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I had never heard of self-care before becoming a mom. What I might call self-care now was just basic hygiene back then. Funny, huh? Now that “free time” is a rare and elusive wild animal, it’s become a necessity to squeeze in self-care — in many different ways. And yes, a day at the spa is nice, but it’s not a practical everyday tool. I’m going to share with you 10 self-care ideas that will boost your mood immediately (and that you can fit into your everyday life).
But why exactly is self-care so important? And is it selfish? Well, first off, it’s absolutely essential to your mental and physical health, and, no, it’s not in the least bit selfish. When we neglect to do things for ourselves, we inhibit our ability to take care of others. I can tell you that when I don’t make use of these self-care ideas, I am impatient, short-tempered, and flat-out unhappy. When I take care of myself, everyone is happier.
So I put together this list of 10 self-care ideas that you might not have thought of before. And I have purposely chosen ideas that I use myself.
1. Bring the spa to your home.
The idea of a spa day just seems like a magical fairytale that is way out of my reach. Is that how you feel, too? But cucumber mint water… now that we can do. It’s so simple, but so “Is it time for my facial yet?”
How to make it: Add two or three slices of cucumber and a sprig of fresh mint to your water. Put it in the fridge and let the flavors infuse for an hour or so. (You can drink it right away, but just know that the flavor won’t be very strong before it has a chance to infuse.) You don’t need any special tools or cups or do this. But…. I use this infuser bottle to keep the cucumber and mint contained. It keeps me from accidentally drinking the veggie/fruit/herbs that I put in there. Some other awesome combinations are raspberry-mint (can even use frozen raspberries) or any kind of citrus slices.
2. Give yourself a 10-minute manicure.
I am a low-maintenance kind of gal. I don’t do nail polish, but I do enjoy smooth and neat fingernails. And spending 10 minutes or less every couple of months on cleaning them up is such a simple way to give yourself a feel-good boost. I keep a small basket in my bathroom closet with fingernail clippers, emery boards, some cuticle oil (which I should use more often because it helps me avoid hangnails), and one of these buff and shine blocks which I LOVE to smooth out the ridges on my nails. A bonus is having a good quality hand cream that you keep for these special little manicures that makes you feel like you’ve indulged.
If I’m being totally honest (shhhh, don’t tell), sometimes I sneak away to “use the bathroom” and simply sit in the peace and quiet and give myself the quick manicure.
3. Gift yourself a new coffee (or tea) mug.
There is something about drinking my coffee from a mug that I love. I don’t know why it’s so satisfying. But for a while, I was drinking out of whatever random mug I pulled from the cupboard. I didn’t have an attachment to any of them. One day, I was out at a local coffee shop and they had mugs on display. There was a really cute one with jungle animals on it. I picked it up, thought to myself, “That’s so cute!” And then put it back down. I’m frugal. I don’t make a lot of purchases for myself.
But then I re-thought it. I really liked this mug. It was only around $10 or $15, and I deserved a treat for myself, right?! I bought it, and I kid you not, I get a little burst of happiness every time I grab it out of the cupboard in the morning. Little things DO make a difference.
And whats my other favorite mug, you ask? It’s my very own Loud Motherhood mug, available on my Cyndi Makes Art Etsy store. I alternate between these two mugs daily. Spread the Loud Motherhood love or go find another mug that makes you happy. This is one of my top-favorite super-easy self-care ideas.
4. Go for a walk outside.
Going for a walk outside is so simple, yet so often forgotten about as a self-care tool. The outdoors, in general, can be a powerful way to calm and ground ourselves. I walk outside and immediately feel stress diffuse and tension release.
So take a walk, and use the opportunity to do a walking meditation. Zone out from all the details buzzing in your brain. Push all your to-do lists to the side and give your brain a break. Instead, notice everything around you. Pay attention to what’s happening in nature — even if its simply around the block in your neighborhood. What do you see? Smell? Hear? What’s the temperature; how does it feel? Is there a breeze? Look up at the sky — are there clouds? And so on… Focus on the present moment. And on life happening all around you. It’s a great way to lighten your mood.
5. Do 10-minutes of yoga.
You don’t have to do fancy poses to reap the benefits of yoga. There is something so therapeutic about the ritual of a yoga sequence. It feels good on the body and the mind. If you’ve never done it before, then I encourage you to give it a try. These days there are so many apps and YouTube videos available, but my favorite by far is the Down Dog app. You can customize the type, level, and length of the practice to your needs. (And many other customizations are also available.) The app then generates a video with narrated instruction, and I’m consistently impressed with how smooth the customization is. It keeps a history of your workouts, allows you to save favorites, and they have been developing a handful of other workout apps as well (like HIIT, Barre, and Prenatal Yoga).
6. Create a new morning (or evening) ritual.
As a mom of young kids, having a morning ritual is a bit of a challenge. (For instance, this morning I woke up to my 4-year-old covered in “tiger stripes” which he drew all over himself with marker.) That was at 6 a.m. How does one fit in a calming ritual in this kind of lifestyle? I’ll say that part of my ritual is definitely CAFFEINE (in my favorite coffee mug, of course). The rest of the ritual is flexible depending on the morning.
Some mornings I go to our home office to work while my husband takes over parenting duties. For those mornings, I start by lighting my favorite crackling wooden wick candle, putting on relaxing meditation music, and meditating on my intentions for the day. I also love oracle decks and affirmation decks as a tool to inspire (my absolute favorite deck being Kim Krans’s Animal Spirit deck — the art is gorgeous.) This is a nice one if you want inspiring affirmations.
If you are able to get up before your kids for a simple coffee and journaling ritual — and to simply create a peaceful practice before the chaos — this is a great option. If a morning ritual is totally out of the question, then create an evening ritual. I have moved in and out of evening rituals, adapting to my own personal needs. For a while, I did a 20-minute yoga session right after the kids went to bed. I have also done 10-minute evening journaling and drawing. Maybe you have a cup of tea in the evening.
The idea is simply to create a small window where you focus on doing a thing just and only for you. And you do it regularly so that you look forward to the ritual and its calming effects.
7. Start a gratitude journal.
This could actually be done in tandem with the ritual idea above. Focusing on gratitude can shift your perspective to allow you to pay more attention to the good things. It’s particularly helpful during stressful times. If you don’t have the desire to journal, have no fear! This is one of those self-care ideas that also works if you just talk it out instead.
Sometimes at the dinner table, we go around and share our highlight of the day. The top thing we are grateful for. My 2-year-old will usually say a nonsense sentence, but we ask him anyway because it instills the habit. My 4-year-old will think very hard and often comment on a TV show he watched. And hey, maybe that was indeed his grateful moment! But again, it’s a learning process. My husband and I both share our gratitude moments as well.
Alternatively, my husband and I simply share with each other our top three moments of the day right before we go to sleep at night. But this is also the perfect time to pull out a pretty journal that you keep beside your bed and jot down the top three things you are most grateful for. The upside of this is that you have something to look back at.
8. Find some new music to love.
I’m a musician and songwriter, so you’d think this one would be apparent to me. But I forgot about it! I forgot how much of a difference music can make to my mood. Pre-kids, I would put on music as I cooked dinner every evening, dancing around in the kitchen. I listened to music in the car, or as I cleaned the house, or as I sat at my desk to work.
Somewhere within the chaos of having babies and changing diapers, I forgot about the power of music in changing my mood. Ahhh but recently, I rediscovered it! I found a lot of new kids albums for engaging my boys, and I started seeking out new music for me. I’ve searched playlists of new stuff on Amazon Music and browsed iTunes. There’s an entire library of both relaxing and energizing music at BrainBeatsMusic.com, and you can even find my very own vocals on the Elevate Your Mood album which is part of the package. And my other current favorites are from artists The Lone Bellow, Joseph, Dawes, Birdtalker, James Bay, HAIM, and Iron & Wine.
Self-care ideas are even better when you can simply layer them on to other things you are doing during the day. That’s what I love about this one.
9. Put fresh flowers in a vase in your kitchen.
Flowers have a way of not only brightening a room, but also just adding a splash of life. Color. Growth. Possibility. And they always make me feel a little special, too. You can order a fancy bouquet or arrangement to be delivered to you without even leaving your house. (This link will get you 15% off if you use the code BEST15.) Or you can simply pick them from a bush in your own yard, give this a try.
If you don’t have room for a vase, or you just don’t like an option that’s so temporary, then give your space an upgrade in a different way. Get a new print or piece of art (maybe even of flowers!) to add a new visual and change up the energy. It’s renewing and refreshing. Minted has some gorgeous original art prints that will spruce up your place.
10. Make some art.
Creativity is not reserved for only a select few. Even if you think yourself incapable of “making art,” I assure you — you are totally capable. Art is healing, and when you let go of expectations, it can simply be fun. Whether you are drawn to paints, crafting, scrapbooking, knitting, woodworking, or music, find an outlet you can enjoy and express yourself through. Or maybe just get yourself a grown-up coloring book and a new set of coloring pens.
Which of these self-care ideas are you going to try? Share in the comments below! And if you found this post useful, please pin or share on your social media.