Have you heard about self-care? Merriam-Webster defines it as "care for oneself," and the concept of making your physical and emotional wellness a priority is really taking off. It's not selfish to take care of yourself and your well-being.
"Self-care is vitally important because if you don't take the time to stop and care for yourself, your body will stop you," says Canadian mental health advocate Mark Henick. "If you never let your foot off the gas, you won't keep driving forever -- you'll either run out of gas or crash. The same is true for the body and mind."
Henick says self-care is a choice to re-balance your internal resources so you can bounce back from stressors.
Self-care can range from taking "me time" breaks in your day or chatting with a friend to taking a soothing bath or crafting.
"Often, we posit that self-care is about doing less, but sometimes it is about doing more -- at the end of the day, it is about responding to the needs of ourselves before others," says Darren Pierre, Ph.D., author of "The Invitation to Love."
He says self-care is all about being honest with yourself.
"The work is difficult because we can become easily distracted from focusing on ourselves," Pierre says, urging people to "remain disciplined in the practice of self-care."
*Honoring your life
"Self-care is choosing to honor your inner wants and needs in order to fulfill your potential," says Kimberly Hershenson, a therapist specializing in eating disorders, anxiety, depression and relationships.
One of her self-care recommendations is to make a daily gratitude list. "Focusing on what is good in your life as opposed to what is 'going wrong' helps relieve stress," says Hershenson, who also suggests reading positive affirmations every morning.
Self-care isn't necessarily tough to do, but finding the time to take care of yourself can be challenging. "Sleep is one of the best forms of self-care because it gives your body and mind some uninterrupted time to simply repair itself," says Henick.
*Write it down
Author Carrie Aulenbacher is a busy working mom. She uses journaling as a self-care tool.
"Making time to take care of me is hard," she says. "But journaling helps me unload and address issues that affected me but got pushed aside throughout the day."
She says everything ranging from serious writing to doodling to making lists is helpful and counts as journaling.
*The business of self-care
This increased interest in self-care is a business boom, too.
According to the Global Wellness Institute, the global wellness industry is a $3.7 trillion market, including fitness, mind and body; healthy eating, nutrition and weight loss; and spa treatments.
That means increased opportunities for consumers to invest in themselves and their wellbeing. The wellness industry features countless self-care options, ranging from buying vitamin infused waters to planning wellness retreat vacations to scheduling fitness classes like yoga, dance and cycling.
Scheduling self-care services is easy these days, too. For example, Zeel, the first on-demand massage company, has an app that can bring spa-quality massages directly to you in an hour. A licensed massage therapist will show up with massage table and music, ready to help you relax.
Try meditation, too. You can find guided meditations on YouTube or download apps such as "10 Percent Happier."
"Schedule self-care time on your calendar," says Anza Goodbar, a coach, speaker and trainer for entrepreneurs. "If it is not scheduled, it most likely won't happen."
She suggests starting a self-care routine in small steps, such as getting up 15 minutes early to start your day with meditation or a quiet cup of coffee.
"The bottom line is to be intentional about taking care of yourself through the different stages of life," Goodbar says.
Author, certified life and business coach Celia Ward-Wallace has two steps to self-care:
"First, carve out time for yourself in the morning or evening for regular rituals such as exercise, reading, walking, meditation or prayer," she says. "Second, don't over-extend yourself. Set healthy boundaries with family, friends and co-workers."