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17 Self-Care Tips from the Experts

Psychology experts share their favorite self-care rituals.

I asked 17 psychology experts to share their personal favorite self-care tips.

Taking Yoga Outside the Studio 

"I use a technique I learned in a yoga workshop years ago. It's based on the principle of hand warming. I take my palms and rub them together vigorously, generating heat. When they are warm, I take them and place the palms of my hands over my eye sockets, and allow my fingers to rest lightly on my forehead. I leave them there as long as I need. It's a form of biofeedback that is really calming" - Geralyn Datz, Ph.D. 

I Active Listen to Myself

"My favorite self-care strategy is based on Active Listening where you feed back to others their emotional pain by restating it in your own words, so that the they feel heard and understood. My twist is that I Active Listen to myself. I craft a phrase that addresses specifically the difficulty of the moment, and then I speak it silently or softly to myself. Two examples: "It's hard to feel lonely on the weekend"; "It's tough to work such long hours and feel unappreciated." Crafting phrases that speak directly to what I'm feeling connects me with my own heart. The result is that I feel deeply cared for." - Toni Bernhard, J.D. 

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A Pleasurable Trance 

"I enjoy the New York Times crossword puzzle, especially late in the week when it's more challenging. Doing the puzzle puts me into a pleasurable trance that I call "going into Letterland." The cares of daily life drop away as I become absorbed in solving an entertaining puzzle." - Meg Selig, Ph.D.

Going Slower

"In the morning I deliberately walk slower than my usual frantic pace, put my phone away and take time to look around and enjoy the moment rather than worrying about the day ahead." - Sam Boardman, M.D.

Seasonal Self-Care

"I've recently realized that when the seasons change, some of my self-care habits need to change too. For example, I love walking along the river in summer and fall. The white noise of the rushing water helps to clear my mind. But in the coldest months, I'll take my water in the form of a bubble bath. The important thing is to be aware when a form of self-care isn't working anymore, and replace it with something else." - Heidi Reeder, Ph.D. 

The Kitchen

"I clean the kitchen. The kitchen is the heart of the home and when it is orderly--especially in the midst of a life that is sometimes a bit less than orderly--it creates for me a certain Zen-like calm and sense of balance. Interestingly, this applies only to the kitchen. The rest of the house can be in a state if utter disarray, but when the kitchen is clean, the cooking utensils put away, the granite counter tops gleaming and the dishwasher happily humming along, then the house, it's heart and I am at peace." - Michael J Formica, M.S., M.A., Ed.M.

"I cook a healthy, delicious meal (I love the effortlessness of using a crock pot!) and have friends over to share and enjoy it. Here's the latest recipe I tried--it was delicious!" - Therese Mascardo, Psy.D. 

"My most cherished self-care ritual is early morning 'Coffee Talk' with my husband. We set the daybreak atmosphere with candles, spa music, and fresh ground coffee. Each morning I wake up excited for another opportunity to relax, reconnect, and rejuvenate!" - Andrea Dinardo, Ph.D.

"I cook--not just reheating pasta but starting a meal from scratch--planning it ahead of time, going grocery shopping, chopping, stirring, etc.  Nothing feels better than working out your frustrations by using a tenderizing hammer or chopping something and then making something delicious out of it."- Amy Przeworski, Ph.D.

Behavioral Activation 

"If I'm feeling down and don't feel like doing anything, my mantra is, 'If I can't be happy today, I can at least be useful.' It gets me off my butt, and I often enjoy the experience of feeling useful." - Mindy Greenstein, Ph.D. 

Pets

"I get down on the floor and play with my Bichons, Lily and Larry. They’re adorable, fluffy white fur-balls known for their entertaining antics, such as the Bichon Blitz. They run around like crazy, spinning, and changing directions. It makes me laugh every time!" - Barb Markway, Ph.D.

"My two feline muchkins, Zoe and Zak have become an important reminder of the importance of self-care as well as a source of self-care. I make time each day to connect with them by playing with them, holding or petting them or just laying beside them. They ground me and they comfort me. But at times it's bigger than that - they reveal to me what is important and in this I find tremendous self-care." - Laura Nichols. Ph.D.

Prioritizing 

"Three things:  sleep, exercise, and massage. I put both adequate sleep and exercise as high priorities no matter what is going on in my life or how busy I am.  I remind myself that by compromising these, I compromise my mental and physical wellness, as well as my effectiveness in every area of my life. I also set aside some time and money for regular massage, which has a broad range of mental and physical health benefits---oh and it feels awesome!" - Sherry Pagoto, Ph.D.  

Wine, Church, and Running Do Mix

"For self-care I do the following: (a) I take a 30 min (3.5 mile) run every morning and have been doing so since about 1976, (b) I attend daily noon Catholic Mass for 30 min at my university each work day and have been doing do since 1994, (c) I maintain a small 100-vine syrah vineyard at my home and have been doing so since 2000.  I find that all three activities are contemplative, meditative, and restorative." - Thomas Plante, Ph.D.

Reflection

"Every day, when I wake up, I dedicate a few minutes to recall what I did yesterday that I wouldn't want to remember. It helps me to improve today´s journey." - Miguel Angel Escotet. Ph.D.

Laughter

"A self-care strategy I use often after dealing with stressful days is to watch a favorite cartoon with my girls. Of late, we watch Adventure Time because it's trippy and ridiculous and has humor at multiple levels. And there's a Rainicorn! That's irrelevant, though. The self-care involves turning the day off and being in the moment with my kids. Laughing." - Tammy Daily, Ph.D.

Love

"I get a long hug." - Alice Boyes, Ph.D. 

If you liked this

If you liked this article and want more, try 17 Psychology Experts Share Their Best Stress Relief Tips

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photo credits: all by Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc

Alice Boyes, Ph.D. translates principles from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and social psychology into tips people can use in their everyday lives.

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