We often think of self-care rituals as little luxuries in our lives, but in reality, so many of the things we do to take care of ourselves are essential for our mental well-being. Especially when we’re focused on doing our best at work and giving our all to the people in our lives, carving out time for the things that make us happy can help boost our mood and reduce our stress. 

Below, five frontline workers share the small self-care rituals they swear by:

Try a lunch break meditation 

“I’ve started meditating to deal with stress. On my lunch break, I’ll just go out to sit in my car for a few minutes for some alone time. I’ll turn my phone off and my walkie talkie off, so it’s just time for myself. For those ten minutes that I’m out there, that’s when I just breathe.”

— TaNeka McNair, Raeford, NC

Go on a solo walk

“I walk along the trail near our house. That’s how I relax. It’s peaceful with nobody else around. I’ll have my thoughts and go somewhere quiet in my mind.”

— Dave Barr, Greensburg, PA

Start your day with gratitude 

I’ve started setting aside time each morning to stretch, breathe, pray, and be thankful for the day. It’s given me a chance to remind myself that I am doing this for me and my family, and to be at peace with my best.”

— Maria Hendricks, Mineral, VA

Plan a fun dinner

“I like to make meals special. I set the table nicely and cook something delicious like salmon with corn on the cob. I create a ‘restaurant’ ambience by serving our (non-alcoholic) drinks in wine glasses decorated with a slice of pineapple.” 

— Nadia Parkinson, Orlando, FL

Say an affirmation in the mirror

“When I look in the mirror, I say, ‘I am enough.’ I’m lighter and more peaceful and I can’t put into words how my life has changed — I start to cry talking about it. I feel like myself again. I’m happy being me.”

— Tonja Jolly, Virginia Beach, VA