"As I get older, I've realized I can't be a good friend, daughter, sister, employee, or boss without taking care of myself first," Atwood says. "It's kind of like that airplane-safety video: You have to put your own oxygen mask on before anyone else's."
And while self care still gets a bad rap for skewing toward the indulgent, being time consuming, or manifesting as prohibitively expensive, the soul-nourishing rituals certainly don't need to be. "Who has time to spend an extra hour every day dry-brushing their skin and then rubbing themselves in essential oils and then meditating for an hour?" Atwood questions.
"Sometimes [self-care] means doing things like paying your bills on time so you're not stressed, regularly going to the doctor, and actually getting enough sleep and exercise. It's about putting in the work to ensure you're well taken care of physically, mentally, and spiritually." —Grace Atwood, founder of the Stripe
Still, she's always always been into beauty, pampering, and preaches the importance of taking care of yourself without feeling guilty about it. Interestingly enough, it's advice she didn't prioritize for herself until after the 2016 election. "When life is challenging and there's a lot going on in the world, the best distraction is to do something good for yourself."
Of course, she adds, self care isn't just face masks and baths. "[It's] quite literally, taking care of yourself the way a parent would take care of their child," Atwood says. "Sometimes that means doing things like paying your bills on time so you're not stressed, regularly going to the doctor, and actually getting enough sleep and exercise. It's about putting in the work to ensure you're well taken care of physically, mentally, and spiritually."
Need some inspo to create your own accessible self-care routine? Check out some of the following ideas—no $500 massage in sight.
Here are Atwood's 5 favorite self-care activities.
1. Break a sweat
Atwood takes class at Sky Ting Yoga almost daily—"their classes are the perfect blend of relaxation, meditation, and hard work," she says—and loves running. "If I'm stressed or angry, there's no better way to blow off some steam than a good treadmill run."
2. Fly solo and actually unplug
"Alone time is really important to me, both digitally and physically," Atwood says. "If I don't digitally unplug from time to time, I start to feel crazy. I'm on my computer a lot, and Instagram can be a monster, especially responding to lots of DMs. I have to step away from time to time."
Atwood also chills out on the IRL social front. "I need at least one or two nights a week where I don't make plans and just stay home and veg out," she says. "Reading, movies, my gravity blanket—I'm definitely an extroverted introvert. I love having an active social life and can be very outgoing, but if I don't get that time to myself or take a break from my phone, I'll get exhausted."
For some, Atwood says, escaping into Instagram can count as self care. "I have friends who love nothing more than taking a bath and mindlessly scrolling," she says. "But for me, getting offline is the treat. I want a paper book, thank you very much!"
3. Take your time
Always rushing from bed to spin class to the shower to the office to the grocery store and then to dinner? Yeah, take that hustle down a notch. "It's such a simple thing, be it stopping work on time to get where you need or getting up a little bit earlier so you aren't rushing out the door. When I leave myself ample time to get ready or get where I need to be, my mental state is so much better."
Sure, a lengthy meditation sesh might not be your speed, but there are now a wide array of options available to help you find a mindfulness ritual that works in accordance with your life and preferences. "I love the Headspace app," Atwood says. "It's perfect for beginners like me, and you can do it on your commute."
5. Just do it
It's easy to brush off self care because you're simply "too busy." To counter that excuse, Atwood employs some tough love: "Make the time," she says. "If you don't have a free 5 to 10 minutes in a day that you can devote to yourself, something has to change."
Atwood's favorite express me-time activity combo is a five-minute facial massage and a five-minute face mask. To find something that speaks to you, she says to get a little creative. "Find a free workout class, learn to make at-home beauty treatments, or just throw some Epsom salts and a few drops of lavender or eucalyptus oils in the bath."
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