Self-Care Recommendations for Insomniacs

As someone who has struggled with symptoms of insomnia since childhood, I’ve thought a lot about what self-care means and how to practice it in ways that support my body and my mind.

What is self-care?

Simply put, self-care is the act of caring for oneself. Today, society often illustrates self-care as more elaborate, luxurious, or “instagrammable” things – like over-the-top bubble baths, spa services, retail therapy, ordering takeout, and taking time for yourself.

But, self-care can manifest in many different ways.

Taking care of your body and mind

Self-care can mean taking extra gentle care of your body – from mindful showers to bedtime routines, remembering to put on lotion and chapstick, and schedule your dental checkups. It can mean taking good care of your mind – from practicing meditations to coloring, to listening to good music, to going for walks.

Self-care really expands to intentionally taking actions to protect your well-being and happiness, especially during times of higher than usual stress.

How is self-care helpful for people living with insomnia?

Insomnia causes challenges with your ability to rest. Sleep is always a stressful and questionable part of the day, and the ramifications of being exhausted permeate all parts of our lives. So, anxiety can be prevalent. Frustration can be frequent. And when we are tired, or overtired, or barely functioning, it’s really hard (and extra critical) to remember to take care of ourselves.

Because of this, self-care is more important than ever. We don’t have any extra energy, and we definitely don’t have much extra time that we’re not trying to sleep or trying to recover from not sleeping. But I’ve found that small actions and decisions on a daily basis can dramatically improve my mood and my outlook.

My current favorite self-care practices

I've noticed that as I've grown and as the seasons change, some of my self-care routines and choices stay the same, and others change and evolve. Right now, here are some of my staples:

  1. Shower every morning, even when I'm tired or running late. It helps me wake up and start the day on a better foot.
  2. Put on face moisturizer and lip balm. This takes approximately 3 minutes and makes me feel really good about myself. (Remember I said it's the little things?)
  3. Drink 1 cup of coffee with breakfast. I try hard not to drink too much caffeine or drink it too late in the day, but I really enjoy it. So, I have {at least} one intentional cup in the morning.
  4. Keep a running list of to-do items and to-go places. Attack the list at lunchtime 2 or 3 times a week, batching calls and errands rather than constantly trying to multitask.
  5. Do something more joyful with my hands than scroll. I had been finding that at night, I'd scroll through social media just as something to keep my hands busy. It was not restorative or restful or enjoyable for my mind, so I stopped that. Instead, I find myself doing things like coloring, or cross-stitching, or organizing – things that fulfill something within me.
  6. List something I'm grateful for each night before bed. No matter how many ups and downs the day has had, it's important for me to end my day thinking about something that I am proud of or thankful for. I've seen that going to bed in a better headspace can actually improve my quality of sleep, so I try to be intentional about it.

If you practice self-care, I'd love to hear what your routine involves below!

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