The 9 Essential Self-Care Practices We All Need to Make Time For

POPSUGAR Photography | Emily Faulstich
POPSUGAR Photography | Emily Faulstich

Self-care has come to mean all sorts of things, from spa days to retreats to clean eating, and that can leave many of us feeling like it's beyond our reach. If we strip it back to basics, however, we can all make time for self-care with a few actionable and achievable goals to get us on the right track when we're struggling. The essentials of self-care include washing, dressing, and feeding ourselves, and getting enough rest. There are various reasons why these tasks can be challenging to complete at just a functional level, for financial, psychological, or physical reasons.

Even if you're able to keep on top of these daily practices, it can be difficult to find the time, energy, or space to really care for yourself in these areas. These are crucial things to pay attention to, though, and will help you feel strong and centered at your very core. These nine self-care tips will show you how to approach a manageable self-care routine that will help you feel better each day.

1. Do Something You Love

There are so many things we feel we have to do that most of the things we want to do get pushed to the side. We can all make a bit of time, though, to do something we love. Even if that's just 10 minutes reading a magazine, or 30 minutes baking a cake, it will make a difference to your mood. Set a time when you know you'll be able to do that, and it might make it easier to get through all of the other "must-do" things too.

2. Spend Time With Your Favorite People

You can't beat quality time with friends and family (or our furry, feathered, and scaly friends), but that often falls by the wayside. If all you can manage is a quick phone call, that's a great start. Meeting up in person is even better, though, as the physical interaction will make you feel good, too. Try getting together after work or on your lunch break for a catch-up over food and drinks.

3. Make Time For a Lunch Break

Speaking of a sociable lunchtime, so many of us are so pushed for time at work that eating can become a functional part of life, as we wolf down a sandwich and crisps at our desk. This isn't great for our bodies, minds, or souls. We all need to take a break, whether that's at lunch or a different part of the day, like breakfast. Making time to slowly eat and enjoy our food, uninterrupted by tasks, is an important part of taking care of ourselves. Even if you can only manage a proper lunch break once a week, that's a step in the right direction.

4. Eat Something Delicious

While you're making time to eat a leisurely breakfast or lunch, treat yourself to something that you really love. Food can be such a pleasurable experience for all the senses, but all too often we deny ourselves our favorites for health, financial, or time reasons. Eating a cake every day isn't going to be beneficial, of course, but a little of what you fancy now and then can lift your spirits. It could be as simple as a warm cup of tea or coffee from a cafe, or perhaps you can make time at the weekend to make a roast dinner using your grandmother's recipe.

5. Wear That Special Outfit

All too often we save "special" things for "special" occasions, whether it's a pair of designer shoes or a bottle of vintage bubbles. But the everyday is what we're living, so why wait to wear those beautiful boots or crack open that bottle of champagne? There's a place for deferred pleasure, but when the majority of your pleasure gets deferred most of the time, it takes away the fact that every day we're alive is a special day on its own terms. Wear the shoes. Drink the bubbly. Don't wait!

6. Take a Long Bath

When you're rushing around with what feels like a million things to do, washing can become a purely practical part of your life. You shower or bathe simply to get clean, and sometimes you don't even have enough time to do that every day (which is why dry shampoo is such a godsend). Make time now and then to really luxuriate in a long, hot bath, though, and you'll find it's such an easy way to relax — and much cheaper and more straightforward than a full-on spa day. If you can fit in one of those occasionally too, though, so much the better.

7. Get a Good Night's Sleep

There are plenty of reasons why it's difficult to get to bed early. Getting enough sleep, though, is one of the most important parts of caring for yourself, and will help you in so many ways. Even if you can only manage to hit the hay early once a week, or can only give yourself an extra 30 minutes in bed now and then, it will start to make a difference. Do it whenever you can, and you'll reap the rewards.

8. Say No When You Need To

Don't be afraid to be honest with people when you're feeling overwhelmed, whether that's your boss, your partner, or your friends. If you need to, you can say no. Explaining why you can't stay late to take on that extra task at work, or why you can't travel hundreds of miles for that party this weekend, will help them understand where you're at. They'll respect you for your honesty, and you'll have taken care of your own well-being without causing offense or jeopardizing your career.

9. Move Your Body

Exercise is beneficial in so many ways, but you don't have to sign up to a gym or commit to a grueling fitness regime to make a change. Simply going for a walk in a beautiful setting or dancing at home to your favorite music will get the blood pumping and will raise your happy hormones.