The How-To of Self-Care
Updated: Nov 26, 2019
By Noa Miller, BSc
“When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.” – Benjamin Franklin
By now in 2019, you have surely been warned countless times: if you don’t fill yourself up, you will have nothing to give.
But with such a demanding combination of responsibilities that include a mix of family, housekeeping, work, school, and more, how can you make sure to honor your emotional and physical health so that your well won’t run dry?
Many folks struggle to prepare nourishing, balanced meals and snacks for themselves once the little ones are off to school. Still others find that they turn toward or away from food in an effort to supress the emotional stress that they haven’t taken the time to process.
If you find yourself turning to food when you aren't physically hungry, it might be a signal that you need what we refer to as a "non-food dessert". But more often than not, people have no idea what that dessert might be. What kind of activities fill the bill? How can you make this self-care magic happen in your life?
Let’s start with some practical strategies. Then keep reading to get to a list of self-care ideas.
1. Laura Doyle, author of The Surrendered Wife, encourages women to make a list of not only the things that they enjoy doing, but also a list of things that take a bit of effort but that make you feel good afterwards. Use this list to help you plan and implement some self-care time!
2. Create a “no” list, with things you know you don’t like or you no longer want to do. Examples might include not checking emails at night, not attending gatherings you don’t like, or not answering your phone during lunch/dinner.
3. Sara Kupfer of Fit Jewess advises that self-care should be actively planned, added to your calendar, and treated like any other important appointment. “Treat it like your kid’s dentist appointment; if you have to cancel, you’ll make sure to reschedule at the same time”, she says. Of course, let others know about your plans in order to increase your commitment and prevent scheduling conflicts.
4. Intention counts, says Raphaila Michael of Psych Central. Tell yourself, “This is for me” and celebrate it! If you don’t see something as self-care or don’t do something in order to take care of yourself, it won’t be as psychologically enjoyable and liberating. Be aware of what you do, why you do it, how it feels, and what the outcomes are.
And now for the meat and potatoes...
Here is a list of some activities that you might make you feel good immediately or might leave you with a feeling of content afterwards. For convenience, they are divided into quick, 10-minute options and ideas that take longer or require planning.
Stretch and decompress.
Take a walk.
Turn on music and dance!
Take a break from technology.
Be fully present with your children.
Read a book to your children.
Take a video of your children.
Practice deep breathing exercises.
Find something to laugh about.
Cut a salad.
Prepare a filling sandwich.
Buy something you enjoy.
Prepare something you enjoy.
Listen to music.
Read an article.
Daydream about something happy.
Do some yoga.
Play an instrument.
Write down 3 things you are grateful for.
Write down 3 positive things about yourself.
Meditate or clear your mind.
Clean/organize something small that will give you a boost
Call someone you love to say hello.
Put on makeup.
Do your nails.
Schedule an appointment for yourself.
Plan a date with your husband or loved one.
And some things that take more time or require some planning:
Take a nap.
Go to sleep early.
Exercise. (In contrast to what many people think, exercise is as good for our emotional health as it is for our physical health. It increases serotonin levels, leading to improved mood and energy. It’s important is that you choose a form of exercise that you like!)
Go for a hike.
Do some more yoga.
Try something new (new food, new activity).
Learn something new (read a book, listen to a lecture).
Go to your “happy place” (think: forest, ocean, cozy nook, zero gravity chair).
Take a long shower.
Take a bath.
Listen to a podcast.
Listen to music.
Hire cleaning help.
Record a song.
Read a book.
Treat yourself to a massage.
Visit chiropractor/physical therapist.
Attend medical appointments.
Buy fresh fruit.
Prepare a hearty soup.
Buy yourself a gift.
Organize a closet.
Go window shopping.
Write a poem.
Go for a mani/pedi.
Get your hair done.
Schmooze with a friend.
Listen to a lecture.
Go out with a friend.
Go on a date with your husband or loved one.
Play a game.
Plant a garden.
Use relaxation exercises.
Learn to play an instrument.
Take an early morning jog.
Play frisbee golf.
Take a vacation.
Spend time with loved ones.
Take up a hobby.
Remember, self-care means different things to different people, and will mean different things at different times. Be in touch with what will honestly make you feel good and make an effort and plan to put these activities into your days. Self-care takes thought and action, but the results go a long way towards supporting your total health!