Just because we've entered a new year doesn't mean that we're out of the global pandemic, nor should you be checking self-care off the list. In fact, now's the time when you may need it most, and that starts with re-framing how you define it. 

Self-care has become synonymous with online shopping, spa treatments, and luxury beauty products. I love those things as much as anyone else, but they've created a myth that self-care is those moments in time when we treat ourselves. Truth is, self-care is a critical part of your daily to-do list and it's about doing the things that bring you joy, reconnect you as an individual, and ultimately empower you to feel the best version of yourself. 

Now that we're able to re-define self-care, here are three practical ways to make sure your self-care needs are met this year. 

Change How You Define Success

So many people in the world right now are juggling a handful of full-time roles: working professionals, teachers, caretakers, and so much more. It can feel like you're failing at all of them, especially when social media can seem like a highlight reel of beautiful pictures and your friends' new quarantine hobbies.

It's critical to recognize that what we were able to accomplish in both our professional and personal lives pre-pandemic is just simply not attainable now, even for those flooding Instagram. More importantly, that's not admitting failure. Instead of focusing on all the things you're not doing that other people are, focus on one or two good things you did today and call those successes. 

Don't Forget to Play

I have a small framed print in my den that says "Don't Forget to Play." Covid-19 has removed much of the novelty of our daily lives, so there can be a tendency to work longer hours or spend more time doom scrolling. That's why making time to play is more important than ever.

Sound juvenile? Consider that play is just time without a purpose, so the painting, crocheting, and puzzling you've been up to can absolutely count. Whether you're outside shooting hoops, taking an online dance class, or returning to old school arts and crafts, there's no wrong way to play-- just the break from video calls and daily life.

Write Out Your Omissions

It's easy to convince yourself that everyone else is crushing it in a pandemic, so rather than writing a long list of things you're going to achieve this year (baking the perfect sourdough, taking every MasterClass, finishing Anna Karenina), instead consider making a list of things you're not going to focus on this year.

Sometimes giving yourself explicit permission not to prioritize something can make it easier to prioritize the things you really care about. My team uses our omissions list to align on things we can skip or wait on, and it goes a long way to ensure we don't spend precious time and urgency on low-value things. Write down a few things you're not going to do in 2021, then fill your days with a few things you really want to invest your energy toward instead.

Whenever you see or hear a piece of advice or feedback that resonates, there's a tendency to try to do 17 things at once to change your life. The intention of taking care of yourself isn't to create a 50-point plan. Reduce your list of resolutions, intentions, or commitments to a grand total of three, max. Regardless of how much progress you make on practicing self-care in 2021, you're more likely to prioritize your needs if you do fewer things better.