Did you know that approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK experiences some form of mental health problem in any given year? I’m one of them – and I’d be willing to bet that if you’re not, you probably know someone who is. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t practice self-care as much as I should. I can go for days without getting dressed, putting makeup on, or even going outside. I’ve made a mid-year resolution to practice self-care more, in the hope of getting myself back to being a semi-normal, functioning human.
If you’re in the same boat as me, here are a few of my best tips to practice self-care.
Tidy your house
HEAR ME OUT THOUGH. How many times have you been completely unable to relax if your house/room is untidy and cluttered? Even if you’re not a fan of housework itself, look me in the eye and tell me you don’t feel better and more accomplished once it’s done, and now you can relax in a clean and tidy home with no distractions. I tend to operate the practice of making myself earn some of my self-care exercises. For example, if I can do something I’ve been putting off and really don’t want to do, like the ironing or cleaning etc, I allow myself to then do something for me, like have a bath or do my nails, or eat a huge slice of cake. It’s called balance!
Turn your phone off
Lately, I’ve been forbidding myself from looking at my phone after 10 pm, because if I’m up staring at my phone screen before I go to bed it takes me HOURS to get to sleep. It’s also a great way of relaxing during the day when you just need a bit of alone time. If you can’t commit to turning your phone off, then at least put it on Do-Not-Disturb or play some relaxing music. The internet is a great tool for information and education, but social media can be such a time-hog and can really take over your life. I think it’s so important to take a little break from it every now and again.
Take a warm bath
Kind of an obvious one, but there’s nothing better than slipping into a nice warm bath to soothe aching muscles and a tense mind. Use your best bath products, put your phone on silent, light some scented candles, put on some relaxing music or get a good book or magazine, and just relax.
Listen to music
I originally had “Listen to relaxing music” here, but I often find that sometimes I’m in the mood for grungy music, other times I’m feeling a bit of KISS FM, and sometimes I just want to get lost in Einaudi’s piano solos. So, just listen to whatever the hell makes you feel good! I have a few different playlists on my phone for each mood I have so I can quickly go to whatever I’m in the mood for. TIP: Music sounds a thousand times better through headphones.
Make a cup of tea
I’m one of those people who has their tea extremely milky. I basically just have sugary milk and just like, show it the teabag and I’m good to go. However you like your tea, I often just enjoy the actual process of making a cup of tea (is it just me? Am I weird?), and the satisfaction that comes after. Also isn’t it just THE BEST feeling when you can feel the warm go down?
Paint your nails
Because life is better with painted nails AMIRIGHT?
Apply body lotion
Preferably one that smells good! I just love the smooth silky feeling after I’ve moisturised my entire body (bonus points if you’ve also shaved recently). I always do this in the morning because 1. It sets me up for the day and 2. I only wear knickers in bed and I hate it when my legs stick together after I’ve applied lotion. My current favourites are The Body Shop’s Body Yoghurts.
Do a face or hair mask
There’s nothing like self-care more than taking care of your skin. It’s something I always neglect, but when I do remember I always feel better for it. My current favourite is the Oat and Almond mask from the Body Shop.
This is one of the harder ones, admittedly. I find that once I get into the habit of exercising regularly I do stick to it, but as soon as I miss a day it all completely goes to shit. But when I do exercise it always clears my mind and I feel so good afterwards – like Elle Woods said; “Exercise releases endorphins and endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands”.
If you’re not in the mood to absolutely beast it, you can do something fun like dancing around to your favourite music, go for a walk, or do something gentle like yoga or just simple stretching. I actually love meditation even though I don’t do it often. It takes practice, but it’s great to see the progression you make and how you’re able to learn to take control of your thoughts and just completely switch off from the world.
Do your hair and makeup
If I look good, I feel good – and if I look like crap, I feel like crap. It’s great to let your skin breathe every few days so makeup-free days are important, but I find I’m always more productive and active if I look like an actual human being and not patient zero. I used to only go makeup-free if I had a sick day, and so I would always associate not wearing makeup with not being 100%, so if I go makeup-free on any given day, sometimes it makes me not want to do anything but lie on the sofa all day. And if you do go out with no makeup on, you’re always guaranteed to bump into someone you know.
Burn a scented candle
I’m one of those girls with a candle obsession. Nothing can transform the feel of a room like an amazing smelling candle can. I feel that the sense of smell is often overlooked, it’s such a powerful tool and it’s so incredible that your mind can reproduce pretty much any scent that you’ve enjoyed before. Imagine the smell of your favourite fruit. Now think of the smell of Autumn. Now, remember how good the kitchen smells when your mum is cooking. See?
Learn a new skill or language
I believe that self-care can also be achieved in the form of self-improvement. It’s great to take care of your body, but you also need to take care of your mind. I have a couple of language apps on my phone that I like to use for this as it makes it so accessible. I learnt French in school so I’m currently brushing up on that, and when I’m done I want to start learning Spanish, so I can be a sexy señorita.
Cuddle with your pets/person
Cuddles are awesome right!? When we cuddle, our brain releases Oxytocin, often known as the ‘Cuddle Hormone’, so what better reason can there be to have a cuddle with either your pet or that human you like?
Go for a walk
Getting some fresh air is one of my favourite ways to really clear my head and chill out! Nature is scientifically proved to be good for your health. It doesn’t have to be far to be effective, just a 20-minute walk will do the trick! Plus, if you’re into photography, you could end up with some great new blog photos.
Read a book
Admittedly I’m not much of a fiction reader, but I do love reading beauty and lifestyle books. It’s a nice way to zone out for a little while and a book is a great way to do that!
Eat a dessert
A personal favourite of mine (obviously). I’m a huge fan of soul food. I do try to eat well generally – I’m a vegan so I do naturally eat fairly healthily, but sometimes I do love to treat myself to a huge fat dessert.
What are your best tips to practice self-care? I’d love to read about them in the comments!