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Self-Care: The Power of Routine

Originally published at:

An interview with self-care coach Gracy Obuchowicz.

Hi All,

Thinking about this piece from Max as I go about my day, I started wondering: what are the good routines in my life? The things that always seem to help?

  1. Cup of plain black tea always sets things a bit straighter for me, especially in the late afternoon when things go a bit foggy with information overload.

  2. Hot shower any time of day or night.

  3. Nothing says I Have Got My Shit Together like blow drying my hair. If hair is in shape, the brain follows. Or something. I hate blow drying my hair, actually, but when it’s bouncing and behaving, so am I.

What are the self-care routines that make you feel good, or are helpful to your life (as opposed to things we think we are supposed to do, and are technically self-care, but feel like a chore, one more thing to keep up with)?


One of the many jobs that I have is to walk two little dogs each weekday. So, I leave a little early and on my way to my worky-work job I get to wander through a lovely and well-tended neighborhood at a saunter and bliss out at what’s currently growing, study and compare the bungalow architecture and glimpse the remaining one-car garages behind the homes. Did I mention the gigantic magnolias and the majestic redwood?


So, I guess these little dogs are not picking fights the whole way like a little dog I know? But seriously, I do love those slow stop & sniff walks. You have no choice but to slow down your mind and live in the moment.

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Being in the presence of a majestic redwood takes everything higher, doesn’t it?

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Yes! I have loved watching the brilliant green new growth tips full out - the fellow whose yard it’s in says it’s dated to Lincoln’s presidency and before a lightning strike was the tallest Redwood east of the Mississippi. There’s a much younger tree down the block that I imagine is its seedling- but that might just be me romanticizing.

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Oh, that Olive!
They certainly bark and keen at the other dogs, but it’s a quiet neighborhood without many neighbors out midday.

I live very close to my office so my weekday routine often involves me changing the routine. If I drive home the exact same way every day, I lose the distinction between work and home. There are a lot of North/South and East/West streets on my way home so it’s easy to go a different way every day.

So I suppose the routine is actually making the decision and intentionally shifting my mind set.

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I’m trying this too - intentional change simply for the sake of change, and cultivating flexibility. It’s been interesting!

A freind is now selling expensive skin care products. So I bought a 3 step routine. Normally I can’t kerp up with those but this one involves no water or pads for toner. Why those extra steps of water, drying & putting toner on pads is so annoying to me I have no clue.

Added bonus by taking better care of my face it’s magically gotten me to get more serious about my teeth! (I used to be very good about all of this but my chronic illness life eventually ended that).

Fortunately my hair salon bills just dropped dramatically, so that’ how I’m going to justify this necessary self care!

I’m retired, so my morning routine is coffee while I read online news, then walk the dogs, then breakfast, then more coffee while I read the newspaper. Then I try to do something in each of six categories: fiber (knit, spin, weave, dye, etc.), interpersonal (friends and family), maintenance (housework, yardwork, errands, etc.), recreation (read, TV, movies, plays, etc.), health (exercise), intrapersonal (self-improvement, like tackling a chore I feel blocked about - for me, making phone calls or dealing with money are frequent challenges). Then each night I wash the dishes, shower, go to bed on time. This framework keeps me sane!

My routine is similar to yours: coffee+online news, breakfast, more coffee while doing household maintenance (definitely before noon.) Your 6 categories sound so nicely organized - I seem to follow them more or less also. Though I always put knitting and reading in every day which keeps me grounded. Exercise is always a necessary thing, but my motivation is low so I go to a recreational center for swim exercises - makes me feel so good but I only get there 1-2 times a week. I count knitting as an exercise routine, helps the hand arthritis.
Evening is dishes after supper are usually done by my spouse as I like to cook, and more news on tv.
I like the routine but now and then I need adventure, so I mix it up with friends and family, or just sitting and enjoying nature.