In today’s world, where we’re checking work emails around the clock, constantly connected via technology and exposed to all kinds of other stressors, self-care seems like a no-brainer. But here’s the thing about self-care: it’s a very personal thing. What works for one gal might not cut it for another. Getting a massage or meditating are both conventional forms of self-care that may make some feel totally restored. But just because these don’t work for you doesn’t mean you can’t take care of yourself.
Ultimately, it’s all about digging into the things you value most, and then figuring out how to incorporate them into your self-care routine. Do you prioritize tidiness? What about skincare? Are exciting new experiences what make you happiest — or buying something indulgent for yourself? These are all things to know about yourself when trying to come up with your ideal self-care strategies. In the meantime, here are a few unconventional ideas to get you started.
- Get done up — just because
Who says you need a reason to get glam? Try this: on a Friday night or a Sunday afternoon when you have no plans, get totally done up, whether that means styling your hair into loose curls, creating a subtle taupe smokey eye or contouring and highlighting your face. Your look may just inspire you to invite the girls over for a happy hour or to whip out your phone and take a few selfies. Even if you’re just running a few casual errands, you’re bound to strut your stuff with a little more confidence thanks to the extra effort you put in before leaving the house.
- Organize your closet
You’re probably thinking: “How does a chore like this count as self-care?” But here’s the thing: clearing out all the clothes you don’t wear anymore can feel a bit cathartic — plus, then you can make room for new pieces. And who doesn’t want an excuse to go on a shopping spree? Put on a killer playlist to fuel you through and have a little solo fashion show while you try things on. Create a pile for clothes you’re going to toss, donate and keep, and then come up with an organized system (whether by garment type, color or both) so that you can always find what you’re looking for.
- Read a book or magazine in a quiet place
So many of us are on information overload a lot of the time, and it’s no wonder: we scroll through our social media feeds while watching TV, and we listen to music while writing emails — in other words, we’re constantly multitasking. That’s why focusing on just one thing can be such a phenomenal form of self-care. Find a quiet place in your home, a library or a park, and just sit and read. It could be a book your bestie recommended, a fashion magazine or a nonfiction guide to gardening. It doesn’t really matter what you read. If you have trouble focusing while reading, you could also try listening to an audiobook or a podcast. Pro tip: turn off your phone, or at least your alerts, while you’re reading or listening to eliminate the possibility of distractions.
- Invest in luxe loungewear
Many of us associate lounging around the house with wearing worn-in sweats and an old T-shirt, and while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with those comfy go-tos, it’s a good idea to have an alternative that makes you feel a little sexier, too. Indeed, investing in some luxe loungewear can be considered an act of self-care. Every time you slip them on, regardless of whether you’re enjoying a lazy Sunday brunch with your SO or hanging in by yourself on a Friday night, you’re sure to feel just as cute as you do comfortable. Unwinding has never felt so luxurious as it does with a silky slip, patterned PJ set or kimono robe.
- Take a day trip
Sometimes a change of scenery is just what the doctor ordered, particularly if work has been stressful and you haven’t taken a vacation in seemingly forever. Another way to practice self-care is to go on a little road trip to a location you’ve never been to. It could be a suburb of your city, or a different part of your state entirely. Take some time to research fun places to shop, eat or explore and map out your route before hopping in the car or on the train. If you want some company, you can obviously invite your BFF along, or you might decide that a solo adventure sounds more enticing.
Did you know that giving back can have some serious benefits for your mind, body and soul? In fact, research has shown that volunteering not only helps with stress reduction but also helps people to feel more socially connected. Sites like VolunteerMatch help you find local opportunities that are in the area of your interest, such as advocacy, arts and culture, children and youth, animals or health and medicine.
- Have a dance party
It doesn’t matter if you’ve never taken lessons, or you’re a tad on the clumsy side. Breaking it down on the dance floor (or, you know, in your living room) definitely counts as self-care, because it can do wonders for your mood. For one, dancing is a phenomenal form of cardio exercise. Not only that, but studies have shown that it can actually reduce symptoms of depression and make you feel happier overall. So go ahead — crank up some tunes and bust a few moves.
Clearly, self-care can mean so many things. Heck, ordering Thai delivery or taking a few minutes to watch funny viral videos on YouTube could count as self-care to some people. Remember: it’s all about tuning into your individual needs and then finding fresh ways to meet them. The smallest acts can count as self-care, as long as they make you feel good in every respect.