Self-care is important always, but with the current COVID-19 pandemic—and the overwhelming change and uncertainty it is bringing—it has taken on new meaning.
In the weeks to come, we're all going to be spending more time indoors, with most of our connections taking place by phone and screen, instead of in person.
So far, I'm probably not alone in handling it by stress eating, anxiously checking my phone for news updates and losing out on sleep and exercise!
But if this is our "new normal" for the time being, then there are healthier ways to cope.
That's why I've put together this list of self-care ideas that I'm implementing at home—and that you might want to try, too. After all, it is only by taking care of your own physical, emotional and mental health, that you can then take care of your loved ones and community.
Stay tuned for more related content coming soon, and please reach out anytime to let me know how I can be the most helpful to you right now!
Self-Care Ideas to Try at Home
1. Get More Sleep
Getting enough sleep is crucial for reducing stress, preventing depression and—most importantly right now—keeping your immune system strong. Adults need seven to nine hours per night.
If you have trouble falling asleep, take a warm shower or bath, eat a bedtime snack, and avoid anything over-stimulating in the evenings (like caffeine, exercise, TV and all devices). I also like to wear my Slip Pure Silk Sleep Mask to block out light!
2. Nourish Your Body
Good nutrition is another cornerstone of self-care. Without the nutrients your body needs, in the right amounts, your metabolism suffers—which can affect your mood, energy, hormones and countless other functions.
How to Heal Your Metabolism by Kate Deering is the best resource I've found for learning how to truly nourish your body and achieve robust health.
3. Start a Home Workout Routine
It's no secret that physical activity helps to improve your mood, energy and sleep. But with most gyms currently off limits, what's the best way to work out at home—without having to buy a bunch of equipment?
My vote is for the humble kettlebell (try one like AmazonBasics Vinyl Coated Cast Iron Kettlebell Weight). There are tons of free programs to follow online, and you'll get a full-body workout that leaves you stronger and standing straighter.
4. Set Limits for Screen Time
To say that the news cycle is intense right now would be a huge understatement. I don't know about you, but getting alerts on my phone, checking news websites and scrolling through social media was leaving me on edge all day.
So now, I'm limiting my "non-work" screen time to two sessions per day, max. Alternatively, you can use tools like Freedom to block any website or app for a scheduled amount of time. Also consider muting or unfollowing any social media accounts that make you feel bad.
5. Deep-Clean Your Space
A clean home is definitely part of self-care, so why not use this time to get scrubbing? Sometimes, just the repetitive acts of wiping surfaces, mopping floors or doing dishes can calm you down and shift your focus. And the benefit is a more comfortable and safe living environment.
Check out Force of Nature Starter Kit—it's an innovative multi-purpose cleaner that is completely non-toxic, but hospital-grade. It kills 99.9 percent of bacteria and viruses!
6. Get Organized
We may not be able to control what's going on in the world, but we can control our own clutter. Take it from me, as someone whose job requires an inventory of beauty products to rival Sephora's. I know all too well how a disorganized space can make you feel overwhelmed, distracted and even paralyzed about where to start.
For help, there's Spark Joy by Marie Kondo, which takes you through the decluttering guru's complete tidying method.
7. Express Your Creativity
Tapping into your creative side is a surefire way to slow down, express yourself and experience a state of "flow." Maybe you already have a favourite form of creative expression—like dancing, singing, playing an instrument, writing, drawing or painting.
Or maybe you just need to unlock it, in which case 365 Days of Creativity by Lorna Scobie (with daily exercises) is a great place to start.
8. Learn Something New
Consider mastering a new skill, whether it's learning to knit or balancing the budget. Not only will it give you a reason to unplug from work and social media, but it's also guaranteed to boost your confidence, give you drive and focus, and essentially turn you into a smarter, more capable person.
For me, photography is a constant work in progress, so I'm working my way through Photo Hacks by Imogen Dyer and Mark Wilkinson. Also check out what online courses are available in your area of interest. Brit + Co, for example, is offering free classes until the end of the month!
9. Try Some Different Recipes
Rather than a chore, cooking for yourself is a fundamental form of self-care. Why wouldn't you want to know exactly what's going into your body and how it's being prepared? Experimenting with ingredients and trying new recipes is also a way to engage all your senses—and it can be a lot of fun.
Of all the cookbooks I own, I reach for Food Swings by Jessica Seinfeld the most often. I can't recommend it enough!
10. Create a Skincare Routine
Beauty companies have been exploiting the idea of skincare as self-care lately, as if feeling good about yourself is only a matter of buying their products. My take? It's more about skin health! While there's a lot to be said for the ritual of a daily skincare routine, the benefits are way more than skin deep. Think: less discomfort and irritation, more resilience, and even protection from skin cancers. My free Better Skin in 7 email course can help you get started!
11. Take a Nightly Bath
Say what you will about Gwyneth Paltrow, but she's on to something with her nightly baths. She treats the time as "non-negotiable," and that one hour to be free to daydream, escape from her phone and wash the day away. Doesn't that make you want to take a hot soak right now?!
For an upgrade from drugstore Epsom salts, I love Herbivore Calm Soaking Salts, which are scented with my two favourite essential oils: ylang-ylang and vanilla.
12. Give Yourself a Massage
You don't have to wait for an appointment with a professional masseuse (however long that may take) to reap the benefits of massage. A regular 10-minute self-massage can go a long way towards breaking up tension, reducing pain and promoting relaxation.
If your own hands aren't enough, try the Thera Cane Trigger Point Massager. It helps you safely target and release hard-to-reach, knotted "trigger points."
13. Foster or Adopt a Pet
As any animal lover knows, having a pet is the very best form of self-care. Think: constant companionship, cozy snuggles, emotional support and unconditional love! There's no better time to become a foster or adoptive parent than now. With COVID-19 forcing most shelters to close, countless animals are in urgent need of homes (check with your local shelters, volunteer organizations and/or veterinary clinics).
If you're a new cat parent, check out The Cat Owner's Manual by Dr. David Brunner and Sam Stall.
14. Start a Gratitude Journal
If you're like most people, your day starts and ends with looking at your phone. But what if you devoted that time to keeping a gratitude journal instead? It only takes five minutes, and can powerfully shift your mindset, helping you to appreciate all the good things in your life (rather than dwelling on the negative).
Intelligent Change The Five-Minute Journal gives you structured questions and prompts for six months of daily journalling, morning and night.
15. Establish a Support Network
It's human to experience feelings of loneliness, sadness and uncertainty, so giving and getting support is crucial. Even if you can't see friends and family in person, you can make plans to stay in touch regularly by phone (I love Wild + Wolf Retro 746 Landline Phone!), text, email or video chat. If you need more formal support, help is available, so check with your community's mental health services (such as eMentalHealth.ca or Mental Health America).
Offering a helping hand to others can also flip your perspective. If you can, consider getting groceries or picking up prescriptions for your elderly neighbours, or offering your babysitting services to front-line health care workers.
16. Laugh Out Loud
There's nothing funny about a global pandemic, but laughter sure is a good coping mechanism. And hey, it's actually healthy for you. Did you know that laughter releases tension, reduces stress hormones, lowers blood pressure, and even boosts the immune system?
How are you practicing self-care right now?