There’s a common misconception about self-care that you probably don’t even realize you’ve bought into. Case in point: When you think of self-pampering, do expensive face masks and bubble baths by candlelight cross your mind? How about designer leggings and intricate yoga poses? Self-care doesn’t have to be this extravagant; in fact, it’s not really supposed to be staged or picture-perfect at all. In a recent interview with PEOPLE, Mandy Moore opened up about self-care, including the little ways she "disconnects" when life becomes a little too overwhelming, and the simplicity of the actresses’ go-to wellness habits really puts the concept of what it means to take care of yourself into perspective: Life is complicated, but finding ways to relax really doesn't have to be.
Everyone, including Mandy Moore, experiences a huge range of emotions in the span of a day, a week, etc. That means that the way you feel from one day to the next is almost always going to be completely unpredictable, and the same goes for how you’re going to want to cope with everyday stressors. No two moments in your life will ever be exactly the same, and as Moore pointed out during her interview with PEOPLE, neither will your responses to those moments. As far as the This Is Us actress sees it, wellness means “paying attention” to that exact concept: how, on any given day, “things might feel a bit differently,” she told the outlet, and you’ll “have different needs,” and different strategies to address those ever-changing emotions.
“Life and stress might affect me one way on any given day and completely differently on the next,” Moore explained. “So I try to be cognizant of having some kind of guidelines of how I build wellness into my daily schedule.”
From living that sweet newlywed life, to juggling her incredibly successful acting career with new music in the works, the 34-year-old Hollywood starlet has a lot going on right now. It’s a wonder how Moore can feel anything but bliss at this point in her life, all things considered. Still, the performer is human after all, so despite all the love she feels and the exciting projects she’s tackling, stress happens, and it seems like Moore recognizes that taking care of herself has to be a priority when it does happen.
Per PEOPLE, Moore said she makes sure she gets enough sleep, drinks enough water, and takes her vitamins every day — all of which are important bases to cover to lead a healthy lifestyle — but the “Cry” singer also said she knows exactly what to do when a little extra self-care is in order: disconnect.
“I just put my phone away, put on a record, take a bath, make a cup of tea, go out and have dinner with friends. It kind of varies,” Moore told PEOPLE, explaining that the trick to finding a means of self-care that works for you is to know your limits. When you’ve reached them, she said, that’s when you know it’s time to take a step back and just do you before you can “put one foot in front of the other” again.
What I think Moore is getting at here is that a self-care practice requires exactly that: practice. To put it into perspective, think of it this way: Just because Mandy Moore takes baths to relieve stress doesn’t mean soaking in a tub for a half hour is a cure-all for anyone who’s feeling a little wound-up. In fact, personally, I can’t stand the thought of wading in bathwater — no matter how sweet-smelling or bubbly — for more than 15 minutes. So, if you're looking to take something away from all of this, consider Moore’s suggestions, and the glamorous acts of self-care displayed on social media, a general guideline, and try to experiment on your own to figure out what self-care habits make you feel your best.
"In the dictionary, the definition of self-care is taking part in actions that protect your well-being and happiness, especially in times of stress," Stan Dutton, NASM-certified personal trainer and head coach for personal training platform Ladder, tells Elite Daily. "What the dictionary doesn’t say, though, is how you go about protecting that well-being and happiness."
That being said, keep in mind that, despite what social media and pop culture might have you believe, self-care isn't just about the acts themselves, but their outcomes.
Remember, self-care isn’t something that's only meant to be practiced during times of stress. As it turns out, practicing self-care on a regular basis can actually help you learn how to better manage stress overall, according to Dutton. So, rather than pocketing these habits and pulling them out when you’ve reached a boiling point, the real goal is to work these habits into your everyday routine to lay the foundation for when sh*t really hits the fan.
“When we’re stressed out, even the smallest new habit can feel like a huge task to take on,” Dutton explains, which is why he tells me he encourages his own clients to start slow, find something they enjoy, like meditating, journaling, or taking a walk outside, and implement these activities into their everyday life.
“Most of us turn to things like TV or social media to escape the day," he says, "but spending even 10 percent of that time on ourselves can help us feel rejuvenated and ready to take on whatever comes our way."