5 ways to make self-care happen in the new year

Self-care does not have be time-consuming or expensive.

January 8, 2020, 4:01 AM

Welcome to GMA’s New Year, Best You. As we ring in 2020, we are sharing everything you need to start the new year strong. From keeping your New Year’s resolutions going to Instagram-worthy meal prep to workout programs to eating plans to taking time for yourself, we have it all covered.

Self-care is a wellness buzzword, but actually putting self-care into practice? Not so easy.

The thing is, self-care is really just doing things that make you happy and make you feel good. It does not have to mean getting a massage, going away on a solo, exotic vacation or taking an entire day off of work (but everyone needs those days too!).

(MORE: 10 fashion and beauty trends to watch for in 2020)

The key, experts say, is knowing what works for you and making it happen.

"If you’re going to get it together [in the new year], you have to know what works for you," said Lauren Berger, CEO and founder of CareerQueen.com and InternQueen.com and author of “Get It Together." "And sometimes we know what works for ourselves when it comes to self-care, but it’s a matter of activating it."

Berger describes self-care as knowing your frustrations and finding small solutions to solve them, thereby nourishing yourself.

(MORE: Expert tips to stay on track with your New Year's resolutions)

"I know that packing the night before a trip makes me anxious," said Berger, sharing a personal example. "So it’s saying to myself, 'I’m going to prepare and pack a week ahead.' That is a form of self-care."

With the expectation that self-care does not have to be elaborate or time-consuming, here are five ways to make it happen in your own life in 2020.

1. Make a list of what makes you happy

The first step in doing things that make you feel good is to identify what makes you happy. Make a list and keep it on hand, recommends Berger.

PHOTO: A woman appears to be writing in her journal in this stock photo.
A woman appears to be writing in her journal in this stock photo.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

"Use that list to have them and implement them when you need them," she said. "And, every once in a while, contributing new things to that list can really be helpful."

She added, "I keep a 'happy page' in my notebook and I continually write things down that make me happy –- went to fro-yo, put on a comfy sweater, watched reality TV."

2. Set boundaries

Setting boundaries in your personal and professional life is a critical part of self-care, according to Berger.

"You can tell someone, 'Please don’t text me before 9 a.m., between these hours I need to be with my child and you’re not going to hear back from me,'" she said. "Push yourself out of your comfort zone to set boundaries."

You can also set your own boundaries to know when you need self-care, for example, saying to yourself, "I’m overwhelmed, now is when I need to implement a self-care technique."

3. Put down your phone

There is likely only a small population of people who include being on their phone on the list of things that make them happy. Spending time on your phone not only uses up time you could be doing more life-fulfilling things, it can also lead to comparison and FOMO, the opposite of self-care.

"We live in a world of Instagram where it’s always about what someone else is doing, wearing, reading, talking to," said Berger. "It’s important to pay attention to ourselves, so we all need to find some time to separate from our phones, and particularly from social media."

Read this guide to learn how to successfully take breaks from your phone.

4. Start and end the day with something about you

This is a simple idea so don't make it too complex. Simply do something when you wake up and before you go to sleep that makes you happy, whether it's reading or meditating or talking with a loved one.

"Use the beginning and end of your day to really reflect on yourself and doing something that you enjoy, something that is not social media and you looking at other people’s lives," said Berger.

5. Center self-care around a meal

You have to eat, so use those times of the day when you are fueling your body to also fuel your happiness.

Sit down at a table instead of eating in a rush or on the go, or take time to prepare your favorite foods or set a nice table setting, even if it's just for yourself.

Those tiny moments can be all about you.

Editor's Note: This story was originally published on Dec. 31, 2018.