How to Practice Self-Care in a Long-Term Relationship

Noah and Allie taking a bath together in 'The Notebook'
The Notebook via New Line Cinema

Take care of yourself first and foremost!

Why Self-Care Is Important in a Long-Term Relationship

In an era focused on self-help and personal development, "self-care" is a term that gets thrown around a lot. It’s typically used with good intentions, but what does self-care actually mean and how is it practiced? The answer will look different for everybody, but those in long-term relationships should be extra conscious of how they are taking care of themselves—physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Long-term relationships require a lot of give, take, and compromise, especially when you’ve devoted years or even decades of time and energy to the well-being of a partner. Sometimes, we put our own needs and self-maintenance on the back burner in order to make sure our loved one's needs are being met. In long-term relationships, neglecting self-care may even be routine now.

However, it is true when they say you can’t pour from an empty cup.

What Does Self-Care Look Like?

One person’s self-care needs will look different from another’s. It can be as easy as penciling in time for yourself once a week or whenever you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed and in need of some quiet solidarity. It can consist of finally scheduling a massage, pedicure, or facial, or can go a little deeper than that, like finally scheduling an appointment with a counselor.

It is important to take your physical, emotional, and mental needs into consideration when creating your personalized self-care routine:

Physical

When you do finally get those moments of solidarity, sit with yourself and assess your own personal health. Ask yourself how you’re feeling. Is it physical exercise your body is craving? Join a fitness class or go on a daily walk. Physical exercise can aid in the release of chronic fatigue and stress, and can even help when you can’t shake the feeling of being disconnected or “not in the mood.”

If there are aspects of your physical self that are hindering your confidence and ability to live life to the fullest, stop sweeping these issues under the rug. For example, if you’re experiencing hair loss, show yourself some love by investing in high quality shampoos, vitamins, and products that will prevent hair fallout and stimulate growth.

No matter the issue, there is always a solution if you take the time to look for one. There’s still more to self-care than fixing the physical issues, though. True self-care involves loving yourself enough to fix the problem and reminding yourself that you're beautiful, loved, and deserving regardless of any physical insecurities.

Emotional

Perhaps you find it’s your soul that needs a little TLC. How long has it been since you practiced a favorite hobby? Gone out of your way to watch the sunset? Made a dinner date with your gal pals for a night full of belly laughs or sang your heart out at a live concert?

Taking care of your emotional well-being can be as simple as treating yourself to your favorite specialty coffee once a week or spending a half hour during the day out of the office just to meditate, or actually going to that yoga class you keep making excuses to skip.

Mental

A large part of self-care is paying close attention to the state of your mental health. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to start seeking counseling, though you certainly should if you have been toying with the idea for a while.

Taking care of yourself mentally can consist of journaling daily to let out thoughts and emotions that have been bottling up and to simply practice gratitude. Shifting thoughts to a place of gratitude helps to bring the good things in life into focus.

Guided meditation apps are a great tool for mental wellness, too.

Self-Care and Relationships

Self-care can strengthen your relationships in several unexpected ways. Not only does a good self-care routine help to reduce feelings of complacency and the mundane, it will allow you to give more of yourself emotionally and have the desire to keep the romance alive.

Licensed relationship therapist, Cindy Norton, states that “taking care of ourselves allows us to become more rested, patient, understanding, and more available to others. Being in a balanced space has the power to strengthen unity within a relationship.”

No matter how you practice it, the most important aspect of self-care is following through. It’s always easy to say “tomorrow” or “I will,” and then watch the weeks and months pass while continuing to ignore the internal balance you’re craving.

Find a regimen that works best for you and stick to it. Self-care should be as routine as going into work every day or brushing your teeth. As with creating any new habit, regular self-care won’t happen overnight. It will take some practice and getting used to, so don’t beat yourself up when you slip.

A little self love will go a long way—what are you waiting for?

We Want to Hear From You

How do you practice self-care in your relationships?

Tweet us @womendotcom or message us on Facebook to tell us!