As much as we love Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle and their outrageous "Treat yo'self" shopping sprees and spa days, that's not necessarily what's in mind for everyone in need of a little self-care. Some people think of a massage as nothing but a torturous tickle session and others might live in regret over swiping a credit card for a pair of designer boots, no matter how much they covet them. The whole point of self-care is to nurture yourself with experiences that feel good inside and out. First step: Try not to overthink it. Just do what makes you happy—it can be something totally basic like watching Dancing With the Stars, or go real deep and develop a daily meditation regimen. Your choice. It's about you.
In case you're one of many who've avoided self-care for so long you're not even sure what you want, here are 10 foolproof practices to adopt.
- Do something relaxing first thing in the morning.
From the moment the alarm blares to the immediate glance at your inbox to the mad dash out the door for work, mornings are no longer sacred. We're on a race to get to the rat race. In the process, we forget that we deserve to enjoy every second of the day. Mornings are the absolute perfect time to bring the focus back to yourself. What would bring you pleasure right when you wake up? For a few rare breeds, it might actually be diving head first into the work day—which is totally fine if that genuinely excites you. But for most of us, reading a few pages of a book in bed, brewing a cup of coffee, or even going for a walk and listening to the birds is much more idyllic. Whatever it is, give yourself that.
- Be more curious.
Apathy is dangerous. It engenders an attitude that things don't matter—including yourself. Make an effort to cultivate curiosity and learn new things on a daily basis. You'll be surprised how this simple practice can organically spark inspiration throughout your life.
- Call your mom …
… or your best friend, or just someone you love and who gets you. It's easy to lose yourself if you're frequently away from your people and are more often surrounded by toxic acquaintances. Keeping close contact with those who know you best will help you remember who you are.
- Leave your phone at home.
This might sound inconceivable, but if you think you can do this without going insane, give it a try. If you're heading out to do something fun, like having lunch with a friend or hitting a bike trail, there's no need for a phone really, is there? Sure, you could put it on silent or on airplane mode to minimize the distraction, but it's too easy. Dare to live for a few hours like we used to before smartphones became stitched to our back pockets. Even if it's just while you walk down the street to get coffee. Let it go.
- Choose a mantra.
It's OK to have no interest at all in meditating, but it doesn't hurt to have a mantra to repeat to yourself throughout the day in stressful moments. One traditional Sanskrit mantra is So Hum; it translates to 'I am that (all of creation),' which signifies your connection to everything in the world. But don't worry, it can be an English phrase! Whatever brings you peace. For myself, I like the words "blue sea" because everything about it is calming, from the sound of it to the imagery it evokes. Phrases like "I am love" or "I am grateful" are a good start.
- Write a gratitude list.
This is super easy, and over time it can really shift your thinking to focus on gratitude instead of things you desire or lack. As often as you want—every day, every week, every month—write out a list of things you're grateful for. Your dog, your team making it to the Super Bowl, vegan donuts. This list better be long because, no doubt, there are tons of awesome things in your life.
- Pick a workout you actually like.
Let's be real—if you dread running, even if it gets you in the best shape ever, it's not self-care. You're allowed to exercise in ways that are actually fun. If restorative yoga is more your speed, cool. Surfing, for sure. Dancing for hours at your fave hip hop night counts, too.
- Cook healthy meals.
Few things are more nourishing than cooking yourself nutritious, life-giving meals. By choosing real organic foods, you can protect your body from toxins and processed ingredients that sneak into our daily diets. Eating well shows through in your energy and appearance—and increased confidence is the byproduct.
- Try at least one new wellness trend.
- Create a bedtime ritual.
Bedtime is the other most perfect time to do you. Instead of working up to the last minute you can keep your eyes open or drifting off into a Hulu-themed dream, wind down right. Consistently giving your body cues that it's time for sleep can be relaxing. It could be as simple as reading a book, brushing your teeth, washing your face, and slipping into cozy PJs. Make this a nightly routine and you'll get the best sleep of your life, which is an amazing gift. Sing it with me, now: Treat yo'self 2017. (If you're still not getting the reference, here you go.)