If one more person suggests you take a bubble bath, you might scream.
Sometimes, even the most tried and true self-care methods lose their luster. When your old reliables no longer do the trick, turn to something a little more out of the ordinary. We've got nine ideas for self-care that you might not have tried yet.
Whether it's a plot at the community garden, a windowsill of herbs, or merely a hanging plant for the bedroom, tending to a live, growing thing gives you a sense of nourishment, too. Studies show putting your hands into soil has numerous health benefits, including better memory, moods, relationships. But we don't need science to tell us that experiencing the greenery of nature — even in a houseplant-sized dose — makes us feel relaxed and contented.
Go to the grocery store
Not with a list. Not after work. Meander through the aisles with no agenda and no timetable. Let your senses be stimulated by glossy cherries, bright citrus, the intoxicating aroma of fresh sourdough in the bakery. Look for new products; pick up the boxes. Read the back. Or increase your chances of discovery at an international market you've been curious about but have never visited. Substitute your go-to kale with some dark leafy green you've never tried.
Give your hair a boost
There's nothing like a haircut to lift your spirits and put a little spring in your step. But if a new style isn't in the budget, try this DIY reset. After shampooing and conditioning, douse your hair in a mixture of one part apple cider vinegar to wash away buildup and make your hair extra shiny. Or if you don't want to do all that, just give your hair a good brush. Brushing stimulates the capillaries of the scalp, increasing blood circulation, and bringing oxygen to the hair follicles; some say this encourages hair growth and strengthens roots. We say it feels amazing.
Feeling restless? Want to feel calm and centered? Fiery and confident? What about honing your intuition and sense of inner wisdom? Whatever your needs, there's a crystal for that. Let yourself be drawn to the crystal that speaks to you aesthetically. Or treat the shopkeeper like a pharmacist, asking for the "prescription" for whatever ails you.
Interrupt the narrative
We're usually not aware of our interior monologue, so we grow accustomed to the usual script: I'm depressed. There's never enough time. Why can't I do anything right? I'll be single forever. What the hell am I doing with my life? Whenever you're getting caught up in your storytelling about your life, interrupt the narrative. Buddhist meditation teacher, Tara Brach, suggests the acronym RAIN: Recognize that you're caught up in a story. Allow yourself to feel how you feel rather than denying the emotional experience. Investigate the feeling with curiosity rather than judgment. Why do you feel this way? What do you need? Finally, nurture yourself with self-compassion.
Borrow a friend's dog
That loving gaze. Those floppy ears. That boundless energy. It's hard not to have your spirits lifted by a pouch. Take a long walk with a furry friend, and then get some petting time. Studies show pets decrease your feelings of loneliness, along with a host of other health benefits.
Make a ritual of bedtime (and then sleep-in)
Remember how comforting the routine of bedtime was when you were a kid? The succession of bathtime, clean jammies, and a story under the covers helped you wind-down and get into a deeply relaxed state before sinking into slumber. The same can be true for adults. With fresh sheets on the bed, slip into a clean nightgown. Light a candle and listen to a guided meditation or visualization exercise (the app Insight Timer has lots of options). Read a book you've been looking forward to, then turn the lights off early. And do this all on a night when you don't need to set your alarm for the am. With more sleep, you'll feel you sharpen your memory, spur creativity, and lower overall stress levels.
Revisit an old favorite
Instead of binge-watching the latest water cooler favorite, remake the acquaintance of a show or movie that has served you in the past. What you miss in surprise will pay dividends in comfort. Maybe it's time to re-watch West Wing or Sex and the City or, going way back, to Bosom Buddies. The same rule applies to movies. Save Roma for another time and say hello again to Anne of Green Gables.
The ancient Japanese tradition of shibori is like elegant tie-dye. The process is simple, and the results are deeply satisfying, giving you a deep sense of accomplishment for little effort. The deep cerulean color is traditional, and working with the hue can encourage feelings of calm and serenity.
Care for someone else
One of the most effective forms of self-care is to turn your attention to someone else. Who else in your life could use some extra care? Has a friend recently had a baby? Is your neighbor laid up with a broken leg? Is there an elderly person in your life — it doesn't need to be a grandparent — who could use some company? Show your care for others with a pot of soup, a roast chicken, or an informal tea party.
Look out a window
Seriously. Set yourself up in a soft, comfy seat, and give yourself a good view, ideally of something green. Sit. Breathe in and out. Observe the world, and note the sounds you hear. Stop your racing by arriving at the moment, and perhaps give yourself a mantra: I am here, I am safe, I am loved.