Certainly, relationships are a two-way street — they require effort on from both partners to thrive. Still, there are lots of habits you can adopt on your own that can benefit your bond. And while self-care may seem like an individual practice, making it a priority can actually have lots of advantages for your love life. In fact, there are a slew of self-care routines to try in a relationship that can help you to maintain your independence, which is oh so key to a healthy connection.
Individuality is crucial to a healthy, happy relationship. And yet, especially in that early honeymoon phase of a relationship — when the excitement is high and the infatuation is real AF — it can be challenging to separate yourself from your partner. When every statement starts with "We" rather than "I," you can't remember the last time you saw your squad, and you hardly have any hobbies that you don't participate in together, it's extremely difficult to hold onto a clear sense of self.
But that's where self-care comes in. Making self-care a regular priority helps you to take charge of your own physical, mental, and emotional well-being (rather than relying on your partner for that) — and ultimately, tending to your needs will put you in a better position to show up for your partner as well.
Not sure where to start? These easy yet effective self-care routines are sure to make you feel more self-sufficient.
Meditate your way to independence.
There are countless ways in which meditating can benefit your relationship, from empowering you to navigate conflict with ease to enabling you to regulate your emotions better. Also, this practice may aid in your effort to maintain independence by making you more aware of your own physical, mental, and emotional responses, thus helping you to separate your inner world from your partner's.
If you're a total newbie and not sure where to begin, consider trying Headspace's single alone time meditation, or the course on self-esteem. Or, the Ignite Your Independence meditation on Insight Timer is another phenomenal option.
Pursue a hobby that's yours alone.
Whether it’s herb gardening, crocheting, beer home-brewing, or street photography — having a hobby can definitely help you to stay independent in your relationship, because it gives you a sense of pride, passion, and accomplishment that’s yours alone.
Perhaps there’s a hobby that you were devoted to before you met your partner that’s fallen by the wayside. Or perhaps there’s something new that’s piqued your interest. Regardless of what it is, write it down on a piece of paper, along with some actionable steps you can take toward getting better at that hobby. For example, if you’re interested in painting, research and write down a local class you could take, make a list of all the supplies you need in your creative arsenal, and start an inspiration Pinterest board.
Once you've figured out what it is that you want to focus on, schedule weekly time for your hobby. It doesn’t matter if you can set aside 15 minutes or two hours per week — the point is that penciling it into your planner will hold you accountable so that you stick with it.
Say some daily affirmations.
Saying positive affirmations is a simple yet powerful tactic for transforming your mindset. So, if your goal is to stay independent in your relationship, collect a set of mantras that emphasize individuality and your sense of self.
Here are some examples:
"I celebrate my uniqueness."
"I do not need anyone else to be happy — I am enough."
"I am just as strong, content, and lovable without my partner."
You can write these affirmations on a sticky note that you place on your bathroom mirror, fridge, or another visible spot. Or, you can set phone reminders that pop up with these mantras at certain times of your day. But saying them out loud is without a doubt one of the best ways to help you believe them.
Schedule a regular date night with your besties.
Maintaining friendships outside of your relationship is oh so key to your independence, because it provides you with other perspectives and fulfilling experiences that don’t involve your partner. But it’s not uncommon for friendships to suffer when you’re in a relationship. After all, you only have so much time in your schedule for socializing, and a chunk of it is now spent with your partner.
So, if you realize that you’ve been slacking on making plans with friends, set a reminder on your phone at the beginning of each month to schedule dates with them. Taking the reins on the planning front will show your BFFs just how much you value their friendship. And spending time with those friends will also reinforce the notion that you have other love in your life outside of your SO.
Practice setting healthy boundaries.
In order to remain independent in a relationship, it’s imperative to be aware of your own personal boundaries. But since this can be easier said than done, it’s a good idea to regularly practice setting boundaries as part of your self-care routine. As they say, practice makes perfect — and the more you make it a point to honor your limitations, the easier and more comfortable boundary-setting will become.
Especially if you struggle with setting boundaries, you might want to start a journal to keep track of your progress. Start by making a list of areas that may need improvement. What things have you said "yes" to things when you really want to say no? Are you getting enough alone time? If not, what would your ideal picture of personal space look like? Next, practice how you could say to set that boundary in as few words as possible. Keep in mind that there’s no need to justify your boundary — you don’t owe anyone an explanation for your personal needs.
Having trouble setting a boundary? It's worth asking yourself why. In your journal, write down what’s preventing you from establishing a boundary, whether it’s guilt, fear of rejection, or something else entirely. Identifying those obstacles will help you figure out what you need to do to overcome them.