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Making New Year’s resolutions is easy; keeping them can be difficult.
This year, instead of limiting your resolutions to things you have to force yourself to do (like exercising whether or not you feel like it), treat yourself to rewarding self-care goals you’ll look forward to every day, and make this your healthiest year ever.
I’m not saying you have to set a daily self-care goal (although I love that idea!). Once a week—or even a monthly goal—is still a great way to take care of yourself.
Think about this—how often did you practice self-care this past year? Did you get a manicure just because you love relaxing in the chair while someone works on your hands, or did you rush to get your nails done because you had to look nice for an interview or photo op?
How often do you get enough sleep? Do you take naps because you’re exhausted, or do you take a leisurely nap with a guided meditation that transports you to another place and time and refreshes your body and soul?
If you have trouble remembering how often you spent time truly taking care of yourself this past year, or if you know you put everyone else’s needs above your own, now is the perfect time to make a positive change and give yourself the love and care you deserve.
What is self-care?
Self-care is simply the practice of taking care of yourself. It means attending to your own needs and well-being.
You can choose a specific area of your life to practice self-care, such as physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, financial, social, or professional areas of your life. Choose one or several, and find ways to enrich that part of your life and improve your well-being one small step at a time.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
Take a nap
Napping often feels like a luxury that we deny ourselves because we think we need to be busy doing something, or we’ll be deemed lazy. But studies show that napping is actually healthy.
A short nap can boost your memory, improve your mood, make you more alert, and decrease stress.
My favorite place to nap is in a hammock. I love the gentle swinging motion, like a breeze is rocking me to sleep. *sigh* My favorite napping hammock is the Go Hammock by Go! Outfitters. It’s lightweight and compact but unfolds into a luxurious 11’ with enough width to lay diagonally or at an angle.
Treat yourself to a manicure or pedicure
You don’t have to go to a spa to treat yourself to the perfect mani-pedi. Sure, it feels great to sit back and relax while someone else massages your hands and smooths your heels, but if you’d rather stay home and take care of your fingers and toes, try treating yourself to a mani-pedi kit you can use over and over again.
Create a spa experience at home
No time for regular trips to the spa? Bring the spa home and create your own little sanctuary to use day or night. I would personally rather stay home and relax than fight traffic and worry about making a reservation.
Whenever I get a massage, my muscles are tight all over again by the time I drive home through rush hour traffic. Learn self-massage techniques, and say goodbye to stress while you relax in the comfort of your own home.
My favorite neck massager is the Resteck shiatsu neck massager my husband gave me a couple of years ago. I use it regularly, and it’s still working as perfectly as it did the day I unwrapped it!
Enjoy your favorite craft
Crafting and creating are self-care techniques that benefit multiple areas of your life. Besides giving you a creative outlet, creating new things stimulates your mind, provides visual and sensory stimulation, and can add beauty to your home or wardrobe.
If you have a favorite art or craft or you love to cook, set aside time to indulge yourself in the joy of creating!
Learn something new
What if you don’t have a favorite art or craft, but you’d like to learn to knit, crochet, or play a musical instrument? I say go for it! It’s never too late to learn something new and boost your self-confidence while increasing your skills.
Even learning a small musical instrument, like a harmonica (with a beginner’s how-to book like this!), will add to your skillset and promote a sense of accomplishment.
Read a book
Reading increases your vocabulary, stimulates your brain, and can carry you away into a world of imagination. Pick your favorite genre, and snuggle up with a fluffy blanket and a good book for self-care that boosts your mind without physical demands on your body.
Give yourself a facial
Whether you prefer a clay mask to a peel-off mask or a jade roller to dermabrasion, a home facial is completely customizable for your skin type and budget.
Relaxing with a warm cup of herbal tea is one of my favorite ways to spend the early morning hours. Before the rest of the household wakes up, I can pour my cup of tea and watch the sky change colors as the sun slowly appears over the horizon.
Tiesta Tea makes a lovely chamomile and lavender blend that is perfect for evening settling-in, and if you’re looking to add an eye-opening caffeine vibe to your morning routine, their Chai Love blend is the perfect morning pick-me-up!
Take a weekly bubble bath
Bubble baths have a special place in my heart. The first house we lived in had a bathroom completely decorated in pink—even the sunken bathtub, toilet, and sink were a pale, rosebud pink. My mom used to give me bubble baths in that pink tub and instilled in me the love of soaking in warm, scented water heaped with mounds of luxurious bubbles.
If you enjoy a relaxing bath, set time aside at least once a week to skip the shower and take a leisurely soak instead.
Spend time doing something you love every day
You deserve a little time to yourself every day. Set a goal to spend a few minutes each day doing something special just for you.
You can recite an affirmation, listen to a favorite song, sing at the top of your lungs, or dance like no one’s watching. What you do isn’t as important as choosing something that makes you feel absolutely awesome!
Walk through an art gallery
Viewing art is good for the soul. If you’d rather walk through an inspiring or beautiful gallery instead of creating art of your own, try looking up free days at your local art gallery, or buy a yearly membership to save money while supporting the gallery’s work.
Go to a museum
Museums teach us about other cultures, history, and people. When we visit a museum, we are empowered to build bonds within our community and learn from the past to benefit the present.
Find a museum that includes the types of displays and information that make you feel inspired—whether a nature museum, a historical museum focused on a small town, a living history museum, or an open-air museum.
Spend time in nature
Spending time in nature helps us be more active, breathe fresh air (and breathe deeper), reduce stress, and clear our minds. Forest bathing (also known as the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku) reduces stress hormone production and is an accepted part of Japanese preventative health care.
For me, the ultimate in self-care is when I can walk among the trees and take a nap in the shade on a sunny afternoon. I used to take my border collie hiking with me, and when we’d get tired, we’d lay out a blanket under a tree and just look up at the sky until we started to doze.
You don’t need a whole forest at your disposal to benefit from spending time in nature. Even walking through a park or along a country road can ease your mind and let you escape from daily life stressors.
Try a new meditation technique
Do you enjoy meditation but get bored with the same practice? Spice up your mindfulness activities by learning a new technique. If you usually practice seated meditation, try a walking meditation instead. If you practice meditation in silence, try guided meditation for a new twist.
Yoga nidra (yogic sleep) and qi gong are additional ways to benefit from meditative practices aside from a static seated pose.
Taking care of yourself is important, and self-care practices are the perfect way to make sure you are caring for number one. After all, you need to take good care of yourself to be able to take care of those around you.
Start your new year off right by setting a resolution to add self-care resolutions to your personal routine and create an amazing new year for an even healthier new you!