encourages your body to slow down and digest your food properly. Try to eat at least one meal a day together as a family is also a great time to connect emotionally.
5. Turn off Your Screens
We are constantly being bombarded with information and visual stimulation because of screens, and research indicates that this is detrimental to mental health.
Be disciplined about the time you spend on your phone. Take time throughout the day to “unplug” so your mind can be at rest, think deeply and process the information it’s taking in. You should especially avoid screens before bed.
Related post: Social Media Addiction: 20 Strategies To Break It
6. Journal, Read or Create
Fill the time you have during screens off with something you love! Taking time to learn or create something stimulates your brain in a good way, helps you mature and releases endorphins. While long periods are ideal for deeper concentration, even just a few minutes a day is better than none.
7. Connect with Your Spouse
If you’re married, one of the best things you can do for your family is to prioritize your marriage. Give your husband your full attention and affection at least once a day.
8. Connect with God
Personal connection with God each day is spiritual food (Matthew 4:4). You wouldn’t willfully skip a whole day of food, so why would you skip time with God? Make time for what you need. There are a lot of ways to approach this, so find the one that works for you.
9. Express Gratitude
Keeping a gratitude journal is one of the most effective ways to change your mood as well as your outlook on life. Something about the physical act of writing it down helps your brain process it more effectively—I believe for the benefit of your spirit.
This is something kids do naturally and yet adults can quickly forget. I believe that pure humor (not mean-spirited or mocking), is one of God’s greatest gifts and truly does restore the soul. It reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously.
11. Practice Deep Breathing
I like to practice deep breathing while in prayer, which helps my mind and my spirit focus on God. Being in practice helps me to remain calm when under stress during other parts of my day.
Weekly Self-Care Routine Ideas
My weekly self-care routine is different than my daily one because it digs deeper. If daily practices are like a shoulder rub, weekly practices are more like a deep tissue massage (sounds nice, huh?).
I’ve developed these weekly habits not just because I think they sound nice. Out of all of my self-care practices, they have the most direct correlation with what I find in the Bible.
Since the Creation account in Genesis 1, we see a weekly pattern of work and rest repeated over and over. God initiated it when he rested on the seventh day and enjoyed his work. He commanded his people to do the same in the Ten Commandments and elsewhere. It’s called Sabbath, an intentional rest.
While I don’t think we’ll be punished today if we don’t follow the Sabbath the way the Israelites were commanded to (Romans 6:14), I’m of the personal belief that there is much benefit to this weekly rhythm of rest.
Weekly rituals don’t have to be extravagant, but they aren’t necessarily easy either. What makes them challenging is not the practices themselves, but rather, prioritizing them. They take intention.
I have to guard my routine fiercely. These are ways I not only feel refreshed myself, but also feel more connected with the people I love. (If you need help keeping your priorities straight too, don’t forget to sign up for the self-care toolkit.)
1. 24-Hour Period of Rest
Whatever happened to weekends? I don’t know about you, but a mixture of household chores, kids’ activities, parties and church events compete for a spot on my calendar. Not to mention everything still on my to-do list from the previous week.
A couple of years ago I decided that instead of trying to squeeze my rest in here and there, wherever it would fit, I would personally experiment with the Sabbath model I find in the Bible. I devote a 24-hour period each week to rest.
My rules are specifically for me. I don’t check my email or social media accounts during that period, to give my busy mind a break. I do minimal housework (which requires prep in advance!). I don’t do any business-related writing. While our family will occasionally entertain guests, we try to stay low-key.
I have to admit, it isn’t always easy to protect that time. I’ve slipped and “cheated” on my own rules, and sometimes I’ve given in to some of the demands on my schedule. But overall I have felt like this practice has helped me feel refreshed more than any other.
I share more in this video:
Starting the week with worship, the Lord’s Supper and fellowship is the model we see the early believers following in the Book of Acts. Interestingly, many of them were Jewish Christians, and it is very likely that they did this in addition to their traditional Saturday Sabbath.
Regardless of when exactly you come together for worship, the point is that you do it. When I’m unable to attend church because I’m out of town or sick, I’ll still do some sort of reflective devotional with my family.
3. Family Time
I’ve also found it important to have other rituals for our family throughout our week that are restful anchors in our schedule. One of these is what we call “family night.” It’s a holdover tradition from my husband’s childhood.
Related post: 8 Core Habits to Build a Closer, Stronger Family
Every Monday night, the Poirier family is unavailable to do anything but spend time with one another. Following dinner together we do something relaxing as a family unit. Usually that’s a movie, popcorn and some chocolate chip cookies. If the weather is warm, we might get a little more adventurous. It’s one of the highlights of our week and helps keep us close.
4. One-on-One Time
Every week my husband and I will each try to get alone time with one of the kids, on a rotation. He’ll come home from work and take one of the kids out to lunch. My time often involves getting cupcakes, sometimes a board game, and some good talks.
With three kids in the house, it can be tough to have meaningful conversations with each one. This ritual, which we call “special day,” gives us the opportunity to connect with our kids and help them feel loved as individuals—and help us feel love and connection in return! I find that if I’m really taking the effort to be present with each child one-on-one, I’m a lot less likely to give in to my temper and frustration at other times.
5. Marriage Time/Date
As I mentioned above, my husband and I try to connect every day. But as much as possible we also try to have a weekly date. We have extended family that lives in town, so it does make it easier for us with free babysitting. But you can still connect over something as simple as putting the kids to bed early and having dinner and a movie alone or playing a board game.
Making the marriage a priority when life is exhausting is, I believe, one of the most important things you can do for your family, and yourself. It helps you and your spouse be unified, better parents—and a lot happier.
6. Spend Time in Nature
While it would be ideal if we could all get out and enjoy the sunshine every day, for much of the year that’s not a realistic possibility. So that’s why I make this a weekly goal (much more in nice weather!).
Fresh air and ample sunlight (or stars and moonlight) boost your mood and your health, not to mention naturally draw you closer to your Creator (Psalm 19:1).
It’s tough when the weather is bad or you’re not feeling well. If you can’t get out for a walk, at the very least spend more time simply exposing yourself to daylight (and this is probably more of a daily ritual rather than weekly).
7. Connect with a Friend
I’ve written about my struggles with loneliness, especially when my kids were little and their needs as preschoolers were extremely demanding on my energy and mental health. I’ve worked hard to build deep friendships in my life because I desperately need them.
One of the most effective ways I’ve connected with other women and deepened my relationships is getting together once a week with one or two friends. It’s preferable to do it without kids because we’ll have more time to talk, but it’s possible to do with kids if that’s the only way to make it happen.
This practice has generated laughter, tears and overall soul-healing again and again. If you don’t have friends like these in your life, my advice is to pray, initiate, pray and initiate. It’s worth it!
Those are the seven anchors I have in my weekly self-care routine. There are several blank spaces on my printable self-care checklist, because everyone fills up a little differently. Feel free to customize it with your favorite rituals that refresh your body, mind and soul.
Other Periodic Self-Care Ideas
Being intentional about daily and weekly self-care goes a long way. But occasionally it’s necessary to take even more time.
There are natural periods of rest built into the rhythms of the world around us, like the change of seasons and cultural celebrations. Take advantage of these times to practice rest thoughtfully.
1. Take a Personal Retreat
I’ve started taking time quarterly to have a day to myself (typically on a day of rest I have already set aside). I take as many hours I can alone, so that I can pray, reflect, focus and assess my goals and priorities.
I also like to take a couple of hours at the end of each month to do a mini-reflection. It’s not as long, but it helps me stay focused as I plan my time.
2. Make Your Seasons of Celebrations Restful
Too often when we think of holidays or vacations, they are anything but restful. To prevent the burnout associated with times that should be refreshing, be sure to plan ahead of time what you want those seasons to look like. I offer some ideas in Want a More Restful Christmas Season? Here’s What to Do.
I hope these ideas have inspired you to be more intentional about building rest into your life. Remember, this is not a list of “shoulds” to make you feel guilty, but rather a tool to help you make whatever improvements you will find helpful.
Leave a comment: based on this list, how do you want to revitalize your self-care routine?