25 ways to take care of yourself in your 20s

Our culture promotes the idea of hustling, the pursuit of busy-ness, and productivity. But I have to say (and maybe this is because I'm a therapist and talk about this all the time), I've noticed people are craving a slower pace. People are noticing how working too much and resting too little really impacts their lives, relationships, and work.

We’ve got so much to do and so little time that the idea of spending time doing anything unrelated to the to-do list actually creates stress.
— Brené Brown

In the era of #girlboss, it's easy to get caught up in the idea of having it all. Excelling at work, impressing the boss, eventually becoming the boss, working on your side hustle- all while gracefully maintaining healthy relationships with friends and family. Oh, and maybe add dating to that too. It's fine. Right?

Well. Maybe it's not. Each of us still only have 24 hours in the day. We have work, school, and other responsibilities that need our attention. Our minds, bodies, and souls need time to relax and just be.

In my work as a counselor, I'm constantly talking with young women about the importance of self-care. And how to resist the message that self-care is selfish. And taking a second look at what it actually means to be kind to ourselves. 

One thing about feeling overwhelmed is that thinking clearly often goes out the window. Just when you want to do something to take care of yourself, it's hard to come up with an idea!

Enter this list. I've come up with 25 things you can do to take care of yourself. Some of them will resonate with you. Other won't. And that's okay. Pick and choose what works for you. 

25 ways to practice self-care in your twenties

  1. Go on a social media detox
  2. Take a bath with epsom salts
  3. Read a self-improvement book
  4. Download and use a meditation app (I like Calm!)
  5. Practice yoga at home or take a public class
  6. Make a list of 3 things you are grateful for
  7. Start a morning routine
  8. Get a blowout or manicure just because
  9. Register for a retreat- wellness, nature, spiritual, anything!
  10. Write a letter of gratitude to someone who doesn't know they've impacted you
  11. Cook yourself a meal using nutritious ingredients
  12. Eat lunch away from your desk
  13. Practice mindfulness in public
  14. Take a half day off work and don't make plans
  15. Go to bed 20 minutes earlier than normal
  16. Make a plan to use all your vacation time this year
  17. Buy a magazine outside of your usual interests and read it (credit to Gretchen Rubin!)
  18. Book a massage
  19. Take a solo trip somewhere special
  20. Listen to a complete album, not just the singles
  21. Listen to a non-work related podcast
  22. Organize your closet and donate what you don't need- or like!
  23. Buy yourself flowers
  24. Start shopping for the holidays now to prevent last-minute stress
  25. Use essential oils for calming and grounding

Take a moment and find one thing on that list that sounds restorative to you. Now find (or make) time in your schedule to make it happen. Scheduling something increases the chances you'll actually make it happen- something Gretchen Rubin talks about on her podcast, Happier (and presumably in her books, which I have not yet read). Scheduling is a strategy to use when creating habits- and in order for self-care to become a regular part of your life, it may need to become a habit.

Whether you use a calendar on your phone or a paper calendar, be intentional about scheduling self-care. Make an appointment with yourself sometime this week- and don't cancel!

Counseling is an investment in current and future self. If you're tired of your 20s being consumed with worry and fear, I want you to know there is hope. It does not have to be like that. It can feel so frustrating to see anxiety call the shots in your life. When you're ready to make a change, schedule your first counseling appointment.