Self-care is getting a lot of buzz lately – some good and some bad. In the day and age where society celebrates “treating yo’ self,” it seems the message of self-care has become a bit skewed along the way i.e. it’s not just about splurging on that mani-pedi or getting a monthly massage, after all.
In fact, practicing self-care doesn’t have to cost a penny. At the end of the day, self-care is simply about taking care of yourself – that is your emotional, physical and mental health. As it turns out, there’s proof in the pudding too. This recent study found that students who engaged in self-care reported less stress and higher quality of life.
So how do you get started on developing a self-care practice, anyway? For one, you don’t have to be a wellness blogger or health professional to do so; anyone can take the time to focus more on themselves. And if you’re thinking you don’t have time to take care of yourself or you feel guilty doing so, remember you can’t pour from an empty cup. In order to take care of others, you must take care of yourself first.
Here are 20 simple ways to practice self-care this year to kick off 2020 on a feel-good note.
20 Simple Ways to Practice Self Care
1. Set Clear Boundaries
Are you a ‘yes’ person? While it’s great to be optimistic, saying yes to anything and everything (or everyone) can quickly become overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to set clear boundaries.
Before you commit to something new, ask yourself how it will make you feel and if it’s really something you want do. If you get an icky feeling or the answer is a clear no, simply say “no thanks” and move on with it. And don’t feel guilty about it either!
2. Start a New Hobby
Have you been itching to learn something new? If you’re looking to shake things up and spark your creativity, picking up a new hobby is a great place to start. Try your hand at painting or photography, or perhaps even start a blog as a way to creatively express yourself.
3. Develop a Morning Ritual
Do you have a morning routine? In the fast-paced, go-go-go world that we live in, dedicating time just for yourself in the morning can be a game-changer. How you choose to spend that time is totally your call! Some ideas: journaling, morning meditation, making a nourishing breakfast for yourself or experimenting with a Jade face-roller (an ancient beauty ritual that can help promote relaxation).
4. Check in With Yourself
Self-care is a work in progress, not a one-and-done deal. That’s why it’s important to check in with yourself on a regular basis — getting real about how you’re feeling. Try asking, “What do I need today to fill my cup?”
5. Do a Health Checkup
While you’re at it, check in on your physical health too — and we’re not just talking about your annual physical. If you’re looking for a wellness reboot, consider working with a nutritionist or functional doctor to address your unique needs. You can also speak to your health practitioner about what supplements would work best for your body – be it probiotics, immune support or a high-quality daily vitamin.
6. Have Fun with Exercise
Do you dread going to the gym or does your exercise routine make you want to pull your hair out? If so, it’s time to shake things up! Sprinkle some fun back into exercise by choosing something that makes you feel good inside and out – perhaps Zumba, a community yoga class or even signing up for a local 5K!
7. Cook a Nourishing Meal for Yourself
Fueling your body with real, whole foods is one of the best ways to take care of your physical health. Take a trip to your local farmer’s market to pick up some seasonal produce, and cook yourself a scratch-made nourishing meal. Make it special by setting the table or perhaps buying yourself a fresh bouquet of flowers. You deserve it!
8. Practice Positive Affirmations
Start your day on a positive note with positive affirmations – positive statements you can repeat to yourself to help overcome negative thoughts. Browse affirmation card decks online or at your local gift shop, or perhaps make your own affirmation on a notecard. To help you get started, begin with “I Am” i.e. I am enough.
9. Grab Coffee with a Friend
If you crave social connection, spending time with friends can be a key part of your self-care. As you focus on improving yourself and making more time for you, you’ll want to surround yourself with people who lift you up as well. Set up a dinner date or grab coffee with a good friend for a little R & R time.
10. Spend More Time Outside
Put on your walking boots and get outside! Not only will you soak up some feel-good sunshine, but it may also help lower your stress levels. According to Frontiers in Psychology, spending as little as 20 minutes outside in nature may help lower stress hormone levels. Head to a local park, hiking trail or even your own backyard to spend some quality time with yourself – and Mother Nature.
11. Go on a Digital Detox
In the digital age we live in, it’s easy to become over stimulated by social media and Googling everything on the internet. If spending time online is starting to take toll on your mental health, it may be time for a break. Do a mini digital detox by taking some time off social media, “unplugging” your phone after a certain time of day or even deleting the apps off your phone.
If you’re feeling stressed, it can be difficult to focus on taking care of yourself, wreaking havoc on your physical and mental health. Try quieting your mind by practicing meditation – aimed toward helping you become more clearheaded, calm and self-aware. Start simple by practicing deep breathing, unplugging for your lunch break, or giving walking meditation a go. If you need some assistance, a meditation app like Calm may help.
13. Practice Gratitude
Want to shift your mindset and focus on the positives in your life? Start with an attitude of gratitude! Feelings of gratitude have been linked to a heightened wellbeing and may even have a positive impact on one’s mental health. Here are some simple ways to practice gratitude this year — including creating a gratitude journal or jar.
14. Slow Down
Are you moving through life on high-speed? It may be time to press pause. Practice slowing down by living more mindfully – be it enjoying an extended lunch-break outside and savoring each bite or saying no to a big night out on town in favor of a cozy night in on the couch.
15. Build a Self-Care Kit
What about those moments when you’re crunched for time and need a good ol’ dose of self-care STAT? Consider making your own customized “self-care kit” packed with goodies like your favorite tea, essential oils, go-to mantra or a cherished book. Stash the items in a basket or special box, and keep it in a safe place so you’ll have on hand during the times you need it most!
16. Pamper Yourself
As we mentioned, self-care isn’t just about glamorous trips to the spa and expensive splurges, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do things that make you feel better about yourself. Go ahead and pamper yourself with a hot bath with essential oils, DIY face mask or at-home mani-pedi. Remember: Self-care is not selfish.
17. Book a Mini Retreat
If time alone is what you crave, a mini retreat could be just what you need. Research local getaways with activities that appeal to you – like a wellness retreat – or take a one-day trip to a retreat center like Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health.
18. Get Your Beauty Sleep
Getting enough sleep is a great first step in taking better care of yourself – and your wellness. After all, research has shown that sleep and mental health go hand in hand. Choose calming activities and limit electronics before bed to help you wind down at night.
19. Seek Help
You don’t have to go at this journey to taking better care of yourself alone. If you’re feeling stressed or conflicted, don’t be afraid to seek help — by talking to a close friend or hiring a therapist to talk about your feelings in safe place. According to Good Therapy, therapy can help better one’s self esteem, relationships and outlook on life – all monumental when working on becoming a happier you.
20. Keep it Simple
Lastly, remember to keep it simple. It’s important not to get caught up in overcomplicating self-care; it shouldn’t feel like work. If it does, you may want to re-think your approach so it feels good to you.
Note: These suggestions are meant to act as a guide. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider when implementing any drastic changes to your diet or healthcare routine.