You know you’re supposed to be practicing self-care on the regular, but how often do you say no to happy hour because you scheduled alone time after work? Do you feel guilty when you skip a workout because your body needs a break, or get caught up in finishing an episode of Stranger Things (and get to bed much later than you know you need to)?
Self-care should never be an afterthought, though a modern lifestyle makes it difficult to prioritize, and makes us feel guilty when we do. However, caring for yourself isn’t selfish. It’s simply the most important insurance that you show up as your best self for your work, your family, and your loved ones. Therefore, self-care is not really caring for yourself if it doesn’t make you happier, calmer, and less stressed. Just because Instagram posts show face masks and hashtags them with #selfcare, doesn’t mean that’s doing anything for you (unless face masks do make you feel relaxed!). Instead, here are nine easy ways you can fit self-care into your routine today.
1. Meditate while your coffee brews
Meditation is extremely beneficial for mental health, but it can be hard to stick with a practice. Instead of hoping to schedule extra time in your day (there’s no such thing as “extra time”), fit a few moments into the schedule you already have set. When you start your pot of coffee, spend a couple of minutes meditating while it brews. Notice the smell of coffee, think about the present moment, and simply breathe instead of rushing onto the next step.
2. Watch your language
Even if words seem common or unimportant (“I look so bad in these jeans!” or “I don’t know if I deserve the promotion”), the way we speak to and about ourselves is how we’re training our brains to see ourselves. Even if you don’t believe it, be confident in your actions and abilities. Talk to yourself like you would talk to your best friend (you would never think your best friend is anything but perfect, gorgeous, invincible, and badass!).
Also, work on replacing “sorry” with “thank you.” Women are taught to be polite by putting themselves down, so start expressing gratitude for patience, kindness, or assistance, rather than apologizing for being an inconvenience.
3. Turn your shower into an experience
On the days where we’re just hoping to have time to eat three meals, a shower might be the last thing you want to do slowly, but it also might be the one chance you get to prioritize yourself that day. Instead of thinking of a shower as a chore, think of it as a relaxation practice. Turn your shower into a spa-like experience by lighting a scented candle, using the fancy soap you usually save for guests, and drying off with warm, fluffy towels.
4. Schedule time to “goof off”
Just because you’re crushing the #adulting game by paying your taxes on time and putting together IKEA furniture by yourself doesn’t mean you don’t need “playtime” like you did when you were a kid. Give yourself a few minutes of unstructured activity multiple times throughout the day. Take a break from work to have a five-minute dance party or invest in an adult coloring book to bring out your creative side. No matter what appeals to you the most, channel your inner child to bring yourself more joy and laughter.
5. Slow down instead of speed up
We always feel like we don’t have time. There never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done, and we rush through items on a long to-do list every day. We say things like “time flies” and “life goes by in the blink of an eye.” Here’s a little secret for you about time: you can actually get more by choosing to slow down. Rushing through life and thinking about the next item to check off a list instead of focusing on the present not only robs you of experiencing but gives you the illusion that you’ll never have enough time.
The truth is that we have all the time we need (you do have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyoncé, after all). Instead of gulping down your morning coffee, sit down and enjoy every sip. Instead of stressing about the traffic on your commute, listen to a playlist or podcast you love. It sounds counterintuitive, but slowing down stops you from feeling that time is a limited currency we’ll never have enough of. We don’t need more time; we just need to spend it better.
6. Practice your hobby
Even if you’re lucky enough to have a dream job that makes you excited to wake up in the mornings, self-care is about finding balance. Make sure you have a passion outside of your 9 to 5 by pursuing a hobby. It could be something you love so much you want to turn it into a side-hustle, like jewelry making or photography, or it could be something you simply enjoy doing (whether or not you’d ever make money from it) like painting or cooking.
7. Make one small change to your diet
Whether it’s drinking an extra glass of water, adding spinach to your omelet, or replacing your afternoon chips and salsa snack with carrots and guacamole, make one tiny change to your diet. Healthy eating is just a series of habits that form a domino effect. These habits snowball into a healthier lifestyle and better consciousness about what your body needs. Start small today and see how your diet changes over time.
8. Switch up your routine
Take a different route to work, DIY a matcha latte instead of your usual cup of coffee, or wear red lipstick to work if nude lip balm is your norm. Getting out of the patterns we’re used to helps us be more mindful and present, but can also help you discover things about yourself you didn’t know before (like the fact that red lipstick gives you more confidence to crush that presentation at work).
9. Choose who you spend your time with wisely
Today, only surround yourself with the people who exude positive energy and enthusiasm. Steer clear of the coworker who brings you down or say no to after-work drinks with the friend who makes you feel bad about yourself. If you can’t choose who you spend your time with (maybe your office is a little too small, or your roommate’s a complainer), work on becoming the person who exudes positive energy and enthusiasm. Express gratitude, give compliments, and smile often.
How do you prioritize self-care?