‘Self-care’ has been the buzz-phrase of the pandemic. It’s been used both sarcastically to describe the extensive procrastination we’ve all been guilty of while stuck in lockdown, and to denote the essential mental-health-saver which is advocated by therapists. Whilst it can be funny to pass off eating a whole packet of Digestives in an afternoon or binging Gossip Girl as self-care, that doesn’t make it any less crucial in a time when looking after ourselves is more important than ever.
Self-care can be defined as: “the practice of consciously doing things that preserve or improve your mental or physical health”, and basically your general wellbeing. For some people, practising this can be more difficult than for others because of mental health struggles, so it can mean taking time to perform simple acts like brushing teeth or washing clothes; stigmatising this can be hugely detrimental to the people going through it – the goal is understanding not ridiculing.
But for some, self-care denotes the more mainstream practice of taking time out of hectic schedules to do what makes us feel happy, relaxed and fulfilled. Here are some tips on how to practise it yourself, on a Sunday or any time throughout the week:
- Get up earlier: Whilst it’s tempting to stay up until 2am daily on TikTok, getting up bright and early and starting your day well before midday will make you more motivated and less lethargic.
- Workout: Getting the motivation to start that ab workout or go on that run can be tricky, but the endorphins it releases are worth it. Doing it first-thing can be a great way to wake yourself up too (and it gets it out the way).
- Make a fancy coffee: I’m talking frothed milk, syrup, maybe even some chocolate powder on top. Pretend you’re a barista and you’ll feel you’ve already accomplished something even though you’ve just got up.
- Get outside: Even if it’s just a five-minute stroll round the block, getting some fresh air and sunshine (when it appears) is the best form of reset-button to clear your head and reinvigorate your motivation.
- FaceTime friends: Especially now we’re all separated, it can be so easy to remain out of touch with friends, but don’t forget how great they are or how much they love you – chatting with them with make their day as much as yours.
- Have a karaoke session: Whether it’s belting along with an 80s ballad or performing a word-perfect rendition of WAP, letting your inhibitions go and singing out loud is the perfect stress-reliever.
- Bake a cake: Yes, a whole one. With layers and everything. Probably best not to do this too often, but baking is fun and therapeutic, and cake is delicious.
- Paint your nails: This one might sound a bit girly, but hey, screw gender norms. During lockdown, the prospect of painting my nails is one of the most exciting features of my week, and can be a way to express your creativity as well as making you feel flawless.
- Read a book: It’s tempting to keep your eyes glued to a screen all day, but escaping into a book is one of life’s great joys. Try rereading some of your past favs and relive the excitement they give you.
- Watch your favourite movie: The cheesy ones are always best… Mamma Mia. Dirty Dancing. Harry Potter. Even High School Musical. No shame, just enjoy.
- Have a cuppa with your mum: Or dad, friend, partner – anyone really. Just have a chinwag.
- Buy yourself flowers: You can get bunches of flowers from Tesco for as little as £1, and they’ll keep you smiling all week.
- Take a bubble bath: As long as the water isn’t too hot (that can get sweaty and stressful), baths can be super relaxing. Try reading, listening to a podcast or even having a glass of wine while you’re in there to feel super indulgent.
- Order yourself dinner: Some days, cooking can just be a bit too much effort, so order yourself an Uber Eats instead; lots of local businesses are on there nowadays too, so go on, treat yourself.
- Light a candle: There’s something about the flickering flame and the delicious scent that’s just so calming, and it can be a way to feel you’re treating yourself even while working.
- Dress up for no reason: We don’t have much occasion to get dolled-up these days, so just do it for no reason. I’m talking your nicest shirt or dress, full face of make up and favourite perfume. ‘Cause, why not?
- Try yoga or meditation: Yoga doesn’t have to be about downward dog and doing the splits – try a calming mindfulness exercise to centre yourself and refocus. It’s not all codswallop, I promise.
- Edit your social media consumption: The sources we expose ourselves to online are so important to our wellbeing and how we view ourselves. If you’re following pages which are toxic for your self-worth, then simply unfollow them – you will have forgotten about them within 20 minutes anyway – and replace them with positive or informative sources. And if it’s all getting a bit much, delete the apps altogether for a while – none of us really need to know what Kylie Jenner’s doing every day.
You can either pick and choose from these suggestions whenever you feel the need (and even when you don’t, just to treat yourself), or make a day of it and have a self-care marathon! It’s easy to feel guilty about taking a whole day off to focus on you, but sometimes it’s just what we need – we are human after all. So, good luck and happy self-caring!