Happy 2021! With new year come new resolutions, challenges, opportunities and new adventures. One thing that we all can easily incorporate into our lives in the new year is the practice of self care. With that in mind, in today’s post I’m sharing my top 10 self care ideas for the New Year.
The Value of Self Care
As I’ve shared before on my blog, a few years ago, my work situation was a major source of stress in my life. I was working more than 55+ hours a week, had a long commute and often spent weekends getting caught up on my work engagements. I was also going to school part time on the weekends and did not have any time to relax, de-stress and decompose. Even after graduation, the constant work demands were taken a toll on my mental health. I felt the burnout.
I realized that something needed to change. With the encouragement of my family and boyfriend, I decided to switch jobs and found a position in my field much closer to home. This one change unleashed a spiral of changes that have helped me get back to a happier mental state.
After changing my job, I had more time for myself and started to incorporate daily self care habits into my routine. I now practice self-care daily through simple habits that help calm me and allow me to feel in control of my life and happiness.
We frequently say that we just don’t have time for self care and it is not one of our priorities. I am not a mom myself so I can’t speak from first hand experience, but I often hear moms say they don’t have time to take care of themselves. In these situations, I think of the oxygen mask scenario on an airplane – you won’t be able to help anyone else until you help yourself. You need to designate self care as a non negotiable task on your calendar.
It is not selfish to take care of yourself. In fact, I think it is selfless, as it allows you to feel good and have the energy to be the greatest version of yourself for others! It is a win-win! Nobody wants to be around a tired and groggy person. By taking care of yourself, you will attract more positives vibes into your life. I think everyone deserves to have their alone time and spend some time doing things that they love, that feed their soul and make them happy. It will change your life for the better!
10 Self Care Ideas For the New Year
Cardiac Coherence – aka a fancy word for Deep Breathing Exercises
I’ve recently learned about cardiac coherence and have been practicing deep breathing exercises. Cardiac coherence refers to an equilibrium between the cardiac system and the nervous system that helps calm the mind. One way to achieve this equilibrium is through deep breathing exercises. Deep breathing exercises can help you feel more centered and relaxed and are an easy and simple self care idea you can do anytime and anywhere.
I encourage you to try this deep breathing technique beginning with just just 3 to 5 minutes daily.
- Lie down or sit down in a position that’s comfortable for you.
- Close your eyes.
- Take a deep breath in and focus your thoughts on the diaphragm rising.
- Breathe out and focus your thought on your diaphragm descending down.
During this practice, you can visualize breathing in positivity, joy, peace and serenity. And when you breathe out, you can imagine breathing out negativity, stress and hardships.
Sweat for at least 20 minutes
I, along with every other lifestyle blogger, will probably sound like a broken record, but I can’t stress enough the importance of exercise in your wellness journey. Some of you may be thinking, this post is about self-care and relaxation, so why is she including working out and exerting physical energy as an idea? Well, we all know that working out releases endorphins which make us feel good and lift our moods. But what else? What are some other benefits of working out that make it worthwhile to include in your self-care journey? Among many other benefits:
- Exercise can promote better sleep.
- Working out can increase your self-confidence by making you feel a sense of accomplishment.
- Numerous studies show that regular exercise can prevent and manage many health concerns including heart problems, depression, and anxiety.
- Exercise can help you release stress from your body. My favorite type of workout for this is boxing!
- Exercise can help you form connections with other people who also enjoy working out. You can work out with your partner, run with a friend or sign up to take a workout class and meet other people in the process.
For these reasons, I encourage you to set aside at least 20 to 30 minutes a few days a week for exercise. You can jog, take a spin class, do a YouTube workout video (my favorite YouTube trainer is Sydney Cummings) or take a brisk walk!
Spend time in nature
One of my favorite ways to de-stress is to take a walk in the forest preserve. Unfortunately, I don’t live by the mountains or the ocean, but whenever I travel to these beautiful places, I always feel energized and in awe of their beauty. Spending time in nature is good for the soul. And studies show that spending time outdoors can have positive effects on our physical health as well. For example, it can reduce our heart rate and can reduce inflammation in the body. In addition, it increases Vitamin D levels in our body. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that helps strengthen bones and reduce the risk of certain cancers, diabetes, and others health risks. As for me, I find that my walks outdoors calm me, help me feel more connected to God, and generally make me feel happier.
To start this self care habit, I encourage you to just start with a short 5 minute walk each day. During those 5 minutes, take a look around and notice the beautiful branches on the trees, the sound of the birds chirping or the squirrel running away from you. I promise it would make you feel better, even just slightly better!
Learn something new
Learning something new is not only good for our brain, it also can help build our self confidence. So starting from today, invest in yourself and learning something new. The possibilities here are endless. You can spend some time each day learning a new language, learning how to start a blog or a business you’ve been wanting to for a while, or learning how to dance. I think this is a great form of self care that will impact you positively and can open new doors and possibilities.
When was the last time you did something creative? As kids, we are encouraged to create art, make music, sing and dance. And most of do not get to practice these habits as adults. Our job and home responsibilities take up most of our time. But there are so many benefits of doing something creative. Creativity promotes risk-taking, innovation, and thinking outside the box. Most importantly, creativity fosters self-discovery and allows you to express yourself by doing something you enjoy. I encourage you try doing something creative this weekend. Some ideas include:
- signing up for an art or photography class
- making DIY home decor
- writing lyrics to a song
- redecorating a room in your home
- making a scrapbook or collage
- making a vision board (check out how to create a vision board here)
Have an at home spa evening
The best way to decompress after a long day at work is with an at home spa evening. Plan ahead for your at home spa night and make dinner the night before. After dinner, light candles or diffuse essential oils. Put on your favorite facemask and take a bubble bath while reading a book or watching your favorite TV show. Apply a body scrub and your favorite body lotion. You can also use a facial scrub and follow that up with a facial serum and moisturizer. To finish off the evening, switch into your favorite cozy pajamas, have a healthy snack with herbal tea, and wind down with a good book. I can’t think of a more perfect self care evening.
I used to have a diary when I was teenager where I basically laid out the events of my life and wrote about my crushes. Today, I journal for my mental health. Journaling allows me to “brain dump” all of my thoughts onto a piece of paper and helps me stop obsessing over them. It helps with my overthinking. It’s an effective form of self care that can help you keep your thoughts organized and deal with overwhelming emotions. There are numerous other benefits of journaling including: stress relief, enhanced concentration, improved communication and writing skills. For more benefits of journaling, check out this New York Times article. To cultivate this self care habit and reap in its benefits, I recommend you start out journaling 5 to 10 minutes each day by writing down whatever thoughts come into your mind.
Have a social media free weekend
Nowadays, we are constantly glued to our phones, scrolling the web and spending a lot of our free time on social media. Not too long ago, I found myself mindlessly scrolling Instagram and comparing my life to the highlight reel that others choose to share online. And I know I’m not alone. Multiple studies have shown that heavy usage of social media can increase feelings of depression and anxiety. In my case, social media was contributing to FOMO – the fear or missing out. I decided to do something about it and reduce my social media intake initially to less than 15 minutes a day. This month, I chose to stop using my personal Instagram all together and I already feel much better.
I encourage you to have a social media detox for a weekend. If that sounds too daunting, have a social media free evening, day or even a social media free hour. Alternatively, you can go through your social media accounts and unfollow or mute accounts that stress you out, make you feel bad about yourself (even if they do so inadvertently) or make you feel jealous, left out or plainly sad. Reducing my social media time has virtually stopped me from comparing my life to others. Another benefit is having more time to cultivate other self care habits. It’s a win-win!
Have a quiet evening at home
I am an introvert and and the best way for me to recharge from social situations is by having quiet evenings at home. I like to make herbal tea, change into my pajamas, and read a book. If I had a fireplace, I would definitely do this next to the fire! To make the evening even more relaxing, you can pray for a few minutes and do some deep breathing exercises. Light your favorite candles or diffuse essential oils and relax in the cozy atmosphere.
Make time to do something you love
This self care habit is very general because we are all so different and enjoy different activities. So for this self care practice, resolve to make the time to do something you love. It could be anything – even something that doesn’t sound like “self care”. For example, one of my favorite things to do is organize. Some might say organizing, tidying and decluttering is a chore. But for me it’s fun to do and something that I enjoy. I look forward to the days where I plan on organizing or cleaning. I encourage you to do the same – find the time to do something you love each week. Whether it’s playing a sport, doing a puzzle, cooking or baking, make the time to do that activity as your form of personal care. Add it to your calendar and honor that commitment you made to yourself.
Let me know in the comments below your favorite self care habits. And for more self care ideas, check out my previous blog on post on simple self care tips.