“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation…” – Audre Lorde

Self-care refers to the everyday choices that we make regarding our own mental and physical health. The annual observation of International Self-Care Day on July 24 aims to spread awareness on the key role self-care plays in our lives. International Self-Care Day, which started in the UK in 2011, symbolizes that the benefits of self-care are experienced 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In other words, the benefits of self-care are lifelong and do not just relate to a single day.

Self-care happens to be one of the foundational aspects of everyday health care, yet remains a largely unappreciated public health concern. The truth is that many Americans are tired and wired all at the same time. The interconnectedness of life in 2020 – from email to texting to social media platforms – can make it feel like you always have to be “on.” This is where the idea of self-care comes in. While self-care may bring visions of spa days to mind, it’s really just the important practice of checking in with yourself and asking yourself what you need to feel your best on any given day.

Here are four small (and budget-friendly!) actions you can take to incorporate self-care into your daily routine.

1. Drink water (and plenty of it!): Chances are you need a lot more water than you think. Though the amount of water each person should drink in a day depends on your age, height and where you live, most guidelines suggest that the average person should drink eight 8-ounce glasses, which equals about half a gallon. This is called the 8×8 rule and is very easy to remember. So, how’s a person supposed to drink that much water? One way to get it done is to carry a water bottle with you. Make sure you know how many ounces of water it holds, and fill it as many times as needed throughout the day to reach your recommended quota.

2. Check in with yourself and write it down: Have you skipped breakfast recently? Have you made it through a whole day only to realize you forgot to shower? Have you neglected checking in on someone you love? It’s easy to get caught up during a busy stretch, which is why some sources recommend jotting down important to-do list items, scheduling things as simple as eating and showering if you need to. Then, take the time to reflect at the end of each day or week. Checking in with yourself and building in moments of care (even in five-minute increments) can help you feel better about the course of your day or week.

3. Don’t be afraid to say no: Boundary-setting is an important part of taking care of yourself because it allows you to evaluate your needs, prioritize accordingly and say no to the activities that don’t help you reach your goals. If you’re feeling especially overwhelmed any given week, take a moment to recalibrate. What are the things that absolutely need to get done versus the things that should get done but can wait?

4. Talk to your people: Speaking to your community – whether it’s a friend, family member or someone who just gets you – is a great opportunity to take care of yourself and feed your soul.

While it may be tempting to assume that people who talk about self-care are just referring to moments of pampering – it’s so much more than that. To recognize International Self-Care Day, tell us what you like to do for self-care, or send us a picture and show us how you take care of yourself!