5 Ways to Practice Self-Care
Every so often, one of my friends will check in on me by asking, "what kind thing have you done for yourself today?" The first time she asked, I was moved to tears. Now, I try to do the same, because it's an incredibly effectively way to stay accountable (and hold other accountable) for self-care. In a world where stress is glorified and mental health is often misunderstood, self-care is often difficult to justify. That makes it all the more necessary.
Stress has some incredibly adverse effects on the body, some you've possibly lived with so long that you barely even notice them anymore. Some of these symptoms include headaches, trouble sleeping, an upset stomach, or tense muscles. Exercising daily, (SO hard for a weakling like me...) eating well, getting enough sleep, and practicing relaxation exercises are a few ways to combat this stress but sometimes, we need to do some more intentionally kind things for ourselves. If you're new to self-care, you may not know where to begin. Lucky for you, I'm a bit of a seasoned pro.
I don't think self-care is a one-size-fits-all kinda thing, and though these suggestions are some of my favorites, they might not work for you. Still, they make a pretty decent jumping-off point if you're dipping your toe in the warm, calming waters of self-care.
1. Take a Bath
Few things are able to bring me as much simple joy as a nice, long soak in the tub. While a bath itself is absolutely wonderful, there are plenty of ways you can enhance your rub-a-dub time. I've found that I enjoy bath salts more than bath bombs, (less cleanup and they don't feel as slimy on my skin) Kneipp's Red Poppy & Hemp being my absolute favorite. I also enjoy adding oils, and there are SO many to choose from. Lavender is relaxing, Juniper can sooth sore muscles, Orange helps with stress, but what I've been REALLY loving lately is Devil's Claw for back pain or Arnica for achy joints. Add a sheet mask (Dr. Jart's Ceramidin is my forever fave) and put on your favorite shows or music while you soak.
*BONUS BATH TIP: I found that bath time became even more enjoyable after adding some greenery to my bathroom. I currently have a lovely Yucca plant and some fresh eucalyptus.
2. Spend Some Quality Time with a Book in Your Favorite Cafe
Something that I loved about being in Europe was seeing people sitting outdoors at cafes, in restaurant booths, or at the bar just casually reading a book. It's a leisurely way to pass the time for sure, and though I felt weird the first time I showed up to a coffee shop with a book instead of my computer, I realized just how enriching the experience can be. Now that the weather has been (somewhat) reasonable, I enjoy opting for an outdoor table, and, what paired with a donut and a cold brew, this is one of my favorite ways of practicing self-care out of all of 'em. While nothing beats curling up in bed or on the sofa with a blanket and your favorite piece of literature, doing this classic "homebody" activity out of the context of the home puts an interesting spin on it. I often get bad social anxiety and being finding an activity that lets me relax somewhere outside of the house has been healing. Like I said, there was initially a barrier there but after a few tries, this became one of my favorite ways of treating myself.
3. Go for a Walk
Who says self-care has to be expensive or require extensive planning? In times when cash is tight and I'm stressing about it, I often want nothing more than to treat myself to a nice dinner or a new pair of shoes, but it's just not possible. Instead, I force myself to try to enjoy some of the free pleasure that life has to offer—and I end up feeling great afterwards. When I'm extra stressed, I take myself for a run. When I'm not, or I don't have the energy, a simple walk always manages to do the trick. (How? It's magical.) It doesn't matter if it's a long hike at a beautiful state park or a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood, getting outside and honoring yourself in that way is effective and important.
4. Self-Care, But Make it Collaborative
Dinner is half as much money when you share it with a friend, and burdens are half as heavy when you have someone else helping you get through 'em. Rebecca and I often find ourselves in the same life cycles so we're no strangers to brunches, happy hours, and now, midday coffee dates. It's good to meet with a friend and discuss the latest happenings. I find that we share our troubles for the first few minutes and spend the rest of the time successfully navigating away from them. Spending some time away from the thoughts that consume us can be good for our souls: everyone needs a break, hey? This method is also much, much better when your friend is a foodie. (Or at least willing to be a pretend gourmand for a couple of hours.)
5. Do Your Makeup for No Reason
When I'm feeling down, one of my favorite ways to cheer myself up is to fix my hair and makeup—even if I'm not going anywhere in particular. Whenever I go out, the getting-ready process is usually somewhat rushed, so practicing and experimenting with new looks can be fun and make it easier when it's time to actually gussy up.
What do you think? I'm going to practice one (or two.... or all...) or these this weekend because this week has been a bit of a doozy. Have your own self-care tips and tricks? I'd love to hear about them, so feel free to leave a comment below!
Hope you all have a wonderful, stress-free weekend!