Fall is my favourite season, but it’s hard for a lot of people. An enormous number of people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, and the holiday season is stressful even for people who love it. Depending on where you live you may also lose access to some of your favourite self care activities. Many forms of outdoor exercise become dangerous or impossible the moment snow hits the ground. And even if it’s possible, walking through a blizzard isn’t a great way to de-stress.
So how can you keep taking care of yourself as the cold settles in? Shift your self care schedule to focus on indoor activities!
The best indoor self care activities
Your personalized self care plan should consist of activities YOU love, but some things work for just about everyone. Today I’m going to focus on those: free, simple things you can do inside, most of which only require a few minutes of your time.
Let’s get started!
1. Spend an extra minute or two in the shower
Most of us rush through our mornings. We shower only to scrub ourselves clean before we go to work. We don’t stop to relax and enjoy the water flowing over our heads, the dirt and stress from our night or day washing away, giving us a clean slate for whatever comes next. One of our best opportunities to de-stress is wasted, over and over and over again.
If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, spend 2-3 extra minutes in the shower. Do some breathing exercises, letting the steam clear your lungs. Focus on letting the water wash away your stress, not just your dirt. Push everything but the present moment out of your mind, and enjoy the physical sensations of the shower. A bath is even better, but even these 2-3 minutes of deliberately enjoying the water can loosen a lot of tension in your mind and body.
2. Stretch your body
I’m not suggesting you introduce hour long yoga sessions into your days (although that’s not a bad idea), but a little bit of stretching will do you a lot of good. Even a few minutes of stretching at your desk can make you feel a lot better.
Personally I try to do 5-10 minutes of leg stretches in the morning and two sets of wrist stretches, one in the morning and one at night. This maintains my flexibility and reduces the pain caused by my repetitive strain injury. If you’re lucky enough to not already have an RSI, these stretches can help prevent one–along with a myriad of other health problems.
3. Stretch your mind
Learning something new is one of the best ways to refill your creative well, and for us writers, that’s the most important thing self care can do. And you’re already holding the ultimate learning tool in your hand, using it to read this article.
What should you learn? Anything you want. And yes, the vast majority of it can be learned for free, in the comfort of your own home. You can find millions of educational videos on YouTube and thousands of free university courses on Coursera. If you can think of a topic, there’s a free course around it to help you get inspired.
4. Combat Clutter
Fall is a busy time for most of us, and cleaning is often one of the first things to go when we feel overwhelmed. Then our house becomes a disaster zone, and we become less and less motivated to clean it. Eventually it becomes so overwhelming that we MUST clean it, and we spend an entire day (or more) cleaning it.
This procrastination cycle exists for pretty much everything, but house cleaning habits are particularly vulnerable to it. After all, if nobody comes over, who cares what your house looks like?
The truth? You do. It may not be conscious with everything else going on in your brain, but you’ll notice when it’s cleaned. I have a high tolerance for mess (and what looks from the outside like a dis-organization system for my files), but even I feel better when I manage clutter. And even 3-5 minutes of cleaning can keep things in check if you do it every single day.
5. Start a gratitude journal
The science behind gratitude journals and gratitude itself has been proven many times. It helps you notice and focus on the good parts of life, enhances empathy, and builds resilience. And once again, you’ll only need a few minutes a day.
You can buy a structured gratitude journal, use a regular notebook, or create a document on your phone/tablet/computer. Some people even post their gratitude journals on social media, reminding people of the good in the world. The only thing that really matters is taking the time to list three things you’re grateful for every single day. They can be small, like a dollar you found on the ground, or massive, like a life altering trip around the world.
Want to start a gratitude practice with me? One of my self care goals for this fall is to start a gratitude journal of my own, but I don’t accomplish much with social accountability. Maintaining self care goals is particularly difficult, because I’m the only one who notices most of the differences.
So I’m going to make myself accountable, and you can join me! Every evening I’ll post three things I’m grateful for on Twitter with the hashtag “#gratefuldailies”. You can also mark your Tweets with this #GratefulDailies image:
Watch for the #gratefuldailies posts @DiannaLGunn. If I miss a night, I’m obligated to post two the next night–and it’s up to YOU to keep me accountable.
Once you’ve read my post, create a #gratefuldailies Tweet of your own. The only rule is that you must share three things you’re genuinely grateful for, however small or large or silly or serious. Let’s see how many nights in a row we can keep ourselves grateful! To get daily reminders to post your gratitude journal, leave your Twitter handle in the comments below. Reminders will be sent out at 3PM EST via Twitter, and the challenge starts tonight, October 9th.
Let’s bring a little bit of joy into our lives, each other’s lives, and the Twitterverse!