Have you ever looked at a woman on TV or Instagram with the amazing career, three kids, a cute dog, and wondered: When the hell does she do things for herself? We certainly have. So in honor of Mother's Day right around the corner we asked some very influential women—including CEOs, celebrities, an Olympian, and a politician—how they practice self-care Sunday (or Wednesday, or Friday from 3:45 to 4 P.M., because taking a moment can’t always wait for the weekend).
We found that self-care looks pretty different depending on whom you ask, and can require setting aside an afternoon, or just taking five minutes to disconnect from the grind. The responses we got ranged from a two-hour massage to doing a 15-minute meditation session, from face masks to cooking, watching TV to raising chickens. What these women all agreed on was that it’s important to set aside time to decompress, regardless of how busy your schedule gets. As one of our interviewees said, “Self-care means taking good enough care of yourself that you can continue to perform at the highest level in service of others.”
Let their self-care routines inspire you. If they can find the (me) time, can’t we all?
Sheinelle Jones, weekend cohost for The Today Show
“With #carveoutcalm on Instagram I’m trying to find 5 to 10 minutes to carve out calm every day. If I do it every day it keeps me from getting to the point of a breakdown. Even if it’s at the end of the day, I give myself that moment to meditate or pray or take deep breath. It makes a huge difference when I wake up in the morning if I go to bed calm. Each morning for me is a new start a reset button.
"Sundays are pretty special. Sunday morning I sleep in without an alarm—that’s mommy’s day. We go to church, and the kids get to pick where we eat after church. Because weeks are so busy, Sunday afternoons are when we can sit as a family and talk without technology. Then they have enough of me and allow me to go off on my own.
"My ideal day off would be to sit in bed and watch things that make me laugh or SuperSoul Sundayon OWN. I don’t want to have to be anywhere. That’s when I’m most creative. If I allow myself to relax and have true down time, that is my best self. It’s not just for my sanity, it’s to create and think of new things.”
State Senator Stephanie Hansen of Delaware
“Self-care means taking good enough care of yourself that you can continue to perform at the highest level in service of others. Being in public office is a 24/7 job, so when I have even a few hours, I spend it with my family (husband, children, and grandchildren). I always try to set aside Sunday evenings for family dinner at my house.
"There is no regularity that you can count on when you are in public office. However, I find that the most calm portions of the day are when I am in the car traveling from one event to the next. During those times, I turn on the radio and relax. After about 10 or 15 minutes, I turn off the radio and spend time the remainder of my trip deep thinking an issue that I am currently involved in. Also, meditation at the beginning of each day, even for just a few minutes, feels like a cool, refreshing shower.”
Kelly Rowland, singer and author
“Massages and facials make me happy. I have to take time for me. I call physical therapists who help my body tremendously. I stay for two hours and let them rub me. If I only have 15 minutes, I meditate. I look out the window. I pray and ask God for the right words to say, for there to be fruitful words. I tell myself who I am. So much of the time the world has told women who they are. We’re wives, we’re mothers, or we have limits. I’m past that place in my life. You don’t label me. You don’t tell me who I am. You don’t tell me what I need to look like.
"Self-care is from top to bottom: mental, health, physical. If one thing is off it can change and alter your whole day. You have to really be conscious of that because when we come in contact with other people you have to be sure that you’re a light—not darkness—because you never know what that other person is going through.”
Meryl Davis, Olympic figure skater
“To me, self-care means taking the time to invest in one's own well-being. It's so easy to get lost in the demands of every day, but maintaining our own physical, mental, and emotional health takes time. In the midst of our busy lives, we need to remember that there should be no guilt or shame in devoting time to our own health and happiness.
"My favorite thing to do on a day off is to go on a hike with my puppy and fiancé. We're always pretty busy during the week and I spend a lot of time on the road for figure skating tours and events. Getting grounded in nature with my little family is a great way to disconnect from technology and everyday stress and obligations. I think that's when I really feel my best.
"I've come to learn that I definitely need some regular me time to feel my best. As a natural introvert, I find that watching television, reading a book, or going for a walk can help me to quiet the noise and find balance amid an otherwise hectic schedule. I often experiment with natural face masks and treatments before heading into a demanding week. Right now, I often mix raw honey with a bit of warm water to refresh and rehydrate my tired skin. Leaving the treatment on for just 15 to 20 minutes while indulging in a bit of Modern Family is my favorite way to treat myself. If I'm feeling adventurous, sometimes I'll mix in a bit of fresh avocado and/or aloe vera gel.”
Monti Carlo, Food Network chef and TV host
“Self-care means taking time for yourself. Women are so busy. Recently, I was taking a business call in the bathroom while I was shaving (with a Schick Intuition f.a.b. razor—she's a spokeswoman) and brushing my teeth. There is so much going on in your life, and sometimes you don’t have a minute to yourself. For me, it’s very difficult to take a step back. But I’ve noticed when I don’t take a step back to meditate, be thankful, and practice being grateful for where I am in life, I get very anxious. You compare your journey to other people and that is such a waste of time. Sometimes it’s about buying that expensive shirt or that perfume you think might be too much and treating yourself. If you don’t treat yourself, who is going to do it?
"I love going on Netflix and binging a series to relax. I go and get a massage. I live next to Thai town and there are so many amazing massage parlors there. It’s not expensive. I have an 8-year-old son and his favorite thing in the world is cake, and my favorite thing in the world is cake. We go and look for awesome cakes in the city and try different pastries. If I have a day off that’s what I’m doing.”
Taliah Waajid, founder of Taliah Waajid Natural Hair Products and World Natural Hair & Healthy Lifestyle Show
“I must admit that I have not been regular about giving myself the me-time that I need. I'm a workaholic, but I'm trying really hard to change that about myself. I do understand the importance of self-care. For me, self-care means working out regularly, meditating, and taking walks outdoors in nature to escape the rat race and reconnect with the earth. Self-care also means making the time for regular health check-ups and preventative care such as mammograms and proper dieting. No one knows best how to pamper me than me, and that's why I believe that self-care includes carefully tending to mind, body, and spirit by giving all three what is both desired and needed.
"I absolutely swear by my day spa routine which includes a deep-tissue massage, some quality time in the sauna, reflexology on my feet, and aromatherapy. I also have several interior decorating projects going on at home. I'm finding it very relaxing to shop for and select just the right furniture, textiles, and knickknacks to turn my home into the oasis of my dreams.”
Katie Willcox, founder of Healthy Is the New Skinny and CEO of Natural Model Management
“I really struggle with making self-care a priority because I feel guilty and think about all the other things I could be doing—which sometimes kills the me-time vibes. I am working on saying no more often to create a more peaceful schedule that is not so jam-packed. I focus my time on what is fulfilling to me versus adding more achievements to a list that doesn’t really matter in the end.
"All my self-care happens when my 1½-year-old daughter is sleeping. I love to cook and my daughter takes a nap in the daytime for a few hours. On my days off I will put on some music and get cooking. I love trying new recipes. We are a vegetarian family so I get really creatively inspired when I am able to make a new recipe that is healthy, tastes amazing, and is loaded with veggies. I also really love movie nights with my husband. It is the best way to unplug for a while and just decompress. If I am treating myself at home, I will put on a face mask (I use a few kinds from Origins and a really great mask from Art Naturals), take a bath in our giant two-person bathtub, and then relax with my husband for the evening.”
Amara La Negra, singer
“I love to do my nails whenever I feel depressed because I feel like new polish that is glossy makes me feel pretty inside. I also shave my legs. There’s something about shaving my legs and feeling silky that’s like, ‘OMG! I feel pretty.’ I love to do face masks and scrubs. I believe in making your own. If I could make my own soap, I would probably make my own soap. I go to Whole Foods and stock up on a whole bunch of stuff. I love coconut oil and shea butter. Brown sugar is always good for body scrubs. I live in Miami where it is very hot, so you’re sweating all the time your pores get clogged. I wear a lot of makeup. The best thing I can do is scrub, once you do that you feel silky you feel good.”
Sarah Potempa, celebrity hairstylist and founder of The Beachwaver Co.
“We have two kids (4 and 7) and a huge 125-pound Alaskan Malamute puppy. On our days off, we love to go to the dog park, cook brunch, and go on a bike ride through the forest preserve by our house. To really unwind and relax, I go to hot yoga with my sister and get a good iced coffee cold brew after. While I am traveling for work, I love finding a good hot yoga class or just simply taking a walk on the beach if I’m in L.A. or shopping in Soho in NYC.
"Since I travel every week and often stay in hotels, I’m very focused on finding healthy options for food, getting a good amount of sleep, and exercising. Lea Michele, one of my clients and best friends, said to me the other day that if you feel strong, healthy, and confident with yourself all other aspects of your life will thrive! I loved that and try to live by the idea that waking up happy, visualizing success, and truly living in the moment make life truly special.”
Melissa Harris-Perry, author and professor at Wake Forest University
“I believe in squad care over self-care. It’s not that I absolutely don’t believe in self-care, but it is so much a part of our discourse, apart of how we think, and the expectations that we have of women. I go farther in the other direction as a corrective. Sometimes the best thing we do in squad is give people room to be by their damn selves.
"Sometimes I text to my friends as a reminder: ‘If you need, ask. If you’ve got, give. If it’s funny, share. If it’s heavy, share. #squadcare.’ We try to acknowledge that at any given time you might be in a place where you have something positive or something that is heavy. You don’t just make withdrawals or just make deposits. The other piece is we need squad-care in a structural way. I see the provision of universal preschool as a squad-care ethic. Universal health care is squad care. The self-care narrative leads us to an individualism that can erode our sense of collective responsibility to each other.
"I also started with gardening as my show on MSNBC was ending. I went outside to plant a rosebush and my thought was, ‘I’m gonna get in the garden and take out some of my anger.’ We live on an acre and a half, and not a blade of grass or stone is untouched. I’m on a personal relationship with the staff at Lowe’s and Home Depot. I discovered changing the hardware on the chicken coop is an all-consuming task that is not intellectual but highly creative, and I lose myself completely in it and when I step back from it I have actually done something. It’s not self-care but great therapy—and it’s good cardio.”