5 Easy Ways to Put Yourself First and Take Me-Time, According to an Expert

Jon'a Joiner, a single mom of a 4-year-old and founder of the life-coaching company Drink First, Then Pour, shares her simple tips for self-care.

portrait of jon a joiner wearing tropical blazer
Photo: Denisha McCauley Photography

Knowing how important self-care is—and being all too aware how impossible it feels to pull off—we’re devoting this to parents who have figured out how to not only squeeze in time for themselves but also make it meaningful (since doomscrolling or stewing about work doesn’t tend to restore our spirits).

First up to share real-life tips the rest of us can use is Jon'a Joiner, founder of the life-coaching company Drink First, Then Pour and single mom of a 4-year-old.

1. Get Off the Emotional Roller Coaster

“After my husband died of cancer in 2017, my coping mechanism was to pour myself into work. But even when we aren’t grieving, we often focus on one thing, like getting promoted or losing 10 pounds; it builds one muscle but neglects the rest. To move forward, I had to take a look at the complete picture: Work is good, but how is my mental health? My physical health? I now spend a few minutes each day talking to a loved one, and I work out consistently.”

2. Create a Coping Kit

“I found a box and filled it with things that keep me grounded and balanced. When I hit a wall, I pull it out and reach for whatever looks most helpful at that moment. Items I suggest: a candle or incense, a journal, a playlist, photos of happy memories, a devotional, a meditation pillow, a stress ball, affirmations, and gum—I’m a big snacker, so I like to have something to chew on.”

3. Take Five in the A.M

“I wake up an hour before my daughter does so I can pray, meditate, and get quiet time, which sets the tone for the rest of my day. People picture meditation as sitting silently or chanting for 30 minutes. It doesn’t have to be that; in fact, it can be five minutes. Turn off your phone, sit still, take deep breaths. After that I have breakfast. Coming up with new ideas is a time suck, so mine is the same every day: oatmeal with fruit and nuts or almond butter.”

4. Look the Part

“I am unapologetic about prioritizing my wellness. When I look good, I feel good. I’m a lash girl! As soon as restrictions lifted, I made my lash-extensions appointment. I may need a haircut, my brows may not be perfectly shaped, but when my lashes are right, I feel put together.”

5. Outsource When You Can

“I’ve learned you don’t have to be a martyr and take it all on yourself. Look for areas to ask for help. Get takeout! Book a cleaning service! And then catch up with a friend, read a book, or get a workout in.”

This article originally appeared in Parents magazine's January 2021 issue as “How to Put Yourself First (No, Really).” Want more from the magazine? Sign up for a monthly print subscription here

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