Going through a worldwide pandemic is not an easy task, last year was quite challenging and stressful for many. We got through it though. However, it looks like Covid will be sticking around for a bit longer. More than ever now, it is so important that we take care of ourselves, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It can be a bit of a challenge, though, especially since we cannot do much outside of our homes. So today, we’re sharing 21 ways you can self-care this year.
Self Care is a buzzword these days, but for good reason. It’s emotional & mental health benefits are extraordinary. And for generations, people (especially women) did not prioritize taking care of themselves beyond the basics. When we rely on others to take care of us, we’re trying to outsource the most important task to people who either don’t know how to do it right, or don’t know when we need “taking care of” – this can breed resentment, irritation, grudges and a feeling of “I do everything for everyone else, and no one does for me.” Very Well Mind puts it simply: “People who neglect their own needs and forget to nurture themselves are at danger of deeper levels of unhappiness, low self-esteem, and feelings of resentment. And people who spend their time only taking care of others can be at risk of getting burned out, which makes it more difficult to care for others or themselves.”
So, take care of yourself (beyond the basics), meet your needs, carve out time for yourself – even if those around you aren’t used to this. And feel the care and love you give to yourself as the greatest gift you could give to your emotional, mental and physical well being.
1. Get Moving as a first step to self care
Of course, this is an obvious one but so important. Exercising is not only great for you physically; it is also great for you mentally and emotionally. It is known that regular exercise can help improve your mood as well as help release stress. It is also a great way to help calm anxiety while helping you to relax, which in turn can help you sleep better. And of course, there are the physical health benefits as well as improved self-confidence. Try getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, there are many workout videos on YouTube you can do from the comfort of your home. Go for a walk around your neighborhood, or just put on some music and dance. Choose something that you will enjoy and just have fun. For gentle indoors movement (if you’re just getting started), look up Nia Dance, Tai Chi, Walking In Place, Gentle Yoga, or Gentle stretching on You tube. And don’t forget old school, Sit and Be Fit – she’s on YouTube too and if you haven’t been moving at all – these will all give your body an awesome boost!
2. Stay Hydrated
Here’s another obvious one, but we honestly could use the reminder. I know I struggle to make sure I’m drinking plenty of water during the day. Water is absolutely vital for our overall health; our bodies depend on it. Drinking plenty of water helps our bodies to maintain balance. Staying hydrated helps improve our concentration and memory, balance our mood and emotions while helping reduce stress. And of course, we all know that drinking plenty of water helps our skin stay healthy. The benefits of water are truly amazing and endless. Dehydration, on the other hand, can cause havoc on us, it can cause unclear thinking and even affect our mood. It can also increase the risk of kidney problems. So, make sure you are staying hydrated. The recommendation has always been 8 – 8 oz glasses of water a day. But this recommendation can fluctuate based on various factors (pregnancy/breasfeeding, your body weight, your activity level, etc)…so the best way to know if you’re hydrated enough is to observe your urine. Every time you pee, check the color – it should be pale yellow. If it’s not pale yellow, keep drinking water. If it turns clear, you’ve had enough and can back off.
3. Invest In Your Skin
It’s important to take care of your skin so invest in some good quality products. They do not need to be expensive to be of good quality. Focus on ingredients, look for products that are safe and will benefit your skin’s needs. If your skin is feeling dry, look for moisturizing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and shea butter for example. If your skin is oily, look for moisturizing ingredients that are lighter on the skin, avoid oils that are too heavy and choose a light moisturizer instead of a heavy cream. A simple, but effective, routine will consist of a good gentle cleanser, a gentle hydrating toner/essence, and a moisturizer as well as a good SPF to use during the day. Of course, there are some other good products you can add depending on your skin concerns. And don’t forget to take care of the rest of your body’s skin, including your lips which often go overlooked (exfoliate, hydrate with a lip mask, and moisturize often). We wrote this article to help you determine if your skin is dry or actually dehydrated and which products to use depending on your situation.
4. Start A Hobby To Learn New Ways To Self Care
Try something new or perhaps pick up an old hobby you used to have. This will help take your mind off of all the things going on that may cause stress and help you to relax. Try drawing or painting, start a collection of something that you love, or learn a new type of dance. There are so many hobbies out there that you are sure to find the right one for you. So many of us, by the time we enter our 40s, aren’t really sure what we like. We’ve spent so much time focusing on others that we don’t have any idea what WE would like to do. If this sounds like you, start a list of all the things that could possibly interest you (whether it’s a hobby or not) and then start researching. And if you try something and you don’t like it, just move on to the next thing. Hobbies get us excited to spend time with ourselves, and help us stay in the present moment. Some quick ideas for new hobby seekers: birds, patio herb gardens, new recipes, decluttering and organizing (yes, this can be a hobby if approached without judgement and a sense of fun), writing cards, color or paint by number, and of course playing with cruelty free makeup!
5. Get Plenty Of Sleep
Rest is an important way to self-care. A lot of us are stuck at home so it might be easy to get into the habit of going to bed late and perhaps not getting enough rest. Try to set a reasonable schedule where you will be able to get enough sleep, aim for 7 to 8 hours each night. If you can, take naps when possible, they will give you a boost of energy during the day. If your circumstances allow it and you are feeling a bit tired, sleep in! Why not, right?
6. Get Some Fresh Air
Speaking of being stuck at home, try to get out and enjoy some fresh air. Go for a walk or take a drive somewhere where you can be out safely. If you are working from home, get some work done outside in your backyard. If you live close to the beach, pack a lunch and take a drive along the coast. Then take a walk on the beach. Check for any trails near you and go for a hike or a bike ride. Going outside and getting some fresh air will really help improve your mood, all while getting some warm sunshine.
7. Eat Well
Another extremely important way to take care of yourself is by eating healthy. You don’t need to go on a strict diet, just try adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Limit the amount of sweets and highly processed foods you eat. Choose healthy snack options and try not to eat fast food too often. Moderation is the key to eating well.
8. Indulge From Time To Time
And following Eating Well…let’s talk about indulgence! Hey, sometimes you really want that piece of cake or cookie or that pint of ice cream. It’s ok, go ahead and have it. Depriving yourself of your favorite dessert or meal is not always healthy. From time to time, it’s perfectly fine to treat yourself to your favorite, not so healthy, dessert or that juicy burger (or veggie burger) you have been craving. Just remember – enjoy every bite, savor it and don’t judge yourself afterward. That just sets you up for negative self talk and unhealthy restriction the next day (which is the opposite of self care). Savor it, then moderate it.
9. Plan A Getaway
Even if it is just for the day, get in your car and go somewhere. Go site seeing, plan a day-long hike. Or just rent a small house for the weekend, a change of scenery can do wonders for your mental health. Last year for our anniversary, my husband rented a house down in Santa Barbara for a few days (we live in Northern California). Even though we could not do a lot of the things we would normally do while on vacation, we had a blast. Our two boys enjoyed just being somewhere else other than home, and we enjoyed going to the beach. So, if you can, get out of town at least for the day.
10. Keep Up With Family and Friends
It can be very easy to isolate yourself from everyone since we are not spending time with many at the moment. However, this can be unhealthy for our mental and emotional state, so try to avoid isolating yourself from the rest of the world. Call your family members and your close friends, see how they are doing. Set up a Zoom meeting so you can catch up and see each other. Many have planned a dinner together and game nights through Zoom. I know it does not compare to being able to see each other in person, but it definitely will help our mental state to be able to have some kind of association with others.
11. Get Dressed and Do Your Makeup
You might ask, “What for? I’m not going anywhere.” Yes, that may be the case, but I find that getting dressed up a bit and putting on some makeup puts me in a better mood. So put on some cute jeans, a nice t-shirt, spray some perfume, and do your makeup. It will make you feel good and uplift your spirits throughout the day. Give it a try, plus any excuse to look pretty is always good!
12. Try A New Recipe
Take out some of those cookbooks that have been collecting dust (I have plenty of those) and try cooking something new! Perhaps a new pasta dish that you meant to try a while back and just never got to it. Or bake that yummy chocolate cake you saw in that dessert cookbook you bought a while back. Cooking something new and different can give you that sense of accomplishment that just makes you feel good about yourself. It’s all about uplifting the mood, and eating some delicious food.
13. Declutter For Self Care & Mental Health
Go through your closet and drawers, pick out those pieces of clothing you no longer use. If they are in good condition, why not donate them? Or maybe you know someone who could use them. What about your shoes, are there any that you could also part ways with? Another thing that would be good to go through is your beauty products. Check expiration dates, make sure they are still safe to use. Go through your makeup products and see if there are any items that you have had for too long that might need to be thrown out and get replaced. Your pantry is another good place to check, we often forget about the items we have in there and do not realize they have expired. Decluttering is a good way to distract ourselves and feel some accomplishment of getting things done around the house.
Is there a space in your home that needs some sprucing up, or is there a room that you have been wanting to rearrange? This would be the perfect time to get started on some of those home improvements you have been wanting to do. Since we are spending a lot of time at home, make it a place where you love to be. Are your walls a little bare? Hang up some wall art or some frames with some of your favorite pictures. What about your bedroom? Maybe some new décor or bedding is needed to freshen it up, or give your living room area a better flow by moving the furniture around. The goal is to make your home a place you can enjoy and as relaxing as possible, make it your oasis.
15. Take Some Time To Unwind
Life can be very busy. There is so much to be done during the day that it can be not only physically exhausting, but also mentally. Take a break. Make time for yourself to simply relax. It could be as simple as just lying on the couch to watch a movie, or catch up on some of those episodes you missed from your favorite show. Or just do absolutely nothing for an hour or two.
16. Start A Journal
Talking to someone about how we are feeling can be extremely helpful for our mental and emotional health. But sometimes we might struggle to say how we are doing or maybe we just do not feel comfortable talking about certain things with others. Why not write down your thoughts and emotions instead? Buy a cute journal and write out what is on your mind. Write down how you are feeling, your worries and concerns, or even some of your goals. Many find expressing their feelings, verbally or by writing them down, very therapeutic and often feel so much better.
17. Treat Yourself
Life is so hectic right now, a lot of us are super busy. Besides trying to stay safe, you may be still working, working from home, or working from home while homeschooling your kids, all while taking care of your daily chores. Just know you are doing an amazing job! Reward yourself, you deserve it. Treat yourself to that one thing you have been wanting. Get yourself those new matte eyeshadows that are about to be released, or that perfume you have been eyeing for the last couple months. You work hard so spoil yourself every so often.
Every now and then it’s good to go offline, get off social media, and just put your phone down and leave it in another room. Your eyes will thank you. Go and spend some quality time with your family without any interruptions. Try to forget about any emails and texts during dinner time and enjoy your meal. You can also try not to use your phone 30 minutes before bedtime, this is hard I know, but they say it could help sleep better so it is worth trying.
19. Do A Spa Night
Physical self-care is very important, so take the time to take care of your body. Put on a facial mask, hang the “Do Not Disturb” sign, and you enjoy a nice relaxing bubble bath. Hey, give yourself a pedicure and manicure afterwards. Me Time is always a good time, and amazing for your mental health.
20. Read A Book
Find a quiet spot in your home and set up a little reading nook. Make yourself a cup of tea, get a snack or two, and light up a candle. Grab yourself a good book and enjoy some quiet time all to yourself. There are a lot of great books out there, from novels to self-care ones. Find a few that catch your interest and enjoy
21. Take The Day Off
Sometimes what you really need is to do nothing at all. Take a day off to just simply relax. Sleep in and take it easy for the whole day. Don’t worry about dinner, order food for delivery or pick up. After a day of doing nothing, you will be well rested and ready to take on the week.
Self-care is so important for our well-being. It can make a huge difference in our physical, mental, and emotional health. Take the time to show love and some TLC to yourself, you will feel better and refreshed despite the current situation we find ourselves in. However you choose to self-care, always take precautions and stay safe.
What are your favorite ideas for self care, other readers will appreciate numerous ideas – leave them in the comments below!