Establishing an excellent self-care routine is ultimately about daring to put yourself first. As Lucile Ball once put it, ‘Love yourself first, and everything else falls in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.’ You might already have a working self-care routine, but we all need a little inspiration sometimes.
1. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is about ensuring that the mind is paying full attention to the present moment, without fretting about the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness can be practiced with meditation activities, body scanning, and positive mantras. Mindfulness doesn’t have to be complicated; it’s simply about taking more time to appreciate the smells, sounds, sights, and sensations of life. To help you get started, try books such as The Miracle Of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh.
2. Self-care tools
To improve your self-care regime, it’s useful to have a few self-care tools to help you along the way. For some great motivation, check out a few applications, including:
- Ten Percent Happier: This application offers 500+ meditations, focusing on a range of different subjects. You’ll find meditations themed on anxiety, positive thinking, guilt, or parenting. Ten Percent Happier also provides sleep meditations, plus plenty of mindfulness stories.
- Sanvello: The Sanvello application can help to support users who are looking to improve their wellbeing. It’s particularly useful for those who experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. A few of the best features include guided journeys, assessments, and mood tracking.
Other popular self-care apps include Happify, Shine and Calm. Sometimes all we need is a little inspiration to get our own self-care ideas flowing!
3. Write it out
Writing is a fantastic way to supercharge your self-care regime and give your mental health a boost. Writing down difficult emotions can help you process them, let go, or consider solutions. You might prefer to write down things you are grateful for, including positive experiences.
According to research published by JMR Mental Health, ‘PAJ (positive affect journaling) may serve as an effective intervention for mitigating mental distress and increasing well-being.’ The study was based on medical settings; however, positive journaling can enhance anyone’s well being. You can write down your thoughts in a paper journal, or try a journaling app like ‘Reflectly’.
4. Embrace the natural world
Many of us don’t spend enough time in the natural world, between work and home-life commitments, some feel they just don’t have the time. Embracing the natural world is the perfect act of self-care. One study published in the Environmental Health & Preventive Medicine journal proved that regular trips to the forest resulted in improved mental health. To achieve those natural highs, simply swap a few of your regular activities for activities that embrace nature! Try freshwater swimming instead of Netflix; hiking adventures instead of social media; or running on the beach instead of heading to the bar!
5. Perfect your cooking
Cooking can help us to improve our health and wellbeing in many different ways. Firstly, when you improve your cooking skills, you’ll teach yourself more about nutrition and health. Secondly, taking the time to cook a delicious meal for yourself, (instead of a quick microwave meal) is a simple way to make yourselves feel happy and nourished! Lastly, cooking for others is a brilliant act of altruism, and acts of altruism also benefit your mental health.
6. A new challenge
Learning something new is a brilliant way to boost your wellness, practice self-expression, and improve your self-esteem. Taking on a new hobby may also help you make new friends, or even better yourself within your career. Whether it’s a sports challenge, an online course, or a social-activity, self-care is sometimes about daring to go out of your comfort zone! As coronavirus restrictions lift, there become more opportunities to join a new club. If you prefer, check out a virtual class.
7. Buy a pet
One article in Time magazine suggests that owning a pet can improve your mental health and well being. Similarly, a study published on Taylor & Francis demonstrated that petting an animal could reduce symptoms of anxiety. Interesting enough, ‘the anxiety-reducing effect applied to people with different attitudes towards animals and was not restricted to animal lovers.’
Whether you choose a rabbit, a cat, or a puppy, ensure that you do your research and closely consider the commitment. There are some beautiful labrador puppies for sale here at Lucky Labs.
8. Get artistic
According to research in the Journal of Positive Psychology, practicing creative activities is linked to improved mental well being. The study examined a sample of young adults, paying attention to their well being and how much time they spent doing creative activities. The study authors praised, ‘everyday creativity as a means of cultivating positive psychological functioning.’ Whether you’d like to try painting, pottery, or baking, embrace your artistic side, and boost your health at the same time!
9. Read poetry
Looking for a way to escape reality, unwind, and nurture your emotional side? Why not buy a few poetry books? Reading poetry allows us to explore our feelings, get inspired, and simply relax. If you’re not sure where to begin, check out some of these online magazines for inspiration.
- The New Yorker: The New Yorker is renowned for its poetry and fiction section, here you’ll find some beautiful pieces published by up and coming poets, plus plenty of recommendations.
- Poetry Magazine: Here, you’ll find amazing poetry, fiction themed articles, book recommendations, and literature news. Be sure to check it out to kick start your poetry journey.
10. A gift for yourself
Simple but effective, self-care doesn’t have to be complicated; sometimes, all it takes is treating yourself to a lovely gift or two. It could be a material gift such as a tech device, or an experience gift, like a solo museum trip. Whatever it is, self-care is about tuning in to exactly what you need. Perhaps all you need right now is a duvet day, movies and ice-cream? Or maybe it’s a brand new dress and a night out? No matter what you need, treat yourself (with zero guilt)!
11. Catch up with old friends
When you’re busy with work and family life, you may not always get the time to catch up with old friends. Strong social connections make a huge difference to our mental well-being, so making time for your friends is a great act of self-care. Whether it’s a quick coffee or a video call, even a brief catch-up is better than nothing!
12. Take a break
One of the most important aspects of self-care is knowing when you need a break. Haven’t had time off in a while? Then book a day or two off and plan some relaxing activities. Every now and then we all need to take a mental health day; taking enough breaks is an important way to keep your stress levels under control.
13. Indulge in aromatherapy
Aromatherapy has many health benefits, including treating headaches and reducing stress. The practice of aromatherapy is also used to manage pain and to get a better night’s sleep. There are many essential oils, and each one has different health benefits. You might use lavender or peppermint to relax or try ylang-ylang if you’re looking to improve your mood.
14. Practice guided imagery
Guided imagery shares some similarities with meditation; it’s about closing your eyes and imagining yourself relaxing. A guided imagery recording usually involves a nature soundtrack, like a waterfall or a beach scene. A recorded voice guides you through the experience, encouraging you to relax and visualize what you can see and hear. You might journey through the forest, or imagine yourself swimming in a calm ocean. The idea is to relax, calm your mind, and improve your mindfulness practice. For a few great guided imagery recordings, check out a mediation channel on YouTube.
15. Take up gardening
Gardening is the perfect hobby to de-stress and unwind, and growing your own food is the perfect addition to your self-care regime. To help you out, try the following gardening apps:
- My Garden Organizer: With this app, it’s simple to organize your vegetable garden. You can input your cultivar and planting date to monitor your vegetable beds. The app also offers some great tips and tricks on getting started with growing your own vegetables.
- Garden Plan Pro: Using Garden Plan Pro users can create an amazing vegetable garden, with access to plenty of tips and tools. The app is suitable for rows, containers, raised beds, or any other type of garden. There’s plenty of great content, helping you to produce the best harvest (while keeping pests away)!
To help you on your journey, it can be helpful to set yourself goals to boost your mental health. Whether you’re looking to improve your relationships, address self-esteem issues, or cope with stress, having a few goals in mind can help you to stay on the right track.