Self-Care Tips

Need a Mental Boost? This Week of Self-Nurturing Tips Is Designed To Make You Feel Uplifted

Latham Thomas

Photo: Getty Images/Ignatiev; Graphic: W+G Creative
This isn’t your standard New Year’s plan. No restrictive diets, no weekly weigh-ins, no “whole new you” for this new year—because, hey, you’re pretty great already. These four expert-led plans—designed to help you move your body, eat more veggies, get a better night’s sleep, or show yourself some loving care—are all about developing healthy habits that better align with your goals. Get the Program

As we dive deeper into self-nurturing, we’ll focus on integration of care for the mind, physical body, and the spirit that animates you!

That’s why this week, I’m inviting you to ponder some questions:

  • How am I nurturing myself; mind, body, and spirit?
  • What are some of the simple pleasures that bring me the most joy?
  • How can I be more present in my body and obedient to its signals?
  • What fuels me emotionally? What tends to drain me?
  • What activities or practices feel affirming when I am feeling low energy?
  • Who in my life brings out my vitality?
  • How can I design my life to create more space for support, connection, freedom, and joy?

To support and nurture your mind, body, and soul—the aspects that make you uniquely you—we’ll be incorporating a mix of practical tasks, relationship-building (or letting go) steps, and simple activities that make you feel uplifted. Ready to start? Let’s begin.

Day 8: Digitally dine with someone you love

Food nourishes our bodies, but sharing a meal with others nourishes our souls. It’s part of how we create and build community. During the pandemic, it’s been challenging to safely share meals with people outside of our households. But even if you can’t physically be with someone you care about, you can still eat together via FaceTime or Zoom. Breaking bread over Zoom might seem like a tedious task at first, but think about all the special ways you can prepare your meal and your table setting and make the moment creative!

So… why not invite a friend or family member (or even someone you recently met on a dating app) to join you for a digital dinner? For fun, you could even cook the same meal, or order take-out from the same restaurant. You could make non-alcoholic drinks. It’s not the same as toasting each other from across a table, but it’s a lot more fun than slurping noodles alone while swiping through TikTok. A sense of togetherness, even through a screen, can turn a lonely dinnertime into a savory evening.

Day 9: Make play a priority

When was the last time you played? Play is an essential part of your self care. The word recreation comes from the Latin recreare, “to create again, renew.” When we allow ourselves time and space to play, it offers us mental and spiritual consolation, allowing us to create something new.

That’s why today, I’d like you to give yourself permission to play. Yup, pretend you’re 5 again! That might mean taking a walk, working on a puzzle, breaking out your board games, sculpting with clay, or having a dance party in your living room. If it’s been a while since you’ve allowed yourself to have a good time, find some inspiration by filling in these blanks:

  • I am having the most fun when I am:
  • Time flies when I am:
  • I wish I could do more:
  • When I was little, I was always:
  • My favorite childhood game was:

Remember, there are no right or wrong answers—only your answers. I encourage you to commit to playful practice on a regular basis. Punctuate your day with play. Get it on your calendar. Everyone’s definition of play is different, and that’s okay. Maybe you can create a mood-boosting playlist. Your activity can be as small or as big as you like, but make it something you’ll look forward to. And just do it!

Need more inspiration? Check out this list of 20 joyful activities to try.

Day 10: Weed your garden

If there is one thing we’ve learned from the pandemic, it’s to nurture and appreciate our relationships. Clearing out the weeds of unhealthy relationships is an important step in preparing ourselves for the next phase of our personal development and creating protective space around ourselves.

If you look at your life like a garden and see every living thing in that garden as either supporting the cultivation of your best self or strangling all the goodness that is thriving in your life, then you will very quickly identify what belongs and what does not. Some plants work well together and support each other’s growth. Other plants cut through the goodness and create trouble for the garden. In a garden, when the oxygen does not flow, the surrounding plants suffer and often die.

You might have relationships that cause constriction where there should be flow. We’ve all had moments when we’ve felt stifled. Think of a time in your life when you’ve felt that way; maybe there are a few. Some of us have friends or family members in our lives who are simply unsupportive. Are you looking to change the energy around you but nervous about losing friends? Sometimes for the sake of our personal growth, we have to cut ties with people so we can move to the next phase of our development. Remnants of past relationships still perforate the present, and their lingering energy requires that you take some practical action. Are you holding on to nostalgic pieces of days past? Do you still have your ex’s old T-shirts stuffed away somewhere? Clean them all out!

Take time to examine all the relationships you’re in—personal, professional, and so forth. Continue to nourish the ones that are sustaining you and weed out (or at least send less oxygen to) the ones that are less fulfilling. One easy way to get started is to start deleting some of the contacts in your phone. Simply ask yourself, “Does this person tire me or inspire me?”

Day 11: Reframe “fitness” as “movement”

In the new year, everyone seems to want to start intense exercise regimens and sprint toward their impressively high self-imposed goals. But all too often, when February rolls around, those ambitions run into the reality of our busy lives, and our leggings start collecting dust. Even worse, we might feel like failures for not being able to maintain the workout schedules we’d planned. This can happen when we set aggressive benchmarks for externalized fitness success, but I have good news: You can create a health-supportive regimen that is not punitive. (Ahem, check out our ReNew Year movement plan with Ashley Joi for inspo!)

Make movement a part of your self-care routine. Meet your body and abilities where they are now, not where you want them to be down the line. Engage in movement and exercise that feels good and be consistent with it. Honor the way your body wants to move; there will be days where more intense movement feels good and others where you will benefit from restorative exercises. So whether you seek to be limber through yoga or stronger through capoeira, be kind to yourself by creating challenging—yet grounding and attainable—activities for yourself.

While you’re at it, if your workouts aren’t enjoyable, change them! Bring more fun into your sweat sessions by asking friends to share the activities that bring them joy. Or, treat yourself to a new workout outfit! You can even meet on Zoom for a workout or follow some new fitness accounts on Instagram for snackable movement content. You never know when you might find your new favorite thing to do.

Day 12: Create your health-care team

As we’ve all learned during the past year, your health should not be taken for granted. With the onset of COVID-19, health-care providers have gone online and are offering services via telehealth. If you have any health concerns you’ve been avoiding or it’s time to get that annual check-up, reach out to your provider. This includes your physician, gynecologist, dentist, acupuncturist, eye doctor, mental-health counselor, and so forth. If your eyeglass prescription is so outdated that you’re squinting, go ahead and get an appointment on the calendar.

In addition, explore the various non-clinical care providers who can support your well-being. Massage therapists, Reiki practitioners, energy healers, meditation teachers… these are all people who can be invaluable members of your health-care team. When I don’t have access to my care team, I do acupressure, self-massage, and Reiki on myself! Remember, you know your body better than anybody.

Day 13: Prepare an overnight tea or tonic

Tea is an entry point for mindfulness. When tea is served hot, in an open ceramic cup, we have no choice but to move slowly, patiently—and to be present. Tea stops us in our tracks and brings us into the present moment. It’s also a wonderful alternative if you’re looking to reduce your coffee intake. What you may not know about herbal tea is that it provides the body with minerals. One of the ways to further support your immune system is to imbibe herbal tonics daily.

If you have a Mason jar and lid handy you can do cold water or hot overnight infusions that are ready to consume by morning. Some of the herbs that would be great to explore for winter tonics include nettles, red clover, tulsi, raspberry leaf (to name a few). You can get these herbs loose or in tea bags; I use loose herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs.

Take a light handful of herbs, handle them in your hand, and smell them. Place them inside the Mason jar, pour hot water over them, seal, and let stand overnight. By morning, you have a tasty and nutritive tonic.

You could also try one of my favorite recipes:

Golden Milk

This lightly spiced golden elixir is packed with anti-inflammatory properties and loaded with antioxidants, thanks to a dose of peppery turmeric. It’s a soothing blend that will quickly become one of your favorites.

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk, preferably coconut milk or almond milk
1 cup water
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1 (1-inch) piece turmeric, unpeeled, thinly sliced, or 1/2 tsp dried turmeric
1 tsp tulsi (optional)
1 (1/2-inch) piece ginger, unpeeled, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp virgin cold-pressed coconut oil
1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns
Ground cinnamon (for serving)

1. Whisk the non-dairy milk, cinnamon stick, turmeric, ginger, maple syrup, coconut oil, peppercorns, and 1 cup water in a small saucepan; bring to a low boil.

2. Reduce heat and simmer until flavors have blended, about 10 minutes.

3. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into mugs and top with a dash of cinnamon.

Golden milk can be made 5 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Warm before serving. Sit still with your cup and sip your golden milk. Focus on being present to the experience you are having, savoring the layers of flavor.

Day 14: Try vocal toning

Part of your self-care practice should include using your voice daily. You can use your voice specifically as a healing instrument to send vibrations throughout your body. Today, we will practice a technique called “toning.”

Tone is an elongated pitch of sound. With vocal toning, you create an extended vowel sound or syllable, with lips closed, like humming. It’s not chanting or singing; instead, it’s holding a note continuously while letting the vibration of the sound resonate throughout your body. The nervous system is entrained with sound, and sound vibration heals. Toning creates a vibration soothing to the nervous system, like an inner massage. Inhalations activate and stimulate while exhalations calm and center.

Your voice is a powerful conduit of your intentions. When you set your intention for healing, toning delivers that healing vibration through the voice.

Lie comfortably on your back or against a wall; you may also sit back-to-back with a partner. Place your hands on your abdomen in the shape of a downward-pointing triangle. Close your eyes and relax your body. Deeply connect with this part of your body, ripe with potential. Receive a deep breath in, send healing warmth to your core, deep down into your abdomen. Exhale and release with a sigh. Continue breathing. On your next breath in, prepare to tone. Exhale and, with your lips closed, release a steady pitch—often, a tone closest to your regular speaking voice is the most comfortable range. Continue to tone/hum consistently for five minutes. You may want to open and relax your jaw to make a round of “ahh” sounds. Then rest in silence and observe the resonance. Vibrational medicine is everything. Enjoy it!

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