At Keener, we focus a lot on the act of building a realistic self-care habit. We understand that finding even a few minutes each day to focus on your own well-being can feel impossible. But we also understand the importance of taking time to reflect and make sense of things can be the key to building resilience during these especially grueling times.
So how do you actually build a habit that you can stick to? Below are three easy tips we’ve compiled to help you make your own self-care habit a success.
1. Start with something small. We aren’t asking you to figure out how to fit a 2-hour meditation practice into your day. Give yourself realistic goals--how about 3 minutes of quiet Self-Reflection? Or 5 minutes for a quick journal entry? A successful habit doesn’t have to be hours long to be meaningful.
B.J. Fogg, a Stanford researcher and author of the book “Tiny Habits” says habits are like plants--you start with something tiny, like a seed, find a good spot to “plant” it in your daily routine and nourish it until it grows and flourishes.
2. Find the right “trigger” for your habit. Aligning your new habit with the best trigger or prompt for yourself can also help establish a successful habit. James Clear, author of “Atomic Habits” lists five key habit triggers: time, location, preceding event, emotional state, and other people.
Time-based triggers are the most common--think of all the habits that are part of your wake-up routine (brushing your teeth, making coffee, etc). So why not try building a habit around your end-of-shift routine? What better time for a quick Shift Reflection than right after your shift when everything is still top of mind?
Or a location-based trigger may be best for you: Try a short mindfulness meditation in your parked car right before heading in to start each shift.
3. Stack your new habit on top of an old habit. Another strategy suggested by Clear is what is called habit “stacking”-- building new habits on the foundation of other well-established habits. By taking advantage of habits your brain is already trained to do, you can connect your new behavior with old behavior.
Some examples Clear gives are: “after I pour my cup of coffee each morning, I will meditate for one minute” and “after I take off my work shoes, I will immediately change into my workout clothes.”
What habits do you already have built into your routine? Do you scroll on your phone right before bed? Maybe replace a few minutes of scrolling with a few minutes of guided meditation or journaling. Or something even simpler: drink a large glass of water after you brush your teeth morning and night.
Building a positive habit into your daily routine may not be easy, but finding ways to take care of yourself--so you can keep caring for others--is worth it. So start small, plant that self-care “seed” and do what you can to nurture it. Of course, we hope that Keener is part of your daily self-care routine. But above all, we want to ensure that you have all the tools you need to maintain your well-being during these extraordinarily challenging times.