These days, it can be tough to find time for yourself. Between joining round-the-clock Zoom calls to dealing with everyday tasks, the days blur together, making it (understandably!) difficult to justify taking the time to have a regular self-care routine. But it’s not one of those things you can just kick from a busy schedule — and self-care is more than an indulgence. In fact, it’s an investment that can have a serious payoff in terms of your mental health; think more calm, less stress. Research shows that sticking to a routine can ease anxiety and help you feel more control in your day, whatever that may bring. Here’s how to make it happen.
Why a Self-Care Routine Matters
First, let’s talk about the benefits of having a routine, any routine. Research shows that rituals can lead to lower anxiety, and actually create a beneficial cycle: Anxiety leads to ritual, which in turn delivers anxiety-reducing perks, like feeling more in control and less stressed. And having a routine at night in particular can translate to better sleep, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, which can then deliver payoffs — more energy and better mood, for starters — in the AM.
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Then, there’s self-care. In most cases, self-care means any activity that helps you manage stress and maintain or improve your overall wellbeing. That could be anything from flossing regularly to having a gratitude journal. For most of us, self-care is a work in progress, and it’s not as simple or straightforward as putting on a face mask and calling it a day. It’s all about being kind and gentle with and to yourself.
And it has real benefits: A 2018 study that followed medical students concluded that self-care activities, spanning stress management, good nutrition, and beyond, may actually buffer the effects of stress on the body. The findings also suggested that practicing good self-care can boost resilience. If that’s not a good excuse to take some you-time, we don’t know what is.
That said, we should point out here that if you shouldn’t stress over self-care. Consider changing it up if your current routine isn’t cutting it; after all, one size doesn’t fit all. You should take care of your mental health in whatever way feels right to you.
How to Build Your Self-Care Routine
You don’t need to reserve a half-hour for your self-care session. Whether you’re working with five or 50 minutes, it all counts. Here, a few ways to trick out your self-care routine:
Give your body TLC
You might have your usual skincare routine on lock, but that doesn’t always include body-care. So, take a hot (but not too hot) bath or shower, then follow it up with an application of a luxurious body cream, which pulls double-duty to help you relax and nourish your skin. Focus on massaging it in all over, especially dry areas like your knees and elbows. Our Watermelon Glow Pink Dream Body Cream contains a blend of nutrient-packed watermelon seed butter, soothing watermelon extract, and gentle, hibiscus-derived exfoliants to smooth and soften skin — plus, its juicy watermelon scent makes for an all-around uplifting experience. (The whipped texture also sinks in ASAP, so you can get dressed or change into pajamas as soon as you apply it.)
If your skin feels desert-dry, check to see if you’re dealing with one of these sneaky skin-drying habits.
Do some deep breathing
A little meditation while focusing on your breath can be helpful when you’re stressed to the nines, but it’s not always realistic to go from 60 back to zero. That’s where deep breathing can come in handy — not only that, but it’s also the perfect complement as you’re going through your body-care routine. Try breathing in for four counts and exhaling for six for a few minutes. Another breath exercise perfect for your self-care moment? Inhale eight quick breaths, then breathe out in one long exhale.
Just go to bed
Along with a healthy diet and regular exercise, sleep is one of those core tenets of self-care. There are few things a good night’s sleep can’t fix, really, and it’s as easy as moving up your bedtime or just putting down the phone. (It’s also the best time to treat your skin — just putting it out there.) If you’re doing your self-care routine at night, consider this the best way to finish it up. You’ll not only be in the best possible headspace to fall asleep, but you’ll feel especially good about it when you wake up refreshed and recharged in the morning. Self-care, accomplished.
Take a deep breath, then keep reading: