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When it comes to self-care, the ideas run the gamut and, frankly, can start to become overwhelming, not to mention expensive. While a spa session is a nice treat every now and then, there are plenty of low-cost or free self-care options to give your mind, body and spirit the nurturing it craves.
If self-care is on your agenda but you aren’t sure where to start, here are ten activities to add to your calendar. You may find it easier to incorporate self-care into your routine.
1. Light a candle
Set the tone for your home office or relaxation room by lighting a candle with an enticing scent. The power of smell can boost the mood and creates a cozy ambiance for any room. Citrus or ginger scents can be energizing, while vanilla or lavender can be calming. A soft glow and pleasant smell can make your everyday routine a little more luxurious.
2. Listen to music
Create your own curated playlists to be ready whenever the mood strikes. Whether you need something upbeat to keep you motivated through an afternoon or gentle instrumentals to help you wind down, turn on music to set the mood. Music instantly allows us to slow down or get revved up depending on the goal. Whether it’s a workout playlist that helps you concentrate at work or songs that put you in a feel-good mood, switch up the energy by turning to your favorite tunes.
3. Go for a nature walk
Though a nature walk right now may be on the chillier side, take advantage of the warmer days as spring approaches. Explore a new path and soak in your surroundings. It can be an easy stroll or a challenging climb. Walking is a gentle way to move your body while also allowing you to step away from the screen and enjoy being present in the beauty of nature.
4. Make a nutritious meal
Being mindful of what we eat is one of the most basic forms of self-care we can practice. However, it’s often forgotten. Plan simple meals to avoid driving through the fast-food line when in a pinch. For example, keep cooked chicken breasts, microwaveable rice and bagged salads on hand for a quick and healthy meal. Visit your local farmers market and switch up the ingredients seasonally to make meal planning something that excites you rather than a chore.
5. Stay hydrated
We often feel sluggish or not our best selves when dehydrated. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is important to keep the body functioning properly. Common colds and increased fatigue can often be traced back to a lack of hydration. To avoid this, keep a large water bottle or jug nearby and fill it up regularly. If you’re one to forget to take water breaks, schedule a reminder on your phone. It’s easier to jumpstart healthy water-drinking habits with a little help.
6. Take a bath
Being immersed in water is soothing to the senses. During winter, a long, hot bath relaxes the muscles and mind. Set the bathroom lights low, turn on soft music or an entertaining podcast and settle into the warm waters. For extra luxury, add a bath bomb or Epsom salts to ease tension and soreness from the day. Don’t have a tub? Spruce up your shower with eucalyptus and a Bluetooth speaker. The goal is to engage the senses and make your everyday bathing routine a spa-like ritual.
7. Set up a sanctuary for sleep
Your bedroom should be a place for calm from the chaos. Therefore, make sure to eliminate clutter. Every evening, a quick, five-minute sweep is all it takes to stack magazines, put shoes away, or throw clothes into the hamper. Also, set the room to a cooler temperature and ensure it’s dark to align with your circadian rhythm. And though it’s best to avoid electronics right before sleep, a mindful approach is to evaluate how you’re tuning in. You may want to limit your usage if it’s a habit and not necessarily enjoyable. However, if it helps you relax, do what works best for you.
8. Call a loved one
In this age of texts only, actually calling a loved one can be a special surprise. Sometimes hearing a loved one’s voice can be what you need to connect on a greater level. Busy schedules and long distances can keep us from talking with our family and friends as much as we like. Texting is convenient, but a call can be a time to have meaningful conversations.
9. Connect in person
As with phone calls, in-person hangouts can be rejuvenating. It doesn’t have to be for a happy hour or another expensive get-together. It can be a one-on-one hang in the park, a book club meetup, or joining a small group for yoga, a picnic lunch or lively conversation. In-person connections help us relate to one another, build a sense of community, and grow in new and exciting ways.
10. Practice gratitude
Regularly listing things you’re grateful for can change your outlook and improve your mood. It’s a friendly reminder of all the positive things you have in life, even during challenging days. Journal, meditate or simply take a few quiet moments to reflect on gratitude. You’ll see how your mindset shifts and naturally gravitates to the positive more than before.