It took me years to learn this: It’s not selfish to take care of yourself. It’s not selfish to take care of yourself! Part of taking care of yourself is treating yourself like you matter. Here are small ways to be kind to yourself throughout the day.
Eat off of real plates. It only takes a moment to clean up after and even pre-packaged food is so much nicer to eat on a pretty plate than straight out of the wrapper. At work, I put my Belvita biscuits on a plate with a decorate edge. Would you serve an important guest food out of the packaging? If no, then why would you treat yourself that way? (“It’s faster,” you cry. Try it anyway.)
Use a clean mug. You could keep refilling the mug you’ve been refilling since 8am, or you could get a fresh one for your afternoon pick-me-up.
Take a shower or soak in a tub.
Put on something that makes you feel good. Maybe it’s a favorite shirt or scarf or a piece of jewelry. I keep emergency high heels at work. The things you have on can dramatically shift your mood. I do this even if I’m not leaving the house.
Tidy the area around you. A clean space feels more relaxed. Take a moment to straighten your desk or make the bed.
Complete a task you’ve been putting off. You’ll feel so much better afterwards.
Place something meaningful in areas where you spend a lot of time. This isn’t something you’ll do every day, but surrounding yourself with objects that mean something to you or make you feel happy will have a daily payoff. I keep a framed photograph of my grandmother holding me as a baby near my desk. It always makes me smile!
Eat when you’re hungry. Denying yourself food–or any kind of self-punishment–is a bad and dangerous habit. If you work outside of your home and have the time and means, pack yourself a lunch. I bought slim gray lunchbox on Amazon (mine is out of stock but this one is similar) and take things like carrots, salad, cookies—whatever fits in the compartments! I’m also a big fan of energy shakes. I drink Huel (that link will give you $10 off if you’d like to try it—or just Google).
Walk away for a bit. Take a break. Solutions often come after you calm down.
Listen to a song you love.
Look at something beautiful or inspirational.
Exercise. Go on a walk, jump on an elliptical machine while you watch Netflix, or bounce around your kitchen. Getting exercise is essential to your health, especially if you’re like me and work a desk job. Two minutes is better than nothing if you are crunched for time.
Tell yourself it’s okay to say “no.” You do not have to accept every invitation for dinner or coffee from a friend that you receive. If you’re stretched too thin, it’s okay to take a rain check. I recently told a coworker that airline safety taught me this: Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting the person next to you. You’re no good to anyone if you’ve passed out (metaphorically). If you need a break, take it. Taking care of yourself is not selfish and no one is entitled to your time.
Light a candle. Scent can be a huge mood booster. I like to burn candles or incense when I write or while I’m reading. I like soy candles and Morning Star incense (which I found at Disney World as a kid!), especially their jasmine and lotus scents.
Work on something that is important to you. Even if you can only give it five minutes, devote five minutes to a passion project. Five minutes a day is over 30 hours a year.
Establish a nighttime routine. Have tea, take a shower, read, hug your schnauzers–whatever it is, do something for yourself before you go to bed.
Give yourself a break. What happened today happened. You can’t change it (unless you’ve invented time travel, in which case, congratulations and please call me). But you can control how you act in this moment. Maybe you weren’t as productive as you’d like, got angry when you shouldn’t have, or made a mistake. Acknowledge it and move on. You’re human.
Rest. Sleep is critical for your brain to function properly. Give yourself permission to rest. Things will still be there in the morning.