When was the last time you did something nice for yourself? Too often we’re so busy worrying about everyone else’s happiness that we don’t even think about our own. 

“I think it’s hard to create those boundaries and say to yourself it’s OK that I need to just do something for me, even if it’s just walking around the block,” says Kim Jory, a GoodLife Fitness manager. “I think it’s something that, if you don’t prioritize it, then it doesn’t just magically happen.”

Self-care involves identifying your own needs, and taking the steps to meet them. It also means taking the time to do the activities that nurture you, and treating yourself as kindly as you treat others. Self-care can help you physically, emotionally and even spiritually.

Some ways to practice self-care include:

  • Meditation
  • Bubble bath
  • Going for a run
  • Gardening
  • Reading

Jory recommends finding activities that contribute to your growth, your happiness and your enjoyment of life. Maybe that can be starting a new habit or hobby, or rekindling an old one.

“It’s finding some time in the day to listen to yourself,” says Jory. “Just kind of get quiet and do that internal check-in with yourself. It could be as simple as taking five minutes to do something you enjoy, or just spend time thinking about nothing.”

How we talk to ourselves is also important. Rather than being your harshest critic, why not become your biggest fan?

“There’s lots of research on self-compassion and how much better it makes people, and more productive,” says Jory. “Being hard on yourself is not going to motivate you to get up in the morning; it’s actually the opposite.”

Put yourself first

While the idea of putting yourself first might seem out of character or too far from your comfort zone, remember that self-care doesn’t need to mean big changes. Start small and enjoy the sense of fulfillment.

“The smaller that you can make some sort of positive habit, the better. That way you’re more likely to do it every single day,” Jory says. “Maybe it’s starting the morning with a glass of water and ending the day flossing your teeth. It’s creating anchor habits that bookmark the start and end of your day.”

Tips on getting started with self-care

  • Make time for yourself, even if it’s just a few minutes
  • Do things that make you feel good
  • Don’t compare your life to someone else’s
  • Don’t feel guilty

July 24th is International Self-Care Day, which was started in 2011 as a way to promote self-care as a foundation of good health. But self care lasts year-round. To learn more, visit the International Self-Care Foundation’s website.