When times get tough, the first thing that often goes out of the window is self-care. We’ve got jobs to keep, families to look after and side hustles to find. But if Covid should have taught us anything, it’s that mental and physical health really does trump everything else.

While wellness is often seen as something that takes time and money to nurture (understandable, given that the industry is now worth £3.5 trillion globally), it’s actually the tiny tweaks to our morning regimes, lunchtime breaks and evening routines that can make the biggest difference to how calm, capable and happy we feel. So, Stylist asked a bunch of women to share their top tried-and-tested hack for reducing stress and feeling good every day.

These aren’t flash-in-the-pan ideas; they’re habits these women do every day to combat the misery of the news cycle, the pressures of work and the demands of their families. Whatever the cost of living crisis or the embittered Tory leadership election throws at you, try a few out and see if they help you to ride the wave.

Morning routines

First thing, sip, stretch sigh – a large glass of water, a couple of sun salutations and some deep breaths before even leaving the bedroom. It’s a great start to the day – Wendy Narby

Get outside, regardless of the weather, even if it’s just to stand with a cup of tea and take some deep breaths rather than commit to exercise (if you don’t have the energy) – Maria Crawford

I start my morning off by blasting proper old-school, gay nightclub music (think: The Village People, Whitney Houston, ABBA, Katy Perry etc) – that always ensures I wake up on the right side of the bed – Mishti Ali

Woman drinking coffee
Having a morning coffee on the doorstep is a great chance to breathe

Go out for walks twice a day (early morning and evening). I got into the habit due to getting a dog, but I’ve discovered that it’s really made a change in my mental and emotional wellbeing. Mornings help me get active/organised for the day; evenings help me wind down/reflect – Sara Matos

I practise my own yoga routine. I’ve been going to classes for years but finally put together my own set of poses, holding each for a slow count (started at 10, now at 30). I can do yoga now whenever I wish – Yvonne Barlow

Midday wellness

I have a water monitoring app called Plant Nanny that makes sure I drink enough water each day. It’s great if you’re not good at doing things for yourself but would feel guilty if your plant were to die – Felicity

Nap. Even if it’s more of a doze than a proper nap, it’s so important for my mental health and for enforcing screen breaks. Often I feel hungry/slow-brained/angry/headachy when I’m just tired – Polly Allen

Whenever I’m feeling stressed out I scroll through Instagram – 99% of the accounts I follow are cute puppies or amazing travel images – Caroline Abbott

Say no. That’s it. If I’ve hit my limit, I acknowledge it and simply say ‘no’ – Almara Abgarian

There are lots of walking meditations on Spotify and if I’m feeling a bit ‘meh’, I just put one on and get outside. It really helps me to relax at the end of the day and get some exercise if I don’t feel like going for a run/working out – Victoria Camidge

Have some ‘me time’. By which I obviously mean having a wank. Free to do and has a whole host of benefits – Francesca Beckett

Running - the mental health benefits far outweigh the physical benefits for me. The longer the run the better – Tanya Edwards

Evening rituals

Every evening, if I’m watching a movie or Netflix, I just give myself a little foot massage for 10 minutes. Even just 10 minutes of self-care makes a world of difference – Jazmin L’Amy

I sit quietly with the cat and just stroke her/squidge her toes – I used to do the same with the dogs when I lived with mum and dad. I think channelling my thoughts into looking after her takes my mind off anything and everything – Katie Brooks

Not very original, but I take an evening to exfoliate my skin, moisturise, put on fresh pyjamas and paint my nails. A bit of self-care that makes me feel relaxed and calm – Laura Sanders

Colourful breathing for sleep and anxiety. It’s a circuit breaker for fight-or-flight responses and takes your breathing rate from 20+ breaths a minute to six. Breathe red air in through the nose for four – hold – and breathe blue air out through the mouth for six. Repeat – Dr Josie Perry

At the end of every work day, I write a list of five things that went right or that I’m proud of. It’s a small thing but makes a big difference in terms of noticing growth and overcoming imposter syndrome – Angelica Malin

I do one of re:lax London’s facial massage routes from their YouTube channel – Faye White 

Put your phone on flight mode every night. Don’t turn it back on again until your alarm goes off – Laura Grant

Every day I take at least 10 minutes to find calm and peace. Usually, it’s lying in the bath and listening to a podcast; other days, it’s lying on the bed and focusing on my breathing with earplugs in to drown out the outside noise – AnnMarie

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