Self-care is possibly the most popular recommendation health coaches and wellness practitioners give to their clients–particularly to women. Because if mom’s not happy then no one’s happy right? And you can’t give from an empty cup? Surely you’ve heard those (possibly from me!). But like anything else that’s good, it is possible that despite our best intentions, we get stuck in a self-care rut.

Self-care is something that can mean many different things, and come with a whole mixed bag of feelings.

Is it a spa treatment? Drinking more water? Sniffing essential oils? Sipping herbal tea? A home-cooked meal? A shiny new crystal? New lipstick? A day away from the kids? Sure, why not? But then the feelings come…”I don’t have time.” “I shouldn’t be spending money on frivolous stuff like that.” “I’m not one of THOSE women.” And so on.

I know. I’ve heard it from my own clients and students, and have even caught myself thinking and saying it myself. Sometimes I indulge, and feel great about it. Other times, I go without, or put it off, or move my “scheduled” self-care block into next week that’s “not as crazy” as this week. When that happens, and I see another mom–usually another mom who has a business because that’s typically who I see online–post about her amazing self-care experience, I also catch myself thinking thoughts like “must be nice” or “she must have so much help” or “maybe next week.”

You know what though? I find that most often when I skip self-care, it’s not because I don’t have the time or money for it. Because I truly believe in turning small daily habits into self-care rituals. No, for me the problem is more often that I’m lacking self-care inspiration. Sometimes I’m so tired I just can’t think of something creative to do that’s easy and already in my house in addition to tweaks and lifestyle upgrades I’ve already made. It’s kind of like a food rut–you get comfortable making the same quick, simple recipes that everyone likes until you make them so often that the thought of having it again makes you physically ill. But instead of a food rut, it’s a self-care rut.

The best way to get out of a food rut–and a self-care rut–is to try something new.

It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, time consuming, or expensive–because let’s face it–if that’s the case, then you’ll be less likely to actually do it. In my book, The Sauce Code, I talk about how adding a simple sauce to your favorite dish is a great way to make it new and exciting again (and I give you 7 super simple and delicious plant-based sauce recipes that go great with pretty much anything!).

So today, I decided to offer some of my favorite simple self-care tools and experiences to inspire you out of your self-care rut. Here are three of mine:

1. Pajama day. Now I realize that if you work outside the home, it might not be a great idea to show up to the office in your bunny slippers and flannel PJs. But if you’re like me and you work from home (or you have a day off from your job), give yourself permission to wear pajamas all day. I actually recommend wearing a different set from what you slept in. Get up, shower, and put on a fresh pair of your comfiest or most luxurious (whichever makes you feel cozier) pair, add a fluffy robe and slippers, and go about your day. You still feel like you got dressed, so you’re not being lazy (win!), and it feels SO good. And if you’re into the super trendy Danish practice, hygge, well, you can’t get much more hygge than jammies.

2. Say no. I often tell my clients that their “no” muscle often needs more exercise than any other muscle in the body. Women, in general, are yes people. We’re helpers, we’re caretakers, we want to be everything for everyone. We feel really guilty when we say no. We worry that we’ll let people down. We worry about what they’ll think of us if we say no. So we say so much yes to everyone that we end up having to say no to our own desires and needs (notice how I listed desires before needs?). Say no. Say it because you can. Say it loud and exaggerated as if in slow motion. Annunciate as if you were doing a vocal warm up exercise (my theater friends will know exactly what this means 🙂 ). Don’t say no to things like paying taxes or feeding your children, of course. But next time someone asks you to do something that your or someone else’s wellbeing doesn’t depend on? Say no. If you’re not sure, ask yourself–“what will happen if I say no?” If your answer has anything at all to do with how you think your no will be perceived by someone else? That’s how you know it’s a GOOD no.

3. Revive a forgotten (or neglected) hobby. What did you love to do when you were younger? Sing? Dance? Play catch? Draw? Read? Garden? Whatever it is, there is a grown-up version of it that I promise you, you can fit into your life. Sing really loudly in the car. Read a book about your absolutely FAVORITE subject or character of all time. Get some crayons and color. Something recently that made me really happy was going out into my yard, sitting on the grass, and just looking through it to see what I might find. When I was a kid I loved looking through my grass for four leaf clovers (we had a LOT of them). I’d sit there for hours. Well I didn’t find any in my yard last time I looked, but I DID find lots of lovely little native herbs that if I didn’t look closely, I would have completely missed. I sat there for only about 15 minutes, but it made me smile for the rest of the day.

IncenseAnd here are two ideas from my friend and colleague Trish Ward (who you might remember from this post):

1. For the mind and spirit: “I grab my Harmony incense, malachite and sit with my angel cards. I do breath work so I can get really grounded. I’ll also just put my feet bare on the earth and receive its strong healing vibration.”

2. For the body: “When I am giving to my body, I use a tongue scraper, dry brush, and epsom salt bath. This stirs the lympathic system, which is the sewage system that can rid the body of toxins to create optimal space within the body.”

By the way, Trish has an amazing 10-day self-care challenge. It’s free–check it out here!

What are some of your favorite ways to break out of a self-care rut?

I’m always looking for more ideas, so if you have a favorite, please share it in the comments below!

Image credits: “No” by born1945, “Incense” by Lefertis Heretakis

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