Looking for self-care ideas to boost your mental and physical health? These sustainable go-to’s are the cream of the wellness crop.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that self-care is no longer optional. It’s paramount to how we move through this world, how we care for the planet, and how we support the people we love. There’s no one definition for self-care, though, which can make it more difficult to know where to start or what will work best. These ideas may help you find the perfect way to find some more balance.
What is self-care?
Self-care is not self-indulgence. The two are often conflated, ie the “treat yoself” mantra that permeates social media. It’s not a one-size-fits-all prescription, either, but there are some general ground rules. Bingeing on anything—alcohol, food, drugs, Netflix—as a way to manage stress, for example, is not self-care, even if it feels good at the moment.
Self-care isn’t always going to feel amazing as it’s happening—choosing a green juice instead of a Grigio, for example. But the point is developing or sustaining habits that are good for you, can lead to increased longevity, mental and physical wellbeing, and even financial and professional success.
There are doctors out there like Brad Schaeffer of Medcomp Sciences who are doing what they can via research to help us to improve our health, but understanding what you could be doing is also important. Let’s take a look at how you can do it.
Self-care tips for a healthy body and mind
Whether going for a walk on your local beach or curling up with a good book, there’s no one way to self-care. But what’s most critical: stick with things that make you feel good. You’ll be a happier and healthier person for it.
1. Manage stress with adaptogens
If it seems like you’re seeing products boasting adaptogenic properties everywhere you look, you are. They’re so hot right now and for good reason. That reason? Stress sucks. It’s important to remember that stress isn’t just the icky stuff like a boss stressing you out or rush hour traffic. It can be more subtle—the stress of not sleeping well, a poor diet, physical stress from sitting all day, and so on.
It’s why so many people love adaptogens like ashwagandha and reishi mushrooms. Botanical drinks like Kin Euphorics are loaded with good-for-you botanicals including Saffron, Reishi Mushroom, and Passionflower along with L-Theanine, L-Serine, L-Tryptophan, Magnesium Glycinate that take the edge off almost immediately. And it tastes amazing, too.
2. Read a book
We are so glued to our phones that we all too often forego reading books for doomscrolling. And that’s a shame. Reading a book isn’t just introvert activity; it is better for the eyes than the blue light of smartphones, so you can count that as self-care, too. But the bigger benefit is the story—fiction or not—that takes us into another world.
These don’t need to be books about self-care at all, by the way. Try a novel, a memoir, a book of poems to find inspiration for taking some ‘me time.’
3. Cook a meal
We’ve all been cooking more in the last two years of the pandemic. But that’s survival cooking. Making a meal because you need to eat is so different than making a meal because it’s beautiful, nourishing, and wholly rewarding in different ways.
We publish a lot of recipes here at Ethos, but you’ll find yourself wowed over the collection from Lauren Lovatt. She’s taken a mental wellness approach to food in her new cookbook Mind Food: Plant-Based Recipes for Positive Mental Health. The recipes are stunning, good-for-you creations that are worthy of some quiet kitchen time and a reason to bust out the fancy tableware.
4. Grow something
There are lots of studies pointing to the benefits of nature; forest bathing is popular for good reason. But when most of us live in cities, we can’t always get out to the middle of a forest. And for most of us, the pandemic has quashed vacation plans for the last two years. But when it comes to nature, a little can go a long way, even if it’s just a windowsill herb garden.
Growing something connects us to the planet in important ways. And if you’re growing food? Well, it helps with the self-care goal of eating better too. Even if your history with houseplants isn’t the best, don’t give up hope. This windowsill herb garden can help you grow healthy herbs and reconnect you to the planet we all share.
5. Forest Bathe
If you think forest bathing involves tubs and suds surrounded by trees, you’re not alone. Rebel Wilson recently spoofed that concept alongside Jane Goodall. I suppose that is an option, but the bigger takeaway is—naked or not—getting into a forest has benefits for our mental health. Credit the increased oxygen produced by trees, moving your body, birdsongs, or any number of wildlife sightings and it’s easy to see why forest bathing is such a panacea for our modern world.
Need a really deep immersion after these last few years? Why not take a nature-immersed vacation? Check out our list of hotel destinations around the world that are completely surrounded by nature.
6. Move more
Move more. Movement isn’t just good for your physical health, it’s good for your mental health as well. When you move your body more, you feel better about yourself. It can be hard to move your body when you’ve been sitting for hours at work, especially if you have a sedentary job. When you make time for exercise in your routine, you’re going to find yourself feeling lighter and freer. A busy schedule is not something that should get in your way of movement, but if it is, then it’s time to prioritize. Movement is going to help you to be held happier and healthier for longer, so therefore it should be a priority. Try out a new yoga or pilates class. Working from home? Grab an eco yoga mat and take a few minutes for a Yoga Works class to stretch before you start your day.
Are you chronically dehydrated? It’s more possible than you might think. You should be looking at ensuring that you are drinking at least two liters of water per day. Not only will this make you feel good, but it will help you to open up your blood vessels and help your skin to feel clearer and healthier than ever before. It keeps all things working smoothly, and who doesn’t want that? Keep a sustainable water bottle filled and with you at your desk or in your car so you can stay hydrated throughout your day without the waste.