Self-care is a big deal these days. On the surface, this is great! We’re more likely to focus on personal wellness, check in with ourselves and do something feel-good when everyone around us also seems to be doing it.
However, the amplified importance of self-care on the internet, social media and the Year 2020 has maybe forced us to put a little too much thought into the matter.
You (* talking to ourselves here*) shouldn’t stress about your wellness routine—unless you want it to backfire. Overachieving in calmness is not a thing. You don’t need the newest skin care tool or a completely empty schedule or a secluded yurt to practice self-care. On the contrary, some of the best self-care practices seem so small, yet so impactful.
Below we share self-care rituals that you can actually get done. All in a day? Maybe—although just one is more than enough. (No overachieving at wellness, remember?) Your best chance at making self-care stick is to introduce one happy little habit at a time.
There’s no right or wrong way to journal. Your handwriting doesn’t need to be perfect and you don’t need to try to write the perfect thing for your grandchildren/future historians to look back on. You don’t even have to write in full sentences—if it’s easier, jot down your thoughts as bullet points instead. Set a timer for 5, 10 minutes—whatever you can manage is fine. Grab your favorite ballpoint and a piece of paper and don’t lift the pen until the alarm sounds. If you need inspiration, some of our favorite journal prompts come from Wit & Delight and The Good Trade.
Studies have shown gratitude improves your mental health, and you need only look around to practice it! Think of three things for which you’re thankful. You can write them down (a gratitude journal is great—two self-care birds with one notebook!), but you don’t have to have a physical place to put the thanks—it’s the thought that counts. Example: We’re grateful for natural sunlight, clutter-free bathroom drawers and Leave-In Conditioner.
Water! It’s as simple as that. Experts say there is no “right” amount of water to drink a day, but 4-6 glasses is the general consensus. Take it one sip at a time and complement those cups with lots of hydrating foods—romaine, celery, cucumber, melon, chia seeds and more.
No, you don’t need to reach enlightenment today, but even just a few minutes of meditation can make you kinder, according to a recent Wharton study. Meditation practice can also lower stress and anxiety, help you multitask and even aid in decision making. Apps like Calm, Headspace and Balance are great for novice meditators, and plenty of videos are available for free on YouTube as well. Find a calming voice or sound and let all other thoughts drift off and away, if only for a moment.
Taking a warm shower (or bath!)
Honor your body—a good head scrub included. Wash your hair using products you love (hi, we can help with that!) and visualize the water washing away your worries as you rinse. Now you’re clean and fresh and ready for whatever is next.
...Or even better, a cold shower
Willingly entering an uncomfortable situation may seem counterintuitive, but we promise the perks outweigh the (slight) physical shock. Taking a cold shower is an ancient form of hydrotherapy where our bodies are taught to adapt to harsh conditions and therefore become more resistant to stress. Other benefits include increased endorphins and metabolism, improved circulation and a boosted immune system. Try it next time you hop in your shower—even if only for the last 30 seconds.
Moving your body
We know this. You know this. Regular exercise can help you live longer, improve your brain health and reduce a number of health risks. Even 10 minutes of physical activity per day can make you happier! If you don’t like running, you don’t need to be a runner. If you hate barre, don’t force yourself through another video class. The point is to move your body any way that feels good. Maybe that means dancing around your living room, stretching, going for a swim or taking a nice walk around the block with your family.
It’s not about how other people perceive you—the clothing you wear actually impacts how you perceive yourself. Dress for success, even if that means throwing on a clean(er) pair of sweats. The ritual of changing into “day clothes” and freshening up your hair with a spritz of Texturizing Sea Salt Spray can be meaningful regardless of if you’re leaving the house or staying home.
Spending time outdoors
A breath of fresh air can change the course of your day. And Vitamin D? Priceless. Besides that unlike-anything-else feeling you get when your eyes are closed and the sun is shining warm and bright on the back of your eyelids, Vitamin D is good for bone and muscle strength, oral health, immune support, inflammation, hypertension and disease prevention. If the sun isn’t shining, still consider a little time spent playing in the dirt—studies have shown interacting with an outdoor microbiome can boost your mood and improve gut health.
Culinary therapy is real! Julie Ohana, who specializes in culinary arts therapy, explains it as such: "It's really an exercise in mindfulness. When you're lining up things, cutting things in a certain way, you really get into a groove. You're really able to focus on what you're doing, be in the moment, let other things go." Pick a recipe, any recipe. Toss it together and put some leftovers away to enjoy tomorrow. Oh look—you’ve also just given your future self the gift of time.
Getting a good night’s sleep is so, so important. According to sleep expert and neurologist Mark Wu, “Sleep is a period during which the brain is engaged in a number of activities necessary to life—which are closely linked to quality of life.” If a neurologist can’t convince you, maybe J. Lo can—she credits her glow to the 8-10 hours of sleep she gets nightly.
It takes less than a minute, and it’ll feel nice to tell your dentist the truth for once.
The best medicine indeed! There are many benefits to a good giggle—stimulated organs, soothed tension, pain relief and mood improvement are but a few. Throw on a Netflix comedy special, watch some funny animal videos or simply reminisce with old friends about That One Time on your group text.
Affirmations are used to trick the mind into believing the given concept. Negative self-talk out, positive self-talk in. “I see pride, I see power,” and so on. Here’s a list of positive morning affirmations to get you started, plus some self-love poetry from Morgan Harper Nichols to uplift your feed.
A piece of paper, your favorite pen (colored pencil! crayon! oil pastel!) and a hard surface. Throw it back to days spent daydreaming in class and get sketching. All fun, no trouble.
Calling a friend
Or your sibling, grandparent, elementary school teacher. According to the Mayo Clinic, strong friendships can increase your sense of belonging, boost happiness, reduce stress, improve self-confidence and self-worth, help you cope with traumas and encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits. And sometimes it just feels good to talk.
Listening to music
No surprise, music makes us feel. When you put your favorite (and even not-so-favorite) tunes on, dopamine is released. Our guess is you already have your tracks ready, but here’s a Happy playlist if your ears need some new candy.
Why stop at 17 ideas? It’s true, we could go on forever and would love to hear any and all of your personal favorite self-care rituals as well. Follow and connect with us @odelebeauty so we can keep the conversation going. (Connecting with your favorite hair care brand! That’s number 18.)