When you think of a self-care routine, what comes to your mind? A bubble bath and face mask? A day of getting lash extensions and your nails done? Self-care can mean a ton of different things to a ton of different people, but sometimes, we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of extravagant gifts and expensive acts, that we forget that self-care is ultimately about caring for ourselves.

Also read: 10 Ways to Trust Your Gut

What is a self-care routine, and why do we need it?

Yes, self-care is the act of doing things to care for yourself – which seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? But the reality is that a lot of us find it pretty difficult to put ourselves first. Think of when you travel: the flight attendant reminds everyone to put on their own oxygen mask first, before attempting to help anyone else, because it goes against our instincts. The reality is that putting on someone else’s mask while they are frightened is going to be substantially more difficult if we are gasping for air ourselves. Self-care is essentially about making sure that we can put on our own metaphorical mask first, and a routine enables us to work on it regularly.

What we need to remember is that self-care is going to look different for everybody. For a restaurant server who is on their feet all day, self-care may include sitting on the couch and giving their legs a break, whereas someone who works a desk job may prefer to go for a walk. Focus on the literal sense of the term and find a way to care for yourself, and try not to worry about what others are doing. In other words, listen to your body to hear what you need. With that in mind, here are 5 things that we truly believe you should add to your self-care routine.

5 Things Everyone Needs In Their Self-Care Routine

1. Screen-free time

You know that feeling when you go to check one thing on your phone, but then suddenly find yourself totally immersed in something else and a little confused about how you got there? Or you’re scrolling and realize how much time has passed? Our phones/the internet/social media/etc. are all working together to hold our attention for as long as possible. It’s super complex so we won’t get into it too much here (feel free to read this post on 10 ways to improve your relationship with social media and this post on information overload to learn more), but what you need to realize is that they are designed to learn our likes and dislikes to cater content to us that will hold our attention for as long as possible. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because it means we are likely seeing content that we are interested in. But it may also mean that we have to intentionally choose not to engage with it in order to get a break. The fact is that it can be hard to focus on our own needs when we feel like we are bombarded with everyone else’s lives on social media. Carve out dedicated “screen-free” time to read a book, have a bubble bath, go for a walk, or whatever you’d like that builds you up and doesn’t require a glaring screen in your face.

2. Nourish your body

We need food, we need water, end of story (seriously, you probably haven’t had enough water today, so go grab some right now). The reality is that nourishing our bodies gives us the fuel we need to accomplish our goals and thrive. You know your body best, so get used to listening to the cues about what it needs, and nourish it accordingly.

3. Expand your mind

They say that if you’re the smartest person in the room, it’s time to find a new room. One of the best things we can do for ourselves is to continue learning and expanding our minds, and with the internet at our fingertips, we have an entire world of information just waiting for us to tap into. The reality is that there are tons of ways to expand your mind and learn new information: read a book, listen to a podcast, take a class, find an expert in a field that you are interested in. Regardless of what you do, never stop learning.

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4. Give thanks

One of the most important, yet underutilized, habits we can form for our self-care is to give thanks. Give thanks for your food (even if it isn’t your favourite), for the cozy blanket you wrap yourself in while you watch a movie (even if it’s old), your car for getting you around (even if it isn’t your dream car), your home (even if it isn’t as clean as you’d like), and so on. You can give thanks by journaling, meditating, writing thank-you notes, calling your grandma to tell her you love her, or simply just saying “thank you.” They say that “where attention goes, energy flows,” which basically just means the more that we think about something, the more we are aware of it. So when we spend our time focusing on all of the things that we are thankful for, the more we will find things to be thankful for, making it essential for our self-care routine.

5. Love yourself first

Self-Love and self-care are BFF’s and need to work hand-in-hand. To care for yourself, you need to love yourself; when you love yourself, you are going to care for yourself. Instead of looking at self-care as an obligation or chore, try to look at it as a way to show yourself a little love. Together, our mindset, thoughts, beliefs, etc. play such an important role in our daily lives. When we fill our minds with negative opinions about ourselves, self-doubt, or limiting beliefs, our subconscious brain will eventually believe that it is true. Without even realizing it, these thoughts can begin to paint the world around us. It’s pretty tough to fall in love immediately (especially if you’ve spent years tearing yourself apart), but start to work towards it through kindness. By far, this is one of the best ways to care for yourself, and the number one thing everybody needs to do today (you deserve it, pinky promise).