4 Sustainable Self-Care Strategies for Your Routine: Advice From a CEO and Father

Sustainable self-care vs. self-care shortcuts

As a busy CEO and father, I’ll be the first to admit that I can fall prey to the allure of a shortcut. For example, there was a period when I was regularly taking my conference calls while in traffic after dropping my son off at school, which felt like a win-win at the time. In theory, shortcuts can be extremely useful, especially for those of us who depend on multitasking. 

However, in building a company in the health and wellness industry over the past two decades, I’ve come to realize that good things take time. But the payoff, especially when it comes to our health, is worth it. It seems that every day, a new self-care trend is taking off, offering somewhat overblown promises to restore our vitality overnight and allow us to live our best lives possible. 

There are certainly wellness movements that resonate with me, such as the Scandinavian concept of “friluftsliv,” which translates to “outdoor life” and emphasizes connecting with nature. But keeping up with trends, from celery juice detoxes to purchasing subscriptions for aesthetically pleasing and ever-increasing supplement requirements, can start to feel more like work than self-care. 

The thing about shortcuts is that they’re often short-lived. When the practice or results are not sustainable, our motivation wanes (particularly in these long winter months), leaving us unsure of how to fit in the endless priorities and to-do lists while somehow also maintaining optimal health and wellness. It’s a grind, and it’s why I’m passionate about the idea of sustained self-care. 

Sustained self-care, or sustainable self-care, requires us to look beyond the trending wellness shortcuts available and instead look to our existing routines. If we can make small changes and automations that layer restorative practices into our usual schedules, without needing to carve out additional time, the result is a sustainable approach to self-care that exists in the background of our days. Sustained self-care works for you rather than requiring more work from you. 

4 Ways to recalibrate your self-care routine

Building more balance in your life will take time and commitment, but it all starts with showing up for yourself, listening to your needs and giving yourself permission to prioritize your well-being. Eventually, those little things will become routine and continue to renew your energy every day. Try some of the following to establish a sustainable self-care routine, especially in the colder times of the year: 

1. GET SOME DAYLIGHT

Your body depends on vitamin D. One of the best ways to get it is through sunlight. Certainly, you can take supplements and eat vitamin D-rich foods as well. Just don’t negate the importance of acquiring vitamin D naturally so you can ward off unwanted bone and muscular outcomes from vitamin D deficiency. 

Often, getting outside to get your daily dose of vitamin D can be combined with other wellness-fostering daily habits. Enjoying a warm beverage on your front porch in the morning or taking a 10-minute walk in between meetings are low-barrier ways to get fresh air. 

Plus, regular activity and movement will help overcome the mental obstacle of getting started. My son, for example, has now completed eight 5Ks, and he loves the routine of prepping for and running the races (and especially the medals at the end). Despite the occasional apprehension he feels the night before, once the nerves wear off and he finishes his race, the challenge is worthwhile. 

2. LIGHT UP YOUR SURROUNDINGS

In addition to sunlight, other types of light therapy can improve your spirits. Your first order of business? Get rid of all fluorescent lighting. If you can, incorporate more natural lighting into your home or office. I finally got some better lights, and I can tell you that checking off that lingering to-do made me feel better instantly—and in the long run. 

Some studies have shown a correlation between exposure to light and cognitive ability. Consequently, you may find that you’re able to be more productive and creative if you add better lighting to your spaces. Don’t forget that light can also be a great way to wake you up in the morning.  

There are clocks that use light instead of sound as a trigger for pulling you gently out of sleep. There are also red- and infrared-light wellness products aimed at improving the condition of your skin and your mood. 

In that same vein, consider adding some plants to your space. They’re fantastic options for individuals who don’t have pets but want to take care of something. Plants were a great addition to my home; they bring me a lot of joy. I probably have about 50 plants in my apartment at this point. They make a space look better, they’re great for air quality and they force me to keep the blinds open and let in the sunshine. 

3. LEAN ON TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS

Lots of technology can help you push against winter’s gloom. Wearable trackers are effective, and you’d be amazed at how much you come to invest in them. They gamify the art of self-care, turning it into a fun activity. As you master your wellness routine with the help of technology, you should begin to feel more empowered despite the changing seasons. 

A meditation app could encourage you to meditate for five minutes every morning. Sleep apps can collect your data and show your sleep score. That way, you can find your sleep baseline and then make tweaks to improve your ability to sleep deeply, like cutting back on caffeine or alcohol. You could also upgrade your bedsheets to ones containing antimicrobial silver components for a cleaner, more comfortable rest.  

In addition, wearing apparel that leverages infrared technology to improve circulation and cellular regeneration is sustainable self-care that requires minimal effort. Drinking more water can also be helpful.  

Try a digital water bottle that tracks your water intake and tells you if you haven’t had enough to drink. It’s something you don’t have to put a lot of energy into, which is precisely the approach we’re aiming for. 

4. RESIST HAVING AN ISOLATION MINDSET

It can be tempting to isolate yourself when it’s cold outside and the days are shorter. As part of your self-care routine, find excuses to be around people. For instance, you may want to find a gym buddy. Having someone else expecting you to show up for workouts holds you accountable. It also gives you a reason to leave the house when you might otherwise stay in. 

In the analogy of the carrot and the stick, the stick never really worked well for me. It’s more about the carrot. You can’t force a self-care routine; it has to be out of interest and motivation. For example, if you know you want to mingle your socializing and career aspirations, get out of your comfort zone and join a networking group. I’m in an entrepreneurs’ group that hosts monthly breakfasts. It’s a way for me to meet like-minded people and stop staring at the four walls of my apartment. You can try ceramics classes, dancing or even music lessons. Anything you like to do that encourages you to be around others can help mitigate some of the feelings you might have in the colder months. 

The importance of self-care during the winter months

The colder seasons might not be your favorite times of year, but they offer wonderful opportunities to implement small changes that ultimately reset your routine. Rather than assuming you’re facing months of gloom, take a proactive stance by finding sustainable ways to reinvigorate your own self-care routine. You’ll find all the comfort and good feelings you need without resorting to hibernating the winter away. 

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Seth Casden is the CEO and co-founder of Hologenix, a company dedicated to developing products that enhance people’s lives by empowering them to take charge of their health. Before founding Hologenix in 2002, Seth earned a degree in business administration and worked in private equity. His mission is to continue exploring how responsive textiles can improve the quality of people’s lives and amplify their potential. This article was originally published on SUCCESS. 

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