If you’re rolling your eyes right now, we understand. Self-care has been a buzzword lately, especially in the health and wellness community. We’ve all heard about the benefits of bubble baths and solo pedicures more than we’d like to admit.
Here’s the thing though—we’re major fans of self-care. Because it goes way deeper than adding a few relaxing activities to your calendar.
Self-care is about prioritizing your mental, emotional, and spiritual health, even when life is busy and hectic. It’s about recognizing that you have to make intentional choices if you want to support your wellbeing. It’s about filling your own tank first, so that you can show up and be present in your life...at the gym, at work, and at home. And we can get behind that.
So, we’re talking about self-care, yes. But we’re not prescribing an unattainable combo of nightly bubble baths, extended meditation walks, and weekly facials. Instead, here are six low-maintenance self-care practices that will help you stay fit, healthy, and happy. No trendy aromatherapy candles required.
RECOGNIZE THE STRESS POINTS IN YOUR LIFE
The self-care gurus make it seem like it’s possible to completely eliminate stress from your life. Just keep your calming essential oil blend nearby, and you’re good to go. But, sometimes, stress is an unavoidable part of life. There’s illness, and career transitions, and difficult family dynamics, and cross-country moves, and tight financial situations. And stress tends to come along with all of those situations, and more.
So, when it’s just not possible to cut stress out of your life, take a moment to recognize it and prepare for it. About to walk into a stressful meeting? Give yourself a two-minute bathroom break for a few deep breaths and a pep talk. Heading to visit family for the holidays...and it’s not all merry and bright? Plan out how you’ll respond when the dinner table discussion takes a bad turn. Freaked out about a coming job change? Find one way to relieve the stress, whether that’s a journal session, a CrossFit class, or a happy hour date with a grounded friend.
Being aware of the stress points in your life can help you make mindful, intentional decisions for your own health and well-being.
MAKE MORNINGS THE BEST PART OF YOUR DAY
We’re not all natural earlybirds...but most of us have to get up in the mornings anyway. Sigh. If mornings aren’t your natural happy place, try creating a routine that makes it a little bit easier to get out of bed. That way, you can skip the multiple snooze buttons, the hurried breakfast, and the stressful race to get out the door on time(ish).
Lure yourself out of bed by setting your alarm clock across the room, and make your mornings a little bit less hectic by giving yourself time for a few of your favorite things. Maybe: your favorite podcast, your favorite breakfast, your favorite yoga flow, or your favorite coffee.
FIND A WAY TO ENJOY MOVING YOUR BODY
A healthy lifestyle involves more than a perfectly clean diet and daily trips to the gym—that’s the whole point of this article. However, consistent exercise is proven to reduce stress and anxiety, increase energy and confidence, and balance your weight and your mood. Hard to argue with those “side effects,” right?
We think exercise belongs on every list of self-care practices, and we’d recommend adding it to yours. That being said, try to find a workout that you enjoy, so that fitness becomes a happy part of your daily routine—not another to-do list item that piles on stress, guilt, and pressure to your already busy life.
ADD ONE RELAXING RITUAL TO YOUR DAY
Between kids’ activities, work stress, family committments, household responsibilities, and your holiday social calendar, you’re lucky to squeeze in time for lunch—let alone time for meditation, exercise, journaling, nature walks, or vision boards.
So, instead of trying to do it all (expert tip: it’s impossible), choose one relaxing ritual to add to your day. Get up five minutes earlier so that you can drink your coffee while reading the newspaper—instead of dumping it in a thermos before running out the door for work. Or, take two minutes at the end of the day to write down a short gratitude list—and skip the late-night Facebook session.
CREATE A MINDFUL EATING PHILOSOPHY
Our bodies are complex, and everything is connected. The food we eat affects our mood, our energy levels, our sleep, our immune systems, our productivity, and everything else. So, if you’re trying to balance your stress levels and feel a little bit more grounded, peaceful, and confident, take a look at your diet (and your diet mindset).
A few ideas: cut back on coffee and alcohol, limit refined sugars, and keep processed carbohydrates to a minimum.
But don’t make it all about strict rules. Instead, before each meal, ask yourself a few questions. How do you want to feel five minutes after you eat? How do you want to feel five hours after you eat? What food/drink would make you feel your best? Then, make your choices based on your answers.
PROTECT YOUR SLEEP
Fatigue leads to increased cortisol levels, decreased energy, and reduced productivity—three core ingredients in stressful, moody days. So, the simple truth? Sleeping well (and sleeping enough) is one of the best way to care for your body.
Before turning in for the night, we recommend shutting off your phone, drinking a cup of herbal tea, and skipping the “one more episode” that always turns into a later night than you planned.
Self-care isn’t about adding another task to your to-do list. It’s about shifting your mindset so that you can reduce stress and bring more joy and energy into your life. And that looks different for all of us.
So, take what you can from this list of ideas and adapt it to your unique situation. Take care.