Self-care is often misconstrued as self-indulgence—which is essentially treating yourself to things you don’t need—but it’s not that at all. “Self-care isn’t selfish,” says Los Angeles–based performance coach Dawn Smith. In fact, it’s the opposite. Self-care is “attending to your own needs in order to be better at attending to others’ needs,” she says.
Licensed psychologist Vanessa Handsel Roddenberry, PhD echoes this self-care definition. “When we feel burnt out and depleted,” she says, “it’s usually because we’ve been denied the time or ability to do things that have deep meaning to us, leaving us feeling off balance.”
Benefits of Self-Care
In addition to helping you feel more balanced and allowing you to be better at caring for others, self-care is an invaluable practice. Our experts share the following benefits of self-care:
• Reduced stress and increased inner peace
• Reduced anxiety and depression
• More energy throughout the day
• Higher levels of relaxation and productivity
• Increased ability to be in touch with your intuition and emotions
How to Practice Self-Care
One thing both Smith and Roddenberry stress when it comes to self-care is authenticity. Your goal is to take care of yourself and, subsequently, equip yourself to better care for others. It’s about finding activities that relax you, empower you and bring you joy.
“Self-care feels good because you’re moving forward with authenticity,” says Roddenberry, “so ask yourself what you might need today to feel like you are being true to yourself and your needs when you feel stressed. The important thing is that we listen to our bodies and minds when they tell us they might need a little recharge so that we can attend to it.”
Laurie-Anne King, a life coach in San Francisco, breaks down self-care activities into two categories: non-negotiables and luxuries. “Your ‘non-negotiables’ are activities that if you skip them, you’re going to be off your game,” she says. “You won’t be able to show up as the best version of yourself. You may feel scattered, tired or cranky. ‘Luxuries’ are those self-care actions that make you feel like a million bucks. It’s not stuff that you need to do every day, but when you do them they give you an extra boost.” To King, examples of non-negotiables include exercising and writing in a journal regularly, whereas luxuries might include going to an art show or taking a bubble bath with rose petals.
Ways to Add Self-Care Into Your Skin Care Routine
Virtually anything can be made into a form of self-care or self-love with the right mindset. It’s all about bringing attention back to yourself and making an activity into“me time.” Skin care, for example, can be a wonderful way to practice self-care. It’s an act of wellness, in the literal sense, as it benefits your skin health. But it can also be made into a ritual or sacred time. Something as simple as massaging a serum into your skin can help relax both your mind and body. Here are some of our favorite ways to add an element of self-care into your skin care routine.
1. Give yourself a face massage.
Elle Lorenzetti, owner of Puresthetics Skin Care in Cary, NC recommends the use of a facial roller for a relaxing form of self-care. Lorenzetti will use her facial roller “with a serum and roll the serum into [her] skin for about 10 minutes.” This soothing exercise—which can be made even more so by chilling the roller in the fridge beforehand—aids in lymphatic drainage, smooths fine lines, reduces puffiness and more.” Bonus: If you feel you could use the healing power of precious stones, try a jade roller.
2. Improve your sleep hygiene.
“The simplest but most life-altering self-care practice I offer my clients is to protect their sleep fiercely,” says Karen, owner of Balance Personal Fitness Training, LLC. “Quality sleep on a regular basis has the power to radically change lives. Suddenly, energy levels are higher, cognition is more clear and moods are more balanced.”
One of her top tips is to “ensure your pillow and mattress are comfortable.” Your direct environment—including the sheets you use, and yes, little luxuries like this silk eye mask from slip—plays a huge role in the quality of sleep you get. “It’s important to find a time to go to sleep at night and stay regular with that,” adds Smith.
Another way to improve your sleep quality is to train yourself to fall asleep faster.
3. Fuel your body with the nutrients it craves.
“Everything—from the food you eat, the sleep you get, the exercise you do and the way you ‘talk’ to yourself—is an opportunity for self-care,” says King. “In fact, some of the most powerful forms of self-care can be some of the most mundane.” Take eating, for example: “Do you fuel your body with nutrients?” she asks. Something as simple as taking your vitamins or mixing a powder supplement, like this Raw Beauty powder by HUM Nutrition, into your morning water or smoothie is a way to fit self-care into your daily routine.
Not a protein shake kind of gal? No worries. You can nourish your body with whole foods—even if you’re strapped for time. We love turning to Pinterest for healthy meal ideas and prepping them ahead of time. Throw everything in an eco-friendly lunchbox like the Prepd Pack, and enjoy your delicious meal on the go.
4. Soak away your stresses.
A soak in a warm bath is many a wellness expert’s self-care favorite. Our sources enjoy all types of baths—bubble baths, epsom salt baths and those accentuated with drops of essential oils.
5. Change your mindset on hydration (it's not a chore!).
Like Windex in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, water can solve nearly all of our problems (just ask your mother). Headache? Drink some water. Always hungry? You might just be thirsty; drink some water. Skin problems? Drink some water.
We know it can be tough to drink enough water every day—especially if you’re thinking of it as something you have to do—so why not make it into a form of self-care? Add a few slices of fruit or herbs (lemon and basil? lime and mint?) to your water for easy sipping. Or invest in a reusable water bottle that doubles as a stylish accessory. You’ll suddenly be looking for excuses to drink more water.
6. Create a wind-down routine.
Yoga teacher and meditation coach Veronica Parker gives herself time to relax and wind down at the end of each day. She often takes a bath, during which she focuses on repeating this affirmation: “I breathe in peace. I breathe out love. I breathe in peace. I breathe out love.” She then massages a soothing body oil into her skin and lies down to practice two minutes of left-nostril breathing (a type of yogic breathing said to promote relaxation and calmness) to “fully relax and go to bed with a clear mind.”
7. Relax with a hydrating facial mask.
Lorenzetti loves to treat her skin to a hydrating facial mask at least once a week. “After cleansing and using a gentle scrub, I apply a luxurious mask and relax for 15–20 minutes,” she says. “I usually do this at night on a Sunday, and wake up on Monday ready to go.” Luvbody will be adding masks soon, stay tuned!
8. Give your skin some extra love and attention.
Nearly anything can be an act of self-care if you’re doing it for relaxation, empowerment and joy. Something as seemingly simple as creating a daily skin care routine can give you that extra bit of calmness and happiness.
9. Inhale calm, exhale stress.
Self-care can literally be as simple as breathing. Both Smith and Parker recommend starting your day with 10 to 20 minutes to yourself—just breathing and meditating. “During this time, you can sit down in your favorite quiet place and just give yourself time to breathe,” says Parker. “Begin by closing your eyes, and inhale to the count of four. Suspend your breath for four. Exhale for four. Repeat this breathing rhythm for a few minutes. Don’t let inner thoughts deter you from practicing breathing and mini-meditation to clear your mind and find a greater sense of inner peace.”