Taking care of yourself when you’re stressed or depressed can be difficult for many reasons, but self-care is too important to neglect. So why not try taking it slow with just one small, but still meaningful self-care goal a day for seven days.
Once the week is complete, start the challenge again to get into the routine of looking after yourself and tending to your needs.
DAY 1: Go on a 10-minute walk.
Don’t overexert yourself on the first day. Ease into self-care with a 10-minute walk. A short stroll allows your lungs to get fresh air, your skin soaks up vitamin D, your brain releases endorphins, and you also burn a few calories.
Exercise is an overall beneficial activity, but since the point of this challenge is to keep things minimal, all you have to do is embrace the outdoors for 10 simple minutes.
DAY 2: Organize your clothes.
It can be intimidating to clean an entire room, especially if your motivation is low and the piles of junk are too high.
Clutter can be detrimental to your mood. Putting all of your clothes back neatly into drawers or onto hangers can help you feel happier, less stressed, and more productive in a single afternoon.
As a bonus, going through your clothing can uncover forgotten items you might not want anymore. Put these items in a separate box and donate them so you can feel even better about yourself.
DAY 3: Go without Netflix for the day.
Don’t use Hulu either! This challenge is a tough one, since most of us suffer from a Netflix addiction, but too much television isn’t good for the brain or the body.
Alternatives to binge-watching can include reading a book, going for another 10-minute walk, getting some errands done, or contacting afriend. You aren’t expected to do something hugely impressive. The goal is to do anything besides laze in front of a screen for hours.
DAY 4: Eat vegetarian for the day.
Changing your diet completely is a big commitment, but a single day isn’t so bad. That’s what Sir Paul McCartney’s Meat Free Monday campaign is all about – reducing your risk of heart disease and cancer; also preventing animal cruelty by cutting out meat for one day a week.
There are many delicious foods and recipes you can still enjoy that don’t involve meat that are easy to make at home.
DAY 5: Don’t use any electronic devices an hour before bed.
Power down all your smartphones, laptops, televisions, and e-readers at least one hour before bed so you can catch up on some quality sleep.
The artificial blue light produced from these devices suppresses melatonin and disrupts the circadian rhythm, both of which are necessary for restful sleep and efficient cognitive performance in the morning.
The longer you use a device further delays your bedtime, which in turn delays your REM cycle, the most restorative stage of sleep.
DAY 6: Paint your nails.
Brighten your appearance and your mood with a pop of color on your fingernails. The repetitive motion of each soft brush stroke can be soothing, and if you get a professional manicure, you’ll also enjoy a relaxing hand massage and gentle aromas.
Greta Angert, a licensed psychotherapist specializing in anxiety, sees nail painting as a coping mechanism: “Sitting down to paint your nails is a simple gesture that tells you ‘I’m worth it,’ ‘I deserve this.’” she says.
Build your confidence one coat of crème at a time.
DAY 7: Buy yourself flowers
Congratulations! You made it to the end of the week! Celebrate by purchasing yourself a lovely bouquet of the flowers of your choice because not only do you deserve them for actively trying to overcome any negativity keeping you down, but flowers have a myriad of mental health benefits.
This seven-day self-care challenge can be repeated until it’s no longer a challenge. You can also get creative and make a routine of your own. It’s just important to give the effort and stay consistent.