(NEW YORK) — Self-care is a wellness buzzword but when it comes to actually putting self-care into practice, it’s not so easy.
The thing is, self-care is really just doing things that make you happy and make you feel good. It does not have to mean getting a massage, going away on a solo, exotic vacation or taking an entire day off of work.
The key, experts say, is knowing what works for you and making it happen.
“If you’re going to get it together in 2019, you have to know what works for you,” said Lauren Berger, CEO and founder of CareerQueen.com and InternQueen.com and author of Get It Together. “And sometimes we know what works for ourselves when it comes to self-care, but it’s a matter of activating it.”
Berger describes self-care as knowing your frustrations and finding small solutions to solve them, thereby nourishing yourself.
“I know that packing the night before a trip makes me anxious,” said Berger, sharing a personal example. “So it’s saying to myself, ‘I’m going to prepare and pack a week ahead.’ That is a form of self-care.”
With the expectation that self-care does not have to be elaborate or time-consuming, here are five ways to make it happen in your own life in 2019.
1. Make a list of what makes you happy
The first step in doing things that make you feel good is to identify what makes you happy. Make a list and keep it on hand, recommends Berger.
“Use that list to have them and implement them when you need them,” she said. “And, every once in a while, contributing new things to that list can really be helpful.”
She added, “I keep a ‘happy page’ in my notebook and I continually write things down that make me happy — went to fro-yo, put on a comfy sweater, watched reality TV.”
2. Set boundaries
Setting boundaries in your personal and professional life is a critical part of self-care, according to Berger.
“You can tell someone, ‘Please don’t text me before 9 a.m., between these hours I need to be with my child and you’re not going to hear back from me,'” she said. “Push yourself out of your comfort zone to set boundaries.”
You can also set your own boundaries to know when you need self-care, for example, saying to yourself, “I’m overwhelmed, now is when I need to implement a self-care technique.”
3. Put down your phone
There is likely only a small population of people who include being on their phone on the list of things that make them happy. Spending time on your phone not only uses up time you could be doing more life-fulfilling things, it can also lead to comparison and FOMO, the opposite of self-care.
“We live in a world of Instagram where it’s always about what someone else is doing, wearing, reading, talking to,” said Berger. “It’s important to pay attention to ourselves so we all need to find some time to separate from our phones, and particularly from social media.”
4. Start and end the day with something about you
This is a simple idea so don’t make it too complex. Simply do something when you wake up and before you go to sleep that makes you happy, whether it’s reading or meditating or talking with a loved one.
“Use the beginning and end of your day to really reflect on yourself and doing something that you enjoy, something that is not social media and you looking at other people’s lives,” said Berger.
5. Center self-care around a meal
You have to eat, so use those times of the day when you are fueling your body to also fuel your happiness.
Sit down at a table instead of eating in a rush or on-the-go, take time to prepare your favorite foods or set a nice table setting, even if it’s just for yourself.
Those tiny moments can be all about you.
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