Lately, it seems that almost everyone is recommending “self-care”—from your yoga instructor and massage therapist to the latest best-selling author and guru. Health and wellness professionals alike agree that reserving some “me” time can play a vital role in a healthier mind, body, and spirit.

Self-care is the act of mindfully engaging in an activity that relaxes our mind while bringing joy, peace, or serenity to the whole body. It is especially useful when finding ways to reduce the adverse effects that stress can have on our entire being.

Self-care for stress

It is easy enough to understand, in theory, how a little bit of mindful self-care can help reduce our stress level. However, our natural reaction to stress does not include taking action to alleviate it. Instead of intentional, positive acts of self-kindness, we tend to perpetuate negativity with harmful thinking patterns that ultimately stress us out even more.

The best way to break the vicious cycle is by practicing self-care daily and learning ways to recognize stress in its early stages. When you face stressors head-on, you can relax your body and ease your mind before your anxiety level spirals out of control.

Self-care options are genuinely limitless, depending on your preferences. For some, it could be brewing a good cup of tea; for others, it could be a few minutes of dancing like no one is watching. You know what makes you feel good. It doesn’t have to be complicated!

Consider some of these simple self-care ideas to reduce stress:

  1. Move around. If stress is making it hard to get out of bed, pushing yourself to complete a rigorous yoga session or merely dancing around your living room can do wonders to uplift your mood.
  2. Learn how to say “no.” No one said you had to attend every social gathering or head up every committee! You might just be too agreeable! Scaling back on activities and acts of giving can be very empowering. Stress levels are best managed when you know your limits and pick and choose your dates wisely.
  3. Breathe. Restore your serenity with some simple breathwork. Deep breathing can trigger physical and mental relaxation responses in the brain. Just a few deliberate inhales and slow exhales can be a powerful way to confront your stress response.
  4. Meditate. Whether it’s finding a private corner to “blank out” or popping in headphones for a guided meditation, getting inside of your head and releasing unnecessary thoughts and feelings can instantly lighten your load.
  5. Have an at-home spa day. It can be hard to sit still for meditation, so let your mind get lost while you draw a warm bath, light some aromatic candles, play some soft music, and luxuriate in your favorite stress-relieving face mask.

Whatever self-care practice you choose, it is most important to be kind to yourself and to exercise patience. Like everything in life, stress is only temporary.