It’s no surprise that we love self-care at The Everygirl; we’ve all tried dozens of face masks, perfected the CBD bubble bath, and watched Bridgerton at least three times through (staring at Regé-Jean Page is self-care). We know that caring for yourself is just as important as crushing a work presentation or keeping your home tidy (if not more), and we believe that the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself.
But the thing about self-care, and health in general, is that it should always be changing and growing with us. The start of a new year means it’s time to reevaluate our self-care routines and incorporate some much-needed upgrades. Whether you switch up your wellness routine after every new year or the end of 2020 requires some special cleansing, here are 10 ways to upgrade your entire self-care routine in 2021.
1. Get outside
So you fit in workouts, skincare, and maybe even meditate regularly. The way to upgrade the routine you already have? Take your self-care outside. Getting some fresh air can have major effects on the mind and body (yes, even when it’s cold). Take your workout outdoors by jogging, going on walks, or doing some lunches and jumping jacks at a local park. If you prefer working out in your living room, you can also take a cup of coffee to your balcony or front yard for a few minutes of quiet meditation in the morning. And if you don’t have time for a full workout or morning meditation? Take walks on your lunch break or sit outside while on conference calls.
2. Make sexual wellness a part of your routine
PSA: sexuality is not just the private side of relationships or what we learn about from Sex and the City reruns. Your sexuality should be just as much a part of your self-care routine as a face mask or a bubble bath (and, FYI, can be done simultaneously with both). Whether that means regularly exploring your own body, getting to know what you want (and don’t want), or building sensuality outside of the bedroom through prioritizing pleasure in all areas of your life, sensuality can (and should) be a daily practice. Remember that pleasure is your right, whether that means more pleasurable workouts, food choices, or orgasms, and in 2021, it’s high time we see sex as self-care instead of a dirty word.
3. Laugh more often
“Laughter is the best medicine” is certainly a cliché, but there’s a lot of truth to it. Laughter can have a variety of mental and physical health benefits. Plus, it’s free and doesn’t come with side effects like other medicine (except maybe peeing your pants if you laugh a little too hard. You know what I’m talking about). Incorporate laughter into your routine by surrounding yourself with people who are fun to be around, choosing hilarious comedies for movie nights, and not taking life too seriously. You’ll be amazed at the humor you can find in any circumstance when you remember that the point of life is to enjoy it.
4. Multitask with movement
Fitting in a workout is important and necessary for both our mental and physical health, but most of us still end up sitting at a desk for over eight hours a day, workout or not. Our bodies aren’t meant to live sedentarily, so fit in more consistent movement whenever you can by multitasking. For example, do bicep curls while on conference calls or go on a power walk while talking to your mom or a friend. You can also work out while listening to an online class or audiobook for your book club, or do some stretching or jumping jacks while watching TV. Oh, and whenever you’re cooking or getting ready? You know what to do: turn on a bomb playlist and dance.
5. Take more breaks
I don’t just mean work breaks. I mean breaks from everything (and yes, that includes self-care practices). Take breaks from Netflix binges by going for a walk or taking a warm bath, take workout breaks by scheduling a rest day, take technology breaks with a tech detox, and even take breaks from that full morning routine you’ve perfected by spending a weekend morning sleeping in, staying in PJs, reading a book, and making pancakes. The goal of self-care practices (and health in general) is not perfection; it’s balance. Nothing should ever feel too strict, regulated, or perfect. It’s time we stop seeing breaks as a weakness or failure, and instead see them as important, necessary, and healthy. Hint: if you’re feeling unmotivated, worn out, exhausted, bored, or tired of any one thing, that’s probably a sign you need a break from it.
6. Do something “just for fun”
Take a “fun evaluation” right now: when’s the last time you did anything just for fun? How do you spend your free time alone that isn’t bingeing Netflix? If it’s difficult (or impossible) for you to think of an answer, your very stressful adult life has likely taken precedence over a very important aspect of life: having fun. Enjoyment is not only good for you, but it’s crucial (remember how laughter is the best medicine?). Incorporate regular “playtime” in your life by turning on music and dancing, doing something creative like coloring, or going to your local jungle gym and playing on the monkey bars (bonus points that it doubles as a workout). If you feel silly “playing” or feel unproductive spending time on something “just for fun,” that’s even more reason to.
7. Try out non-toxic or natural products
So you have a go-to candle that instantly relaxes you, a line-up of impressive face masks, and every item you could possibly need for a killer bubble bath. While I commend you for being on top of your self-care game, if you’re looking for a 2021 upgrade, try switching to non-toxic or all-natural products. After all, nutrition is not just about what we put in our bodies; it’s also about what we put on our bodies. Going clean doesn’t have to feel overwhelming, expensive, or wasteful. Whenever you finish a beauty product, candle, or even food, do a little research to find an alternative that’s better for you and better for the planet (bonus points for buying from a small business!). It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing process. Instead, take baby steps that will lead to big changes. Click here for some clean beauty hacks, and click here for our non-toxic candle guide.
8. Set boundaries
Self-care is about what to do to care for yourself, but it’s also about what not to do. Setting boundaries, whether they’re with work, your family, or in your relationship, should be non-negotiable. Think of boundaries as a shield to protect your energy, mental health, and overall wellness. If your energy is always drained or you notice that other people affect the way you think, you probably need to set (and keep) more boundaries. Set work boundaries by deleting work-related apps off your phone, set social media boundaries by muting accounts that don’t bring you joy, and set boundaries in your relationships by limiting your access to other people when you need time for yourself.
9. Put it in your calendar
Your calendar is probably full of work meetings, doctor’s appointments, and deadlines, instead of workouts, meditations, or downtime. But when you write something on your calendar, that means you’ll prioritize it, show up on time, be prepared, and not skip (unless you reschedule in advance). Why should your self-care be any less important than work deadlines or appointments? Scheduling it into your calendar will not only make sure that you’re making time for it, but will remind you that self-care is just as important as other obligations. If you prefer to have a career-specific calendar, consider getting a planner just for self-care to schedule activities that will recharge your energy.
10. Ditch the practices that make you more stressed
I’ll be honest: even for someone who is #extra with wellness, meditation has always stressed me out. It seems like every expert in the world preaches its benefits, but when I sit down and try to have a few minutes of meditative bliss, thoughts run through my head like I’m doing this wrong, and I can’t stop thinking about my to-do list. I would leave meditation sessions feeling more stressed than before. Yes, it is a practice that requires patience, but it didn’t make me feel at peace, relaxed, or zoned out. You know what does make me feel at peace, relaxed, and zoned out? Going for a walk, coloring, listening to Frank Sinatra, and yes, even watching Real Housewives.
Maybe one day I’ll start up a love affair with meditation, but until then, I’m going to be doing whatever it is that actually brings me peace, relaxation, and happiness, whether wellness experts swear by it or not. The truth is that adding, doing, or trying all the things that are supposed to be good for us can sometimes just be FOMO disguised as health. With the start of a new year, reevaluate every way you’re spending your time, and get rid of the ones that aren’t truly serving you.