Why Is Self-Care Important? Plus, 9 Ways to Do It Like a Pro.

BY Kaitlin Willow · March 25, 2020

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Self-care is often misconstrued as self-indulgence—or treating yourself to things you don’t need—but caring for yourself now feels more vital than ever. “Self-care isn’t selfish,” says Dawn Smith, Los Angeles-based life coach. Instead, it’s “attending to your own needs in order to be better at attending to others’ needs,” she says.  

Vanessa Handsel Roddenberry, Ph.D., a psychologist in Raleigh, NC, shares, “When we feel burned out and depleted, it’s usually because we’ve been denied the time or ability to do things that have deep meaning to us, leaving us feeling off-balance.” 

The Benefits of Self-Care 

In addition to helping you feel more balanced and allowing you to better care for others, our experts share the following benefits of self-care:  

  • Reduced stress
  • Increased energy throughout the day 
  • Higher levels of productivity  
  • Enhanced intuition and emotional awareness 

How to Practice Self-Care 

Laurie-Anne King, a life coach in San Francisco, breaks down self-care activities into two categories: non-negotiables and luxuries. “Your ‘non-negotiables’ are activities that if you skip them, you’re going to be off your game,” she says. “You may feel scattered, tired or cranky. ‘Luxuries’ are those self-care actions that make you feel like a million bucks. It’s not stuff that you need to do every day, but when you do them they give you an extra boost.” To King, non-negotiables might include exercising; luxuries might include taking a bubble bath with rose petals.

Virtually anything can be made into a form of self-care or self-love with the right mindset. It’s all about bringing attention back to yourself and making an activity into “me time.”

1. Give your skin some extra love and attention.

Skin care, for example, can be a wonderful way to practice self-care. Something as simple as massaging a serum into your skin can help relax both your mind and body. This nourishing facial oil not only feels indulgent as you press it into your skin, but it gives your skin a superpower boost with additional soothing and hydrating benefits. 

2. Master the art of face massage.

Elle Lorenzetti, owner of Puresthetics Skin Care in Cary, NC, reaches for a facial roller and a serum, rolling for about 10 delicious minutes. To raise the bar, you can chill the roller in the fridge beforehand to perform a lymphatic drainage massage, which can reduce puffiness. A jade roller is perfect for the job.

3. Treat yourself with a facial mask.

Facial masks are to self-care as avocado is to toast. Lorenzetti treats her skin to a hydrating mask at least once a week. “After cleansing and using a gentle scrub, I apply a luxurious mask and relax for 15 to 20 minutes,” she says. “I usually do this on a Sunday night, and wake up on Monday ready to go.” One of our favorites is the KEFIR Ultimate Recovery Mask from TULA Skincare. It not only hydrates, but improves skin elasticity, smooths wrinkles and calms skin with probiotic-powered kefir, a fermented milk.  

4. Fuel your body with the nutrients it craves.

“Everything—from the food you eat, the sleep you get, the exercise you do and the way you ‘talk’ to yourself—is an opportunity for self-care,” says King. “In fact, some of the most powerful forms of self-care can be some of the most mundane.” Take eating, for example: “Do you fuel your body with nutrients?” she asks. Something as simple as taking your vitamins or mixing a powder supplement, like this Raw Beauty powder by HUM Nutrition, into your morning water or smoothie is a way to fit self-care into your daily routine.

5. Take a dip.

The bath is a centerpiece of self-care, especially when the water is spiked with bubbles, epsom salt or oils. We love Herbivore Botanicals Calm Bath Salts—made with ylang ylang, vanilla essential oils and Himalayan sea salts (for that blush color!)—to ease muscle tension and melt away stress as you inhale its soothing scent.

6. Change your mindset on hydration (it's not a chore!)

Like Windex in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, water can solve nearly all of our problems (just ask your mother). Headache? Drink some water. Always hungry? You might just be thirsty; drink some water. Skin problems? Drink some water.

We know it can be uninspiring (ok, boring) to drink enough water every day—so we like to give it some flair. Add a few slices of fruit or a sprig of herbs (lemon and basil, lime and mint, orange and fennel?) and pour it into a stylish reusable water bottle. You’ll suddenly be looking for excuses to drink more water.

7. Inhale calm, exhale stress.

There’s breathing, and then there’s breathing. Both Smith and Parker recommend starting your day with 10 to 20 minutes to yourself—just breathing and meditating. “You can sit in your favorite quiet place, close your eyes, and inhale to the count of four,” says Parker. “Suspend your breath for four. Exhale for four. Repeat this breathing rhythm for a few minutes. Don’t let inner thoughts deter you from practicing breathing and mini-meditation to clear your mind and find a greater sense of inner peace.” Take it a step further with aromatherapy, made easy with this rollerball by This Works.

8. Create a wind-down ritual.

Rather than go from endless Instagram scroll straight to bed, Veronica Parker, yoga teacher and meditation coach, gives herself time to relax at the end of each day. She often takes a bath, during which she focuses on repeating this affirmation: “I breathe in peace. I breathe out love. I breathe in peace. I breathe out love.” She then massages a soothing body oil into her skin and lies down for two minutes of left-nostril breathing (a type of yogic breathing said to promote relaxation and calmness). By the time she climbs into bed, she’s “fully relaxed with a clear mind.” Use your favorite massage oil like this herb-rich formula from Naturopathica—focusing on your achy muscles.

9. Embrace sleep hygiene.

“The simplest but most life-altering self-care practice I offer my clients is to protect their sleep fiercely,” says Karen, owner of Balance Personal Fitness Training, LLC. “Quality sleep on a regular basis has the power to radically change lives. It’s important to find a time to go to sleep at night and stay regular with that. Suddenly, energy levels are higher, cognition is more clear and moods are more balanced.”

One of her top tips is to “ensure your pillow and mattress are comfortable.” Your direct environment—including the sheets you use, and yes, little luxuries like this silk eye mask from slip—plays a significant role in sleep quality.

 

kaitlin willow dermstore author photo

Kaitlin Willow

Kaitlin Willow is Dermstore's Community Manager. She lives and breathes words—reading as many books as possible and w... Read More >

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