In 2016, I challenged myself to practice a new form of self-care every day for an entire year. So, for 366 days straight (thanks to a leap year), I experimented with everything from using a foam roller, to using a pressure cooker, to publishing a book*. Over the course of that year, I learned which self-care strategies made my life easier–and which ones fell flat.
Why a Yearlong Challenge?
What led me to undertake this challenge in the first place requires a short backstory. I first discovered the power of self-care back in 2014, at a time in my life when I was emotionally shattered. My marriage was failing right in front of me (and later unraveled completely), and I felt helpless. I didn’t know it then, but that intensely emotional time in my life would later prove to be one of my most profound personal growth experiences. It was during that time that I developed the earliest version of Living Upp’s 8-dimensional self-care framework, and also when I fully understood that taking good care of myself was my only hope of finding joy again.
But that wasn’t the only reason.
As my interest in self-care grew, I noticed that some activities felt nurturing while others left me feeling depleted. And what gave some people a boost of energy left me feeling exhausted. For example, as much as I understand the value of connecting with others, I’m an introvert who feels drained when I spend too much time with large groups of people.
And that’s when I began to realize just how personal self-care is.
Preparing for the Self-Care Challenge
To prepare for the 52-week project, I created a spreadsheet to serve as a road map throughout the year. I peppered the spaces with as many self-care activity ideas as I could think of, and then left the rest open to spontaneity.
Grab a blank spreadsheet here.
Or take the FREE 8-Day Self-Care Challenge here.
The Reality of Practicing Self-Care Every Day for a Year
To be completely honest, there were days when I wanted to quit. Coming up with new ideas really did feel like work at times. But I now understand that I had to go through the process of experimenting with different activities to find out which ones matched my needs.
Some activities felt extremely nurturing and restorative, while others felt like work.
For example, starting a book club was lovely at first, but it later it added unnecessary stress due to the time it required to manage. Eventually I dissolved the group, which turned out to be yet another act of self-care. Being able to recognize what doesn’t serve us is part of the lifestyle design process.
View all 366 self-care activities here.
I learned quite a bit about myself that year, and the investment I made into developing a multi-dimensional self-care practice has not only made my life easier, but it’s also made me healthier. Here are three main takeaways from that experience:
1. Exploration is Essential
My biggest takeaway is that developing a multi-dimensional self-care practice requires experimentation. There are no shortcuts. By testing variations of similar activities, you can zero in on the strategies that best serve you. Experimenting with self-care every day for a full year was one of the most meaningful gifts I’ve ever given myself. By investing in my well-being, I learned where to direct my energy for the greatest results. Now, I’m able to use my resources more efficiently because I know supports me and what doesn’t.
2. Self-Care is Easy
Practicing self-care every day was easier than I imagined. Truly. Because when you finally crack the code on which activities energize and empower you, taking care of yourself gets pretty darn easy. You find a rhythm. You find a flow. And it becomes part of who you are, rather than something you do.
3. Change is Inevitable
No matter how much we like to think we can control every detail of our lives, change is inevitable. And that’s what makes self-care so essential—it’s what makes us more resilient when life throws us those unexpected curve balls. It keeps us grounded so we can make good decisions and find creative solutions to our problems.
But the good news is, you don’t have to take on a yearlong challenge to learn which self-care activities best support you. Are you up for a mini-challenge?
Grab the FREE 8-Day Self-Care Challenge here.
Living Upp is a participant in affiliate programs, which means we earn a commission from qualifying purchases. Pages on this website may include affiliate links to Amazon and other affiliate sites.