Image: The Bear and the Doll, 1969

Women are masters at multitasking. We’re on the phone scheduling work meetings while packing the lunches we meal-prepped on Sunday, pausing only to let the dog out and refresh our IG feeds. We’re consistently in hyper-vigilant “on” mode, tending to the needs of our significant others, children, pets, bosses, friends, parents, PTAs and anyone else who raises a hand needing help.

We sometimes forget to take care of the one thing that holds all of it together: ourselves.

In recent years, self-care has become a popular buzzword for something women have neglected and even pride ourselves on shunning since the beginning of time. It was once viewed as selfish or even weak to put ourselves before others. My mother never would have indulged in a massage or a facial – that would have been unacceptable because of the selfishness of time and money spent on something she would have deemed an unnecessary luxury. I remember my grandma always telling me, “Take care of yourself. If you don’t, no one will. Get a massage. Get a facial.” She was definitely ahead of her time!

Fortunately, we’re a little wiser now, and understand the importance of caring for ourselves so we can continue to care for everyone else, without imploding and burning ourselves out completely.

As a busy mom, wife and business owner, taking time for me is something I have to make a conscious effort to prioritize. And I’m not talking about things like manicures and getting my hair done. Those things are more of a routine than they are a self-preserving slice of down-time. (Although there are those few minutes of scalp massage during the shampoo that I always wish would last longer)!

What I’ve found is the more I plug away staying busy, the more exhausted, less creative and less objective I become. Moral of the story: Sometimes stepping back is the smartest step we can take in order to do what we do well and avoid burnout.

Longtime readers know that the last couple of years have been a whirlwind of activity. Between the growth of the brand venturing into product (new designs coming this fall!) and birth of my daughter, there hasn’t been a whole lot of time for stepping back, breathing or being reflective. Last week I took a sporadic road trip with Dave and Narayan, something I haven’t done in years. It was really nice reconnecting with them and unplugging from everything else, including work. Now I’m back, reinvigorated and seeing things with the fresh lens I couldn’t have, unless I gave myself the gift of downtime.

Think you can’t afford to unplug mentally or physically? Here are 5 ways you can give yourself the gift of self-care right NOW that won’t cost a dime:

1. Go au naturale

Try spending 30 minutes outside. Build little breaks into your routine where you are immersed in nature. Focus on your breath as you walk, notice the smells, look at the colors, I promise you’ll feel calmer and more refreshed. Nature is healing and even short amounts of time spent among trees, a stream or a trail can make you feel better. Don’t forget to leave your phone in your purse or pocket!

2. Break a Sweat

Sweating helps us detox and releases happy hormones that make us feel good, and you don’t need a gym membership to get your glow on! A vigorous walk, burpees in your kitchen, dancing like no one is watching…all of these physical activities will get you there.

3. Meditate

Set the timer on your phone for just 5 minutes, then close your eyes and breathe. Sit down, lay down, it doesn’t matter, really. Just try to keep your spine long so your lungs can expand. Now inhale. Exhale. As thoughts enter your mind (grocery lists and to-do lists), gently let them float away and focus on your breathing again. When we focus on our breath and clear our minds of ALL THE THINGS, we find a moment of peace and clarity. Try it. It took you 2 minutes to read this, s0 you DO have time and you’re worth it!

4. Take a Bath

Light a candle, grab a magazine or glass of wine and sink into the warm bubbles. Even 5 minutes of this will give you some space from everything else. Breathe the fragrance of the bubbles, really feel the warmth of the water as it hugs your skin, wiggle your toes. Be grateful that you made time for you.

5. Get Social

Schedule some time with your closest friends. You know the ones – the women in your life who know all your junk and love you even more because of it. The strength of social connections without any obligation or purpose other than simply being together, will reboot your psyche.