You’ve no doubt heard the term “self-care,” but what is it, exactly?
Self-care is anything you do intentionally to care for your mental, emotional or physical health. When you’re used to caring for others, doing something “just for you” can feel frivolous or unnecessary. But the opposite is true, experts say: People who practice self-care are healthier and happier.
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Benefits of self-care include:
- Improved sleep
- Less stress and anxiety
- More energy
- Lower blood pressure
- More patience
- Improved mood and self-esteem
- Better ability to cope
We asked 200 members of our online Hallmark community how they practice self-care. Here are the most mentioned activities, along with why you may want to give self-care a try and tips on getting started.
Meditating or practicing yoga
This one can be intimidating for newbies. For an easy introduction to yoga, check out “Yoga for Complete Beginners,” a free 20-minute video featuring soothing instructor Adriene Mishler.
Praying or attending church
If your faith refuels you but it’s slipped down the priority list, enlist the support of friends or family. Let them know it’s an important part of caring for yourself and that you’d like their help. That could mean anything from giving you time to pray to attending services together.
Going away, even for a short time, can take your mind off stressful situations and boost creativity. To help recall those good times—and inspire you to plan another trip—consider starting a vacation souvenirs collection.
A nap can be a “pleasant luxury, a mini-vacation,” according to the National Sleep Foundation. It also boosts alertness. A study at NASA found a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34 percent.
It’s easy—and the best thing you can do to improve your overall health, many studies show. So, lace up and hit the sidewalk or trail by yourself, with a friend or with a four-legged buddy.
Losing yourself in a book is a wonderful, inexpensive way to escape from your worries and rejuvenate.
Like reading, watching favorite shows offers a wonderful escape. Want to get even more of a boost? Cuddle up with a loved one and watch a show together, perhaps on the Hallmark Channel.
Working in dirt fights stress and boosts your mood, studies show. Here’s a fun idea for a DIY vertical herb garden.
Need some inspiration? Check out our collection of yummy Hallmark dessert recipes.
Other popular ideas include listening to music, coloring, aromatherapy, lighting candles and doing crafts. You can find more self-care inspiration in our 30-day chill out challenge, a collection of ways to achieve a relaxed, summertime feeling any time of year.
Self-care is only for people with time.
“The responsibility of running the household means unending tasks. It’s hard to sit down and relax when my to-do list is out there,” says Jill, a Hallmark community member. It is hard, but worth it for the advantages it offers you, your family and even your to-do list (remember the “more energy” benefit?). Carve out 15 minutes a day on your calendar to do something purely because you enjoy it, and see what happens.
Self-care is only for people with money.
It can seem like if you’re not spending all day at a fancy spa, you’re not “succeeding” at self-care. But who can relax when you’re worried about racking up debt? As mentioned above, there are plenty of free or low-cost ways to care for yourself.
Self-care is selfish.
Caring for yourself as you do everyone else is the only way to ensure your well-being and ability to be there for others long term. “I’ve spent lots of time dealing with everyone else’s issues, but I know I also need to deal with my stress,” says Rita, a Hallmark community member. If you struggle with prioritizing self-care, ask for support and encouragement from those closest to you.
Self-care has to be solitary.
In fact, spending time with friends and family is a great way to combat loneliness and feel better. “My partner and I like to use masks together on Sundays. We make it a little spa session,” says Alicia, a Hallmark community member. Others feel uplifted after laughing on the phone with a good friend or a vigorous Zumba class. Some enjoy reading or crafting with family members nearby who are engaging in their own self-care activities. Remember, alone or together, if it boosts your mental, emotional or physical health, it’s self-care.
Dig deeper into self-care with our collection of lovely self-care quotes.