woman lying on pillow (Photo: Corbis; Courtesy of Essence)

1. Pick up the phone right this minute and make a date to see that friend you've been meaning to call but only seem to catch up with on Facebook and Twitter.

2. On the way to that party, swing by your favorite makeup counter at the mall and let the folks do your makeup—and don't feel obligated to make a purchase.

3. Break out your good dishes and special occasion glasses for your next dinner—even if it's just you eating take-out Chinese. If it's good enough for company, it's good enough for you.

4. If you're always the one in your circle who plans all the brunches and drinks outings, from coordinating the dates to making the reservations, explain to your girls you're taking a backseat for a month and someone else will need to handle the arrangements.

5. Stop being guilt-tripped into going all out hosting Thanksgiving for all your relatives and most of your friends. "Don't feel obligated to anyone," says Denene Millner, who doles out parenting wisdom and savvy mom-approved advice at mybrownbaby.com. "The real what-if scenario you should be thinking about is you sitting there broke as hell with your house tore up because you overextended yourself." Keep your guest list tight, immediate family only, and your menu minimal—order your sides and dessert from your favorite restaurant and just cook the bird yourself. Better yet, announce that this year the gathering will be potluck.

6. WAKE UP 10 OR 15 MINUTES BEFORE everyone else while your house is still quiet. Sit in your favorite chair or by a window. Sip a cup of tea or coffee or actually read the newspaper. No phone, e-mail or to-do list allowed.

7. Have a no "I'm sorry" day. Every time you say "I'm sorry" you risk internalizing guilt or a sense of wrongdoing, and many of our apologies are needless. So the next time you bump into someone in line, instead of saying, "I'm sorry," say, "Oh, excuse me." And when your coworker tells you she's not feeling well, skip the "I'm sorry you're sick" and say, "I hope you feel better."

8. The bag of old clothes that need mending (shirts with missing buttons or dresses with raveling hems) that you've been stashing for a year? Use a hop-to-it-or-drop-it approach. Either take the clothes to the tailor or give them to Goodwill. Then enjoy the sweet relief of not having that "I'll get to it someday" hanging over your head.

9. Cash in your pennies and spare change at your department store's Coinstar machine, then instead of cashing out the voucher, use it to buy something totally indulgent, like scented lotions and candles or pretty lipsticks and glosses. Blow that $12.24 however you want, just not on something you "need."

10. To avoid the burnout that comes from over-scheduling, limit your time at each party or event. When you RSVP, tell the host, "Thanks for the invite. I have to be home early that night, but I'd love to spend an hour celebrating with you." Knowing how long you're staying and when you're leaving can make the time you're spending there much more enjoyable.

11. Stock a basket in your bathroom with crossword puzzles, Sudoku or other short escapes. Or download a free game from play.google.com to your smartphone.

12. Outsource one thing. Use seamless.com to order a dinner delivery with all the fixings. Hire a cleaning service to come once a month so that in between you're just doing maintenance instead of hands-and-knees Cinderella scrubbing. Find one thing that you could pay someone to do this month.

13. The next time you're at your desk trying to power through a project, get up and walk around the block or get a drink of water. Or take five minutes to read a favorite scripture or inspirational quote. People who take breaks are actually more productive, according to a University of Illinois study.

14. When stressed (or distressed), put your hand over your heart or touch your cheek as you might touch the cheek of a little one you love, and say, "I understand." Extending that gesture of self-care, compassion and loving-kindness will remind you that you are in good hands—your own.

15 DREADING A VISIT TO THE DOCTOR? Don't! Make the most of a valid excuse to not be at the office. Schedule your mammogram, then book a massage or mani-pedi, or soak in a luxurious bath right after.

16. Go on a shopping spree with those store credits or unused gift cards you have lying around.

17. Tired of only getting bills in the mail? Buy a blank card from the dollar store and write yourself a love note. Tuck it in a stamped, self-addressed envelope, then be surprised when it hits your mailbox a few days later.

18. Make a sleep date. Wear fresh-from-the-laundry PJs and change the linen. Hang a Do Not Disturb sign on your door and let your family know this means them—they can sort out homework and settle disputes without you for one night.

19. Tell your honey to go see a movie or otherwise get lost, or ask a neighbor to watch your kids for the afternoon. Then stay put at home. Relax with a good book, watch repeat episodes of Law & Order, take an uninterrupted nap, or sit in a chair and do nothing. Forget a weekend getaway or a spa day. Sometimes you need time in your own house to do what you want to do—alone.

20. Buy yourself a $5 bouquet. Get lost for ten minutes cutting the stems and positioning the buds in a vase just so. This calming activity will leave you with something beautiful to show for it.