I often view self-care or "treating" myself as something lazy, self-indulgent, or unnecessary. It takes a lot to convince myself to do something that is, well, just for myself. I've found a handful of things that make me feel refreshed and renewed, while also being productive and feeling like I've accomplished something.
1. Watch a TEDX Talk
I know, I know, TEDX Talks are the thing your English teacher used to force you to watch or the videos you fell asleep to when you had a substitute teacher in literally any high school class. At one of my grasps for properly taking care of myself, I tried one of those stupid 30-day challenges, one centered on self-care. One of the days included watching TEDX Talks. I found one that seemed remotely interesting and watched it. Surprisingly it made me feel substantially better about everything and gave me things to think about. I started watching them a little more often and there are actually a lot of good things to be learned from them. If you find one on a topic you like, they can be interesting, informative, and inspiring.
2. Go for a walk
When I was home for my Thanksgiving break, I took my dogs on a walk down my street at home. I usually view it as a chore and finish their walks as quickly as possible, but this time I walked further and stayed outside a little longer. It was surprisingly relaxing and, especially this time of year, it is so nice to be outside and so refreshing to be in the cold for a little bit. Go take a walk and enjoy the snow, the pretty trees, and the winter weather. I guarantee it will make you feel happier, more relaxed, and overall better.
3. Write a love letter to a friend
I have a good friend that wrote me a post-it note telling me how much she appreciates me before I left for college and I read it whenever I have a bad day or need to feel better about myself. Giving positivity to people you love can make you feel better in so many ways and it'll make someone you care a lot about feeling good too.
4. Devote a day to Christmas gifts
This year I committed myself to a full day of buying and making Christmas gifts. Planning something to make another person happy will make you feel better about yourself as well as the positive environment you are creating around you. Think hard to pick presents your loved ones will really appreciate and consider hand-making some of your gifts this year. Being creative when it comes to Christmas will improve your own mood and force you to take a break and enjoy the holiday season while 'till checking something off of your to-do list.
5. Listen to a podcast
Podcasts are simple and easy because you can listen to them when you put away laundry, clean, or any number of mundane tasks. They can be inspiring, informative, and always make me feel better by taking my mind off of things. Find a topic you are interested in or a person you like and learn something new! I guarantee the productivity and passivity of it will help clear your head.
6. Bullet Journal
While filling in a planner has a similar effect, bullet journaling takes it to a whole new level. It doesn't have to be your new planning routine or a long term commitment, but even trying to commit to it for the few weeks of break will give your life organization. This is productive and an easy way to calm your mind. Bullet journaling allows you to be creative and take control of your life while keeping track of the semester ahead and your goals for the new year.
7. Buy a book
Find a book that you actually want to read and buy it. Make sure it's a topic you are interested in and something you are excited about. Reading can help personal development in so many ways and it is a great way to both exercise your mind and help remove you from the world a little. Plus by learning about something new you are being productive and doing something that will make you proud later on.
8. Take a new workout class
It's a known fact that exercising makes you feel better mentally and physically and is just generally good for you. However, keeping the exact same workout routine can feel stale and unexciting, eliminating some of the benefits of doing the workout. I know that I always get a better workout in when someone is instructing me, so a class is the most effective way to get exercise and reap the benefits.
9. Spend an hour with your Mom (or Dad)
One of the things I look most forward to when going home is just lounging in my childhood family room and talking with my mom. Updating her on my life and hearing about her's has such a calming effect, not to mention the fact that she knows me so well and gives me the best advice. It grounds me to hear her opinion on things and just generally makes me happy to spend time with her. I know not everyone has that relationship with their mom necessarily, but find that adult in your life that can automatically improve your mental health and spend some time talking with them.
10. Make REAL New Year's Resolutions
I know it's cliche and that no one really feels as if they can achieve their goals for the new year, but evaluating your goals and your progress can be really beneficial for your body and mind. By taking some time to recognize how far you've come and where you want to be next year you are taking initiative in your development in every aspect of your life. However, make sure that your goals for the coming year are realistic and attainable. Create a plan to achieve each goal and a way to track it or measure your successes. By making goals that you can achieve you set yourself up for success and happiness, which is a great way to spend your time off.
We are all coming off of such a challenging time of year, with the end of the semester and all the family and friend drama that comes with the holidays. It's so incredibly important to find small ways to take care of yourself and better yourself in a variety of ways. Make sure you come off of break having a true break but also taking steps to make the coming semester and year easier on yourself.