In 2016, self-care became a mainstream word — used by social influencers and millennials with such fervor that it seems the young future housewives coined it. In fact, self-care stated as a medical concept.

Doctors used it as a way to discuss healthy habits, like exercise with patients. Seems in keeping with what folks are promoting today, right?

Indeed. But look more closely and you’ll discover that the true rise of ‘self-care’ took place during the 60s and 70s when the women’s movements and civil rights movements took hold. In her 2017 article ‘A History of Self-Care’ published in Slate, Aisha Harris explains:

It wasn’t until the rise of the women’s movement and the civil rights movement that self-care became a political act. Women and people of color viewed controlling their health as a corrective to the failures of a white, patriarchal medical system to properly tend to their needs. Self-care was “a claiming [of] autonomy over the body as a political act against institutional, technocratic, very racist, and sexist medicine,” Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, an assistant professor at the New School currently writing a book about the history of American fitness culture, told me.

Does this mean calling a manicure or long bubble bath self-care is inherently selfish? Definitely not. Rather, it means that the need for self-care has always been there. It’s vital to sustaining your overall well-being. And, it might just be a little radical.

How Can ‘Self-Care’ Help You?

Caroline Picard reports in the 2019 Good House Keeping article that working out in the morning gave her more energy and motivation. Picard said, “Setting aside that time helps me feel more awake and ready to take on the day.”

A 2018 study revealed that medical students who engage in self-care report less stress and a higher quality of life. In short, taking the time to look after yourself can make you better in personal and professional life.

Simple Ways to Practice Self-Care

One of the biggest pitfalls many of us encounter when we want to practice self-care is that we pick things that aren’t sustainable. The act of self-care shouldn’t place a bigger burden on you. In fact, it should feel as though you’re taking a break.

This means self-care looks different for different people, and that’s okay. Use the following ideas to find ways to incorporate self-care into your daily life and watch how your mood and overall well-being improve.

Fill Your Bathroom with Anxiety-Reducing Scents

Research suggests that the smell of citrus — orange and lemon in particular — can help reduce stress and anxiety. Consider adding essential oils to your bathroom so that you can begin and end the day on the right sniff.

Turn up the Tunes

Whether it’s a shower singing session or humming to your favorite song while you brush your teeth, look for ways to incorporate music into your life. Research shows that listening to happy music helps stimulate creative thinking and improve your health.

Get Outside

Home can be beautiful, what with its couches and pillows and heat. But fresh are and green spaces can offer a wide range of health benefits. When possible get outside and soak up some mother nature. If you live in a city, head to a park.

Really can’t find the time to get outdoors as often as you need? Hang some pictures that show nature in your home. Even just looking at images can spark positive activity in your brain.

Add Plants

Plants help clean the air. They bring life into your home. And, tending to them can be incredibly rewarding.

Laugh Out Loud

It’s said that laughter is the best medicine. And, according to research, the saying holds true. Laughing, chuckling, and giggling has been found to benefit our mental and physical health.

So go ahead. Laugh a little. Or better yet, laugh a lot.

Make Sleep a Priority

A lot of things can sabotage a good night’s sleep — like trying to meet a deadline or re-watching Game of Thrones. But all of those things that are keeping you from your zzzzs can really sabotage your life.

Not getting enough sleep can make you sad, irritable and less productive. It can also negatively impact your immune system. So make sure to prioritize sleep so that you can be happier and healthier.

Get more tips and insights about how to make small changes to improve your life.