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I Tried A New Self-Care Practice Everyday For A Week & These Were My Favorites

By Allison Berry

I’ve always rolled my eyes at mentions of “self care.” To me, the phrase brings to mind unattainable hobbies ($30 yoga classes) and outrageously priced accessories ($2,500 at-home workout equipment) that leave me feeling at best, lazy, and at worst, like I’ve been priced out of prioritizing my wellbeing.

Then, we all found ourselves in the middle of a global crisis. Like so many other people, my daily routine went out the window and I suddenly found myself without my usual coping mechanisms of a walk in my local park or a trip to my favorite neighborhood café. With my anxiety moving into uncharted territory, I realized that my cynical attitude toward the self-care movement was maybe not the most productive stance to take right now.

So I decided to overhaul my attitude toward self-care with a week’s worth of new-to-me practices that I hoped would help bring me a sense of calm. Things I tried and didn’t like? Journaling, coloring, and ditching my pre-bedtime TV streaming did nothing for me. But out of the seven new habits I attempted, these are the ones I’ll recommend over and over again.

Clocking Out At 5:00 On The Dot

I’ll admit it: Now that we’re all working from home and my couch has become my desk, I’ve struggled to draw firm lines in the sand when it comes to a renewed work-life balance. Starting on Monday, I promised myself that come 5:00, I’d close my laptop and consider myself “home” for the day.

Coming as a surprise to no one, this didn’t go well at first. On Monday evening, I managed to go from working on my computer to working on my phone by checking emails and replying to chats. I felt anxious, like I needed to prove I was still doing a good job even though I’m now spending 24 hours a day in leggings and t-shirts.

The next day I tried a new approach: At the end of my work day, I wrote my to-do list for the following morning. I prioritized Tuesday’s unfinished assignments, Wednesday’s deadlines, and even jotted down a few emails that I needed to reply to sooner than later. So far my system isn’t perfect, but it is teaching me that my time is just as valuable when I’m investing it in myself as it is when I’m spending it on my job.

Overhauling My Shower Routine

Now that nearly every square inch of our one-bedroom apartment is makeshift office space (the bedroom for my boyfriend, and the living room for me), our bathroom has become the final frontier for alone time. For this reason, I’ve developed a newfound appreciation for my daily shower.

Pre-pandemic, showering was just another thing I had to do each day. My five minute routine consisted of hopping in, washing my hair, body, and face, then retreating to bed as quickly as possible. But in honor of my week of self-care experiments, on Sunday I transformed my daily routine into a full-on ritual.

First, I stole back my bluetooth speaker from my boyfriend and cued up a long-forgotten favorite playlist from college. Then I swapped out my normal bar soap for Dove’s Pampering Shea Butter & Warm Vanilla Body Wash, which leaves my skin feeling soft and moisturized (and smells just as luxurious as you’d think). With my tunes going and the smell of vanilla in the air, I had no problem letting go of the day’s stresses and feeling a little sense of escape – even though I was mere feet away from my “office.” Needless to say, I easily integrated this self-care practice into my day-to-day.

Not Baking A Single Loaf Of Bread

I’m not saying I dislike all of your beautiful posts about baking sourdough from scratch or discovering your hidden talent for basket weaving while in quarantine. What I am saying is I’m not on the same page.

I love social media as much as the next person, but comparison culture has taken a negative toll on my wellbeing lately. Scrolling through a never-ending feed of my friends’ (and strangers’!) talents and photo-ready hobbies could normally inspire me to try those activities for myself — but these days it’s making me feel like I’m not doing enough with my newly freed-up time.

In an attempt to save myself from anxiety of my own creation, I’m putting my phone down and doing my best to practice some social media distancing. It’s my goal for the time I used to spend scrolling to be set aside for small habits that I know bring me joy (like doing a moisturizing sheet mask, or online shopping for rugs I’ll never buy but love looking at), rather than spending that time obsessing over what brings other people joy.

Lighting Enough Candles To Land A Plane

Or more realistically, maybe just a small drone. Either way, candles are a key player in my newfound love of self-care because of their coziness factor. But even if you don’t share my fandom, I can attest that spending some time to make your space extra cozy is well worth the effort.

By Friday, I channeled my love of the average household candle into my solution for creating a calm environment. I started my workday by lighting one of my favorite scented candles and placing it on my desk (aka my dining room table). Something about surrounding myself with one of my favorite scents turned out to be more grounding than I expected, and made me feel grateful to be safe at home.

That evening I added a few (OK, five) tea lights throughout my living room. At 5:00 I closed my laptop, poured myself a glass of wine, and enjoyed the feeling of being unplugged with nothing to worry about but me, myself, and I.

This post is sponsored by Dove.