With May being National Mental Health Awareness Month, we wanted to share some real-life tips on how people practice self-care. While it’s important to note that self-care is not a substitute for mental healthcare, therapy, or professional treatment, prioritizing self-care can go a long way toward making each day as comfortable for you as possible.

There are countless ways to practice self-care, many of which can be done easily, requiring minimal time and effort, but making a big impact. Here are 10 ways we’ve found that self-care can improve our lives.

“Music—Playing it, listening to it, dancing to it, EVERYTHING! Music is really the best way for me to decompress. Sometimes I listen to sad stuff to match my mood, or I listen to happy stuff to make me feel better. Either way, I find both to be really healing.”

“Unplugging. I’m online all day for work, and used to spend my evenings scrolling through social media trying to ‘catch up.’ Suddenly it would be bedtime before I knew it and my mind was simply filled with so much information I could barely sleep. I now turn my phone off after dinner unless I need it for a specific reason, and can focus on whatever else I’m doing in a more peaceful way.”

 “Getting ready. I tend to fall into a pattern of wearing pajamas, and sometimes when I get ready and do my hair and my makeup I really feel so much better. I think it’s important to spruce yourself up, even with nowhere to go.”

“With so much time inside and on screens, my biggest self-care goal is to mix it up daily—spend time outside, cook a new recipe, read actual books before bed, or even just spend ten minutes after a shower doing a face mask. I find that breaking up the monotony is the best way to improve my mood and outlook during these strange times.”

“Playing games. I’ve gone back to old-school games like Battleship and Scrabble. They’re a great way to tune everything else out and focus on what’s really important—winning (I mean, having fun). I love the challenge of playing a game where there’s nothing at stake except the thrill of competition. While this does involve another person, I consider it self-care because it helps me get out of my head and I always feel good when it’s over (yes, even if I lose).”

“I’ve learned that self-care will look different for me every day. When I feel restless, I love to go for a long run with my favorite music. When I feel stressed, I like to go back to basics with a hot shower and a cup of chamomile tea. When my thoughts feel chaotic, I like to carefully sort through them by talking to my husband or a close friend.”

“Painting my nails. I’m not the greatest manicurist, but I started painting my own nails during the pandemic and found I enjoyed the process of focusing on each stroke and learning how to get better. Plus I can change my polish color any time I need a mood boost, the brighter the better.”

“Long drives. Driving alone and taking some time for myself is HUGE. The only place I really find that I’m not in my own head is in my car. Alone. Music is obviously a great addition to a long drive.”

 “Bubble baths. Getting ready in the morning, I shower pretty quickly, but when I want to be alone and unwind and truly relax, I take a sweet-smelling bubble bath and let the hot water transport me. Slipping into the water is a signal to my mind to turn off and just focus on the warmth and calming sensation.”

“When I need a self-esteem boost, I go through the alphabet and give myself a compliment that starts with each letter: I am artistic, I am brave, I am compassionate, and so on!”