In this episode of The Feel Good Effect, we’re diving into self care day!

Including what that is, why you need it in your life and why it’s absolutely not selfish. 

A self care day is a really good option if you don’t feel like you have time for self-care every day.

Instead of feeling like self-care is another thing on your to-do list, we’ll explore how you can create a simple routine that’s curated for you and your lifestyle.

Plus, we’re sharing our free Self-Care Routines Guide to go with this podcast episode – so you can set yourself up for success!  

Tune in or read the transcript if you’re ready to find more ease and make self-care an enjoyable & practical part of your life. 

Let’s make it happen!

here’s a glance at this episode:

  • [01:12] Understand what self-care is (and what it isn’t) and start to rethink how we can do self-care differently. 
  • [03:03] Download your copy of the free Self-Care Routines Guide to walk you through creating your own customized self-care day.
  • [7:08] Use the Feel, Focus, Fit model and learn which three questions to ask yourself before creating a self-care routine:
    • [08:32] Feel: “How do I feel and how do I want to feel? Is there a gap between how I feel and how I want to feel?”
    • [09:29] Focus: “Are the self-care habits or the actions aligned with how I want to feel? Which habits or actions do you wanna focus on for your self-care day?
    • [10:21] Fit: How can I fit these habits into my self-care day? Do I have a whole day, a half-day, an hour or 20 minutes? 
  • [11:16] Learn how to customize your self-care routine to work for different seasons (see page 4 of the Self-Care Routines Guide for inspiration).
  • [12:33] Where to find additional podcast episodes on self-care to help support you in building your routine.
  • [13:00] Rethink the all-or-nothing approach and ditching perfectionism when it comes to self-care.

links mentioned in this episode

Get the Feel Good Effect Book

Download the free Self-Care Routines Guide

more episodes on self-care

How to use the 4R Framework to Create Sustainable Daily Mini-Wellness Routines

Routines for Unpredictable Schedules

Transition Week

12 Easy Self-Care Habits for a Healthy Mind, Body & Soul with Dr. Zoe Shaw

read the transcript

Robyn Conley Downs: (00:01)

You’re listening to The Feel Good Effect, Self-Care Day. We’re talking about exactly what that is, why you need it in your life, why it’s absolutely not selfish, and why it’s a really good option if you don’t feel like you have time for self-care every day. Let’s make it happen.

Robyn Conley Downs: (00:23)

Radically simple and ridiculously doable, The Feel Good Effect will help you redefine wellness on your terms. Hi, I’m your host Robyn Conley Downs and I believe that wellness isn’t about achieving another set of impossible standards, but instead finding what works for you, drawing from cutting-edge science on mindfulness, habit, and behavior change. This podcast offers a collection of small mindset shifts that allow for more calm, clarity, and joy in everyday life and allows you to embrace the idea that gentle is the new perfect. I invite you to listen in as we cut through the clutter and find the small shifts that create huge changes in your life. Less striving, more ease. It’s time to feel good.

Robyn Conley Downs: (01:12)

Well, Hey, Feel Good, fam. I am so glad you’re here for this episode on self-care day. So if you’re new here, I am obviously the host of The Feel Good Effect, author of The Feel Good Effect book, and founder and editor of and here at Real Food, Whole Life we do self-care differently. The thing is when it comes to self-care, we believe that it doesn’t have to be time consuming and overwhelming, that listening to your body is the best place to start rather than looking to others for the perfect plan, and that you can start by focusing on what feels good and asking how you can treat yourself with kindness in small ways throughout the day. And we believe that self-care isn’t just for people who have ample amounts of leisure time or require tons of money in order to make it part of your daily habits for health and happiness. And we believe that there is a better way to care for you, ’cause believe it or not, self-care does not have to be all-or-nothing. And if you can take anything away from this episode on self-care day, it’s that it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. It doesn’t have to be hour-long routines. It doesn’t have to be turning your life upside down. And often that all-or-nothing way of thinking is what keeps us from taking care of ourselves. ‘Cause we think we need to like quit our jobs, or find extra hours in the week, and that stress ironically is actually kind of the enemy of self-care. So let’s ditch all-or-nothing thinking and really embrace that it can include routines that you enjoy and happen when you want for as long or as short as you want or have time for.

Robyn Conley Downs: (03:03)

So to go along with this episode, I created a completely free guide. The Self-Care Routines Guide that will help you find ease and alignment with how you want to feel, the habits that support that, and then how to fit them in your lifestyle. No strings attached, just doing it to help you find more ease in your life. So you can grab that guide. We’re gonna talk a little bit about it today in relationship to self-care days. So you can get that at And I really designed the Self-Care Routines Guide to help you create healthy, happy habits with ease by following a simple approach.

Robyn Conley Downs: (03:40)

So this is in alignment, like I said, I’m an author of a best selling book called The Feel Good Effect and it’s using the methods and the framework from that book, which is a simple approach that helps you identify how you currently feel, how you want to feel, and then along with the habits that align with that feeling. Plus it will help you find how to fit these habits into your day, which works so well when you’re really focusing on just one day, and also then throughout your week, and throughout your month, and throughout your life. What works so well about this approach is that a) you can work smarter and not harder, which really, if I rename the podcast, it would just be Work Smarter, Not Harder. So much of wellness and self-care and habits is about working harder the way it’s taught typically and traditionally, and I am not here for that. We can, I mean, even the word “work” is not what I want to use. It’s just about finding ease in smart ways, without pushing, working harder, without making self-care another form of productivity because p.s. self-care should not just be another thing on our to-do list that we feel like we’re getting behind on.

Robyn Conley Downs: (04:53)

And so that when you do find more ease and ways that you can be smart about these things, that you can focus on the habits that actually move the needle in your life and not on the things that don’t. And also that there’s no marker of success to say whether you’re succeeding or failing because self-care should never be a way that you feel like you’re not doing a good enough job. And this approach also, like I said, helps you develop happy habits in your everyday life because we know that habits are actually what form change in life. So instead of relying on willpower or discipline or all in, and then all out, when you have the habits, those self-care habits, it becomes effortless. Now it doesn’t mean it’s not difficult to start, but as they become habits, the whole definition of habits is its automatic behavior so you don’t have to even try. And that’s what we’re trying to do here with this show, with the self-care guide, with the tips we’re providing in today’s episode.

Robyn Conley Downs: (05:55)

I’m really here to just help you fill your cup, empty your to-do list and discover a life that feels good starting by learning about what happy life-giving habits you can incorporate into your self-care day. So definitely grab the Self-Care Routines Guide, And so let’s talk about how to use that and how to use it to create a self-care day. So I love to reiterate that it does not have to, and shouldn’t feel complicated, overwhelming, or time-consuming. And that a self-care day should really provide the opportunity to feel grounded and refreshed. And maybe you don’t have a full day so I think that a day can be a proxy for a morning, it can be a proxy for an hour. So don’t feel like, notice that all-or-nothing thinking when you’re telling me I don’t have a full day Robyn, I’m like, okay, cool, neither do I. So this could be a morning, this could be an hour, this could even be five minutes in the morning. And now that you have your Self-Care Guide, imagine that we’re sitting together at a coffee shop. Maybe I am sitting there with you right now and I’m helping you create the self-care routine, the self-care day.

Robyn Conley Downs: (07:08)

The first thing I would do is start by asking questions. And this is different. I know everyone wants to jump into making a list of things to do, and notice if that’s coming up for you. If you’re thinking that self-care means that you have like more items to do, like I’m gonna do this and then I’m gonna do that. And just FYI, that’s not really what we’re going for here. So instead of asking you to create a list of activities, I would instead ask some of my magic coaching questions that we do in our programs and our certified Feel Good Effect coaches, and when I work with clients, so I’m offering this for you for free at this point. And these questions are so important because of course I can suggest ideas for building life-giving habits for your day. But ultimately the science says that you are more likely to, with happy habits when you choose them for yourself, and when they’re aligned with some important questions, these are in your guide too so that it’s really like I’m sitting with you.

Robyn Conley Downs: (08:10)

But here are the questions that I would ask that are inside your guide. We’ll start by assessing three main areas. Feel, Focus, Fit is my really favorite new model that I’ve been using. So you’re first to hear about it. It’s a, I know you’ve heard some of that before, but I’ve kind of been tweaking it. I think it works really well. And I’m so excited to share it with you.

Robyn Conley Downs: (08:32)

So Feel, this is like the cornerstone of the book and so much of the work is really using how you feel and how you want to feel to create your north star, to, you know, create that value-driven life so that it’s meaningful. And the science is so strong to support this. And it’s often what’s missing from behavioral and habit research. So it’s something I like to add, not just because it’s my opinion, but because we’ve seen that it works. And so with Feel, it’s asking, how do I feel and how do I want to feel? And is there a gap between how I feel and how I want to feel? And it’s important to ask this question before you think about a self-care day, because without them it’s really, again, just creating a list of actions or activities. I mean, I’m sure you’re very good at that, but instead of creating more things to do, I want you to actually take the time to think about whether those are the necessary or right things to do.

Robyn Conley Downs: (09:29)

The second question is Focus. So, are the daily habits or the day, the habits, the actions of this day aligned with how I want to feel? And then which ones do you wanna focus on for your self-care day? This is so important because if you’re feeling overwhelmed and overstimulated, then doing something on your self-care day, that is, you know, going to make you feel more that way is probably the complete wrong way to go. If you’re feeling like overwhelmed and frazzled and overstimulated, but instead you wanna feel grounded and calm, then finding some things for your self-care day that are grounding and calming for you is so, so important. And we often miss that piece of like, what’s the right thing for me, based on how I wanna feel. And this is going to change things for you when you create your self-care day.

Robyn Conley Downs: (10:21)

And last one, so important, we always skip this, which is Fit. So how can I fit these habits into my day or in this case for the self-care day, how does that fit into a day? So do I have a whole day? Do I have a half-day? Do I have an hour? Do I have 20 minutes? So really you get to decide what this looks like. You can explore the guide to find those small, intentional habits that you could weave in those activities for your self-care day. Um, but definitely don’t skip those questions. I think a self-care day can be so valuable too because when life changes or when habits have become so ingrained in our day, it’s a really good time to kind of come back and regroup on whether you are interested in desiring to create some new, intentional habits that support you where you are right now and where you wanna go next.

Robyn Conley Downs: (11:16)

And so important to remember that you are the creator of this. So you can modify it to support the changes or seasons in your life. If you have a self-care day that you do, you know, let’s say once a month or once a week, it might need to change or shift depending on what’s going on in your life. You set the bar for what enough looks like. And as you achieve your goals or your habits become like more ingrained, you can shift what this looks like, because when you, when it is, you know, individualized for you, you’re more likely to stick with it because they’re things that you chose. So we – I know those of you are like, I just wanna know the activities to do. And I feel like we can unpack that desire to just hear a list of more things to do, like in another episode. But we do have that in the guide. If you want to grab the guide and download it, it has a list of potential habits or activities that you could do you on your self-care day, as long as you align them with those three questions, Feel, Focus, Fit. Those ideas are on page four of the guide. So consider how you want to structure your day. And if you wanna include any of those activities, or if you wanna create a list of your own based on how you feel and how you want to feel.

Robyn Conley Downs: (12:33)

We have tons of podcast episodes that you could use as well. Episode 150 walks you through creating self-care routines in your every day. Episode 206 is what to do when your routine is unpredictable. So that can be helpful. Episode 203 is reworking your routine after a life change. So we have tons of resources for you in thinking about self-care and daily routines, and then self-care days.

Robyn Conley Downs: (13:00)

But no matter what you choose, I want you to remember that gentle is the new perfect, that every little bit counts, and that small shifts create big change. A lot of all-or-nothing thinking leaves us feeling shame or guilt of not accomplishing big, but unsustainable goals simply because we feel like we should. We think we need to do self-care perfectly, but that’s not what this is about. Instead, I really encourage you to see your simple daily routines, this simple day of self-care for the win that it is. Big or small, you’re still moving forward. So yeah, once you have answered those three questions, and you’ve come up with a list of activities, and the activities don’t have to, you don’t have to have many, like you’re not getting scored on how many things you can do in your self-care day. So it could really just be one grounding activity. It could be multiple things that really feel your fill cup and this, and this truly will look different for everyone because depending on how you want to feel, your, your activities might be different. So if you’re feeling disconnected and you wanna feel connected, maybe it’s doing a group activity or going to a concert or doing a walk with a friend, but maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed with, you know, if you’re in an introvert, I just interject my introvertness here. Um, maybe your self-care day really looks like going inward and doing some solo activities. Again, I, I hear you, if you feel like you don’t have a full day. So if you don’t have like a full day to set aside, this could still happen in an hour. It could even happen in 20 minutes if that’s necessary.

Robyn Conley Downs: (14:38)

So from the tactical nitty-gritty, I would say, pick a day, schedule it in. Whether it’s once a year, I would hope more than once a year, but let’s say it’s once a month or, or once a week, and then an amount of time. So it doesn’t have to be the full day. Could really just be a couple hours and then ask those three questions. How do I feel? How I, how do I want to feel? And then what am I gonna focus on that aligns with that? And then how does it fit? What time of day, what specific day? And then give it a try and then do some reflection. I always like to close the loop with people is like, think about what you wanna do, do it, and then ask, does that, did that align with how I want to feel? Because the thing about habits is that they will become more, um, sticky and more, more, um, sustainable when they feel good. So if it, actually, if you wanted to feel more connected and that day made you feel more, you are so much more likely to prioritize those activities in the future. And if they didn’t, it doesn’t mean that the self-care day went wrong. It just meant that maybe those weren’t the right activities, right? They weren’t aligned.

Robyn Conley Downs: (15:43)

Or if they were aligned, you’re like so much more likely to make that happen on a regular basis. And to share it with other people, because imagine the ripple you could have, like in the water, this one drop that makes a ripple out. If you were taking care of yourself and doing these self-care days from time to time, not necessarily spending the whole day, like in a spa drinking champagne or whatever the media wants to portray self-care as, but really knowing how you feel, you wanna feel and the activities that align with how you wanna feel and prioritizing those. Imagine how much more you would have to give, imagine how much more connected you would feel to the things that matter. And imagine what an example you’re setting for the people that you work with, for the people that you live with. If you’re a caregiver for the children in your life. It’s so important to fill your cup first and a self-care day can, can be one of the ways to do that.

Robyn Conley Downs: (16:42)

If you give it a try, I’d love to hear about it. You can connect on Instagram @realfoodwholelife, and again, grab the Self-Care Guide, highly recommend completely free. And I think this is an excellent one to share with a friend. You could even do a self-care day with someone else. I think, depending on how you wanna feel, that could be amazing and a good way to have a little bit of accountability. For those of you who have trouble, kind of doing things for yourself, it could be a way to be like that upholder personality. You can kind of do it because it’s gonna help a friend stick with it too. So go ahead and hit share on this episode with someone who needs to hear it. As always, I wanna thank you so much for listening and being part of this Feel Good movement. Until next time, here’s to feeling good.

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