We’ve been talking a lot about self-care since the pandemic first hit. But as COVID fatigue sets in, it’s time you actually follow through and take your self-care seriously.
I know what you’re thinking: you don’t have time for self-care. And for many people, that’s true.
The luxurious ideas of self-care we’ve been fed — things like hour-long baths — are a privilege that not everyone has.
But there are actually ways you can take care of yourself that don’t require a lot of time, money, or resources. So, even if you only have five minutes to spare, it’s worth it to make the most of them. Trust me, you’d be surprised how far 5 minutes of self-love can go.
Redefine What Self-Care Means to You
Self-care has become a whole industry at this point — one that people like Gwyneth Paltrow want you to spend hundreds of dollars on.
And while a lot of those fancy toys can certainly help (who doesn’t love an expensive massage?), they aren’t necessarily required to help you unwind.
Because self-care isn’t about stuff, it’s about finding little ways to nourish your mind, body, and soul. It’s about giving yourself a moment of rest when you actually need it, letting your body restore itself from all the stress and anxiety of the day.
It’s also about listening to your body and what it needs. If you feel sick, you take time to recover, instead of pushing yourself harder.
Why Self-Care is a Non-Negotiable
Self-care isn’t a luxury that some of us get to enjoy, it’s actually a necessity. Researchers have proven that taking time to do things like exercise, meditate, sleep, and mindfulness actually affects your brain function. Self-care is crucial to keeping your mind and body healthy.
And just as importantly, self-care can impact your emotional well-being. In case you missed the memo, stress can actually weaken your immune system. Keeping stress at bay is a must, even when things are “normal.” So you can imagine how incredibly important it is in the middle of a global pandemic.
The Importance of Having Things to Look Forward To
Sometimes, it can feel like the pandemic will never end, like we’ll be trapped in this constant state of panic forever.
That’s why it’s so incredibly important to make plans for after the pandemic.
This may seem pointless right now, but did you know that things like planning a vacation can actually be a form of self-care? It’s true! Studies have proven that planning a trip can actually be good for your mental health, even if you don’t exactly know when you plan to travel again.
Little Ways to Fit Self-Care Into Your Already-Existing Routine
Choosing to practice self-care doesn’t necessarily mean you have to completely disrupt your schedule. Sometimes you just need to readjust your thinking a bit.
Something as simple as brushing your teeth is actually self-care — you’re doing something that’s good for your body, after all! So, next time you’re brushing your teeth, try to do it mindfully. Focus on the taste and smell of the toothpaste and how the toothbrush feels in your mouth. Instead of thinking of brushing your teeth like a chore, try to make the most of those two minutes.
Other simple ways to fit self-care into your current routine can include taking five minutes of silence before you get out of bed, listening to music on your way to the grocery, cooking yourself dinner, or practicing two minutes of gratitude right before you fall asleep.
44 Self-Care Ideas
Ok, so now that I’ve covered the importance of self-care, it’s time to get to some actual ideas. Everyone’s different so some of these ideas might not be right for you. But, hopefully, you can find at least one way that can help.
1. Practice a few minutes of mindfulness when you first wake up
2. Take a few deep breathes before going to bed
3. Listen to your favorite song
4. Take your dog for a walk
5. Cook yourself a nourishing meal
6. Put on a cute outfit, even if you’re not going anywhere
7. Take a 20-minute power nap
8. Treat yourself to something special
9. Plan your next day off
10. Take a break from social media
11. Shoot a text of gratitude to your best friend
12. Spend time in your garden or taking care of your plants
13. Enjoy a hot bath or shower
14. Make yourself a cup of tea
15. Declutter your closet
17. Plan a vacation
18. Read a book or magazine
19. Try painting or drawing
20. Take up knitting
21. Clean up your bedroom
22. Buy yourself flowers
23. Clean out your purse
24. Change the sheets on your bed
25. Start a journal
26. Organize your finances
27. Give yourself a mini facial or face massage
28. Light a candle
29. Clear out your email inbox
30. Give yourself a manicure or pedicure
31. Say no to something you don’t want to do
32. Play a game with your family or friends
33. Watch a movie or TV show
34. Write a story or poem
35. Attend a virtual event
36. Listen to an audiobook or podcast
37. Bake yourself something yummy
38. Treat yourself to takeout from your favorite restaurant
39. Practice yoga or stretch
40. Have a picnic (either inside or at a park)
41. Make an appointment with a therapist
42. Play with your pets
43. Prep your meals for the week to save yourself some stress
44. Organize your spice rack
45. Learn to play an instrument
46. Pick up a new language.
47. Take time to read that book you’ve been planning to.
48. Run a bath and put a face mask on.
49. Cook yourself your favorite meal.
50. Take a nap when you’re feeling tired.
Of course, these are just a few of the ways that you can practice self-care. You might have to do a bit of experimenting before you figure out what works for you or when you can find time in your schedule. Don’t give up if it takes you a moment to get into the groove.
One Final Note on Self-Care
Perhaps the most important thing about practicing self-care is to give yourself a little patience! Cut yourself some slack! If you set a goal to practice self-care three times a week but only do it once, that’s ok! Self-care takes both practice and patience. Remember: what comes naturally to others might not come naturally to you.
Self-care shouldn’t be a chore or another thing to add to your to-do list. it should be something you enjoy and that feeds your mind, body, and soul.