Self care is often associated with creamy face masks and luxurious mani/pedis. And while those things certainly have their place in self care, there is so much more we can do for ourselves on a daily level that can immensely nourish and boost our weeks. Self care shouldn’t just be the thing we flock to in an exasperated state after burning ourselves out. Rather, it should be the small, daily acts of love we sustain ourselves with. By giving ourselves just a little bit more energy, this is more than possible. Read our 15 favorite ways to practice self care on a daily level to foster the best version of yourself!
1. Make A Really Delicious Morning Drink
A hot cup of something delicious is such a delightful way to start the day. Our days already hold so much that we have to do, but starting out the day with this tiny gift to yourself can set your day up perfectly. Think about your most ideal morning beverage and do what you need to do to make that in your own kitchen- be that buying a small milk frother, getting a tiny stove top espresso pot, ordering fresh cinnamon sticks to dunk in your coffee, or simply spooning in a dab of cacao powder to make your cappuccino a mocha. I personally love cardamom in my morning tea. It’s cozy, aromatic, and oh, so delicious. Whatever you choose, make it something that makes getting out of bed exciting and give yourself self care in the form of a hot, frothy, beverage.
2. Sunrise Alarm Clock
Ah, sleep. The crux of our well being. Most of our mornings are jarring or rushed, in some combination of chugging coffee and trying to get a quick bite in while attending to work or school or children or all three. While slowing down isn’t always an option (hello 7:30am bus to work), the one thing that can be done is ensuring the best sleep experience possible to best set you up for your day.
While there’s the typical “no screens/alcohol/heavy meals before bed” advice- and yes, that’s sound advice- there’s another thing we have found that quite literally makes waking up a delightful experience (yes that unicorn exists). Enter: the sunrise alarm clock.
This magical little clock emulates a sunrise in your bedroom, gradually shifting the light in the room to that of a sunrise. It syncs up with your most primal neurons, signaling to your brain that it is time to hunt and gather! You can also choose which music or sounds you’d like to wake up to. I personally have mellow instrumental music that gradually gets more lively as the light gets brighter. I am a night owl by nature and absolutely hate waking up. But every single morning that I have woken up with this alarm, it’s gentle and relaxing and I feel ready to get out of bed. That’s a freakin’ miracle in my experience.
Up your self care game and make your entire sleep experience more soothing with a sunrise alarm clock. Try this one for a simple and affordable option. Or go fancy with this one– complete with meditations and an app that syncs up the whole thing. There are so many options out there, so find the one that sounds the dreamiest (wink) to you.
Moving does wonders for our mental health. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy- a 30-minute walk can make all the difference in a day. The blood flow, endorphin boost, and vitamin D (hello sun) invigorates our brain chemistry and is all things self care in both the physical and mental health departments.
The best way to move is the way that you will move. Don’t tell yourself you have to do thirty minute HIIT sessions five times/week if you hate HIIT workouts. Try out different ways of working out until you find a way you genuinely enjoy. There are so many great apps- like Classpass GO, Nike, Sweat, and Blogilates- that have endless workouts of all kinds and lengths.
I personally am obsessed with the Blogilates app and flock to it every morning. It’s cardio pilates, with a full workout that focuses on different parts of the body every day. It’s one of the best parts of my day, and that’s coming from the chubby kid who cried her whole way through the entire one mile run in fourth grade and later quit soccer because it made her “sweat”. I’ve notoriously hated working out my entire life, but even I have found my thing. You can do it. Try new things- like roller blading or biking with your boo. Do a barre class on Youtube. Find a stationary bike on Craigslist and spin after dinner while you binge Netflix. There are even (socially distanced) meet up groups for various ways of working out. Find your thing, move, and sweat those demons out!
4. Consider Finding A Great Therapist
So many of us unload on our partners, friends, parents, and even kids. How much more joyful would our relationships be if they weren’t saddled with all our emotional baggage?
A fantastic therapist is a game-changer. Of course, this doesn’t mean we can’t talk about our innermost workings with those we love most. After all, emotional intimacy is what makes our closest relationships so special. However, finding an unbiased professional to give us tools to best manage our lives is an unequivocal form of self love. If you have health insurance, go on their website and see what providers your insurance covers. Call up that list and see if they have any openings! If you don’t have coverage, it’s still possible to find a therapist. Many therapists will work with you on pricing or payment plans, and many centers like Planned Parenthood have counseling services available as well.
I found a fabulous therapist six months ago and my life has taken a 180. I already had incredible relationships in my life with wonderful advice from my loved ones, but adding a therapist to my support system has become a form of self love that I now can’t imagine my life without.
5. Make A Big, Delicious Meal For The Week
Feed your stomach and soul this week with a hearty soup or hot tray of homemade lasagna. It’s so easy to power through the week with a combination of take out and protein bars. And while this is fine in moderation, when we depend on it our bodies end up saturated in sugar and sodium as we wonder why we always feel so tired and blah. This is not a nutrition lesson, rather an urge to practice a form of self care that isn’t often considered: cooking. Homemade meals can make a huge difference in your week, especially if you have something prepped and don’t have to cook after a long day at work or school. Doing some light meal prep on a Sunday (or any day that’s good for you) can make all the difference. Make protein muffins for the morning and a big pot of food for the nights that you don’t have the time or energy to cook. Get more veggies, protein, and healthy fats in. Nurture your sweet little body so it can nurture you back!
6. Download The Habit Bull App
This darling app is like your mind saying, “Hey! Remember me! Take care of me!” This app is free to download and lets you set up any kind of reminders you want- be that to move, take a deep breathe, call your best friend, anything. You can choose the frequency for different items too which is lovely, so you can remember to take a deep breath five times/day and call your best friend every week. It’s free to use, tracks your habits into a “streaks” graph, and has motivational quotes. Customize the things you want to remember and implement self care in any way you need with this app. Alternately, check out these similar productivity/habit tracking apps!
7. Schedule A Phone Date (Or Trip) With Your Best Friend And Stick To It
Speaking of calling your best friend- call your best friend. Sometimes we just need that person who knows us better than anyone else to make us laugh or call us on our BS. Self love is self care, and what better way to care for ourselves than to connect with those who make us feel our most alive. Find some time to connect with your BFF. If you can, go on a small trip together. Or plan one for the upcoming summer. Or just call them. Or have a facetime cocktail hour with them. Just connect with them. It’ll be the self care you forgot you needed.
8. Find A Fabulous Multivitamin & Probiotic
Keeping our bodies soaked up with essential nutrients that often fall through the cracks is a small but wonderful act of daily self care. Even for the most health conscious folk, it’s easy to have nutrient gaps. Finding a fabulous multivitamin and probiotic can do wonders for your energy, gut health, and mind.
I personally take Ritual vitamin every day and have never felt better since I started it. It’s specifically for women 18+ and not only includes several vitamins like B12, Omega 3s, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E, but also has magnesium, iron, and folate which women particularly need and are often deficient in. It’s plant based, has a delightful mint flavor, and I never feel nauseous after taking it (I always felt queasy after taking other vitamins). It’s my lovely, minty act of self care every morning.
Secondly, find a great probiotic. Probiotics not only boost your energy, gut, and brain health, but also help with immunity and hair/skin luminosity. I take my probiotics every morning with my Ritual vitamin, as I love to get my gut health up and going before I even have my morning coffee or tea. There are different ways of choosing the best probiotic. Higher number of CFU’s (colony-forming units, basically the highest number of probiotic colonies) have been generally found to yield the best results for people. Though that’s not always the case, and other studies have found that CFU isn’t as big a deal as finding a multispecies and multistrain probiotic supplement.
I often opt for what’s on sale, has a multi species/multi strain, and try to find the highest CFU count. After trying out several companies I’ve fallen in love with Solaray Multidophilus 12 Strain Formula, 20 Billion CFU. I found that this one has to be chilled so that the probiotics don’t die, so I get it from the grocery store and not on Amazon. See if you can find this or a similar one that’s already chilled at a grocery or health food store.
Pro tip- After a big meal or anytime you feel bloated pop a probiotic. It does wonders.
9. Find A New Book
Slow your tempo, take a hot bath, and read. And yes, find a new book and don’t just scroll on your phone. Disconnecting from the plethora of notifications on your phone and getting lost in a story is soothing to the mind and quite literally changes your brain synapse pathways from their usual route. Confront that stack of books on your night stand and pick one, or check out this fantastic list from NPR and browse by category! Pick a time to read and do it. Maybe that’s for 20 minutes before bed, or for just 5 minutes with your morning coffee. Let this self care soothe your mind and slow you down, if even for a few minutes a day.
10. Cut Your To Do List In Half
Time is something most of us have had a lot of in the last year. If task #23 still isn’t getting done, why is that? At a certain point, you have to cut the guilt of not getting to everything and admit that if you just aren’t getting to it, perhaps it isn’t as important as you’re making it in your mind. And if that’s so, take it off your list! You’ll get to it eventually, maybe. But having it loom ever-present on your list only adds an unnecessary daily pressure that no one needs right now.
Go through your list and cut down on the things that for whatever reason just aren’t taking precedence. If you’re scared to cut them, write them down on a separate small list and put them in the back of your planner. Check that secondary list out in a couple months and see where they stand with you. If they still don’t feel immediate or important enough to get to, rip up the list. If and when those things become immediate, you’ll know. And you’ll write them down and not need a “secondary list” to remind you of that. In the meantime, clear up some mental bandwidth and cut. that. list. DOWN.
11. Find Ways For You And Your Family To Slow Down Together That Doesn’t Involve A Screen
We all love to unwind with new movies and deliciously binge-able shows. There’s nothing wrong with that in moderation, but when family time = screen time, there’s some definite room for improvement.
Reconnect with your family in a way that involves more presence and creativity. That can be board games, paint by numbers kits, making cheese or ice cream from scratch, or even just cooking dinner together. At first, this might feel like more work, like something you have to plan and figure out when everyone is used to just plopping down in front of the TV after dinner. But you’ll all find how much more invigorating and soothing on the brain it is to detach from screens a little bit and have more physical interaction.
In a world ruled by zoom and smart phones, do your brain a favor and unplug. You’ll sleep better, see better, feel more focused during the day, and generally be out of a fog that too much screen time inevitably causes for us. In the name of self care, unplug!
12. Make A List For Tomorrow
Making a list for your day the night before is a small but powerful act of daily self care. It keeps you from mentally pouring over your to-do list as you’re trying to fall asleep and waking up saddled with overwhelm and indecision. Making a list for tomorrow helps you fall asleep with inspired resolution and wake up with a focused plan.
But here’s the catch- you get to write down four things max. Yes, four. We love to think that tomorrow will be the day when we finally do all thirty things on our list! Be kind to yourself and expect a little less out of your day. But you have places you have to go tomorrow so does that have to count as one of your four? Yup. If you have places to be, you have even less time to do stuff. And if you end up having more time and energy- awesome! Do more! But if you end up barely through number four when dinner time rolls around, you’ll be grateful to have the rest of your evening to finish up and decompress.
The less literal number of things you require of yourself, the more you can feel satisfied with what you DO do. And again, if you end up having energy then be a beast and slash through it all! But let that be an inspired choice, not a requirement.
13. Slow Down On The Alcohol
Contrary to common belief, alcohol actually doesn’t help your nerves. In fact, it does the opposite. It’s quite literally a depressant and reconfigures levels of seratonin in the brain. This can heighten anxiety and make you feel shaky, which often gets worse the day after drinking as well. Aside from the neural affects, it’s also very dehydrating, which gives your body and brain less power to work with as your nervous system is triggered with these negative side effects.
By the way, I drink. This is not a PSA on going sober. But it’s important to know all the physiological effects of our choices. On days that you already feel anxious or down, do your emotions, brain, and nervous system a favor and refrain from drinking. As someone who loves wine, I don’t touch it when I already feel on edge. Especially when are so many fabulous alternatives that actually do help me feel better and work with my brain. I love a juicy peach tea with 100% CBD powder mixed in, or even a mocktail by Curious Elixers– a wonderful mocktail company that makes delicious, chilled drinks with no added sugar. All their drinks are organic, made from botanicals and herbs, and complete with adaptogens that make me feel so calm and happy. Here are several more delicious mocktail companies to check out as well if you’re curious. Because on stressful days, there’s nothing like a wonderful drink to make you slow down and feel better.
This might be a form of self love that’s harder to embrace. But with so many fabulous alternatives it’s totally doable. Be on your body’s side and keep your brain and central nervous system soothed during super stressful times!
14. Do Something For Someone With Joy
I’m not talking about rolling your eyes as you do the dishes, again. I mean something exciting and unexpected. Buy your mom a new set of knives. Wake up five minutes early to surprise your boo with a hot cappuccino in bed. Make your kid a microwave brownie when they wake up from their nap. Turning the arrows outside of our own mental dramas can be so incredibly healing. Remembering that you can bring tremendous delight and joy to others is so gratifying, and being an unexpected light to others only showers our world with more love. Self care can surprisingly include others, and lighting up the world of our loved ones is a great source of love for ourselves.
15. Have a Body Self Care Night
Alright, I’ll give in. Do some good ol’ fashion self care and have a body self care night. Make a sugar scrub to exfoliate, shave slowly, give yourself that luxurious mani/pedi. Paint your nails, do a face mask, use your nice night cream (I love Andalou’s 1000 Roses Heavenly Night Cream). Although this is technically outside in, I admit that treating your body like the goddess temple that it is and allowing your body to look and feel smooth and sultry makes you all kinds of confident and ready for the week. Have a slow Sunday night, make some hot tea, and lather up with all your favorite exfoliates and creams. Feel like the goddess that you are and walk into your week glowing.
Which way do you plan to implement self care first? What sounds the most exciting and doable to you? Whatever you choose- go slow, try out one at a time, and let each one be a treat. Don’t tell yourself you need to adopt ten new ways of living life. That’s overwhelming. Be kind to yourself and soak up what feels good first. We can’t wait to hear what you try and what works for you!
Featured Image Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/PwX0aCrppSM
Writer, bibliophile, podcast enthusiast, self-admitted coffee addict, proud cat/puppy mom, vegetarian foodie, wine appreciator, pilates junkie, wifey to the most darling man there ever was. Avid NPR & NYT fan. Lifelong storyteller & optimist. LA-based. Writer for Society19 & Thrive Global. In all my writing I like to both challenge and validate the reader. You can check out my stuff at ashawrites.me. Sign up for my mailing list: https://tinyletter.com/ashanoeliyer