Self-care. The practice of preserving or improving one’s own health. It was a buzzword even before lockdowns, and has since become part of our everyday vocabulary.
And really, with research, again and again, pointing out the many physical, mental and emotional benefits of self-care, including building up resilience, becoming better equipped to manage stress and even living longer, it’s no wonder it’s become so popular.
I, for one, can’t get enough of it. And while I wrote about the self-care habits I wished I’d started in my 20s last year, I thought it worth dedicating another story to even more self-care ideas to try — the ways I’m practising it this year, particularly over the last couple of months in lockdown, in the hopes that you might be inspired to try at least some of them, too.
So, with that said, here’s everything I’ve been doing to practise self-care in lockdown that you, too, can try this weekend.
I’ve written about meditation a few times because, like self-care, research is continually proving its many health benefits. While there are so many ways to practice it (I wrote about one way here), I’ve really been getting into hypnosis meditation videos I find on Youtube (I just Google ‘hynopsis video for sleep’ or ‘hypnosis video for self-confidence), as well as Luke McLeod’s Soul Alive Instagram Live videos. You have to pay for access, but it’s totally worth it. I listen to the videos laying on my bed or sitting in the sun by the sea.
Write Down Everything You’re Grateful for
This is something else I’ve really been getting into during lockdown: keeping a gratitude journal and, more importantly, being consistent with it. I started writing it in a new notebook, not my regular journal, and try to let the gratefulness flow. Some days, I’ll write three pages of things I’m grateful for. Other days, it’ll be just a few lines. Interestingly, I’ve been noticing that I keep writing some of the same things, which has definitely led to me trying to do them more — clearly, they make me feel really grateful.
Clear Your Clutter
A study by the Princeton Neuroscience Institute found that having multiple visual stimuli within range of one’s view resulted in those stimuli competing for neural representation. In other words, the more the clutter around you, the most distracted you’ll be. Every Saturday morning in lockdown, I’ve been taking the time to stash away things in my big built-in wardrobe, organise and wipe down my desk (and often my laptop, too) and put on my laundry.
Go to Bed Early
Getting enough hours of shut-eye can help you think more clearly, reduce stress and help you to stay at a healthy weight. During lockdown, I’ve been more conscious about properly unwinding before bed by way of reading and maybe lighting a candle and creating a calming sleep environment. I do this by outfitting my bed in hotel-worthy sheets and a doona cover (I love Bed Threads flax linen bundles) and wearing luxe-feeling sleepwear (the Ash Pyjama Set by Wanderluxe Sleepwear or this affordable, but Instagram-ready H&M washed linen bathrobe).
Read a Book
This brings me to the next thing I’ve been doing a lot during lockdown: reading. While I usually get books from my local library (I’m a huge advocate of the humble library), it’s been temporarily closed, so I’ve been buying them off Amazon. The latest I’ve read and would definitely recommend (some context: I prefer non-fiction, informative reads): The Little Book of Hygge: by Meik Wiking, which deep dives into the Danish way of living, 138 Dates by Rebekah Campbell, a non-fiction book, which sees a Kiwi woman going on 138 dates from the age of 34 to 37 before she meets the one (I interviewed Rebekah here), and The Course of Love by Alain de Botton, which is a must-read for anyone wanting to have a healthy, long-term relationship.
Give Yourself an At-Home Facial
Pampering yourself boosts self-esteem because it tells your brain you’re worth spending the time to look after. I’m big on facemasks and slathering my face in nighttime creams. For an at-home chemical peel (not as hectic as it sounds), I’ve used Glo Skin Beauty Retinol + C Smoothing Peel. What I’ve liked about it is that it takes 30 minutes to do and, when I’m applying each product in the kit, almost feels like I’m having a real-life spa experience. I also love Ole Henriksen Dewtopia 20% Acid Night Treatment, which makes my face feel like lemon rind and Queen Bee Overnight Therapy, which has green tea and vitamins A and E and lasts for ages.
Watch an Inspiring YouTube Video
On the topic of learning, another thing I’ve loved doing not just this lockdown, but even before, too, is watching inspiring or interesting YouTube videos. While these are mostly TED Talks (here’s a list of the top 25), another I’d definitely recommend is Tara Brach’s ‘Learning to Respond Not React’, which talks about how we can’t believe our thoughts and the benefits of responding to a situation, rather than knee-jerk reacting.
While this list of self-care ideas is hardly extensive — I didn’t even touch on doing anything that gets your heart pumping — it’s hopefully given you some ideas for how, too, can look after yourself.