I first heard the term “self-care” at my old job at a healthcare PR agency. Part of my job (and TBH, my most favorite) was working with bloggers/online health advocates who were living with chronic illnesses. Self-care was always an important topic of conversation–it was imperative for them to listen to what their bodies/minds needed, especially during times when they were in constant physical pain.
Ever since I was exposed to the notion of “self-care,” it seemed to pop up everywhere, for everyone (not just those living with a chronic condition like I originally thought). New articles and studies about how important it is for us to take care of ourselves, because apparently Americans, in general, are pretty terrible at it. I also started to realize that I didn’t really “practice self-care” up until this point. It’s not that I didn’t take care of myself–I’ve always eaten pretty healthy & exercised regularly–but truly practicing self-care takes a little more intention and awareness.
Within the last few months, I started making an effort to practice self-care & I’m baffled why I didn’t do it sooner. First of all, it feels great & makes you really happy, which seems super obvious because that’s the whole point of self-care, but you don’t realize it until you do it consistently. Second, self-care can really be whatever you want; there are no strict rules because it’s about listening to yourself about you want/need. At first, I experienced a weird sense of guilt because it felt like I was treating myself for no real reason, but once I got over that and realized I deserve to be nice to myself (because again, obviously), self-care actually became really fun & something I look forward to.
If you’re new to this whole self-care thing, here’s a simple list to get you started. Everything below takes between 30 seconds and an hour to complete, making it easy to incorporate it into your day. Again, self-care can be anything you want it to be–it’s all about making yourself feel good–physically, mentally & emotionally–because you deserve it. Enjoy!
Buy yourself flowers
^be like Beyoncé.
I love flowers. I’ve always loved them. I think flowers instantly brighten up any room & make you feel happy. In the past, the only times I had flowers in my apartment/at my desk were when boyfriends would send me them (which is always the best). But then I realized I can just buy flowers for myself just because I like them. I don’t need a reason besides that they’re pretty. Oh, and they’re relatively cheap at most grocery stores (shout out to Trader Joe’s–they have the best peonies) so you really don’t have an excuse not to buy them.
Get a massage
When I turned 24, I made a list of things I wanted to do before I turned 25. One of them included getting a massage because why not? I went the other week, and it was lovely. Sure, it might not be something I do very often but every once in a while it’s nice to treat yourself to some kind of pampering. Don’t like massages? Whatever, get a facial, pedicure, blow out, etc. If it makes you feel good & is relaxing, then it’s self-care.
Meditate/Just Sit Quietly
Up until this year, I rarely just sat by myself and been quiet. It’s hard to do it in college–there are people constantly around & life moves a million miles a minute. And honestly, being completely by myself/being quiet used to make me super uncomfortable. I’m an extrovert by nature so being by myself is not something I do well.
As an adult(ish) though, there are times that you are by yourself which definitely feels lonely at times, until you get comfortable doing it. The real world can also get overwhelming very quickly, but I found that I just take a moment to actually b r e a t h e, I can think a lot more clearly.
Of course, the best way to do this is to meditate (highly recommend the Headspace and Calm apps), but if meditation isn’t your thing (honestly, I’m still working on it because it’s really hard!), just sit & be. I love doing this down the shore in the mornings on the dock with my coffee. Or if I’m at work and I’m getting stressed out, I take a walk around the block. Sometimes it’s nice to take a mental break & not think about anything for a couple minutes.
Take Back Your Morning
Ahhh this is my favorite thing on this list. If there’s anything you do for self-care, make it this one. Simply put, taking back your morning means picking something that makes you happy and calm, waking up a little earlier & savoring your mornings. It could be something you do every day, or something you do once a month. And it can be anything. I wrote about this concept in detail here. 10/10 recommend.
Turn Off Your Phone
Alright, I’m super bad at this one. Like pathetically bad at it. With two Instagram accounts, a bunch of GroupMe’s, Snapchat & Facebook, I’m constantly checking my phone. I wish I weren’t this way, but I guess blame it on our millennial culture of being addicted to our phones. Since it’s pretty hard to turn off your phone for an extended period of time (without people thinking you’re dead somewhere), I’ve tried turning it off in small doses: not checking social media 20 minutes before I fall asleep (or after I wake up), putting it on silent when I’m out with friends, leaving it at my apartment when I go to yoga, etc. Because reality is, I don’t need to Snapchat/Insta-story everything I’m doing (no one cares that much) & being truly present is very underrated.
Journal It Out
Even if you’re not a writer, physically writing with a pen & paper is hella therapeutic. I actually keep a small notebook with me all the time for this reason. Jot down random thoughts. Scribble a stream of consciousness. Cross things out, make things all CAPS, go big & create a trendy~ bullet journal. I think it’s healthy to get out all your thoughts–the good, the bad, the happy, the sad. Just get it all out on paper and then you can go on with your day.
Exercise shouldn’t feel like punishment. Often times it does (the thought of getting on a elliptical fills me with dread), but it should make us feel good, not bad. Physical health is a big part of self-care (most self-care lists include practicing yoga which I’m so about), so find some exercise that you actually like, not that you put up with (remember self-care is about being happy not sad). SoulCycle is super super fun (I’m getting addicted, it’s bad), or join an intramural sports team with your friends. Even if it’s just going for a leisurely walk at lunch, it’s better than nothing.
However you choose to practice self-care, just remember it’s about honoring what you want/need. Life’s hard, so we all deserve a little self-love. &.