It’s safe to say we all know that we need to incorporate self-care into our daily routine. But I think it’s also safe to say that many of us aren’t able to make time for this activity each day.
But it’s not our fault!
We’ve got a busy work life, family commitments, household chores and all the other responsibilities to juggle. It’s no wonder we don’t always make time for self-care!
That’s why I’ve created this 21 day self care challenge – so you can see how you can put away a small amount of time every day to spend on yourself.
We’re going to take baby steps and focus on different areas, such as physical care, emotional care and spiritual care.
This challenge is designed to take little effort on your part, but just enough that you can start to feel the benefits in just three weeks and start to see your best life shine through.
You might also like:
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- 21 Ways to Incorporate Mindful Living Into Your Life
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What is self care?
Self-care is any activity that we consciously do for ourselves in order to take care of our physical, emotional and mental health. It can include activities such as creating time for relaxation, getting enough sleep, eating healthily, exercising regularly, doing the things we love and avoiding unhealthy habits.
The benefits of self-care include improved physical health, better emotional wellbeing, increased motivation and productivity, enhanced creativity and problem solving abilities, improved relationships and stronger resilience.
Why do a 21 day self care challenge?
It’s all well and good for me to say you need to practice self care every day. But it’s not something you can just jump right into, having never done it before, right?
That’s where the 21-day self-care challenge comes in.
Instead of me saying ‘go ahead and practice self care every day forever’, we’re going to take small steps. And because it’s a challenge, you have the added motivation to stick with it and make a change (especially if you’re any way near as competitive as me!).
By taking on the commitment of doing a 21 day challenge, you’ll have the chance to establish habits that will hopefully carry on long after the challenge.
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Getting ready for the challenge
Before you start the challenge, it’s important to make sure your body is ready for it. Make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before (as this will help you stay alert throughout the challenge) and drink plenty of water.
When we’re not feeling the best physically, it’s hard to focus on self care. So, try to make sure your body is in tip-top condition before you start the challenge.
The challenge is about more than just physical self-care; it’s also about taking care of your mind. Mental preparation for the challenge involves assessing the state of your mental health and setting personal goals for yourself.
Write down what you hope to achieve at the end of this self-care challenge.
This could be anything from feeling less stressed, getting more sleep each night or feeling in a better position to tackle work issues.
Setting up your space
It’s important when taking time for self-care that you’re not going to be interrupted by a family member running into the room or your other half calling out ‘what’s for dinner tonight’.
Try to set up a spare room, where nobody’s allowed in when you’re doing your challenge. Or, if you don’t have a spare room, set up a corner of your bedroom, or a small area out in the garden.
21 Day Self Care Challenge
And we’re ready to begin the challenge! I’ve split out the three weeks to focus on different areas where we might need a little better care.
Week 1 will focus on physical self care, week 2 will be all about emotional self care and the final week 3 will look at spiritual care.
Week 1 – Physical Self Care
Day 1: Establish a morning routine
Mornings are difficult for some people. The thoughts of going to work, or not having had enough sleep can ruin your entire day.
That’s why for today I’d like you to create a morning routine that will help to set you up for a better day ahead.
My morning self-care routine includes the following:
- Waking up early
- Drinking a glass of water
- Deep breathing exercises – this is especially great if you tend to wake up with what I call ‘the fear’, as it calms the mind.
- Eating a healthy breakfast
The best thing is that these activities only take a few minutes each (I like to prep my breakfast the night before so it’s ready to go in the morning).
Day 2: Exercise for at least 30 minutes
With everything we have to do each day, it can be hard to find two minutes, let alone 30 minutes every day to exercise. Today is the day you consciously decide to make time in your day for exercise.
Whether it’s going for a brisk walk during your lunch hour (this is what I do in the mall next door to my office), or booking an exercise class after work before you head home for the evening.
Incorporating exercise into your daily self care routine could be as simple as making substitutions. What do I mean by that? Well if you don’t live too far from work, you could ditch the keys and walk or cycle there instead of taking the car. This has the added benefit of being the more eco-friendly option too.
If you work in an office where you’re sat on a chair for most of the day, make the effort to get up at lunch time and walk around instead of having your lunch at your desk.
Day 3: Sit up straight
Day 3 is all about reminding yourself to take note of your posture.
In a world where we’re glued to our devices and sitting at a computer all day long for work, our posture is taking a back seat.
Do you notice you’re getting shoulder or back pain more and more these days?
If you find your posture is especially bad, I suggest setting an alarm for every hour so you can check in and adjust your posture as necessary.
Sit up straight, take a deep breath and relax those shoulder blades down the back. While it may feel awkward or even sore at first, making this conscious movement will help reduce tension in the back and neck area as time goes on.
Day 4: Make a doctor’s appointment
When was the last time you had a proper checkup with your doctor? If you’re not regularly sick, it’s probably been a good few years, I imagine. Because most of us only make this time in our day when we’re actually ill.
Having regular check ups isn’t a waste of time. In fact, by checking in with your doctor you’ll get to stay ahead of any potential issues before they actually turn into any serious health problems. So really, this will save you time and hassle in the long run.
Taking charge of your own health is almost the definition of self care, so make that appointment today.
While you’re at it, call your dentist to book in for a check-up and cleaning session.
Day 5: Learn to hydrate
If you don’t already own a reusable water bottle, today’s the day you go out and buy one. I know I’m not usually saying you should buy something, but this is important!
Today, we want to start getting used to drinking the recommended daily water intake.
My water bottle sits on my desk and I fill it twice a day during the work day. That way, I’m having the 2 litres I need every day.
If you’re the type of person who just doesn’t like drinking plain water, (this used to be me!) you could add some slices of lemon or mint to give it some flavour. You could also add cordial if you really don’t like drinking water.
Day 6: Get to bed early
Today, I challenge you to get to bed early and have a good night’s sleep!
Sleep is incredibly underrated. And without getting enough, it can affect your energy, concentration, mood and even appetite.
Set your bedroom up as a sanctuary – It should be tidy, dark and screens should be put away at least one hour before bedtime.
The recommend amount of sleep for an adult is 8 hours. However, you know your body, and if it means that you need 9 hours of sleep to function (like me), then try to get the full 9 hours you need.
Day 7: Stress Management
Last up for the first week of the 21 day self care challenge is to really take charge of your stress levels. We all have stressors in our life, and today it’s time to recognise them and learn how to manage them.
One technique I use is deep breathing; take a few minutes during the day to sit upright with your eyes closed. Focus on taking deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Do this for 5 minutes and notice how you’re feeling afterwards.
If your stress is related to work, try writing down the things that are causing it and see if there are any simple solutions, like delegating tasks or making a plan to tackle them one by one.
It can also help to identify what’s in your control and what’s not. Not everything is in our control so we need to understand what we can and can’t influence.
Week 2 – Emotional Self Care
Day 8: Write your thoughts in a journal
Writing in a journal is a great way to process your thoughts and get out any frustrations you’re feeling. Today, take 15 to 30 minutes to write in a journal (or just a piece of paper if you don’t have a journal).
Write down how you’re feeling, how your day went, what made you happy today and what didn’t.
I’m a big believer in reflecting and writing your thoughts down can really help with this. When you get into the habit of writing in a journal, it’s can also be a great way to look back on previous entries and reflect on how far you’ve come.
Be sure to be honest with yourself and don’t worry if some days are a little more negative than others. This is the point of writing in a journal, to evaluate your feelings so you can move on and be more mindful.
Day 9: Practice meditation
Meditation is one of those things that require getting used to. If you’ve never tried meditation before, this is your starting point. But keep in mind that you might not get into it straight away, so try to be patient.
Today’s task is to find a quiet space and sit in a comfortable position. You don’t have to sit in a cross-legged position, meditation can be done in any position that you find comfortable.
Close your eyes, and pay attention to your breath for 10 minutes or longer if you feel like it. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back to your awareness of the breath.
If you start to feel uncomfortable, take a deep breath and focus on each of your five senses in turn. This can help bring you back to the present moment and also help calm your mind.
Do this for at least 10 minutes today. You’ll find that meditation becomes more enjoyable over time as you get used to the practice.
If you find it difficult and can’t stay focused, try using a meditation app like Headspace or Calm to guide you through the meditation.
Day 10: Book a therapy session
I am a believer that everybody should go to therapy.
It’s not just reserved for people with mental health issues, therapy is a great tool to help you gain insight and talk through and work through difficult life situations, which we all have.
Today’s goal is to book a session with a therapist or counsellor.
If you can’t find one near one, of you don’t feel comfortable going to see a therapist in person, get online with BetterHelp and book a session with one of their many therapists worldwide. And it doesn’t matter where in the world you are, you’ll always have a therapist to hand.
Day 11: Take time away from technology
Technology has fast become a part of our lives that’s pretty impossible to escape.
Sure, it’s great for keeping us connected with people around the world and can be a useful tool in helping us work, but it can also become an unhealthy distraction when we get stuck into it too much.
Scrolling through social media, we tend to start comparing ourselves to others’ lives and achievements, and that leads us to feeling a little inadequate.
Today is all about making a conscious decision to take a break from your devices and the internet for an hour or two, or better still, for the entire day!
Switch off your phone, turn off Wi-Fi, take a few hours away from your laptop or tablet and just be present in the moment. Read a book, go for a walk or talk with friends – something that brings you joy, something that’s far away from technology.
If you find it hard to put your phone down, try Freedom App – it effectively puts a block on your phone or certain apps for a specified time period (which you choose).
Day 12: Connect with loved ones
Today we’re making an effort to connect with the people we love.
Send a text, make a call or video chat – whichever one you feel comfortable with – better still, meet some friends or family in person.
I’m guilty of getting stuck into my work and forgetting to check in with friends or family, but making the effort to reach out can be so beneficial for our emotional health. It helps to feel connected and supported, and also reminds us that we are never alone.
If you’re busy at work or with the kids, a simple text to someone you love telling them you’re thinking of them could also do wonders to their day.
Day 13: Create a positivity jar
This is a new habit that I’m sure you’re going to love.
Grab an empty jar – if you don’t have one, a small box or Tupperware container will do – decorate it to make it pretty and get some slips of paper ready.
Write down something positive that happened today or something that made you proud – anything nice at all, big or small. This is something you can get the whole family involved in too.
At the end of the day, reflect on how much good can come from such little moments and celebrate the small wins.
I recommend continuing this task until the end of the 21 day self-care challenge. At the end of the challenge, take a look inside the jar. You’ll definitely appreciate how far you’ve come and be grateful for all your little victories.
Day 14: Have self-compassion
Today you’re going to allow yourself some self-compassion.
Self-compassion begins with being kind and understanding towards yourself. It’s inevitable that we’ll make mistakes, or have made mistakes in the past. We’re only human after all. But having self-compassions means acknowledging the common humanity that we all share – if something bad happens to us, chances are someone else has experienced it too.
It might be difficult remembering past mistakes or even embarrassing to tell someone else, but self-compassion is a really important thing and we must choose to let go of the guilt and move on.
Week 3 – Spiritual Self Care
Day 15: Go to a yoga class
Day 15 begins week 3 of our 21-day challenge, and with it brings a week of spiritual self-care.
Head to a local yoga class or find a YouTube video like this one to guide you through yoga from your own home.
Yoga has all sorts of benefits – it helps to reduce stress, improve balance and posture, increase flexibility and even strengthen your core.
It also offers an opportunity to slow down, focus on the present moment and take time out from a hectic day – just make sure you come ready for a good stretch!
Don’t worry – you don’t have to be a yogi or have any prior experience to get anything out of a yoga class.
After your class, take a few minutes to sit quietly and reflect on how you feel. You’ll be surprised at how much better you will already feel.
Day 16: Read spiritual texts
Today is all about turning inward and taking the time to listen to your inner self.
Pick out some spiritual texts that you’ve been meaning to read, be that a book from your local library or one of the many free online resources available.
Spend some time reading and really trying to absorb what you’re taking in. When you finish reading, take a few moments to write down some of your thoughts and feelings about the text – this can be incredibly cathartic for the soul.
Day 17: Prayer
Prayer doesn’t have to mean anything religious if you’re not so inclined.
Take some time to sit in silence, and use that time to reflect on your thoughts, feelings and experiences.
You can focus on any particular issues or aspects of your life that need more attention; from work stress to relationships, family worries or anything you may have been struggling with lately.
Allow yourself to be present in the moment and just breathe. This will help to bring clarity and open up your mind to a different perspective.
Day 18: Go on a nature walk
Being outside in nature is when we can really get some time to ourselves and focus on being present.
Grab a friend, family member or your pet, and head out into nature for a nice long walk. Take in the sights and sounds of nature as you go – notice the trees, the birds singing – whatever catches your eyes and ears.
Take in all that beauty of the surrounding natural world and remember to take some deep breaths to really appreciate it all. Not only will it help you connect with your environment, but its also a great form of exercise too!
Day 19: Volunteer
Taking time to volunteer can be incredibly rewarding. Giving back to the community and spending some quality time helping out others is a great way to boost your wellbeing.
There are lots of charities and organisations that need volunteers in different capacities, so take this day to look for something that speaks to you – it could be anything from helping out at a local homeless shelter, running errands for an elderly neighbour, organising a beach cleanup, or even something like dog walking for your local animal rescue centre.
You’ll be able to give back to the community and make a difference in someone else’s life, while at the same time giving yourself that sense of purpose and fulfilment.
Day 20: Practice gratitude
Even when we’re not feeling our best, we can still be grateful for the little things in life.
It’s so important to take some time to appreciate what we have, rather than focusing on what we don’t have. Take a few moments today and think about all of the wonderful people, experiences and any little things that you are thankful for.
Day 21: Repeat positive affirmations
The power of a positive affirmation is greatly underestimated in my opinion.
Today, on our final day of this self-care challenge, repeat positive affirmations about yourself. It could be something as simple as ‘I am worthy’ or ‘I am strong’ or ‘I am becoming more confident each day’, but this practice can really help to boost your self-esteem and give you that extra confidence to tackle the day ahead.
Here are some positive affirmations to get you started:
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Wrapping Up The 21 Day Self Care Challenge
Incorporating self care into your daily routine is an important step in achieving a healthy lifestyle. Even if it pushes you slightly outside your comfort zone, I hope you’ve enjoyed this self-care journey over the past 21 days and are starting to see positive changes in your life.
This 21 day self-care challenge will hopefully have given you the opportunity to practice simple yet powerful techniques that can help to boost your wellbeing and overall health.
Remember to take everything one step at a time. Don’t be too hard on yourself or set unrealistic goals – just focus on doing what feels good for you in that very moment.
You never know – the self-care practices that you have incorporated over the last three weeks might start to become a natural part of your daily life!