5 steps to creating your daily self-care routine

Through many years of experience working with adults in mental health, I have come to understand the importance structure and routine plays in helping to stabilise clients when struggling with poor mental health.


Although a proper therapeutic relationship is generally needed to reach the root cause of mental ill health such as anxiety, small steps can be taken to help improve our move slightly from day to day.

I observed the success of my clients improving on a day-to-day basis often comes down to an ability to implement small steps that are workable and personal to their own lives. Below, I give some key components that can be incorporated into a daily or weekly routine. You can use the suggestions below or take the principles and implement your own ideas. 

Why is routine important?

Having a solid routine allows us to begin to take some control of our mental health and well-being. At our darkest moments, we can feel overwhelmed, out of control and unsure of where to begin. The below will allow you to focus on what we can influence and target specific areas to influence our well-being.

When we are able to complete one or two actions steps a day, we begin to gain a bit of self-esteem and confidence in ourselves again. Creating a self-care routine allows us to stop and think about what we need on a day-to-day basis.

Learn a new skill

You may not feel ready to reach out to others yet and are unable to leave the house. Alternatively, you could be in a place where socialising is something you are confident in. Either way, learning a new skill can be a great first action step to keeping your mind focused and engaged.

Skills that can be learned in isolation include video editing, origami, creative writing or poetry. A quick search on any video search engine in an area of interest can throw up many more suggestions than I could cover here.

Physical activity

People immediately think of the gym, exercise classes and 5am boot camps. Any kind of physical activity is a step towards improving physical health and increasing self-esteem. If the gym or going for a run is what you enjoy, that is a great way to release those feel-good endorphins. However, if you're not ready to leave the house, you can find beginner's exercise routines on YouTube with no equipment required.

Other options include playing at the park with your grandchildren, taking the dog for a walk or any other form of movement that fits your lifestyle. 


Mindfulness is the practice of bringing one's attention to the present moment and experiencing it without judgement. If you are an overthinker, anxious and consistently focusing on the past or future, this is a great way to ground yourself.

You don't need to be a yogi on top of a mountain to achieve this. Five-minute guided meditations can be found online, on Headspace and other great apps or mindfulness through art. Start small and gradually increase over time. Incorporating this before bed can help relax the mind and body before sleep.

Social interaction

A positive peer group is a basic foundation of any mental health routine. However, in my experience, this can be one of the hardest areas to attain. Experimentation is key here and should be unique to the individuals and may take some courage.

If you are not ready for this step with strangers, then reaching out to people you already engage with may be a better routine. This includes people you already have a level of trust with such as family members, old friends and work colleagues. If you do not have this option and want to reach out, the following may suit your lifestyle and beliefs: a local church, book club, walking groups, five-aside football or a quick Google search can give you access to meet-up sites. 

Sleep routine

The final pillar of our self-care routine we want to work on is good quality sleep. Let's focus on the basics. You want to wake up at the same time every day and go to sleep roughly at the same time each night when you begin to feel sleepy. Try to get natural sunlight within one hour of waking up as this helps set your body's internal clock for wakefulness and sleep. Avoid caffeine eight to 10 hours before bedtime. Turn off bright lights overhead after 10pm and until 4am. Try a blue light blocker on your phone and set this for 10pm - 6am. These are easily found with a search in any app store. Finally, naps are OK as long as they are no longer than 90 minutes.

Experiment with the above and find what works for you.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Basingstoke RG24 & RG21
Written by Nathan Hipple, (MBACP) Dip. Couns
Basingstoke RG24 & RG21

I am an integrative therapist after working 8 years across various mental health positions within the homeless sector and NHS.

During those years I gained extensive experience of working with anxiety, depression addiction and stress. I believe through a trusting relationship healing can begin.

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