We hear so much talk about self-care and its importance for mental, physical, and emotional health. But between celebrity wellness brands, trendy apps, and more, it can be hard to pinpoint what self-care actually is, let alone how you can make it happen.
What is Self-Care?
One of the areas that I get asked about most on social media is self-care. On an almost daily basis I get questions like, “what do you do to feel better given your busy life?” and “how do you engage in self-care?”
Self-care is the practice of taking an active role in nurturing your well-being and happiness, particularly during periods of stress. It is any activity that you deliberately do in order to take care of your mind, body, and soul. It’s an active choice that you cultivate for your long-term well-being.
Although this is a simple concept in theory, it’s easy to overlook or neglect self-care because you feel “too busy” to take care of yourself. But as you’ll have heard me mention before, it’s so important to prioritize self-care and to put your needs before the needs of others.
To me, the practice of personal self-care is part of your commitment to self-love. It’s one of the key things you can do to build loving relationships with both yourself and with others — and it’s also key for managing stress during a crisis! So if you’re one of those people who has thought a lot about self-care but haven’t actually done anything proactive about it, now is the time to start prioritizing looking after yourself!
There are a bunch of things that I do for my own self-care that are simple to integrate into how you live and work, even if your life is hectic. Juggling everything on your plate can feel challenging and exhausting, and that’s exactly why you must make a point of doing things to counteract your stress and to feel better overall.
Here are some of my favorite self-care practices that you can use on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
- Simple meditation: I recommend starting with an easy practice. Set a timer when you wake up and meditate for anywhere between 1-3 minutes. Not sure what to meditate one? Don’t worry about it! Your meditation doesn’t have to be perfect, and one of the things that I’ve learned in practicing mindfulness is that it doesn’t need to be all or nothing — it just needs to be your best in that moment.
- Breathing: Intentional breathing is such a useful tool for managing stress and anxiety. Paying attention to your inhales and exhales can have such a calming effect on both your mind and body. Focus on your breathing throughout the day as a way to center yourself.
- Mindful eating: This isn’t just about clean eating (although that’s also important!). Mindful eating is about paying attention to the thoughts, sensations, and feelings you’re experiencing as you eat. This may sound weird to some, but it helps me, especially since I carry a lot of my stress in my stomach/GI tract.
- One small nice thing to make you feel better: Every day, I ensure that I do something that helps me to decompress. Some days it’s watching Netflix or taking an Epsom salt bath, while other days it’s about having a delish dinner. Whatever it is that makes you feel nice, do it!
- Exercise: One of my fave ways to release happy hormones! As you’ll have seen on my Instagram stories, I work out regularly with a trainer (shout out to Ali the Answer!). Even if I’m exhausted, I make sure I get exercise in at my gym, at home, or at the hotel gym if I’m traveling. Even if I’m not feeling up for it at first, I always feel better physically and mentally after breaking a sweat.
- Spending time with my biomat: If you haven’t heard of it before, a biomat is essentially a heating pad that produces negative ions that deliver energy to the cells of the body. I use my biomats (I have one at home and one at the office) to bring my body into more of a relaxed (parasympathetic) state. An added bonus is that you’ll feel toasty warm when you use it — like you’re being wrapped in a hug from a loved one.
- Socializing with my peeps: I’ve said it before, amazing relationships are key to living a happy life. Whether it’s dinner with friends, going out to dance it up, a phone call with my sister, or cuddling with my boo, I always carve out time for people in my life, who I call “my clouds”. Although this might seem like a tricky one during this period of physical distancing, you can still get some social time in with video calls, virtual house parties, or a good old phone call.
- Bodywork: I leverage all kinds of body workers to help keep my machine (aka my body!) running well. I will see either an acupuncturist, massage therapist, or osteopath at least once a month to help heal and refuel my body, but you can do bodywork at home by making use of massagers, foam rollers, and even items you have around the house (tennis balls, anyone?).
- Therapy: As part of my mental health journey, I’ve done psychotherapy for over 20 years now. It’s one of the greatest gifts I’ve given myself in my life and I can’t tell you how much it has helped me through difficult times! There are some great therapy apps you can try at home like Talkspace or BetterHelp.
In thinking about all that I do for my self-care, I recognize my privilege in being able to money towards many of these experiences. But here are some free or inexpensive things that you can do to care for yourself:
- Give yourself a home facial or mani/pedi
- Get bodywork from a training school. Many places offer discounted prices as a way for their students to practice
- Google “self-care”! There are a wealth of free mental health resources available online
As you can see, I take self-care very seriously, and I’m a firm believer that it should be part of everyone’s life. My personal self-care regiment might seem exhaustive to you but remember that each of us needs to decide what works for us. Over time, you’ll find your rhythm in implementing a self-care practice that fuels your body, mind, and soul, rather than taking from it.
What do your self-care practices look like? After today, what will you do to carve out time for yourself?