It’s not surprising that people are Googling “self-care” significantly more now than ever. As the world continues to become increasingly complex by the minute, self-care is having its moment in the spotlight—hopefully indefinitely—as an essential part of our everyday lives.
Think it’s all bubble baths and mud masks? Not entirely. Read on to find out what exactly self-care entails, why it’s important, and what you can do today to, let’s just say, go All Out on caring for numero uno.
What Is Self-Care?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, self-care means “taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical health and mental health.” And that it does.
The NIMH goes on to say that self-care can help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness, and boost your energy. Numerous researchers say self-care can lower morbidity, mortality, and healthcare costs. One study showed that U.S. medical students who engaged in self-care reported less stress and higher quality of life. (MD or no MD, you can bet it works across professions.)
There’s also this: In a self-care survey conducted by Vagaro, Americans listed self-confidence boost, increased productivity, and happiness as additional benefits of self-care.
In other words? Add “me time” to your to-do lists. Give your own well-being the attention it deserves. Self-care isn’t selfish. Prioritize you! The good news is you’re already doing a bit of that every single time you step under the orange lights and earn your Splats.
How Orangetheory Fits In
“Exercise has several well-documented physical and mental health benefits in and of itself,” says Dr. Brittany Masteller, Orangetheory’s research scientist.
When you invest in your health for an hour at Orangetheory, you’re doing everything from supercharging your metabolism to nurturing your cardiorespiratory health. You’re improving your mood, energy, and focus, and building your endurance, strength, and power.
And yes, while any exercise is good for you, OTF is so much more than that.
“If you add those benefits to the incredible Orangetheory environment—complete with an amazing coach leading you, and a group of peers working out beside you—it can fill your cup in several ways,” says Dr. Masteller. You’ll receive instruction and support as you reach your inner most potential, she adds.
“This will allow you to show up as your best self in all aspects of your life, including for yourself, your family, and your coworkers.”
10 Ways to Practice Self-Care Today (To Complement Your Orangetheory Routine)
Planning a mental health day or booking a spa appointment is an awesome idea, but you can also get going right this second. For example, you could…
1. Drink a bottle of water. Did you know that hydration is good for your body and mind? For Orangetheory member Mike King of Somerset County, NJ, keeping tabs on his daily water intake is key. His tip: “Pretty simple. I use a one-liter water bottle. I drink four of them per day.”
2. Count your blessings. Grab a pencil and write down three things that you’re grateful for. Countless studies prove that gratitude can improve physical and mental health.
3. Step outside. Sunshine, nature, fresh air — it’s all good for you.
4. Change up your space. Wherever you spend the majority of your day, think about how you might optimize it for your health. Maybe open a window, or bring a plant in from another room. Got a TV nearby? Search for “calming scenery” on YouTube and let it roll in the background.
5. Light a scented candle. Vanilla and lavender are especially great for relaxation, but use whatever scent you have on hand and enjoy.
6. Choose a healthy snack. If you typically reach for not-so-nutritious food during your afternoon slump, make an executive decision that today you’ll treat your body with a nutrient-rich option—like apple slices and nut butter, Greek yogurt and berries, or hummus and crackers.
7. Meditate. In that Vagargo survey, 28 percent of people said meditating was their preferred form of self-care. New to it? Download the Calm app and start with a guided meditation. Strapped for time? Pause right now for just a few deep breaths.
8. Compliment someone. It’s been proven that compliments can improve the mood of the recipient and the compliment giver.
9. Sit up straight. Correct your posture, and while you’re at it, stretch for a few seconds. (Unless you’re reading this in bed at night, in which case, skip ahead.)
10. Create a sleep schedule — and start tonight. Orangetheory member Adriana Pavone shares that one way she practices self-care (in addition to hitting her studio in Elmhurst, IL) is by “allowing myself the boundary of a healthy sleep habit.” How she does it: “I have a bedtime reminder on my phone and all of my apps lock at a certain time—so that even if I wanted to, I’m not able to scroll aimlessly for hours on TikTok.” Genius.
And, of course, whether or not you attended class today, it’s always a good idea to pre-book your next round. See you out there.