8 Ways You Can Start Practicing Self-Care Right Now, According to Therapists
There's no one way to practice self-care. As the name suggests, it's highly individual — whatever makes you feel your best, that's what you should do. Still, we were curious what experts recommend to their own patients, so we spoke with two therapists: L.A. Barlow, doctor of psychology at Detroit Medical Center, and California-based doctor of psychology Alisa Ruby Bash.
Dr. Barlow explained that she tailors her self-care recommendations to each patient's interests. "What one person finds relaxing and a good form of self-care may not be good for another person," she told POPSUGAR. For example, you might find it helpful to spend a few days alone (maybe even travel alone!), while someone else prefers to surround themselves with friends and family.
"I recommend that patients make a list of the top 10 things they would like to try if they loved themselves twice as much as they do now," Dr. Bash said. "Most people know what they need to do for themselves that will make them feel happier and more loved. It's a matter of actually doing the things that we know we need to do." So before you even delve into what kind of self-care you need in your life, try thinking about the things that make you feel most content. At the end of the day, you can always seek out help from a medical professional if you feel like you're struggling to find answers. In the meantime, here are a few ideas from Dr. Barlow and Dr. Bash to get you on the road to self-care.
Get a Massage
One of Dr. Bash's go-to self-care recommendations is getting a massage. Yes, it can help relax tense muscles, but it will also help you sleep better and improve your mood.
A bit of exercise can do wonders, "especially if you can incorporate something outside," Dr. Barlow said. She suggests going for a hike or a walk — some fresh air and a change of scenery almost always makes you feel better.
Go to Therapy
"Self-care should address your physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial needs," Dr. Bash told POPSUGAR. Sometimes your self-care needs to start with (or include) seeing a therapist. Therapy can completely change your life for the better if you're open to it and find the right therapist for you.
Listen to Music
Try creating a relaxing playlist, then just tune out everything else for a while. "Listening to music can be a very effective method of self-care," Dr. Barlow said.
"Find some form of self-care daily, even if it's only for a few minutes during a busy day," Dr. Barlow said. Something like meditation, which Dr. Bash recommends, is a great way to take care of your mind even for a brief moment. Try using a mindfulness app to get your meditation in if you don't know how to begin.
According to Dr. Bash, self-care is about "getting to know where each person can grow, and helping them define what self-love and self-care means for them." For you, there might be no commitment more powerful than trying to get a good night's sleep. The benefits are vast and can help you recharge and have a better day.
A balanced diet can fuel your day and lift your spirits. Dr. Barlow recommends trying to avoid emotional eating, which can cause you to overdo it and won't actually make you feel any better.
Both doctors also recommend travel as a form of self-care, provided you have the time, money, and interest to do so. Traveling can be something as small as a weekend getaway to a town up the road or something as big as a two-week backpacking trip across a different continent. Like with any form of self-care, this one should be what suits your needs best.