7 Ways To Practice Self-Care With Your Partner

Photographed by Anna Alexia Basile.
The definition of self-care has recently become a little hazy. Some people argue that, in "practicing self-care," you're actually just being selfish and ignoring all of your responsibilities — but that's not necessarily true. Experts say that self-care just means "providing adequate attention to one's own physical and psychological wellness," according to the American Psychological Association. That can mean totally different things to different people, so as long as you're doing something for yourself without apologizing for it, that can be self-care.
For many people, self-care is something you practice alone, like doing a face mask or finally booking a doctor's appointment you've been putting off. But "self-care" doesn't actually have to be a solo activity, and it can be something that you do with your romantic partner or your friends. Some research actually suggests that when friends and family are involved in a self-care intervention, people are more likely to participate in the activities.
Of course, you can still have your own self-care ritual, but every now and then it might be nice to share the experience with your partner. Think about it: When you pay attention to your partner's physical and psychological well-being, it's a win-win scenario. If you're up for it, here are some self-care activities that you and your partner can try, based on real things that people in the Refinery29 community say they do — besides, you know, sex.
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Give a 10-second back rub.

Massages and spa treatments usually fall under the self-care umbrella, but chances are you don't have the time or funds to make those happen on the regular. According to one reader, they like to take "10 seconds" to give their partner a back rub. "The short time is sort of a joke, but basically ensures that we don't have to make it a whole thing," they say. "It's still nice because we feel like we're taking care of each other's stress."
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Ask what the pit and peak of their day was.

In the Kardashian family, they often share the "peak" and "pit" of their days at the dinner table. It's a much easier way to reflect on the day than just asking an open-ended question like, "How was your day?"
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Pet your cat.

If you and your partner have a ball of fur at your disposal, by all means pet it. Not surprisingly, one reader says she and her partner like to just dote on their cat, which makes them both happy. In fact, a 2011 study found that people with strong bonds with their pets tend to have better self-esteem.
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Take a walk after dinner.

One reader says she and her partner "fully meditate together," but sometimes it's easier to just go on a walk after making dinner. It's a small ritual that gives them an opportunity to really talk to each other without distractions and take in their surroundings, she says.
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Play like children outside.

When it's warm outside, one reader suggests "playing outside like children." You could decide to go outside for an hour to throw a frisbee or play some silly outdoor game that kids play, like hopscotch or tag. It's a way to get in physical activity without going to the gym, and lots of research suggests that spending time outside is good for you.
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Sing covers of cheesy songs.

Engaging in leisurely hobbies, like playing or listening to music, can totally count as a self-care exercise. If that's something you and your partner enjoy (no shade if you're not actually good at singing), you can find instrumental tracks to cheesy pop songs on YouTube and sing along with the track, suggests a reader.
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Fill out a crossword puzzle.

One reader says she and her partner like to have "tech-free nights" at least once a week, during which they do a screen-free activity that lasts a long time. "Usually, we light a candle, make popcorn, and play chess or do a crossword puzzle in bed — a.k.a. we're 90," she says.