This article appears in Fall Healthy Living 2019.

From getting enough sleep to sober living, wellness is trending, and people seek to take their health to the next level through self-care.

For some that might mean strapping on a fitness band, eating superpowders such as matcha or spirulina, or simply taking the time for a well-deserved bubble bath.

To really make a positive difference in your personal health, self-care should become a staple in your life and part of a wellness routine rather than just a fleeting trend, said Yvette Ankrah, a UK-based transformational coach, speaker and educator.

“Self-care is how you look after yourself on a day-to-day basis to maintain your health and well-being. It’s not about the occasional weekend break or spa day, it’s about creating a set of rituals and practices to look after you,” Ankrah said.

What it is

As men and women push for success in their lives, families and work they often forget about investing in themselves, which can pack on the stress, Ankrah said.

“Right now, one of the top issues for employees and business owners is stress, and stress affects women 50% more than it affects men. Self-care helps you manage stress and stop it becoming chronic or leading to burnout,” Ankrah said.

Self-care comes in many forms, from getting out and enjoying the fresh air, to going to the doctor when needed, to setting boundaries on social media and asking for help when needed.

“By practicing self-care people can build resilience so they are better able to cope with whatever life throws at them,” she said. “If you are already experiencing stress it helps you manage it and stop it getting worse. If you are already burned out, it is a way to ease you out of that place and develop healthy habits and behaviors.”

Clinical studies into the effectiveness of self-care plans have shown that they help people become more resilient and healthier, Ankrah said.

“I used self-care plans to improve my own health and well-being as stress and burnout led me to developing fibromyalgia, a condition experienced by Lady Gaga and Morgan Freeman which causes muscle pain and fatigue, among other things,” Ankrah said.

Make a plan

Developing a self-care plan helps establish it as part of your routine, said Ankrah, who likes to break down the plan into six areas:

1. Professional or business life

2. Physical body

3. Psychological

4. Emotional

5. Spiritual

6. Relationships

Consider what things in these areas need to be improved so they are more positive.

“The goal is not to change everything at once but to become aware of what is and is not working well and start to do something about it,” Ankrah said.

Start by picking three things that you could change that would have the biggest impact, such as regular exercise, going to bed earlier and having a regular date night.

Put your goals down in writing using action words: “I will exercise three times a week.”

Commit to doing one of the actions as soon as possible: “I will get up 30 minutes earlier to hit the gym.”

Make it easy to succeed. For example, get your gym clothes ready the night before.

Commit to doing the action for 21 days.

“This helps the habit to start to form and shifts your behaviour. After 90 days it will become a new healthier habit,” Ankrah said.