Yes, of course, all of those things are absolutely lovely and if they make you feel good when you're stressed out, keep doing 'em! You do you. But right here, right now, we're going to nix the one-size-fits-all approach of 'Grammable Rest™. Why? "Put simply, the best self-care strategy is the one that you’re actually going to use," says Dr. Stephanie Olarte, PhD.
Cool! Got it! But wait! Maybe you're still a lil confused. Self-care should be personal, sure, but if everyone you know insists that meditating during a 6 a.m. cryotherapy sesh is the only thing that cured their burnout and anxiety, it's easy to feel even more overwhelmed and defeated.
Before you give up on self-care entirely, check out the expert-approved tips below. The next time you're feeling particularly anxious, burnt out, or just want to add a little bit of "ahhh" to your day, pull up this story (yep, I recommend you bookmark this link) and get your—emphasis on you, bb—self-care on.
1. Put your phone on airplane mode.
If you're protesting, you're not alone—the idea of not always being *on* stresses me the f*ck out too. But psychotherapist Meredith Prescott, of Prescott Psychotherapy and Wellness in New York City, is giving you permission to shut it all out for a moment and ignore the work emails, texts, calls, and IG notifs.
Your phone can even help ya out with this. Go into your settings and create daily limits for certain apps (goodbye, six-hour-TikTok-scrollathons) so that you'll automatically be reminded when you've been staring at a screen for way too long.
2. Drink some water.
Yup! Seriously, your tired brain and bod will thank you. "Without fail, when my clients come to me looking worn out, they usually can’t remember the last glass of water they had," says Dr. Olarte. Here's a super-specific tip: Each day, aim to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs, try to drink 75 oz of water. Let the sweet, sweet, hydration wash over you.
3. Invest in good sheets.
Getting a good night's sleep can truly make or break just about everything in your life, and splurging on bougie sheets that fit your specific REM cycle needs—whether you're a hot sleeper or deal with allergies—can help. Even Jenny Okolo, senior occupational therapist and coordinator at the National Health Service in the UK, recommends investing in your snoozy oasis. Personally, I'm *very* inclined to trust her.
This can't be the first time you've heard this one. Psychiatrist Neelima Kunam, MD, medical director at Inland Psych in Redlands, California, is here to remind you that moving your body is a very good thing: "Regular exercise is associated with better brain health. Keeping our brain functioning is important since it plays a large role in our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors."
Any movement will get your blood flowing to your brain, so if you're not in the mood for a whole spin class, you can absolutely just go for a walk while catching up on your favorite podcast.
5. Write in a journal.
Yeah, there are a million self-care journals on the market right now, but all you really need is a pen (or pencil, I suppose) and a sheet of paper. Focusing on your thoughts, feelings, or simply recapping your day is an opportunity for self-reflection, says Prescott. And if you've been struggling with feelings of burnout, it might give you some clarity into what's *not* currently working in your life.
6. Open a window.
Breathe in that fresh air. Or put in just a smidge more effort and sit on a park bench! Go ahead and use your senses to connect to the surrounding sights, smells, sounds, and textures, and then imagine that you're digging your toes into the warm sand. Bliss. "This simple awareness can shut out the scrabble in our minds and decrease the pressure coursing through our veins," says Dr. Ruta Sternbergs, Psy.D, of New Method Wellness in California.
7. Set some boundaries.
This can look different for everyone! It might mean turning off your phone at certain times of the day (ahem, remember my first tip?) or cutting toxic friends out of your life.
Of course, setting boundaries is easier said than done—especially when it comes to work and your loved ones. "Learning your boundaries and holding them takes time and patience with yourself," says Dr. Olarte. "But in the long run, it can work wonders for your stress levels."
8. Do a "breathe bubble."
While it's a great way to relieve stress and anxiety, meditation is not for everyone, and that's okay. Enter: These super easy breathing exercises called "breathe bubbles." (No, bubbles aren't actually involved, lol.) You can even whip out one of these bad boys in the bathroom stall at work. Shh, I won't tell.
"Finding a one-minute breathe bubble on YouTube or any meditation app and doing that once or twice a day can be a great way to build awareness of your breath and practice gradually slowing down," says Dr. Olarte.
Here's one to start you out:
9. Talk to a therapist.
"Just like you go to the gym for your physical health, it's important to go to the gym for your mental health—and that's seeing a mental health professional," advises Prescott.
There are so many different forms of therapy out there, from apps to online therapy to traditional in-person talk therapy. Finding the model that's right for you can be a journey. It'll take time—and money, depending on your insurance sitch—but investing in yourself is worth it, so don't get discouraged.
10. Buy back your time.
So, this is not the most cost-effective option, but if you have the means, it's worth considering. "When we think of big expenses for self-care, we often think about massages, or expensive body care products," says Dr. Olarte. "But so few of us are thinking about self-care splurges that help us buy back our time." Look around your life and identify some activities that suck up your joy—is it cooking dinner after a long day at work, or washing your sheets? Then, throw some money at the problem. Try a meal subscription box for one week or utilize a laundry service and see if the time you get back improves your mood.