Looking for self-care ideas to boost your mental 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.
These are some self-care ideas that have worked for me, and I hope they work for you, too.
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.
I tend to find myself battling all at once! It’s why I love adaptogens like ashwagandha and reishi mushrooms. I also love botanical drinks like Kin Euphorics, which have become my go-to lately. The grounding Lightwave drink is 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 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. I’m currently enjoying the latest from Chuck Klosterman, The Nineties. It’s a refreshing and humorous take on what he calls “the last decade.” You’ll have to pick up a copy for yourself to find out why.
3. Cook a meal
I know what you’re thinking. 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, and I’m particularly 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.