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Between managing work, your family, bills to pay, and errands to run, the last person you’re concerned about taking care of often ends up being yourself. It’s easy to put the needs of others before your own, but to show up for the rest of your life, you have to show up for yourself first. We know – easier said than done. “Self-care” has a reputation of being indulgent and expensive, but you don’t need to splurge on all-day pampering at a high-end spa to take care of yourself.

1.     Drink water

Have you had water today? We’re not saying switch out your daily coffee for h2o (we wouldn’t dare!), but an easy way to take care of your body without spending a dime is staying hydrated throughout your day. Carry a reusable water bottle with you or opt for water with your meals instead of a soda. Staying hydrated makes you feel more alert, energized, and is just plain good for you – studies have shown improved organ function, slowed aging, and lower cholesterol in well-hydrated people vs. those who forgo water.

2.     Spend time outdoors

Spring has arrived and you’re likely a little sun-starved! Get outside for a walk, or if you have an available outdoor space at work or home, try eating a meal in the fresh air. Spending time in nature has been linked to a whole host of health benefits, such as an improved immune system and eye health from vitamin D, as well as boosting serotonin (more happy brain chemicals) and your attention span. Being exposed to daylight also helps regulate your circadian rhythm, which acts as an internal clock that tells you when to sleep and wake — and is powered by the sun. All of this means you’ll sleep better and longer, which is a huge factor in stress management. 

3.     Make time for exercise (that you actually like)

If you have a spare 30 minutes you’d otherwise spend watching TV or scrolling through your phone, consider putting that time toward a quick workout instead. Physical activity is great for activating endorphins and other feel-good chemicals in your brain that can help brighten your spirits if you’ve been feeling down. Creating a workout regimen also gives you a routine to follow, which can be helpful in times of uncertainty, stress, or upheaval. If exercise isn’t your thing or you’re feeling too tired to think let alone work out, try to envision that time as you time — thirty minutes where you’re just focused on yourself, your health, and how good it feels to take care of your mind and body.

4.     Find a creative outlet

When you hear the word “creative”, you may think that means being able to sing, dance, paint, write, or draw – and it can! However, being creative comes in many forms, and engaging in an activity where you tap into the creative part of your brain and express yourself can help your overall well-being. Many people find baking and the process of following a recipe to be a soothing, centering activity. Gardening combines two self-care methods – the outdoors and creativity – and it can be really rewarding to watch your hard work bloom in the spring and summer months. Even playing a sport or exercising can be a great emotional outlet brimming with creativity. Using your body to achieve goals or crafting new workout plans requires just as much creativity and imagination as writing a novel or painting a portrait (though with a lot more sweat!).

5.     Treat yourself, even if its small

Sometimes self-care can feel like a lot of work – even though it’s meant to lighten your load. You don’t always feel like breaking a sweat, being social, or purchasing art supplies to start a new hobby, especially if you’re worried about your budget. In this case, it’s okay to take it easy and simply treat yourself to something that will feel really nice in the moment. This could be a milkshake, a manicure, allowing yourself two hours to watch a game on TV, or even just a nap. Whatever your treat, don’t feel guilty for indulging — being kind to yourself is the ultimate self-care move.