It’s a busy work week, there’s an important meeting you’re preparing for, your calendar is jam-packed and you’re feeling overwhelmed. How are you going get everything done? You work longer hours, skip your yoga class, grab some fast food for dinner on the way home, and cancel plans with friends.

We don’t think twice before putting ourselves on the back burner. Although it might feel indulgent or even selfish, self-care is really just taking care of yourself. If you don’t take proper care of yourself, sooner or later it will catch up with you and your body will let you know. It might take the form of stress, a cold, weight gain, poor sleep, stomach issues, or depression, list of ways that not partaking in self-care can impact you, both psychologically and physically goes on and on. We’re all trying to do it all, between hectic work and family schedules, but it’s important to make time to give back to and love yourself.

There are many small, yet powerful ways that you can, and should celebrate yourself. Here are some simple self-care tips that may also help you reduce stress, sleep better, keep your body healthy and boost your self-esteem.

  1. Try meditation, even if it’s just for one minute. You can use any one of a multitude of guided meditation apps available on your phone, or you can simply sit still, and breathe deeply in and out. You can dim the lights and close your eyes – falling asleep is ok. Or, if you’re at work, do it on your break. Set a timer and try not to think of anything besides your breath.
  2. Set an intention or mantra for your day, for example, “I am strong and confident.” Repeat it to yourself throughout the day to keep your outlook positive.
  3. Take a walk, even if it’s just a short one. Five minutes of walking can clear your mind, and keep you active throughout the day.
  4. Reignite your passion for something you love. You could pick up a hobby you used to love but stopped doing because you “didn’t have enough time.” It could be as simple as reading a chapter of a book before bed, or taking a bike ride around your neighborhood.
  5. When you’re asked to do something, think about it before saying “yes.” Give yourself time to make a decision as to whether or not you should do something. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, or that you have too much on your plate, it’s ok to say no. You don’t need to explain or provide a reason for why you can’t do something. Honor yourself and your choices.
  6. When you eat, savor each bite. Sit down at a table without your phone or other technological distractions, and enjoy the process of eating and the taste of your food. You may find that you eat less or get full faster than you normally would when you eat mindfully and without distraction.
  7. If you’re tired, go to sleep. Getting as little as an extra 15 minutes of sleep at night can make a big difference in your energy levels.
  8. Let yourself be open to trying new things. Take a yoga class, learn to knit or experiment with a new recipe in the kitchen. You just might find a new hobby or activity you never thought you’d enjoy.
  9. Eat healthfully. Opt for minimally processed foods, with an emphasis on colorful fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds and whole grains.

“Many people equate self-care with being selfish, but that’s not true,” said Denise Driscoll, RN-BC, CARN, PMHCNS-BC, NPP and Assistant Vice President for Behavioral Health at Mather Hospital.  “In order to be the best we can be for our loved ones and colleagues, we need to care for ourselves first.  Self-care allows us to be present and available to others in ways we could not if we are stressed and depleted,” Driscoll said.

If you still find it difficult to give yourself permission to take some time for self-care, try framing it differently. Ask yourself some basic questions:

  • Do you want to be a good role model for your family?
  • Do you want to have enough energy to pursue and achieve your goals?
  • Do you want to be able to put the best version of yourself out into the world every day?

Think for a moment; take a breath, and then answer. Listen to yourself. Now think about what you need to do for yourself today?