Making time to nourish your mind and body might feel—and sound—indulgent. But it’s one of the best ways to keep your relationships on track, boost work productivity, and maintain that seemingly elusive glass-half-full outlook on life. That’s why SunPlum is inviting you to make this commitment to yourself via its 30-day self-care challenge: an illuminating, inspiring month of self-care strategies, tips, and tricks. Along the way, you’ll discover which ones work best for you—and perhaps even create a few new healthy habits for yourself. At the very least, you’re all but guaranteed to feel more relaxed, less stressed, and, well, more of that glass-half-full mindset.
You can complete the items on the following list in any order, but aim to finish them all in a month. Share your #selflove experiences on social media, and take it a step further by journaling a few sentences each day about each exercise. Along the way, you may find some new methods of self-care that work for you, and perhaps just as importantly, find the time to prioritize the practice in your day-to-day life.
1. Call a Loved One
The cutest emoticons in the world don’t come close to the sound of a loved one’s voice. Find a quiet place where you won’t be distracted, and pick up the phone to call a friend or family member for a long-overdue catch-up—or just to tell them how much they mean to you.
2. Adopt a Mantra
Find serenity during stressful moments by identifying a word or phrase that soothes you (a few popular choices include relax, namaste, and calm). Say it in your head or out loud, but you’ll find that over time, it will become a powerful tool to making you feel less stressed and more grounded, even in the most teeth-gnashing of situations.
3. Meditate for 10 Minutes
Meditating even for just a few minutes every day is proven to have a slew of health and mental benefits, from reducing stress to improving overall life span. There are different methods and personal preferences for how to meditate (eyes open, eyes closed; with music or without); over time, you’ll figure out which works best for you. But to get started, choose a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted, sit in a comfortable position, and focus on slow, even breathing through your nose; you can set the timer on your phone to hit the allotted time. If your mind wanders, quietly return to concentrating on the present.
4. Meditate for 20 Minutes
Add another 10 minutes to your meditation session. As you develop your practice, you’ll develop deeper mindfulness skills and a sharper, clearer focus. Don’t judge yourself for disruptive thoughts—just bring yourself back to your breath and keep going.
5. Meditate for 30 Minutes
Add a few pillows and a blanket for maximum comfort as you triple the length of your meditation session. When your session is over, take a few deep breaths and note how your body feels.
6. Start Your Day With a Stretch
As soon as you get out of bed, take 10 minutes before your day begins to indulge in a few gentle stretches to ease out the stiffness from sleeping and loosen up your muscles. Start at your toes, work up through your hips, and finish by reaching overhead.
7. Take a Yoga Class
Choose a studio session or stream a class in your living room. Find a style and level that’s a match for your experience.
8. Indulge in a Sweet Treat
Pick out a favorite dessert. Give yourself permission to sit back and enjoy every luscious bite, without considering the calories.
9. Walk in Nature
The term “forest bathing”—which is really just another way of saying “a walk in the woods”—is trendy for a reason: Being outside is proven to do good things for our bodies and minds. Pick your favorite trail, and just focus on being outside, using all of your senses to admire the trees, water, and wildlife around you.
10. Soak in the Tub
Feel tension melt away in a steamy, sudsy bath—add candles, soothing music, and your favorite book for maximum relaxation. If you don’t have a bathtub, belt out a few of your favorite tunes as the shower rains down on you.
11. Help Someone
Research suggests that helping others in need boosts self-esteem and overall happiness. So the next time you see someone who looks lost or is struggling with a heavy load, stop and ask them if they could use a hand. Chances are, they’ll be grateful.
12. Snuggle Up With a Good Book
You’ve heard it before: That blue light emanating from your devices is proven to disrupt your body’s natural sleep mechanisms. So before tucking in for the night (or while just enjoying a lazy Sunday morning), put your phone aside in favor of a good, old-fashioned book. Set the mood with cozy pillows and a warm mug of herbal tea.
13. Sleep In
Treat yourself to a few extra ZZZs by setting the alarm ten minutes later in the morning. Wake up refreshed instead of ready to hit the snooze button.
14. Find a Positive Affirmation Phrase
Think about the kindest things you could say to yourself. Pick one to be your go-to confidence-builder during trying times. (Having trouble? Think about some positive things you’d say to a loved one, and apply them to yourself.)
15. Say Your Affirmation in a Mirror
Look yourself in the eye and practice your affirmation. If self-consciousness creeps in, keep going until your confidence grows.
16. Take a Nap
Catnaps are proven to rejuvenate you, so allow yourself to sink into the sofa and doze off for a few minutes. Your to-do list will still be there when you wake up.
17. Say No
This one small word can have some big effects on easing the self-imposed pressures of our do-it-all lives. Give yourself permission to say no to non-essential commitments, and take whatever time you save to do something kind for yourself (like some of the other items on this list!).
18. Cuddle With a Pet
It’s impossible to feel stressed when you’re nuzzling a precious kitten or adorable puppy. Indeed, snuggling with a favorite pet is known to reduce stress and lower blood pressure.
It’s no surprise that technology addiction is a growing crisis in the United States and elsewhere. So follow the trend of some hotels, cafes, and other public spaces and implement some no-device spaces and times in your home (like the dinner table).
20. Cook at Home
Pick a dish to create in the comfort of your own kitchen. Hand-select fresh ingredients (or opt for a delivery service) and share the home-cooked deliciousness with someone you care about.
21. Light a Scented Candle
Think of a scent that conjures up memories of a vacation, holiday, or your favorite season. Grab a candle (or essential oil) with that aroma, close your eyes, and be transported to your happy place.
22. Listen to Music
Download a playlist of your favorite tunes to carry you through your commute, gym time, or the wind-down hour before you go to bed.
23. Go Dancing
Gather your dance-loving buddies or get ready to make new ones. Take a class if you’ve always wanted to learn some new moves.
24. Pack a Picnic
Gather your favorite friends for a potluck picnic: designate each person to bring a dish, grab a blanket, and head to the sunniest spot you can find for a day (or at least a few hours) of alfresco fun. (No devices allowed, either.)
25. Find Your Inner Child
Think back to a pastime you loved in grade school: fishing, roller skating, a favorite board game. Rediscover your interest—and relive those cherished memories—by giving it a try as an adult.
26. Play a Board Game
It’s time to put the devices down again (seeing a trend here?), this time in favor of some throwback fun via Monopoly, Clue, even Candyland. You can also designate (or host) regular game nights with your family or group of friends.
27. Allow Yourself a Guilty Pleasure
Pick something you typically consider off-limits—too expensive, high-calorie, time-consuming—and then indulge in it, just once.
28. Schedule a Massage
There’s no better way to pamper yourself than with a massage. Whether it’s Swedish or deep-tissue, massage has multiple health benefits, including stress relief.
29. Goof Around
No itinerary, no destination, just your sense of adventure: Without any agenda or goal in mind, follow your impulses to surprises and spontaneous fun, whether that’s chasing your kids around the beach or exploring a new-to-you city without the help of your cell phone.
30. Laugh With a Friend
Think of a buddy who always puts a smile on your face, plan a get-together, and let the good times roll. It’s like instant (and free!) therapy.
Written by Ann Gibson for Matcha in partnership with SunPlum [Kasun & Spoke Trade inc.].