Fall Into Self-Care with 5 Simple Steps

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As the busy summer season winds down, you may be itching to get back into a normal routine. After several months of vacation, long nights, and cramming as much activity into the summer weather as possible, it's no surprise many people feel worn out and unsettled when summer ends. However, the fall season offers the perfect opportunity to reset and reorganize your busy schedule to make more time for you to do the things that bring you happiness and fulfillment. 

1. Determine your happy activities

What activities make you feel the best about yourself and bring you the most joy? Is it exercise, reading, taking a walk, or meditating? It might be none of the above. However, the first step in setting up a good self-care routine is choosing to incorporate activities that make you feel like the best possible version of yourself. Don't settle for something you're not interested in just because it sounds healthy. Choose a couple of activities that you genuinely love and that you'll enjoy doing every day for a better you. 

2. Rest

If you're feeling worn out after summer, there's a good chance that a lack of sleep is involved. However, as the days get increasingly shorter in the fall, you'll find it easier to start winding down at a decent hour and stop cramming your schedule full of activities. Determine a reasonable bedtime that allows you a minimum of 6 to 7 hours of rest, and stick to it. Turn off your phone 30 minutes before bed and use that time to relax and reflect on your day's successes as you prepare to sleep. You'll quickly find that your energy is rejuvenated in the morning, and you may even see your diet even out in response. 

3. Reward yourself weekly

Rewarding yourself doesn't mean purchasing an expensive new outfit or binging on pizza every week. Under the right circumstances, this may be an acceptable occasional reward. However, your weekly reward should be something that promotes your journey of self-care and brings you to a happy and stress-free state. Take a bubble bath, have a spa night, make yourself a nice dinner, or sleep in on Saturday. The choice is yours, but make sure it's something that makes you happy, and that gives you something to look forward to every week. 

4. Don't cram your weekends

You may find it tempting to accept every party invitation you receive or have an adventure every weekend. But this will only bring back some of the stress you're trying to recover from. Feel free to say "no" to events that will make you too busy or stressed. Use your weekends to recenter yourself for the next week and enjoy your favorite things in life. If this includes a fall party, then do it. But be sure that your weekend plans include you-time. 

5. Stick to a schedule

The best way to implement a new self-care routine is with a schedule. This doesn't have to be a militant routine, but be sure that you're allowing enough time for your new activities, sleep, a weekly reward, and your other daily responsibilities. Set reminders for yourself when it's time to go to the gym, meditate, read, or do whatever your happy activity is, so you don't forget or push it back. Keep these activities just as you would with a work responsibility or a social event, so you don't cheat yourself out of the vital self-care you need. 

The best way to start a self-care routine is to start small. Incorporate one or two manageable activities into your schedule at a time and increase that number as you can handle more with your routine. Don't be discouraged if you fail once or twice, but never give up on providing yourself with the physical and mental self-care that you need. 



Michele Burstein, LMSW