Routine as Self Care
April 29, 2019
I have, right now, what I would call a mostly aspirational daily routine. I know that on days when I do these things, preferably before doing any other things, I feel better. But I haven't yet gotten to the point where I prioritize doing those things, and so there are many days where they don't happen. I know that if I:
- Get up early (5am)
- Make a cup of tea
- Stretch (I have a routine here I've been doing for years. It's wonderful)
- And write a page in my journal
I feel better and am set up to have a better day than if I don't. But I find myself doing things that make this routine less likely to happen. For example, I know that if I drink a caffeinated soda in the evening, I will have trouble going to sleep, which means I will have trouble getting up in the morning the next day. And yet many evenings I find myself sitting at dinner with a Coke Zero in front of me.
But what if I prioritized being able to get up on time and complete my routine in the morning? What if I organized my life around making that possible?
I was inspired to think about this when reading about Austin Kleon's "portable routine" in his interview with Madeleine Dore for the blog Extraordinary Routines. His "portable routine" are things he can do every day no matter where he is that keep him grounded and creative.
“I think routine is so important, especially when you're getting started creatively, but for me right now, I almost need checkboxes and rituals more than I need routine.”
Currently, the daily checkboxes include writing in his diary, publishing a blog post, taking a walk, and reading a book.
As I was thinking about this and about my routine and what it means to me, it struck me that what I was thinking about, what I was trying to lay out for myself, is a routine of self-care. Oftentimes when we hear about "self-care", we hear about "treats", things like bubble-baths and rich desserts, things we may not allow ourselves or have time for every day. But what if self-care is really about doing those things that set us up for having a good day every day? What if prioritizing self-care is really about prioritizing doing those things that bring you back to yourself every day, day after day?
One part of the interview made me feel better about my routine being mostly aspirational at this point.
Instead of aspiring to perfection, we can learn to accept and nurture our imperfect tendencies. We don’t need to sand off our edges, as Austin puts it. “We're so obsessed with life hacking and with becoming these productive, shining examples of ourselves, but so much of good creative work comes from being a person that has tensions in their life.”
But I would like to get to a point where my routine is less aspirational and more something that actually happens with regularity. So maybe that's one of my tensions and I need to make some adjustments to balance that tension in a different way.