If you’ve heard that self-care is important for your health and wellbeing, but don’t know where to begin, you’ve come to the right place. Breaking it down into five simple categories, the senses, is a great way to start building a self-care routine that will leave you feeling refreshed, relaxed, and taken care of.
Have you ever thought about the science behind why a pine tree reminds you of the holidays or the smell of apple pie brings you back to a cozy fall day? Not only can smells remind us of familiar moments, but they also play an important role in emotion.
Aromatherapy benefits the body in terms of stress relief because certain smells promote certain emotions. For example, we associate lavender with feelings of contentment, calm, and relaxation—perfect for nighttime or after a long day of work. Peppermint can increase memory and alertness—a good pick-me-up for midday sluggishness. Scents of lemon act as a natural stress reliever, stimulating serotonin and dopamine, and decreasing anxiety. Adding aromatherapy to any at-home spa experience you create for yourself will immediately help boost your mood.
There are countless other smells that induce different emotions, and it’s worth looking into if you’re looking for a low-maintenance solution to self-care. Investing in an aroma diffuser and essential oils is an easy way to release different smells into your home and feel their mood-boosting effects. Simply fill it up with water in the morning or evening, add a few drops of the scent you desire, and let it work its magic!
There’s something very satisfying about turning the music up when a good song comes on, but did you know that it can have a real impact on your hearing? In short, loud noise can damage cells and membranes in the cochlea, the bone that plays a huge role in the process of hearing. Loud noises for an extended period of time can cause the cells to die and can progress into permanent hearing loss.
Sometimes self-care can be more practical than just lighting a candle or taking a bath. It can mean taking care of your body in a way that benefits your future self. A good way to test if your music or podcast is too loud is to turn your headphones on and hold them an arms-length away. If you can hear the music through your headphones from there, it’s probably too loud. Another thing to keep in mind—keep your volume under 60% of its maximum volume. If a good song comes on, by all means, turn it up, but try to keep it to a maximum of 15 minutes at that volume, and don’t forget that the best form of self-care is the one that also benefits your future health.
In the spirit of self-care, you might just find that cozying up on the couch after a long day is all your body needs. It can be that dedicated time set aside for you to avoid all of the things on your to-do list—tidying up the house, responding to emails—and focus on winding down and recharging your body.
Instead of focusing on self-care that helps both your current and future self, sometimes it’s nice to simply put all your worries aside and turn on a good movie or binge-watch a show. For an added layer of comfort, throw on a weighted blanket to help prepare your body for rest. The pressure of a weighted blanket can reduce anxiety and lower your heart rate and breathing, all while keeping you warm and cozy. Some people say getting wrapped up in a weighted blanket mimics a hug, and who doesn’t want that?
Taking care of your vision is an important part of self-care that’s frequently forgotten. Although vision problems are often associated with aging adults, they’re common in younger demographics as well. If you wear contacts or glasses, taking them in and out, or on and off, can feel like second nature. But how often do you find yourself wearing your contacts a few days past their disposal date?
Sometimes life gets crazy and you forget to order a new box of contacts. Fortunately, you don’t even have to see your eye doctor to do this anymore; you can order contact lenses online right from home. Despite how easy it is to just keep wearing your same old contacts, or going to bed with them still in your eyes, this can cause eye pain, redness, decreased vision, or light sensitivity—which, let’s be honest, is not beneficial in the self-care department. Ordering new contacts online before your current ones expire or run out will benefit you now and in the future.
Nothing screams being an adult more than having to think about eye care as a form of self-care. However, it can make a big impact on your current and long-term health. So if you’re having a self-care night and you wear contacts, maybe your first treat will be taking your contacts out and letting your eyes breathe for the evening.
Self-care is a large umbrella covering a variety of things, and arguably the most important (and delicious) form of self-care is tasty food. There’s a reason that “comfort food” exists. It’s food that provides consolation or a feeling of contentment and can invoke feelings of safety and security. This could take the form of a home-cooked meal created from an old family recipe, or even a big bowl of ice cream at the end of the night. Some comfort foods can be foods that are good for you in nature. Brewing a fresh cup of tea can bring you that warmth on a cold winter’s night while also giving you some great health benefits. These comfort foods take the shape of what you need them to.
For the people who want a little bit of salty and sweet, a charcuterie board might become your new best friend. Building a charcuterie board allows you to fill it with all sorts of indulgent foods that can actually be good for you. It has the perfect assortment of meats, cheeses, dips, nuts, and fruits, creating a nice balance between all of the food groups and decadence.
The moral of the story is there are numerous ways to incorporate self-care into your lifestyle. Finding the self-care habits you want to include into your daily life is the first step of creating a great and lasting self-care routine.