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Can’t you just feel yourself relaxing? 🧖♀️
Let’s be honest: Between being a parent, working overtime, keeping the house clean, and shopping for groceries, how much time do you take for yourself in any given week? Probably not enough! Which is why we’ve come to the rescue with the best self-care ideas that anyone can make time for. We all know burnout is real, but regularly recharging your batteries with anything from a DIY mani to a nice cup of tea (or both!) can help ensure it doesn’t happen to you. Heck, even the very busy Pioneer Woman herself makes sure to unwind after a stressful day.
While Ree’s go-to ways to relax include chilling on the couch or in the massage chair, your own self-care routine might look a little different. Perhaps you find it revitalizing to work in your garden, or snuggle up with your pooch, take a soothing bath or simply daydream for a bit. There are no wrong answers here, it’s all about doing what rejuvenates you, mind body and soul. The pay-offs are huge, according to experts, including reduced incidents of depression and anxiety, as well as lowered risks for heart disease, stroke and cancer. So read on for our easy self-care ideas because taking care of yourself shouldn’t be stressful. Instead, you’ll find plenty of free ways to relax and unwind right at home.
There’s no doubt that spending time in green spaces is good for you. Multiple studies have shown that along with boosting mood and improving memory, getting into the great outdoors can even reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering stress, heart rates and muscle tension. The practice of submerging oneself in nature is so important to the Japanese they even have a term for it: “forest bathing.”
SHOP HIKING BOOTS
According to the Cleveland Clinic, hugging can reduce levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) and give your immune system a boost, too. And doesn’t it just feel good? That’s because hugging actually raises the brain’s levels of oxytocin, a chemical associated with love. So the next time you’ve got a friend or a family member in front of you, consider smooshing them in an embrace. It’ll do you both some good!
Don’t have a dog or cat? You might think about getting one. Pets give back to us as much as we give to them—the CDC says that owning a fur baby can help decrease everything from “blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels,” to “feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and symptoms of PTSD.” And, if you’re an animal lover like Ree, you might even love cuddling your pet.
Meditation, which is the age-old act of clearing your mind with the goal of achieving inner peace, has so many health benefits its difficult to list them all. While it takes some practice to achieve, mediation usually involves focusing your attention and relaxing your breathing. Classes, apps, videos and more are available to help newbies get going, but you can always start by taking some time every day to simply inhale and exhale slowly and deeply. Before you know it, you’ll feel the stress of the day melting away.
It doesn’t matter what it is: mac and cheese, prime rib, or anything else. As Ree will tell you, cooking and eating your favorite meal is a great way to raise your spirits. Don’t feel like making the feast yourself? Go ahead and splurge and order in, or go out.
Naps feel like a luxury, but why should they? Getting enough sleep is one of the most important things we can do for our health, and naps in particular can help fight fatigue and aid in relaxation. If you want to nap like a champ, keep the room dark and the temperature cool and soon you’ll be nodding out like a baby.
It’s no surprise that doing good helps you to feel good. In older adults, giving back has been shown to help keep minds sharper longer, but even younger Americans benefit from the increased socialization and physical activity volunteering offers. Some great ways to serve others include mentoring a child, spending time with seniors, cleaning up litter and helping out at an animal shelter.
Reading, it turns out, is a powerful tool in the fight to not only live longer, but live better—scientists believe the activity can actually help prevent cognitive decline. If you are the sociable type, it doesn’t have to be a solo pursuit, either. You can join a book club and expand your social circle as you expand your mind.
Our bodies are made up of between 50 to 70 percent water, and keeping it replenished is crucial to effective and efficient waste removal, joint lubrication and even temperature regulation. Women need about 11.5 eight-ounce cups of fluid a day to stay adequately hydrated, so make sure you’re sipping on water throughout the day. To help keep track of how much you’re drinking, grab The Pioneer Woman 24-ounce stainless steel tumbler and make sure you are refilling it four times a day.
There’s nothing like a beautiful bouquet of flowers to brighten a mood. Instead of waiting for your sweetie to gift you a bunch of blooms, buy them for yourself. They’re sure to provide an instant pick-me-up that will last as long as they do. Some retailers even provide same-day service if you don’t feel like popping out to the flower store.
SHOP FLOWER VASES
Whether you add bubbles, light candles, play music, or pour a glass of wine, bath time is all about relaxing and rejuvenating. Submerging yourself in warm water has also been shown to improve blood sugar control, lower blood pressure, burn calories and even aid breathing. And, of course, a hot bath with Epsom salts soothes achy muscles.
This activity might seem like a chore, but because messy environments often create stress, it just stands to reason that cleaning up our clutter will make us happier and even healthier. Start small, by decluttering a drawer or a shelf, so you don’t get overwhelmed. Before you know it, your home will be tidier and you’ll feel a satisfying sense of accomplishment.
Friends make the tough times easier and the good times even better. No matter how busy life gets, make sure to make time for your ride-or-dies. You’ll feel happier, less stressed, more self-confident and the Mayo Clinic says, you might even live longer. Need to expand your social circle? Try joining a club, taking a class or volunteering. You can also introduce yourself to your neighbors, or join a place of worship.
There’s an old adage that gratitude is the attitude and if you’re looking to feel happier, handle adversity better and build healthier relationships, these words are wise, indeed. According to Harvard Medical School, not only can counting your blessings manifest those benefits, the practice can even lead to improved physical well-being. The next time you have a little free time, try writing in a gratitude journal, or even sending a note to someone you appreciate. Chances are you’ll be thankful you did.
You know that yummy cup of tea that feels so cozy on a cold day? It’s actually good for you, according to Penn Medicine, by fending off heart disease, cancer, inflammation and other health issues. Plus, there’s something super soothing about the actual act of making and drinking the brew.
SHOP TEA KETTLES
There are so many reasons to keep a journal, ranging from improved memory to strengthened communication skills. It’s a great way to find inspiration and even help you achieve goals, too. Try setting a smidge of time aside every day to jot down thoughts, dreams, memories, the events of your day—anything you want. You can make the practice even more special by using a beautiful blank book and pen.
When you look better you feel better, and neat nails are crucial to a well-kept appearance. You don’t have to head to the salon if cost is a concern, you can always give yourself an at-home mani-pedi. Paint those fingers and toes your favorite color for a little extra flair.
If you’re feeling anxious, turn on your favorite music. Likewise, if you want to improve your mental alertness and memory, tune into the sweet sounds of classic, jazz, rock—any genre at all. Music stimulates the brain with little else (and of course it’s even better for you if you get up and start moving to the beat). If you don’t want to disturb your family, you can always slide on a good pair of headphones or earbuds and keep the concert to yourself.
No matter what you do, be it walking, lifting weights, riding a bike, taking an aerobics class, or pretty much anything else, exercise is key to increased well-being. Physical activity is associated with stronger bones and muscles, a better-functioning brain and reduced stress and incidents of disease. It even helps with depression and anxiety, so if you’re having a bad time of it, try to get off the couch and get moving.
Weighted blankets are like being wrapped in a warm hug. They’re said to relieve anxiety and stress and promote tranquility by making the user feel more secure. They also help produce the feel-good brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine, promoting a more restful night’s sleep. Generally, it’s recommended that you purchase a blanket that weighs about 10 percent of your body weight.
SHOP WEIGHTED BLANKETS
Speaking of blankets, making your bed is one way to get your day started off right. Much like clearing clutter, it is not only pleasing because it makes your environment immediately tidier, but also because it gives you a nice sense of accomplishment.
You don’t have to be a pro gardener to reap the benefits of getting your hands dirty. Even beginning gardeners may see their moods improving and their stress levels plummeting once they begin digging and planting. Need some tools to get started? Check out Ree’s indispensable outdoor collection!
Laughter is good medicine. So, whether you’re spending the evening at a comedy club, checking out a movie starring your favorite funny actor or simply yukking it up with a friend who has a great sense of humor, find time (and a reason) to laugh. It can do everything from alleviating tension to relieving pain, and—of course—improving your mood.
Social media can be a powerful tool to help us get and stay connected to friends and family, but the constant use of social media sites can also have links to depression and anxiety. Try taking a break from social media for a few hours, a day, or a weekend. Then think about disconnecting from the folks who don’t make you feel good. Toxic people should have no room in our lives, even if it’s not IRL.
Experts believe travel is good for you, boosting brain function and enhancing your mental health, but even planning a trip can provide a much-needed little vacay from day-to-day reality. Near or far, someplace you’ve been or somewhere totally unknown, go ahead and let your imagination run wild, because research shows you’ll be happier for it.
You don’t need to be Picasso to benefit from the act of creating, which is one reason why art therapy is so popular. Painting, writing, scrapbooking, sculpting and the like all help to reduce anxiety and stress, strengthen our imaginations and increase our ability to focus, whether or not we’re any good at it. If you’re not sure how to start, try taking an art class of some type, where you might find a new friend or two in addition to a new hobby.
It might not sound entirely pleasant, but ending your shower with an icy blast of water can make your morning. Not only will it wake you up (no kidding!), but it might also help you better fend off disease since the body produces more infection-fighting white blood cells when it’s cold. Thankfully, you only need to stand under that frosty shower for 30 short seconds to reap the rewards.
No matter what issue you’re grappling with, from the difficulties of adult caregiving to grieving a loss in the family, chances are there is a support group for it. Support groups allow you to discuss your experiences and feelings with like-minded folk who understand what you’re going through, and can provide valuable support. If you don’t feel comfortable attending one in person, there are many support groups available online.
Driving can be incredibly relaxing, especially on roads with lovely scenery, when you don’t need to get anywhere by a certain time. While gas prices might be high right now, a short trip shouldn’t break the bank if you have a fuel-efficient vehicle. So pick a town nearby you’ve always wanted to visit (or just pick a direction with no destination in mind) and hit the highway!
Stretching just feels so dang good, especially if you’ve been sitting a long time. But it’s also good for you, improving circulation, flexibility and posture, while relieving stress, too. Just getting started stretching? Experts say to go slow, don’t bounce (you can injure yourself) and be sure to work both sides of your body equally.
SHOP YOGA MATS