Self-care is one of those buzzwords that everyone associates with bubble baths, face masks, and a glass of wine—perhaps all three at the same time. And to be perfectly clear, there’s nothing wrong with any of those things. A bubble bath paired with a glass of rosé is an incredible stress-reliever after a long day!
But if you’re trying to take better care of your mind and body, it doesn’t hurt to dig past the self-care activities you see on your Instagram feed. Whether you’re just getting into self-care or you’re looking for wellness activities beyond your weekly bath bombs, here are eight overlooked self-care practices that you should have in your heavy rotation.
Wearing a Daily Sunscreen
Don’t put away the sunscreen just yet! Despite what you may believe, sunscreen isn’t just for summer. In fact, most skin care experts agree that you should use sunscreen year-round—even if you stay inside all day. The reason? UV rays can reflect off snow, water, and concrete, putting your skin at risk of sun damage no matter what the season. UVA rays, which are the kind that cause premature skin aging, can also penetrate through windows. The bottom line? Slather on daily sun protection and cover up for healthier, happier skin.
Doing Kegel Exercises
If you’re not already doing Kegel exercises on a regular basis, you will once you learn more about their many benefits. Also known as pelvic floor exercises, Kegel exercises help you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which are the muscles at the bottom of the pelvis. Along with improving bladder and bowel function, Kegel exercises can make your orgasms way more intense and pleasurable. Plus, you can do them anywhere: at home, at work, waiting in line at the grocery store—you name it. If you want to achieve a better “O” and stop peeing every time you sneeze, pick up a pair of Kegel balls and sneak ’em into your self-care routine ASAP.
Writing in a Gratitude Journal
Are you a glass half-full kind of person? Start practicing daily gratitude as a form of self-care. Giving thanks for all the positive things that happen throughout the day can make you much happier. At least, that’s according to Harvard Health, which points to a handful of studies that show an association between expressing gratitude and a person’s overall well-being. Why not give it a try? Get a journal and write down three things you’re grateful for each day and share them with a loved one. Though it may or may not brighten your day immediately, you’ll likely notice a big difference in your overall happiness in the long-term.
Reading a ‘Real’ Book
There’s nothing better than cracking open an old-fashioned, printed book and losing yourself in a good story. Not only is reading a fun and relaxing activity, it offers an impressive array of benefits. For instance, reading fiction can make you more empathetic, according to a study published in the journal Science. Additionally, research has shown that flipping through the pages of a printed book can help you remember the material better. Printed books: 1; E-books: 0.
Spending Time in Nature
If you need to spend some quality “me time,” consider taking it outside. Countless studies show that being in Mother Nature does a mind and body good. Walking in nature not only provides physical exercise, it can also make us more creative, according to researchers from Stanford University. Another study found that being outside for as little as 10 minutes could make college students feel happier and less stressed.
Lightening Your Mental Load
Between taking care of the kids, doing chores, and juggling work responsibilities, many of us are B-U-S-Y. Ever feel like you just need to free up mental space in your brain? Take some chores off your plate by signing up for a few subscription boxes. These days, you can get anything as part of a subscription. For example: You could get a subscription delivery for bladder leakage pads to help you take care of occasional drips and dribbles. Skip the store and the hassle and just have your essentials delivered straight to your door. Easy, peasy!
Calling a Loved One
With the rise of texting, many of us avoid phone calls at all costs. And that’s a shame because even though texting may be a quick and easy form of communication, it’s not nearly as satisfying in terms of making a human connection. When you call someone—or even better, FaceTime them—you have nonverbal cues like pacing and tone that help you decode their message. This makes communicating with someone much easier and more cathartic. So, if you need to vent to someone as a form of self-care, pick up the phone! You’ll feel much better afterwards.
It’s really difficult to say no, especially to people you love and respect. Saying no often conjures up feelings of guilt or embarrassment, which is why many of us avoid saying it at all costs. But here’s the thing: You’re doing yourself a massive disservice by simply agreeing to everything. People who say yes to everything quickly find themselves on a one-way ticket to Burnout-ville. Want to avoid joining that depressed and depleted community? Then learn how to politely say no so you can establish healthy boundaries for yourself.
Nix the Guilt from Your Self-Care Routine
Everyone’s self-care routine looks a little different. But no matter how you decide to care for your mind and body, you should never feel guilty for taking some much-needed time for yourself.