“Self-care” was probably the #1 buzzword of last year, and for good reason: with scary headlines, a lack of normalcy, and no end in sight, we needed to give ourselves breaks, take bubble baths, and do relaxing yoga on our living room floors. But just a reminder: self-care is not just breaks, bubble baths, and yoga (although it can be). Self-care is whatever the hell you want it to be (say it again for the people in the back!). In fact, you might already be caring for yourself in ways you weren’t even aware of, or maybe you’re doing something out of self-care, but are really causing yourself more stress. If you’re feeling bored of your self-care routine or know you need to fit in a little more you-time, here are six sneaky self-care techniques that you wouldn’t expect.
1. Ditch grocery shopping, meal prepping, etc.
If meal prep feels like another tedious task on a very long to-do list, why not skip it? I don’t know who needs to hear this, but #adulting doesn’t have to mean grocery shopping, planning recipes, or prepping ahead of time: it just means feeding yourself nutritious meals that you’ll enjoy and look forward to, in whatever way works best for you. Sure, that could mean planning a week’s worth of meals and spending your Sunday afternoons grocery shopping, or that could mean skipping all the hard steps and getting your meals delivered.
Blue Apron offers wellness options like vegetarian, 600 calories or less, WW-approved, and carb conscious, so you can give your body the nutrients it needs, while still having enjoyable and easy meals that you don’t have to prep. It gives you all the benefits of better eating without the time suck, so you can use your time and energy on the important things that are truly caring for you.
2. Wear whatever you want
You probably think of getting dressed as a step in your morning routine or something you do for an #OOTD Instagram, but it (can be) a crucial part of self-care. Not only do the clothes we wear tell the world who we are, but they tell us who we are as well. Self-love is a combination of knowing ourselves, trusting ourselves, and being true to ourselves, and that goes for our wardrobes too. Instead of copying someone else’s work uniform or opting for loungewear while WFH when you really feel best in a floral dress, wear whatever you want.
Identify your style, find out what feels like the truest version of you, and then add those elements into every outfit you put on. Even if your office has a specific dress code and you can’t fully express yourself, take five seconds before leaving the house to add an element that makes you feel like your most powerful self: a swipe of red lipstick, a chunky necklace, or a pretty scarf.
3. Take a break from the news
Sometimes self-care isn’t just about what you do to care for yourself, but about what you don’t do. Thanks to social media feeds, group chats, and TVs, we are constantly exposed to a steady stream of horrifying headlines. Of course, we all need to stay informed, aware, and empathetic. But the constant stream of bad news means that we’re always at risk for stress, anxiety, or worse. So how do you balance the need to confront the reality of the world and be an informed citizen with the need to prioritize your mental health? The answer: take a break. Whether that means turning off the news channel for a week, switching from the news app to a self-help book in the mornings, or making the decision not to click on any headlines for a couple of days, we all need information breaks now and then.
4. Spend money to make you happier
It turns out money can buy happiness (well, to some extent). Saving money and feeling financially stable is a crucial part of caring for yourself, but what’s the point of making money if you’re not using it to make your life better? Reassess your budget to see if you can limit spending that doesn’t bring you happiness to make room for spending that will. For example, don’t feel bad spending money on chores you dread (like laundry, cleaning, or grocery shopping) just because you could do them yourself.
Outsourcing would not only eliminate chores from your regular to-do list, but will give you more free time to do things you love. Also, budget for indulgences that matter to you. If a monthly massage makes you feel pampered, cared for, and less stressed, that’s not an indulgence; it’s self-care. Forego a few takeout dinners and pack lunch a few extra days to spend the money in ways that will truly make a difference.
5. Schedule “nothing” into your calendar
No, I don’t mean don’t schedule anything: I mean make time for doing “nothing” (literally). You probably already know to make time in your day for a bubble bath, workout, or phone call with your mom, but sometimes even time spent on activities that should be good for us can feel like another item on the to-do list instead of recharging. If you typically have every minute of every day mapped out, schedule a chunk of time that’s unplanned.
The best part of “nothing” on your calendar? It gives you the chance to check in with what your body needs at that moment. Maybe you’ll want to go for a walk during the day, watch your favorite show before dinner, or put away your phone and sit in silence for 10 minutes before your workday starts. No matter what “nothing” looks like to you, give yourself regular time without expectations or end goals, and just let yourself be.
6. Be honest with yourself
What many of us have called “self-care” might be avoidance masquerading as a wellness technique. Maybe that messy closet was stressing you out, so you ignored it and read a book during your free time (all in the name of self-care!). Perhaps you felt sorry for yourself after a fight with a friend and went into full-on wallow mode because you thought you deserved it (Ben & Jerry’s carton included). Truth bomb alert: self-care is not really caring if it’s not also self-love, and true love means honesty and responsibility in your other relationships. Why would it be any different for the relationship you have with yourself?
Stop minimizing or making excuses that are causing you more unhappiness or stress, and realize when you’re using “self-care” as an excuse or means of avoidance. In other words, yes, self-care is about being kind to yourself, but it’s also about knowing when to give yourself a little tough love (and that you can do so without disrupting your wellbeing). Hold yourself accountable: realize that you can only control your own actions (how can you react differently to situations so that they don’t negatively affect you?). Also, make every action based on what will truly bring you long-term happiness instead of instant gratification. Now that’s taking care of yourself.
This post contains a sponsored inclusion of Blue Apron, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.