Make this summer your summer of self-care: 6 ways to make self-care happen

PHOTO: Alisha Ramos, 29, is the Washington, D.C.-based founder of Girls Night In.PlayMeredith Jenks Photography
WATCH Why you should prioritize time for self-care

Self-care is not just bubble baths or long vacations but finding ways all day, every day to support yourself, experts say.

"Self-care is really simple because it's about being a good friend to yourself," said Amy Kurtz, a certified health and wellness coach and author of the bestselling book “Kicking Sick." "It's repetitive and consistent personal rituals that treat ourselves well and believing that we are important and our well-being matters."

Self-care for me is always being there for myself and treating myself like I would someone I love.

Thinking of self-care as being a BFF to yourself gets to the core of self-care, which is as much about how you treat yourself internally -- like the way you talk to yourself -- as externally, like taking time to use a face mask.

"Many of us equate self-care to actually doing things that may decrease well-being, like treating ourselves to retail therapy or a latte with a double shot of sugar," said Kurtz. "But you have to really break that habit and rethink the idea of rewards."

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self-care

"Self-care for me is always being there for myself and treating myself like I would someone I love," she said.

Self-care has been even more in the spotlight in recent months because of the prevalence of burnout, the type of extreme stress or fatigue that can lead to everything from respiratory problems to gastrointestinal issues. Workplace burnout is now officially a recognized mental health concern.

It was burnout from a job that led Alisha Ramos, 29, to form Girls' Night In, a self-care community for women.

"I felt so burned out and just sort of down that I wanted to create something that brings joy into other people's lives and also serves as permission for them to take a break," said Ramos, who previously worked in tech. "Looking at my friends, a lot of them had been feeling the same way as we were entering in our later 20s, hitting walls in our jobs and the news cycle was really heavy."

For Ramos, self-care is something that is constantly evolving and always a part of her life.

"It's whatever you personally need in that moment to care for your whole self, including your physical self and mental self and emotional self," she said. "It's going to look different from day to day and week to week."

PHOTO: Alisha Ramos, 29, is the Washington, D.C.-based founder of Girls Night In. Meredith Jenks Photography
Alisha Ramos, 29, is the Washington, D.C.-based founder of Girls' Night In.

"A few weeks ago it may have meant thinking about my mental health and getting therapist referrals and creating an action plan to go to therapy and today it's noticing it's beautiful out," Ramos added.

Girls' Night In's main platform is a weekly newsletter that reaches more than 150,000 subscribers and shares ways for women to recharge and cultivate a sense of community.

It also aims to take away the stigma that self-care is a trendy buzzword just for those with extra time and money to spend.

"Self-care is such a thing now that people either feel intimidated by it or villainize it but we still believe so much in the need of self-care," said Ramos, who launched Girls' Night In two years ago. "It's a daily practice that people should incorporate."

Self-care tips to try this summer

"Good Morning America" and Girls' Night In are joining forces to make this summer the summer of self-care. We'll be sharing insights and advice on how to incorporate self-care practices into your on-the-go lifestyle.

Here are six tips from Ramos and Kurtz to get started.

1. Write down nourishing things you can do anywhere, any time

The first step in self-care is figuring out what makes you feel good and how to add those things to your daily routine, according to Kurtz.

"If you're loving yourself the way you would your best friend think about what that looks like," she said. "Start by making a list of the things that you do that make you feel nourished and good."

2. Create a morning ritual

It can be hard to motivate to focus on work or tasks during summer, so give yourself some motivation to conquer the day.

"Take a few deep breaths and say a few things that you're for grateful for you in your life," said Kurtz. "It sets the tone for how you'll treat yourself all day."

3. Take a vacation (no, really)

"Hopefully, your employer has a vacation policy in place. One of my top tips is to actually use it," Ramos said. "It amazes me how many people don't take advantage of this employment benefit. If you're on a bit of a budget this year (I've been there!) I highly recommend either a staycation or a quick day-trip.

"Staycations are particularly amazing because you can use the 'savings' from not spending anything on a flight to springing for the nicer hotel in town, and playing tourist in your own city. Taking a vacation helps you get away from the daily grind of work, making some space for yourself to enjoy a bit of a mental reset and avoid burnout."

4. Set boundaries and learn to say 'no'

"This is one of the biggest and best self-care tips I have for you, and therefore also one of the most challenging to practice on a daily basis. We all only have so much energy and time to give -- it's OK to say 'no' to certain things and protect that time and energy so that we can funnel into the things we truly want," said Ramos.

"One meta-tip I have for this is to first, set your priorities in this very moment. Are your priorities around excelling at work? Nurturing your relationships with family and/or kids? This helps creates some clarity when you have to say 'no' to that amazing work opportunity that requires two weeks of travel, because this month you're instead focused on getting that other big work project out the door or attending more of your daughter's ballet lessons. It can be difficult to say “no” to fun or exciting opportunities, and especially if it might frustrate someone or let them down. But I've personally always regretted giving a half-hearted 'yes' vs. a 'hell yes.'”

5. Put down your phone and get outside

"If you have an iPhone, enable the Screen Time feature that lets you set limits on how much time per day you spend using a particular app. Even if you're not on an iOS device, many apps (including Instagram) include an “Activity” portion that shows you how much time you're spending on their platform," Ramos added. "Seeing these reminders every now and again is a great reminder for me to live my life, not scroll right past it!"

6. Grow something!

"I recently started a small urban garden on our patio," Ramos said. "Summer is an amazing time to grow green things, with plants like tomatoes, sunflowers, and the ever-trendy monstera plant that tend to thrive and bloom in the summer."

"Tending to a small garden each day is a great excuse to spend some time outdoors and enjoy a quiet little ritual to yourself (though you could get your kids in on this activity, too)."