“Self-care” has become a little bit of a buzzword lately. Older generations may view it as another hallmark of millennial selfishness but those in the know (i.e., psychiatrists, therapists, life coaches etc.) view it as a sign of “emotional intelligence.”
Apparently, my generation spends over double on self-care essentials (diet plans, life coaching etc.) than the baby boomers. Apparently, this has something to do with access to the interwebs and a wealth of scientific research to support the very real, tangible benefits of self-care.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde
With that being said, check out my 15 steps to better self-care. When I’m feeling run-down, this is what I do. And I try to make a habit of it.
1. Learn to say no.
Do whatever it is you have to do, but life is too short to spend time doing things you’re too exhausted or busy to do. Recognize your limits. If you need some downtime, communicate that to the people in your life and if they love you, they’ll most likely respect that.
2. Use that extra time to pamper yourself.
Take a long, hot bath (or shower if that’s your deal). Personally, I love to take a bath. Use your favorite bath products, and sink into a good book or magazine. Bonus points if this is part of your wind-down time (see #6).
3. Book some couch time.
Get in your favorite comfy clothes, slap on a face mask and watch your favorite movie. Make popcorn and hot tea (or even some mulled wine for those hygge vibes) and relax.
4. Take a night to stay in and cook your favorite homemade meal.
You’ll get a sense of accomplishment from making something delicious plus you’ll enjoy eating it and even sharing it with your family and roommates.
5. Involve the outdoors in your morning routine.
Take a brisk morning walk or enjoy your morning coffee al fresca. Develop a morning routine that doesn’t involve hitting the snooze button 20 times and rushing out the door. Waking up a little earlier will be worth it for your mental state in the long run.
6. Allow yourself time to wind down at bedtime.
Light some candles, read a good book or practice some relaxing yoga routines. Your choice, but do something in that last 15-30 minutes before bed that doesn’t involve work or screen-time (that means NO tv, computer, iPad or phone before bed).
7. Have some quality time with your pet.
…Preferably a furry one. Whether you have a dog or cat, it’s been statistically proven that petting an animal can improve your mental state.
8. Take the time to learn a new skill.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to take a pottery class or learn photography. Whatever it is, take some time to grow. Bonus points if the activity is physical like a dance class or furthers your professional career. But remember, this is for YOU! So if you won’t enjoy doing it, don’t do it.
9. Spend time with family and close friends.
This one’s tricky because sometimes we can be so exhausted from social obligations that we need more time alone, but the opposite can also be true. Isolation can wreak havoc on your mental state. Spend some quality time with someone you love and feel comfortable with.
10. De-clutter your space; de-clutter your mind.
Yes, cleaning sucks but taking the time to organize and de-clutter will do wonders for you in the long run. Take a little time to clean each day, and allow yourself time to do deeper monthly de-clutters to keep your life organized.
11. Set the mood.
Light some candles, plug in the fairy lights, create a playlist of relaxing songs (ambient, chillstep and classical piano are my favorites). If you create a routine out of this, then anytime you’ll hear those songs you’ll instantly feel a little more relaxed. I love playing a relaxing playlist while I’m at work to help make me feel calm on a stressful day.
12. Make appointments to get your life in order.
From doctor’s appointments to haircuts, take the time to do what ya’ gotta do to get your business handled.
13. Get rid of stuff.
This one sort of goes with #10 but takes it a step further than simply “de-cluttering.” Do a full wardrobe clearout – get rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy. Things that don’t fit, that you haven’t worn in years, things with stains or things that remind you of bad memories. Getting rid of items like these will be therapeutic plus it’ll free up a bunch of space for new purchases.
14. Get exercise. Preferably outside.
Go for a hike, jog, bike ride – whatever. Even if it’s just a walk around the block, get some fresh air in your lungs and get your heart rate up. Sometimes, when you’re in a bad mood, this might be the last thing you feel like doing. But once you do it, you’ll feel better. Promise.
15. Set aside some “you time” every week.
Put it on your calendar or just add it to your to-do list. You may only need a couple hours or you may need a whole day but either way, setting aside real time for it helps you keep this promise to yourself. Treat it like you would any other appointment with a friend or at work. This is important for you. <3
So there you have it – 15 steps to incorporating self-care into your daily life and routines. Even when things get chaotic, working in some you-time can do wonders for your emotional health.
What do you guys do to de-stress and practice self-care?