We’re all guilty of zooming through our days at hyper-speed, trying to cram as much into each moment as possible for optimum productivity. We check our Instagrams during our morning pee, we skip lunch breaks to just answer those last 5 emails, and we suck down caffeine like water, all in the name of being successful.
Often times, self-care is the first thing to go out the window when we hit the ground running each day. However, it doesn’t actually take a lot of extra effort to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves. It doesn’t have to be a 2-hour yoga class or long soak in a bubble bath. With the right mindset and some good tweaks to our daily routine, self-care can happen anywhere, anytime.
1. Make waking up a pleasant experience.
Use your alarm to kick-start your day. Instead of waking up to one of the obnoxious default tones on your phone, hand-pick something that you know will help you rise with a smile. Your favorite song, a relaxing sound, or a silly voice memo that makes you laugh are all possibilities. If you can manage to get your feet on the ground each day starting in a relaxed and happy headspace, the rest of the day will follow suit. It’ll be easy to take care of yourself the rest of the day if you’re not miserable when first opening your eyes.
2. Turn shower time into spa time.
Even if your morning routine only allows for quick, 3 minute showers, you can still give yourself a little extra TLC while you’re in there. Get the water nice and warm, letting it comfort and ground you, and use all your favorite bath products instead of saving them for a future special occasion. Get in a little exfoliation action, sloughing off all your dead skin, and let it be a metaphor for whatever crap you’ve been going through. The goal is to step out of the shower feeling refreshed and like you’ve started off with a clean slate.
3. Give yourself 5 extra minutes.
We can’t all be morning people who rise with the sun or over-achievers who are perpetually early, but we can all afford ourselves an additional 5 minutes every morning in the name of self-care. Use it to make sure you’re ready for the day, to get some fuel in your stomach, or even just to sit on your couch for a few extra, precious moments. Use it in whatever way will help you take care of yourself.
4. Eat breakfast.
It’s simple, but taking care of your own basic, human needs is a great way to practice self-care. Feeding yourself throughout the day is important. Don’t skip the first meal of the day and tell yourself a latte from Starbucks and half a muffin counts as breakfast. It doesn’t have to be elaborate — you can make a hearty bowl of oatmeal in the microwave in like 2 minutes and it will actually fuel your body through to lunch. Even keeping your cupboard stocked with Lara bars, which are full of dried fruit and nuts, will help you eat on the go when you need to.
5. Make your commute enjoyable.
Believe it or not, making an active attempt at keeping your stress level low totally counts as self-care. So if you usually find yourself freaking out during your commute — try and turn it into something that’s actually enjoyable. Use it as an opportunity to take in a new audio book, or listen to the podcast you’ve been meaning to make time for. The subject matter can be as silly or as serious as you like — the purpose is to take advantage of yet another moment in your day where you can carve out some “me” time and relax a bit.
6. Use aromatherapy.
It might seem kinda new-agey, but using aromatherapy actually does have tons of health benefits. Inhaling certain essential oils can perk up your brain function, calm you down, or even put you to sleep. There are endless combinations for lots of different benefits. Keeping the scent of lavender around, for example, will help you feel cool as a cucumber all day long. You can either dab a couple drops of lavender essential oil on your pressure points like perfume, buy an essential oil diffuser for your home or office or even wear special jewelry containing beads meant to hold the scent of oils so you can smell them throughout the day. All you have to do is take some deep inhales to take yourself to a self-care zone.
7. Make lists.
Anything you can do for yourself to make your life easier counts as self-care. Help you help yourself by writing down things that pop into your head during the day. Things you have to do, books you want to read, a grocery list, etc. Scribbling these things down gives them the freedom to float out of your head, which gives your brain some extra space to concentrate on what’s in front of you. Cutting down on all that multi-tasking will totally help you chillax.
8. Get extra movement in.
A little extra effort to keep your body moving throughout the day will go a long way. Each time you get up from the computer, do a lap around your office. Get your mid-day caffeine pick-me-up from a coffee shop a few extra blocks away. Even doing laps around Target counts as movement, so get those steps in however you want. Keeping our bodies fluid throughout the day is one of the most important forms of self-care, short of…
9. Hydrating yourself!
The most foolproof way to achieve optimum hydration (and therefore being on your way to optimum health, usually) is to just have water in front of you at all times. Go pick out a super fun water bottle, and keep that sucker filled and by your side no matter what. Get used to adding “water bottle” to your mental list of “phone, keys, wallet” when you leave the house, and before you know it, it’ll be second-nature.
10. Ditch your phone during your lunch break.
As much as we all love our devices, taking breaks from our beloved gadgets is excellent self-care. It’s good for your eyes, your brain, and likely your stress level. Sometimes it’s difficult to duck out of cyber communication for a whole day, but taking breaks in do-able chunks is more than possible. No matter what your day looks like, make sure you’re breaking for food at some point and treat that as your afternoon zen time. Put your phone down, enjoy your food, and give yourself some breathing room between you and the 24/7 access to everyone you know.
11. Stay away from drama (even when it’s juicy).
If you’re working on ways to let things go that don’t serve you — the pinnacle of self-care — keeping your nose out of everyone else’s drama is super important. This can be easier said than done — someone else’s drama can be extra alluring because your own lack of involvement makes it somehow extra interesting. But why waste head and heart space taking on someone else’s stress? Do yourself a favor and go ahead and duck out of those ultra-intense gossipfests.
12. Eat actual food.
Feeding yourself is part of caring for yourself. And to do this properly, you can’t fuel yourself with total garbage all the time (this doesn’t count the moments where you eat for your soul, like that pint of Ben and Jerry’s after a break-up). You don’t have to do anything fancy with your diet — you don’t need to be vegan or raw or paleo or whatever, you just have to put stuff in your mouth-hole that comes from the actual earth. Eating fruits, veggies, and whole grains will give you actual energy and it’s a no-brainer way to practice self-care.
13. Reward yourself.
…not with Krispy Kreme or a shopping binge, but with stuff that actually benefits you. Every time you complete a task in your day, follow-it up with something that’s good for you, like “drink a glass of water” or “take a walk around the block.” By the end of the day, you’ll feel balanced and productive by keeping your own needs in focus and you’ll want to keep your streak of self-care going.
14. Have a hot beverage.
There’s something immediately soothing about sitting down with a cup of hot tea or coffee. It also seems to slow time, forcing you to sit and enjoy your beverage before picking up at hyper-speed again. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and like you just need a moment, go hunt down something hot to drink. Try to clear your mind while you drink it, and to take it up a notch, you can even use that time to practice meditating.
15. Be kind to yourself.
This is the most obvious way to practice self-care, and yet one of the most overlooked. If nothing else, you can always afford to speak to yourself with kind and encouraging words. You don’t have to be Suzy Sunshine; just practice letting failures go and allowing yourself to bask in your successes. It’s way more effective than lighting a jasmine-scented candle, which might be your current form of self-care.
16. Make bedtime relaxing.
You know what that means — no scrolling Twitter for hours until your eyes finally concede and close. It means turning off all your devices and crawling into bed at a decent hour. Wash your face, floss those teeth, and force yourself to get into bed even when you don’t quite feel like it. Getting enough sleep is imperative for self-care. A night of good sleep will do more for you than the spa ever will.