41 Ways I Prioritize Self-Care (Even Though I’m Ridiculously Busy)
As Kinder Beauty’s Director of Content, I am usually behind the scenes here at this utterly beautiful, forward-thinking company. I write many of the newsletters, assign and edit the articles you read on our blog, work with a whip-smart team of writers to refine any product-related copy, craft our affiliate marketing communications, and help manage many of our partnerships and giveaways.
To say I love this job would be a massive understatement. The truth is, I’m extremely proud of our work at Kinder. It’s a dream for a longtime animal activist like me to work alongside Evy, Daniella, and Andrew—Kinder’s co-founders, who are also longtime passionate activists.
Put simply, at Kinder, we curate self-care products for those who care. We work to embolden our fans and subscribers so that they—you!—can step up the love and positivity you extend inwardly and, thus, outwardly too.
With that in mind, I’m turning 41 today, and decided to share with you 41 ways I prioritize self-care.
Oh, and big disclaimer here: I am most certainly not in the camp of thinking that self-care is easy. The fact that it is a trending hashtag can sometimes make it seem like we can each just take time out of our busy lives and (insert peppy voice here) prioritize ourselves!
Nope, it’s not so easy … not in my opinion, anyway.
I think self-care is a downright revolution. And if you have literally no idea how to prioritize it, then just know that I feel you. The world is tough right now, and if you’re like me, your anxiety can sometimes thwart the rest of your plans (including that bubble bath you had in mind until you turned on Rachel Maddow and suddenly you are down one pint of So Delicious Snickerdoodle Cashew Milk and are drowning your sorrows in cheap Trader Joe’s wine, but I digress).
The point is, with all the mayhem around us, I offer to you these suggestions for boldly carving out some R&R anyway.
I promise you that you can do this, but I can’t promise it will always be easy.
Oh, and Happy Birthday to me. Here are my 41 ways I express my self-care.
- I watch Rachel Maddow, and then I turn it off. I like to keep up on the news, but I am not a news junkie. I know that too much of it makes my head explode, so I limit my news time to no more than an hour a day, full-stop.
- I eat that aforementioned So Delicious vegan ice cream but I also eat my vegetables. Maybe this is an unpopular opinion, but I actually do think it’s sometimes appropriate to self-sooth with foods—as in, feed our emotions—as long as it’s vegan (no animal cruelty here!) and as long as we’re also getting in those good-for-you foods (like whole foods, including veggies, fruit, whole grains, and healthy fats).
- I go outside every day. Well, I mean, I do have three dogs—so I kind of have to go outside every day because they have needs. But even when I’m not walking them, I find that it’s sometimes a necessary and effective mood-changer to step outside and breathe in that chilly fall air. Try it right now, seriously. Just for 10 seconds.
- I turned my bathroom into a spa. I’m one of the busiest people I know and I don’t have a lot of time for those things that usually make the short-list of ways we are “supposed to” prioritize self-care. But I do shower every day (hooray for being clean!) and so I decided to fill my bathroom with mood lighting (blue calms me down), my favorite incense, and a shower radio that’s already tuned into my favorite station. I make my shower time my me-time—very intentionally being in the moment and basking in that hot water and personalized space.
- I let my dogs be my mentors. They’re old, they’re rescued, and they’re cute as hell. They have learned how to trust again, they know how to be planted firmly in the moment, and they truly fill me with joy and gratitude. I want to be like them, seriously.
- I express my creativity through my makeup. I came of age in those electric 1980s; think bright blue eyeshadow, red lipstick, and hot-pink spandex. I love the options for fun makeup that frequently appear in my Kinder Beauty box (can I tell you how over-the-moon I am about the Elikya Beauty Liquid Eyeliner, coming in a Kinder Beauty November Collection box?), and I don’t let societal norms dictate how I do my face.
- I use the Calm app, mostly to listen to bedtime stories. I don’t care that in my forties; bedtime stories are popular for a reason and the Calm app has perfected the art of lulling me to sleep as if I’m a professional snoozer.
- I wear a sleep mask when I am snoozing because the darker the bedroom, the more restful the Zs. I am currently obsessed with the Bamboo Silk Eye Shade featured in the October Kinder Beauty box.
- I leave essential oils by my desk and when I need a change of energy, I put a couple drops on my palms and take a deep breath. It is always rejuvenating.
- Speaking of rejuvenating, I spend time outdoors visiting rescued animals. One of the things I love about Kinder is that we give back to animal rights and environmental causes each month. Last month, we supported the life-changing work of Catskill Animal Sanctuary, which happens to be near where I live, and I had a blast hanging out there recently. These sometimes feathered and sometimes four-footed friends fill me with hope, every single time.
- I cry my eyeballs out sometimes. And it’s so painful when I do. But a good friend once told me that a good cry won’t last longer than 20 minutes. She was probably lying, but whenever I am feeling extremely sad, I know that it will pass soon. If there’s one thing I can tell you on this forty-first trip around the sun, it’s this: everything shifts and everything has a way of working out. You don’t need to control every aspect of it, and your tears will eventually end.
- I laugh my ass off frequently. One of my favorite character traits I value in myself and others is humor. Find the humor in the most mundane, ridiculous, or uncomfortable moments, and I promise you that you’ll have a much better experience than if you didn’t.
- I regularly express specific reasons why I appreciate those in my life. I’m not talking about general fluffiness; I’m talking about letting your best friend know that you really appreciate how they hold space for you or buy you organic bananas when they get their grocery order (thanks, Erica!). Expressing gratitude feels good for the recipient, but it also helps us to focus on the positivity.
- I wear a mask when I go outside because I care about my neighbors and myself. I personally love to rock the Kinder Beauty face mask, and the message on it—”Spread Kindness, Not a Virus!”—is spot on.
- I color in coloring books and I play videogames on my phone. Though this is more of an escape than a relaxation technique, I find that it empties my brain in a way that I need, especially after staring at words all the time.
- I try to let go of toxic relationships—with substances (that seventeenth cup of coffee was never a good idea!), people (not to sound too woo, but try to spend time with people whose vibrations are higher than yours, not lower—don’t let anyone bring you down), and with my own inner-dialogue (self: I’m sorry I ever said “I hate you”; I actually love you and I think you have an amazing socks collection).
- I let go of things that bother me instead of letting them fester. This is, admittedly, a lifelong journey. But I have found that I have lost a lot of time and energy swirling around in my head about that one thing that didn’t go exactly as I wanted it to. So now, I try to just shrug and move on. I don’t always succeed, but when I do, my day is undoubtedly better, and I feel I’ve practiced self-care—not self-abandonment.
- I recognize my own autonomy and the autonomy of my partner. We are different people, experiencing different emotions and sometimes realities (even if we’re in the same room at the same time), and that’s okay. If you struggle in your relationship, try to understand that your partner is on their own journey and it’s not yours to propel or halt. I love the best when I am autonomous and confident.
- I practice body positivity. Oh gosh, if I could only go back in time to young Jasmin and help her to love her body—with its substance, its sexiness, its curves, its scars, and its tenderness—I would. But that young woman had to go on the journey she went on to get here, and now here I am: happy to take up the space I take up, grateful that my body is pretty good at getting me from point A to point B, and deeply grateful to have such a sensual vessel that is mine and mine alone. Practice body positivity by changing the script of your inner-demons.
- I play. I play with my hair, I play with my skin (I’m fully tattooed and I enjoy the life-size coloring book that is me), I play the Bob Ross board game, I play with my cat (she always wins, but whatever), and I am generally playful. And believe me, I feel life very deeply. I am highly sensitive, and the current political climate—not to mention climate change!—has really got me down. Yet I’m playful anyway, because, I mean, life is short. We might as well play.
- I dance. I have a mobile tap-dance floor in case I feel like doing a few time steps in between Zoom meetings. I like making noise with my feet.
- I take baths, and go all-in with next-level bath bombs (the Kind Poppy bath bomb that we featured in a Kinder Beauty box is my all-time fave).
- I drink mushroom coffee. And yes, this is a way I prioritize my self-care, indeed. I am a coffee snob, and I always include some Four Sigmatic mushroom coffee in my daily blend. I’m actually super into mushrooms in general since they are so good for our skin and bodies. The Superfood Face Mask coming up in the November Kinder Beauty Box has my name written all over it!
- I turn it off sometimes. I work a lot and I work hard, but I take the weekends off, most of the time. And if I don’t, I make sure to have some boundaries in place with myself so that I don’t work for too long on my time off.
- I find and foster community. This is partly through my podcast, Our Hen House (on the air every week for over a decade!) and partly in my actual, non-digital life. We need to find and foster safe spaces, and be intentional about it. If you really like so-and-so but you don’t talk to them nearly enough, reach out to them today. Start a text thread with a few of your favorite people and then make a point of checking in with them every day, even if just for a millisecond.
- I stretch and I make funny “I’m stretching!” sounds (admittedly, sometimes I sound like an obnoxious donkey giving birth, but whatever). It feels really good and it changes up the energy.
- I’m antiracist. This is an important, core value of mine and it lets me live authentically. I’d rather face difficult truths about my privileges than remain asleep and complacent. I’m vegan (for nearly 17 years now) because I believe in non-violence, and I also believe that white silence equals violence—which is why I’m antiracist.
- I hike. I live near a gorgeous, serene hiking trail and I try to spend time in nature every day.
- I challenge myself to do better. I take in feedback, even if it’s negative, and I discuss it with my trusted confidants. When I feel it’s appropriate, I make a concerted effort to try to be a better version of myself, and when I feel I’ve been wronged, I address it head-on—either with the person who I feel wronged me, or by moving on and understanding that they aren’t worth my time. At the end of the day, I think self-growth is really difficult and uncomfortable. But I can’t imagine being stuck in familiarity when it would behoove me to grow.
- I hammer things. It helps me get my angst out. It’s why I like to hang up pictures everywhere. (There are literally hung up pictures through my entire apartment, and now you know why.)
- I take good care of my skin, which I consider an investment in future-me. My favorite way to moisturize is to slather Cela Creme Rose lotion all over my body. It smells like a robust rose garden, and was featured in the July 2020 Rose Collection. It’s divine.
- I make sure to be of service to others, especially when I’m feeling too self-focused or bluesy.
- I say no. I’ve gotten a lot better at maintaining my space and my boundaries, which means I sometimes have to pass on projects that I am sure, in theory, would be fun and fulfilling. But there aren’t enough hours in the day, and my time is my energy. I want to keep some for myself.
- I stay organized. I make my bed (almost) every day, I keep my office in good, working order. And I regularly tidy and de-clutter. I know that my internal chaos is directly tied to my external chaos, so I try to stay on top of it.
- I pay myself first. And I mean that both literally and not literally. In other words, I save a little bit of money each time I get a paycheck (before I even pay my bills), and in that same mindset, I schedule in breaks and me-time as if they were meetings that I have to attend.
- I have hobbies. I know this might sound silly, but since I love what I do for a living so much—in addition to Kinder, I also run a nonprofit, edit a magazine, and write books—the idea of fun for the sake of fun has, at certain points in my life, escaped me. So nowadays I make sure to carve things out for myself that have nothing to do with work, such as listening to showtunes, putting together mediocre-but-passionate crafts, and taking photos of the nature around me.
- I roll out my back on my fancy and beloved foam-roller. It’s like a massage, and I always feel like it releases pain.
- I light candles, and I add an intention or blessing to them. Sometimes I hold space for the roadkill animals that I pass by regularly (it breaks my heart, and lighting a candle for them feels like I’m honoring them and their families), and sometimes I light a candle with a goal for myself—such as to be a better communicator in my relationship, or to let go of things more readily.
- I pause. Admittedly, I am still working on this one, but when I remember to pause before reacting emotionally to something, or before jumping to conclusions, it always turns out better.
- I’m vegan. My veganism is the best part of me and it’s the part I love the most. I’m vegan because I believe in equity, non-violence, and compassion, and I consider it self-care because it allows me to live in harmony with my worldview and values. It’s also easy, fun, and delicious.
- I understand that sometimes I won’t succeed in prioritizing self-care, but I refuse to let perfect be the enemy of the good. I have faith that when I get off-course, I can choose any one of the items on this list, stay accountable to myself, remain patient with myself, be gentle, and keep going. Honestly, life is much better, richer, and more beautiful when I remember that I’m animal with the same instincts for love and goodness as everyone else—humans and non-humans. That journey has to start with me, and I’m so grateful to be on it.
Jasmin Singer is the author of The VegNews Guide to Being a Fabulous Vegan (Hachette, 2020), Always Too Much and Never Enough: A Memoir (Berkeley, 2016), and the co-host of the award-winning Our Hen Hose podcast.