37 Isolation-Friendly Self-Care Ideas to Rejuvenate Your Mind, Body and Spirit
April 08, 2020
There is so much value in pausing—in reflecting—in getting to know yourself and understanding what type of activities, habits and rituals best serve your needs.
Knowing yourself—how to boost your energy levels, calm your nerves and lower your stress levels—gives you greater confidence in promptly responding to the needs of your mind and body.
Now is the perfect time to experiment with different types of self-care. Curious about pilates? Look up a YouTube tutorial. Never tried meditation? Download an app and commit to a few sessions. Be patient with yourself and have fun with it. Notice what works and what doesn’t.
Tip: Exploring the benefits of the self-care activities below can provide you with added incentive to give it a go.
Here are 37 isolation-friendly self-care ideas to get you started:
1) Practise yoga.
Yoga is like a physical form of meditation. Using a variety of postures and breathing techniques which anchor you in the present moment, it can reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety and increase strength, endurance and flexibility.
There are plenty of free YouTube channels like Yoga with Adrienne and plenty more paid online subscriptions like Black Swan Yoga and Alo Moves. Physical studios like Wonderyoga (my current yoga studio) and Ihana Yoga (my local studio when I lived in Melbourne) are also offering online memberships with daily live streamed classes.
I’m sure you’ve heard it all before. There are a ton of studies citing the physical and mental health benefits of this ritual like reduced stress, increased focus and improved sleep quality. Another notable benefit—it helps tame our monkey mind and reduce mental chatter, promoting a greater sense of inner peace over time.
A body scan meditation can be an effective way to check in with your body and release tension you may not realise you’re holding. It’s all about noticing different sensations as you mentally scan your body from head to toe.
Download Smiling Mind for a free body scan meditation or listen to it here. Rachael Kable also shares a mindful body scan on episode #150 of The Mindful Kind podcast.
4) Practise deep and controlled breathing.
It’s one of the most effective ways to reverse the body’s stress response and calm an anxious mind. Try the 7/11 technique where you breathe in for a count of 7 and out for a count of 11. It’s all about the longer exhales.
5) Do a HIIT workout.
High intensity interval training is best known for its heart-health benefits. VO2 max is a measure of endurance and one of the best predictors of overall health. Studies have shown that HIIT workouts lead to greater gains in VO2 max compared to other forms of training.
There are plenty of fitness accounts on Instagram offering free live workouts, like @thetrainingroomgeelong(our gym) and @keepitcleaner. It’s also worth checking out Classpass for access to over 2000 free workout videos from studios around the world. All free.
6) Journal to gain clarity.
Journalling can be helpful for releasing pent-up emotions, reframing negative thoughts and generating powerful insights and solutions to the challenges and hurdles you’re facing.
Listening to someone’s uplifting words of advice and wisdom can provide some perspective and get you out of your own head.
Some of our personal favourites include: The Mindful Kind, Naval, On Purpose with Jay Shetty, The Melissa Ambrossini Show and Moxon Weighs In.
8) Take a cold shower (or finish it on cold).
Sounds a little crazy but you just can’t argue with the abundance of scientific evidence validating this ritual.
It is known to improve mood, increase alertness, improve physical recovery, reduce pain and strengthen our immune system.
What made me commit to this ritual was understanding this: the cold exposure activates our “fight or flight” response. Naturally, we want to run, but embracing the discomfort works as a simulation for pushing past our fears and stepping out of our comfort zones. It helps increase our willpower and resilience. You can read all about the benefits here: Cold Shocking the Body
9) Reframe your negative self-talk.
We all have an inner critic who can strip away our courage and confidence and replace it with fear and doubt. Reframing your negative self-talk is not about ignoring it or suppressing your inner voices. It’s about bringing awareness to your inner dialogue, acknowledging it but choosing to believe a different narrative—one that is supportive, compassionate, kind and enables you to move forward with courage and confidence.
As Amber Rae so eloquently put in her book Choose Wonder Over Worry (which I highly recommend adding to your reading list), “We can buy into the myth and let it run our lives. Or, we can question it, and create a new story that lets us thrive.”
Your core values serve as a personal code of conduct. Taking time to get clear on what matters most to you can provide immense clarity and decision making. Prioritising goals, setting boundaries and making important life decisions will become a lot easier once you’ve uncovered your core values. Here’s an extensive guide to get you started.
11) Listen to nature sounds.
A study led by researchers at Brighton and Sussex Medical School found that nature sounds were associated with a decrease in the body’s fight-or-flight response and an increase in the body’s rest-and-digest response which calms the body down and helps us relax. Try downloading Nature Melody for access to free soothing, calming and relaxing sounds.
12) Create a “happy” album on your phone.
Add photos, videos, quotes and screenshots that make you smile. Think of it as proactive self-care for when you need a pick-me-up. Since our phones are always on us, this is something we can quickly open up and use as a self-soothing tool. It’s not supposed to be an instant remedy, but it can certainly provide a little relief when you’re feeling a little down.
Here are some of our recent favourites: Wonder Over Worry, The Self-Care Project, Care Package and The Resilience Project. If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out Derek Sivers: Books I’ve Read for an extensive list PLUS summaries and notes for each. You’ll be able to compile a pretty awesome reading list from that.
14) Practise a few moments of gratitude.
Write down or say out loud at least three things that you are truly grateful for. Reflect on the people, places, experiences, moments and lessons that have brought joy, comfort, peace and fulfillment into your life.
Then, reflect on the absence of things that were once a source of pain and suffering. We often focus on the presence of things but it’s equally important to acknowledge the absence of things that don’t serve you. Consciously savour these moments of gratitude by describing what you’re grateful for in detail.
15) Practise positive affirmations and mantras.
Meaningful affirmations and mantras can be a powerful tool for interrupting your inner dialogue, reframing negative self-talk and reinforcing what you already know to be true.
Think about what mantras you can use to pull you out of a negative headspace and guide you back to a healthier state of mind. Write them down in your diary or a place that is easily accessible.
Some examples include:Trust yourself. You’ve got this. Life is happening for me, not to me. I am strong, confident and resilient.
Writing thank you notes is another simple way of practising gratitude. It’s a feel-good, mood-boosting, connection-generating activity that benefits both the recipient and the sender.
17) Start a DIY project.
Starting a DIY project can be a good way to channel your creativity and boost your confidence as you make progress on your project and develop new skills along the way. Brainstorm what DIY project you could start—you might just discover a new passion and source of joy and fulfillment.
18) Create a Dreamline.
This is all about determining the characteristics and costs of your ideal lifestyle. It’s called “Dreamlining” because you’re basically applying timelines to what most would consider dreams. Tim Ferriss explains it all here. An example of the Dreamline exercise can be found here.
19) Create a vision board.
This is a collage of words and pictures that represent your dreams and aspirations. It’s a fun exercise that can help you clarify what you want in this lifetime. When your dreams are clear and concrete, it feels more real and attainable which ultimately increases self-confidence and self-belief.
What is on your newsfeed is feeding your mind, so limit opportunities to see negativity. Curate your feed in a way that serves you. Ask yourself: is it useful or helpful? Does this add value to my life? Does it serve me?
24) Build a new habit or break a bad one.
Habits drive our actions and steer the direction of our lives. They influence our wellbeing and overall quality of life. Responsible for nearly half of everything we do at the subconscious level, there is nothing stronger than habit.
Think of one small habit that would dramatically improve your quality of life. This could be stretching in the morning, reading 5 pages of a book before bed, standing up from your desk and taking stretch breaks every 30 minutes (one we’re currently working on).
Seeking professional support to improve your mental health is truly priceless. I’ve been seeing a local psychologist, however, since Covid-19, we’ve been doing online sessions and what I get out of each session is a greater sense of clarity and perspective. The coping tools and strategies I’m given also gives me greater confidence in managing my mental health.
27) Complete a jigsaw puzzle.
This is one of my favourite off-screen activities. It’s a great meditation tool, especially for those who struggle to practise more traditional forms of meditation. It also improves short-term memory and focus.
28) Dance like nobody’s watching (ecstatic dance).
This isn’t about looking good. It’s about letting go and losing yourself in the music. It’s about giving yourself full permission to move in whatever way you feel called to. Put some music on, close your eyes and move without judgment. It’s such a liberating experience and one that will definitely get your endorphins flowing.
29) Choose a dance you’ve always wanted to learn and YouTube it.
When I was living in Melbourne, every now and then, I’d go to a “Pop Icon” dance class with a friend and for one hour, we’d lose ourselves in the choreography and music. Was it hard? Yes! Was it fun and satisfying? Definitely!
30) Give yourself a facial.
Giving yourself a pamper session using the skincare products you already have. It’s a beautiful way to consciously care for your skin and enjoy some me-time. The key is taking your time. You might want to set the mood with a candle or diffuser and dim the lighting to replicate a true pampering experience.
31) Take a bath.
Taking a long bath can help calm your nervous system, relax your body and improve sleep quality. Taking a hot bath (or shower) before bed causes your core body temperature to drop when you exit the tub/shower which is exactly what we need for a good night’s sleep. Your brain needs to drop its temperature by 2-3 degrees farenheit before it can sleep.
Having homemade healthy treats and snacks in the house is 100% necessary to satisfy those afternoon snack cravings. These recipes by Minimalist Baker are bound to get your mouth watering. Alternatively, do a quick Google search for a healthy version of the treat you’re actually craving.
33) Get some fresh air and Vitamin D.
Getting fresh air is beneficial for your physical and mental wellbeing. It’s known to improve brain function, concentration and aid the cleansing function of your lungs. Spending time in your backyard or front yard can do you a world of good during this time.
34) Call a friend or loved one.
Leverage the technology you have to connect with your friends and family and fill up your social cup. Give yourself permission to be vulnerable and accept the love, care and support from others. Asking for help when you need it most is a powerful act of self-care. It means you’re honoring your needs and giving yourself the opportunity to feel better.
35) Go to bed early.
Did you know that sleep is the greatest, most natural “performance enhancing drug” that most people neglect? Did you know that your time to physical exhaustion drops by 30% on 6 hours of sleep or less? Either did we until we listened to an interview with Matthew Walker which changed the way we view sleep. Here are 37 Fast Facts Proving Sleep is the Elixir of Life
36) Watch your favourite comedian and have a good laugh.
Putting on your favourite sitcom or searching for funny snippets from your favourite movies on YouTube is bound to lift your mood. From a science-based perspective, laughter triggers the release of endorphins, relieves physical stress and tension, strengthens your immune system and boosts your mood.
37) Declutter your house (or a specific room).
Clearing household clutter can provide a great deal of relief, peace, pride and satisfaction.