12 Simple Self-Care Rituals for Trying Times

It’s panic-inducing when it feels like the world as we know it suddenly grinds to a standstill. All of the feelings you may be experiencing now — grief, fear, anxiety — are all valid and real. They’re also extremely taxing, both mentally and physically, so we want to be sure you’re taking the best care of yourselves. Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s all about taking care of you and ultimately promoting collective healing. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so the saying goes.

Here are 12 ways to show yourself some TLC:

Photo by Arek Adeoye

1. Take a walk.

A little fresh air and movement will work wonders for your state of mind. It’s widely accepted that any form of physical exercise can help improve your mood, but walking is an opportunity to go at your own pace, be present in your thoughts, and appreciate the sights and scenery around you. Just make sure you're practicing proper social distancing by leaving at least 6 feet of space between yourself and others, and read up on guidelines from the CDC and your local health authorities.

2. Eat your greens — and your ice cream.

We should always be mindful of what we’re eating, especially when we’re in crisis mode. So yes, while eating plenty of fresh fruits and veggies is the ultimate form of self-care (your body is a temple, no?), indulging in a treat if you need it is not going to kill you. Go to town on that pint of Cherry Garcia if that’s what you’re craving. Savor every second of it.

3. Listen to music you love.

This goes without saying! Music is a great mood and energy booster. Listen to the songs that send chills down your spine, dance in the mirror, get those good vibes going! Better yet, play your own instrument if you're musically inclined (but make sure you don't wake the neighbors... remember, we're all home right now!)

Photo by Marissa Cristina

4. Write down a list of goals for the future.

When we’re under stress, it’s easy to start walking down memory lane. We all wish we were back in simpler times, right? There’s definitely nothing wrong with reminiscing from time to time, but dwelling too much in the past ultimately can become stagnating and even debilitating. By shifting our gazes to the future, we can inspire action and growth within ourselves.

The trick here is not to frame your goals with an “I hope” mindset. Frame them with a “one day, I will.” See how your perspective shifts as you repeat these words to yourself.

5. Meditate.

Meditation has been practiced for millennia to soothe anxiety, enhance self-awareness, manage anger, and improve focus. If you’re new to meditation, apps like Headspace or Calm will help you get started.

Photo by Alexander Dummer

6. Stay connected with your friends and loved ones.

Even if you can’t be with them in person, check in on friends and family. A FaceTime session with your best friend or a lengthy phone conversation with a grandparent is a great way to maintain a healthy sense of human connection.

7. That said, turn your phone on airplane mode when you need to.

It’s also necessary to shut off from the world from time to time. Turn your phone on airplane mode and minimize distractions. The news is not good; you don’t have to read it every second of every day. Cherish the silence and the space you’ve created for yourself to do something you love, or maybe finish a project or work assignment you’ve been putting off.

Photo by Amy Humphries

8. Cuddle some cute animals.

Listen to the science: cuddling with animals stimulates the brain’s production of dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters that relieve stress and invoke feelings of happiness. So go ahead, snuggle away! And if you don’t have a furry friend to hold onto, you can always ask your friends who own pets if you can squeeze in a cuddle session with them.

9. Make a list of what you’re thankful for.

As we’ve mentioned before, expressing gratitude is a powerful tool for harboring warmth and positive emotions within ourselves. Reflecting on the things we’re grateful for is beneficial because it shifts the focus from toxic, negative emotions to positive ones.

Photo by Holger Link

10. Take a bubble bath.

This might be the first thing that pops to mind when you hear the words “self-care:” a bubble bath! Soaking in the tub for 20 minutes can gently relax your muscles, reduce inflammation, and help you fall asleep.

11. Flex your creative muscles.

Create not for the outcome, but for the sake of creating. Whether it’s painting, writing, dancing, animating, singing, cooking — doesn’t matter. Do it for you and nobody else!

12. Laugh.

Laughter truly is the best medicine. Queue up your favorite comedy specials on Netflix, Google “funny cat videos,” or try and figure out what the teens are up to on TikTok these days (yeah, we have no idea what’s going on, either).

Cecilia Seiter
Cecilia is a freelance writer and contributor to Slow North. She writes largely about sustainability, especially as it applies to beauty, wellness, and the future of technology. She is a graduate of the journalism department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and is based in Los Angeles, CA.