55. Get Creative With Coloring Books and Other Art Therapy
Coloring and other creative and artistic endeavors like drawing, painting, or knitting can be relaxing for a lot of people. For some people it’s a chance to tune out other distractions and focus on one thing at a time. For others, it’s an outlet to express emotions (maybe you paint with bold, bright colors because you’re experiencing strong feelings). Don’t underestimate the power of art to ease your mind and bring you joy.
56. Send a Card
Self-care can mean doing something nice for the ones you love. “This can be as simple as writing and sending a card,” says Effland. Not only does it strengthen your connection with the person you’re corresponding with, but knowing you might be brightening their day can have the same effect on yours, she says.
57. Listen to an Uplifting Podcast
There’s plenty of difficult and challenging news in the world today, and it can be tough to take a break from it. But it’s worth making the effort. One good way? Listen to a podcast that not only gives you good advice on self-care but also makes you feel lighter and brighter. Here are some picks to get you started: Feel Better, Live More, Where There’s Smoke, Inspire Nation, and Good Life Project.
58. Donate to a Cause You Believe In
Feeling generous? It’s not just the recipients who will thank you — your brain will appreciate it, too. A study published in October 2018 in Psychosomatic Medicine found that all types of generosity have feel-good effects, but when the cause is especially meaningful to you or you know the recipient personally, it has an additional effect of decreasing stress and anxiety. Other research has found that spending money on others, rather than yourself, can have a significant impact on your happiness level.
59. Get a New Subscription
Looking for some extra motivation to stick to a new hobby or workout? There are plenty of subscription options ranging in price and theme — and designed to help you stick with your health, wellness, or fitness goals (like meditation apps or fitness studios’ online class offerings). You can even make it a way to pick up new hobbies — check out Adults and Crafts, for example, which sends DIY crafts every month, or The Plant Club, a way to expand your indoor plant collection monthly.
60. Skip the Kitchen — Order Your Favorite Takeout Dish Instead
In much the same way that donating to a cause that feels personal to you will give you a greater sense of meaning, so will supporting a local restaurant that’s part of your community. Plus, you get tasty food without the effort. Win-win!
If your weekends are lost to a sea of chores, housework, or repairs — and if your budget allows — consider hiring help, Carmichael says. If scrubbing your floors and bathroom(s) is the item on your to-do list you always seem to put off, but it’s driving you nuts that it’s not getting done, consider hiring someone to help clean your home — either on a regular basis or just on occasion when you need the extra hands. Or consider other options that can help you outsource some of your everyday tasks, like meal delivery kits, takeout, or gardening help.
Even if it’s an expense, the time it might open up for you to relax or catch up on a project that you find more rewarding may be worth your while.
62. Start or Maintain Your Home Garden
Whether you have a magnificent and expansive yard or you’re nestled into an urban jungle, you can tailor a home garden to your needs. Multiple studies have shown that gardening has mental health benefits, according to a review article published in March 2017 in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports. “Tending plants, indoors or outdoors, brings a level of engagement to the task, and that adds to the benefits we see with interacting with nature,” says Viren Swami, PhD, a researcher and professor of social psychology at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England.
Outdoors? Try a quick garden builder like the Seedsheet (starting at $24.99), which gives you a head start on your green thumb with seeds embedded in weed-blocking fabric. Indoors, you can start a shelf of succulents or try an herb garden with your culinary favorites. Check out optimal lighting conditions and what type of maintenance is required for seeds and plants before you buy (that information can usually be found on package labels or online descriptions).
63. Try Virtual Therapy and Stress Management Tools
Online therapy tools and virtual therapy apps are relatively new, but there’s mounting evidence that they deliver measurable benefits to those who use them, particularly with shorter-term stress management, according to a review published in 2018 in the journal Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics. Several online therapy tools and mental wellness apps can help you learn coping skills and stress management. Choose one that fits your needs.
64. Talk About It
The pandemic has sent anxiety and depression levels upward, and it’s also led to more people feeling like they’re just not thriving. (In a 2020 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40 percent of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health or substance abuse.) Even if you’ve never sought counseling or therapy for mental health before, now may a really useful time to do so, says Jennifer Gentile, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at Boston Children’s Hospital. We’re experiencing really tough circumstances and it’s taking an emotional toll on us, she adds.
“Insurance is covering this more now, and there’s a higher level of comfort many people find in being able to stay home and do an appointment via telehealth,” says Dr. Gentile, who is currently treating adults and adolescents virtually using the hospital’s telehealth platform. You don’t have to make a long-term commitment (counseling can consist of a few sessions or even just one) or wait until you feel like you’re struggling more. Sometimes, it’s just nice to have a check-in, Gentile says.
65. Speak Your Mind
With so much going on in the world, it’s totally understandable that your head may be full of unpleasant emotions. Instead of trying to push those thoughts out of your mind, speak what you’re feeling aloud. Past research shows that this technique decreases the activity in the amygdala (the part of the brain that detects threats and kicks off your body’s stress response).
Next time you feel angry or upset, try verbalizing those feelings to a trusted friend or loved one. This can help you process them more effectively and feel better emotionally — after all, as the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved.
66. Reframe Your Anxiety
We often think of anxiety as a negative mental state we’re eager to move out of, but it’s not always bad. “Anxiety can be a healthy thing to feel,” says Carmichael. It can be a signal that maybe you need to prepare a little more for something (like a big presentation), be on guard (like if you’re trying an activity you’ve never done before), or get moving (like if you’re growing restless in a stale job or relationship), she says. “You wouldn’t have anxiety if you didn’t have goals and things you wanted to do,” she says.
You can use the restlessness of anxiety as a gift. Next time you feel that anxious energy cropping up, name your anxiety. Then ask yourself: How can I point this energy at the right target? Maybe sometimes that’s using it to meet a deadline or get one step closer to a goal. Maybe other times it is learning to breathe through it.
67. Try Aromatherapy
Certain scents can have a calming effect, according to a review published in January 2017 in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. In that analysis, which looked at studies that had evaluated the effects of aromatherapy on depressive symptoms, aromatherapy was shown to offer relief in a wide variety of participants, and the use of essential oils for massage was the most beneficial. Consider scents like lavender, jasmine, lemon balm, clary sage, and bergamot.
RELATED: Can Essential Oils Help Asthma?
68. Light a Fire
In a study published in Energy Research & Social Science in November 2020 of nearly 150 people in Sweden who own fireplaces, people often performed trivseleldning, or “cozy fire-making,” at the end of the workday to create an atmosphere of coziness and well-being. In the study, they reported associating a fire with characteristics like harmony, calmness, happiness, and joy.
No fireplace? If you can, stream Netflix or YouTube on your TV. There are a number of videos you can play of a roaring fire in a fireplace, complete with crackling sounds.
69. Show Self-Love by Giving Yourself a Mani-Pedi at Home
Taking care of your body in a way that feels like a luxurious break can boost feelings of well-being, Dalton says. Are your nails in need of a little TLC? There are oodles of DIY tutorials and tips for a home mani-pedi, like this guide from the beauty blogger Love & Specs.
70. Give Yourself a DIY Facial
Why limit your home spa experience to a DIY mani-pedi when you might have all the ingredients for a facial in your pantry? Face masks can be really beneficial for your skin because they’re occlusive, meaning they seal in their ingredients against your skin until you wash off the mask — giving those ingredients time to absorb. Check out some recipes like the oatmeal and turmeric face mask from Karissa’s Vegan Kitchen, the oatmeal avocado face mask from Fit Foodie Finds, or a range of honey-based face masks from Don’t Mess With Mama.
71. Take a Long, Relaxing Bath
Why is a warm bath so incredibly relaxing? Research suggest one reason may be that it reduces inflammation. According to a study in the December 2018 issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology, just one hot bath can calm your stress response. Another reason is that you’re simply allowing yourself to take a break, Carter says. “You’re taking time away from your to-do list and things you think you ‘should’ be doing,” she says. “When that happens, you automatically feel like you’re dropping into self-care mode.”
72. Start (or Restart) a Daily Flossing Habit
Flossing itself may not be your favorite thing to do, but you likely feel better (and your teeth, cleaner) after doing it, making it an example of one of those small, health-enhancing behaviors that help you take care of you.
It’s a ritual that way too many people skip, according to Tripti Meysman, DDS, founder of the Minneapolis-based CityTooth dentistry practice. But she says it’s crucial for more than oral health. Flossing (along with brushing and keeping up with your professional cleanings) helps reduce the amount of bacteria in the whole body. More than 500 bacterial species can be found in dental plaque, according to the American Dental Association. Flossing doesn’t get rid of them completely, Dr. Meysman says, but it can go a long way toward improving oral health overall.
73. Show Your Animals Some TLC
Feeling tense? Playing with your pet or just spending some extra time taking care of them shows you care and may help ease your anxieties, too. There’s evidence that taking time playing with dogs may help reduce stress, increase energy and happiness, and even boost how socially supported people feel — a winning combination for days when you need to be productive and focused while hunkering down at home. The bottom line: Make time for your animal friends; it’s time well-spent.
74. Schedule a Doctor’s Appointment
The pandemic has made many people skip routine medical care. So the big question is: Are you up-to-date on all of your annual appointments and necessary-for-your-age screenings? If you’ve put off any of your routine appointments, take the time to schedule them now.
75. Straighten Up
Working at your desk in a slumped posture can drag down your day, making it tougher to shake off negative emotions, according to a randomized controlled trial published in November 2017 in the journal Cognition and Emotion. And hunching over your computer or phone all day can also cause soreness and stiffness, a condition known as “tech neck.” To pick yourself up into positivity, straighten up your spine and pull your shoulders back. Feeling better yet?
RELATED: The Best At-Home Exercises for a Stronger Back
76. Indulge Yourself (Mindfully and in Moderation)
Do you love a fancy decaf latte in the midafternoon? Are you craving a morning cookie from that bakery around the corner? Or would buying a nice scented candle at that cute boutique put a smile on your face? So long as your budget allows, giving yourself a little gift can make your day. It doesn’t have to be expensive or flashy — just something small that honors you today.
Choose something specific that you know will bring you joy, then mindfully stop and enjoy the experience of shopping for or indulging in the treat. Take time to be present throughout the experience.