Self-care has become a buzzword in recent years. It’s used in everything from marketing campaigns and product placements to health promotions and trending social media themes. And, it can mean everything from trying new hobbies or practicing good skin care to taking vacations or indulging in after-work cocktails.

To be clear, self-care is far more than a trending marketing tool. It’s actually an essential lifestyle choice that involves prioritizing things that keep you healthy in mind and body. When done correctly, self-care isn’t about buying products or selfishly indulging – it’s about setting healthy boundaries, making healthy choices, and preventing the negative consequences of stress and self-neglect.

That’s why September is Self-Care Awareness Month, a national campaign that aims to spread awareness about the importance of regular self-care. If you tend to put your own needs at the end of your to-do list, now is the perfect time to focus on prioritizing your physical and mental health.

It may feel uncomfortable at first, but these quick ideas can help you get inspired to fill your own cup before you pour into others.

Easy Ideas for Better Self-Care

Schedule a wellness visit.

Self-care isn’t only about caring for your mental health – it’s about your physical health, too. A good way to start is by scheduling a wellness visit with your doctor to discuss any health concerns and complete your annual screenings. When it comes to your health, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Get enough sleep.

The amount and quality of your sleep schedule affects everything from your mood to your energy levels to your immune system and more. If you aren’t getting at least 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night, you’re missing an essential part of good self-care. Start practicing good sleep habits by going to bed on time and limiting alcohol, caffeine, and screen time before bed.

Eat a healthy diet.

While indulging in your favorite dessert is a great form of self-care, eating a healthy and nutritious diet is an even better way to live your best life. Focus on eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, swapping red or processed meats for leaner cuts, and incorporating whole grains into your daily diet.

Exercise regularly.

Even if fitness isn’t your favorite activity, regular exercise is a key part of feeling your best and protecting your health. That doesn’t mean you have to become a gym junkie – even walking around your local park or dancing to your favorite tunes can get your blood and muscles pumping. Aim to add at least 30 minutes of physical activity to your daily routine.

Get a massage.

While going to the spa may seem cliche, a professional massage can reduce stress, soothe sore muscles, combat inflammation, and boost your mental health. Plus, it’s an easy and enjoyable way to give your brain a break and enjoy some peaceful down-time.

Get outside.

Studies have shown that spending time outdoors reduces stress, improves sleep, combats depression and anxiety, lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, and more. You can go for a walk, plan a picnic, enjoy an outdoor sport, or just soak up some sunshine (with proper sunscreen, of course.)

Start a gratitude journal.

Taking time out of your day to count your blessings is an easy and effective form of self-care. Experts agree that recording things you’re thankful for combats depression, boosts self-esteem, encourages positivity, and improves your overall happiness.