Self-care might sometimes feel like a marketing ploy designed to get you to spend more money on face masks and bubble baths. But there's actually real value in pampering yourself. According to Alice Williams, MD, a physician and healthy living expert based in Las Vegas, prioritizing self-care can help boost your confidence, improve your overall mood, and have a positive impact on your physical and mental health. On the other hand, failing to make time for self-care can lead to physical and emotional burnout, causing you to feel overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, or even depressed.
But real self-care isn't just treating yourself every once in a while. Kai Lewis, MS, an associate marriage and family therapist working in a private practice in Southern California, warns that "in a world of quick fixes," self-care is the opposite—its effects are cumulative over time. In order to see the real benefits of self-care, you need to be practicing it daily, according to Lewis.
Fortunately, you don't necessarily need a lot of time or money to show yourself a little extra attention every day. Talking to experts, we found out that adding small activities into your daily routine or even modifying certain things you're already doing can help you pamper yourself. Read on to discover five easy self-care ideas you should starting incorporating into your life immediately.
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Slow down in the shower.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans already report taking a shower every day, according to Harvard Health. But making this a pampering activity goes beyond just getting in the water. After all, if you're rushing to shower right before work every morning, that's hardly going to feel like self-care. Sara Miller, a self-care coach for women with anxiety, tells Best Life one of her go-to tips for clients looking to incorporate daily self-care into their lives is to "slow down" in the shower.
"Put on an encouraging podcast, light candles, and move just a little more slowly," she says. "This is one of my favorite ways to reset when I'm feeling anxious or overwhelmed, and is easy to fit into my day because I'm already doing it anyways—I've just elevated it."
Take a nice nap.
Many people misjudge napping as a lazy habit or assume it makes it harder to maintain healthy sleeping habits at night. But according to WebMD, naps can actually have positive effects on your mental and physical health, as well as help improve nighttime sleep. Drake Ballew, the founder and CEO of the modern mental healthcare agency Practice Health, says an easy way to practice self-care each day is by "taking a nice nap" when you're tired.
"Put aside the time for a luxurious lay-down—preferably not slumped over your work desk, but on a bed or couch if possible," he says. "Give yourself 20 or 40 minutes, or even an hour if you can spare it. Set your alarm so you don't have to worry about missing anything important. Close your eyes and let your worries drift away."
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Connect with your loved ones.
When we get overwhelmed, we might not always make time for other people every day. But depending on who it is, taking a bit of time out of your busy schedule for someone else could also benefit you. Williams tells Best Life that an easy way to take care of yourself is simply to connect with friends and relatives. "Spending time with loved ones can help reduce stress levels and boost your mood," she explains.
It doesn't have to be a major endeavor if you're really stressed for time. According to Williams, even something as simple as checking in with a loved one through text each day can be a form of self-care. You can also stay in touch through social media or a video chat. "Time with those you care about is always beneficial," Williams says.
Tell yourself positive affirmations.
It turns out that you might actually be able to fake it till you make it. Angela Ficken, LICSW, a psychotherapist based in Boston, recommends pampering yourself through positive affirmations. According to Ficken, setting aside time in your daily routine to speak positively to and about yourself can help gradually improve your self-esteem. "You can stand in front of the mirror and give yourself a pep talk," she explains.
Ficken recommends telling yourself things like, "I'm doing well, I'm beautiful, I have great coping skills, I'm successful," and so on. But don't worry—you don't even have to necessarily feel like you believe these things when you say them. "Positive affirmations don't have to be statements you fully believe in but every time you repeat them, try to visualize your life as if they were true," she adds. "If you're consistent with your practice, you'll be able to see a change in your mood and confidence soon."
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Take a break from social media.
Scrolling through your Twitter feed or watching funny TikTok videos might feel like your favorite way to start each day, but it may be more harmful than helpful. Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, a celebrity psychologist and author of Get Out of the Red Zone, tells Best Life that taking time away from social media is actually "one of the easiest and most powerful ways of pampering yourself" daily. "Taking a real break from social media allows you to be present at the moment and really be in touch with the natural environment and yourself," Lombardo explains.
According to Khristee Rich, a holistic health expert specializing in wellness, creating a morning ritual that doesn't involve scrolling on social media allows you to "go inward and focus on yourself." For example, Melanie Musson, a wellness expert with Clearsurance.com, recommends using this time to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea in a quiet space.
"As insignificant as that sounds, a moment of quiet can give you grounding for the rest of the day," Musson says.