When you hear the phrase self-care, what comes to mind first? If you envision spa days and pedicures, you’re not alone. Recent wellness trends have intertwined the concepts of self-care, luxury, and consumerism. However, in the strictest definition of the term, self-care is any act that you engage in for the sole purpose of improving your health or your mood.
If bubble baths are not your idea of self-care, consider trying one of these less discussed, but just as effective, activities.
Let Yourself Dream
We spend a good portion of our energy devoted to anticipating and meeting the immediate needs of those around us, whether it’s bosses, family members, or friends. While staying focused on the task at hand is beneficial for productivity, maintaining this myopic perspective makes it all too easy to lose track of your long term goals.
Helpful activities for thinking about the future include journaling prompts or making a vision board. Instead of setting your timeline to a few months ahead, imagine what you can accomplish in a five or ten year period.
This broader time horizon can give you the courage to consider larger goals. It is often said that we overestimate what we can do in a year, and underestimate what we can do in a decade. Challenge yourself to look beyond your current reality and imagine what the future would look like for you if you had years to shape it.
Shifting your focus to your future, with its endless possibilities, is a great way to recalibrate your perspective and review if your day-to-day life is bringing you closer to your goals.
Focus on Sensory Pleasures
Many of us are guilty of spending too much time in our heads. One way to return our focus back to our neglected bodies is by stimulating the senses. Although scented candles and essential oils are nice, you don’t need any specific product to engage your senses.
For example, the act of washing dishes offers several sensorial experiences at once, from the sound of the rushing water, to the feeling of soap bubbles, and the smell of dish detergent. Doing a tactile activity, like mixing up your own sugar scrub or repotting plants can also help you feel more in tune with your body.
Organize Your Space
Messy spaces are more than just eyesores. Excess clutter can actually impact our mental health. Removing unneeded items from your space is one of the most powerful forms of self-care. The process of going through your stuff can teach you a lot about yourself.
You may discover that you’re making too many purchases on impulse rather than need. Or you might notice that certain items have a strong sentimental value for you.
Either way, you can use the self-awareness you gain from this exercise to adjust how you bring new things into your life. The decluttering motto “if it doesn’t serve you, let it go”, can apply to much more than objects. Eventually, you can learn to release past hurts or negative thoughts just as easily as a worn-out pair of shoes.
Feel Your Best
Nearly half of American adults experience chronic fatigue. While it may be easy to blame this phenomenon on our busy lives, feeling run down all the time is often a symptom of an underlying health condition.
If you’re stuck on blah and none of the lifestyle changes you’ve implemented seem to help, you may need to include a doctor’s visit on your self-care checklist. A routine blood panel can check for vitamin deficiencies, food intolerances, or other hard-to-diagnose conditions.
If you’ve been experiencing sexual dysfunction, pain, or low libido, it may be a side effect of an undiagnosed infection. Ask for a thorough well-woman exam that includes a resistance test for mycoplasma genitalium and pelvic exam. If you need medical treatment, you will notice a massive improvement in your quality of life once the curative effects kick in.
Take a Digital Detox
As social media is designed to be addictive, it is no surprise that many of us spend up to two hours a day on mindless scrolling. Add in the number of hours we spend on our computers or laptops for work and entertainment, and it’s easy to see how most of our day is spent in front of a screen.
Taking even a short time away from digital devices can reap serious benefits. You will probably notice that you feel more relaxed, content with your life, and more positive. Studies have also shown that avoiding screens can improve sleep quality and reduce anxiety.