If you hear the words “self-care” and immediately tune out, you’re not alone. The phrase has become a trendy buzzword, often misinterpreted to simply refer to doing something self-indulgent or using a face mask. But despite the many ways that the phrase is now being used, the premise remains important: Caring for yourself means looking out for not just your physical health, but also your mental and emotional health. Unfortunately, the busy, stressed people who need self-care the most often struggle the most to find the time to practice it. Here are 5 tips for self-care that you can put into practice even when you’re busy.

1. Remember what is and isn’t self-care. If you trust what you see online, self-care just means taking a bubble bath or eating a whole pint of ice cream. It’s important to learn the difference between self-indulgence and self-care. Don’t just do things that feel good; do things that will make a long-term positive difference for your mental, physical, or emotional health. Sometimes self-care is even uncomfortable or unpleasant to do in the moment, like working out or having an appointment with a therapist.

2. Take breaks. Research shows that even short breaks, like a five-minute stretching session or a fifteen-minute walk, can help relieve stress and keep your brain functioning at its best. And of course, full-on vacations (when you can manage them!) also relieve stress and increase productivity. Don’t wait until you’re burnt out to take a break, either! True self-care means building breaks and vacations into your routines instead of waiting until you reach a breaking point.

3. Celebrate your wins. Particularly when you’re busy, it’s way too easy to check off a task and move immediately to the next one. But allowing yourself space to feel good about what you’ve achieved will prevent burnout and help provide positive reinforcement. Whether it’s a large success like completing a big project or a small success like completely clearing your email inbox, take a moment to recognize it as a success.

4. Prioritize a good night’s sleep. When ambitious people are busy, one of the first things to go is usually their sleep. But while it may seem like an eight-hour chunk of time for the taking, getting enough sleep is absolutely essential to managing stress. While you sleep, your brain is sorting through the day’s experiences, cataloging memories, and even helping you solve problems.

5. Make life easier. Of course, we all wish we could simply reduce stress by making our lives easier — but while it mostly isn’t that easy, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for ways that you can reduce your workload and cut yourself a little more slack. This might mean automating certain tasks or learning to say no to the non-essentials.

Self-care doesn’t need to be a spa day or a beach vacation. In fact, some of the most impactful things you can do for your mental, emotional, and physical health are small, daily habits. When you practice good self-care, you don’t just feel better — you’re also a better leader, a more effective worker, and a more supportive friend and family member.

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