Unusual self-care ideas you may not have thought of
Self-care can be described as activities we do to look after our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. They are the things we do to help us feel centred, energised, and better able to cope with life. We often hear about sleep, time outdoors, conversation with friends, and meditation as being great for self-care, but in this article I cover some more quirky or unusual ideas.
One of the activities that helps me to reduce stress and feel ‘more me’ is singing in my car. I am far from a competent singer, but I don’t do this to practice a skill or enjoy a talent, the act is simply for self-care. I’ve certainly never come across ‘car singing’ in any literature on self-care, so it got me thinking about all the other unusual self-care approaches that must be happening in the lives around me. In The Moderation Movement Facebook Group I asked our members for unusual self-care methods they utilise, and here I share their brilliant responses (anonymously and with consent).
Quirky self-care ideas you can try
The mindful concentration required to paint something small like nails can help us to relax, and the rhythmic action of filing or buffing can be soothing. It also enables us to pay attention to our body (hopefully in a non-judgemental way) and spend some time nurturing it.
Arts & Crafts (even for the time poor)
We have very clever people in our Facebook group who love to crochet, use a spinning wheel, paint, sew, and do other arts and crafts. E explained that for her crocheting is very rhythmic and calming, and that she learned the skill whilst in hospital being treated for her eating disorder. She was taught by another girl in the hospital and since then E has passed the skill onto many others. This brings in social connection too which we know is incredibly important for our mental health. S also enjoys sewing and macramé, M and L love flower arranging.
If you skip arts and crafts due to time constraints, then T’s suggestion of ‘Pinterest 5 min crafts’ might appeal. T says doing something small, creative, and having an end product that’s either useful or creative brings a feeling of accomplishment.
An activity that requires specific technique
Concentrating on technique allows us to be fully present in a way that we don’t need to be when we are doing something routine or easy. Learning a musical instrument or lifting weights are just two examples of technique based self-care. C explained “That focus means I don’t have room to think about all the issues and distractions that otherwise consume me”. You could consider it a type of ‘holiday from our thoughts’.
Tactile sensory play
Many parents and teachers know of the benefits of sensory play for children, but us adults can enjoy the benefits too! A couple of our group members mentioned kneading dough for bread or scones, or playing with their kids' Playdough. You could also try a stress ball, slime, fidget toys, or a slinky for tactile activities. Having something to do with our hands can be very calming.
Lounge room dancing
A loves “blasting trashy pop songs” and dancing in the privacy of her room, describing it as a mood booster. L refers to it as her “emergency dance party”. Music is uplifting and movement is energising, especially if we’re just moving however we enjoy! Although you don’t need to be moving in order for it to be beneficial. J loves to watch “oldies but goodies” music videos on YouTube.
Now this may not seem like an unusual self-care tool as the benefits of time with pets is well known, however R is lucky enough to cuddle tame cows and pigs that have been hand reared! Sure we don’t all have the opportunity to hug a pig, but it’s a great reminder that many of us have an amazing self-care opportunity in our home that we sometimes forget the benefits of. L likes to borrow a pet from a friend, whilst J volunteers to feed the horses at an equine therapy program. K, S and I agreed that even watching our dogs have fun in the park is really uplifting in itself.
Tending to plants
J shared her story of collecting houseplants as a distraction during a very difficult period in her life. Every morning she tends to them which helps her to feel centred and peaceful. A likes to pay close attention to her house plants. “Today I noticed that one of the plants in my entrance room had a flower starting to unfurl and it’s such a nice moment of simple happiness.” J agreed, “I wake up every morning to go look and see what’s changed and delight in the smallest things. It’s good for the soul.” The attention to detail enables an oasis of mindful presence amongst our hectic lives.
Watching birds (not necessarily bird-watching!)
J keeps bird feeders outside her window and likes to sit and watch the birds whenever she feels overwhelmed. “I guess it makes me feel my place in the world a little more strongly to see the positive impact I can have on the natural world around me.” What about at night when the birds are tucked in their nests? N likes to look at the moon for a few minutes as it always makes her feel better no matter how anxious or wound up she is feeling. Enhancing our connection with nature and strengthening our sense of place and belonging is an incredible self-care tool.
L loves to nut out logic puzzles and explains it is about “focusing on the present and reminding me that my brain can do so much more than worry or fret.” Those kind of puzzles are more frustration than self-care for me, however L reminded me how much I used to adore doing jigsaw puzzles for the presence and focus. I find them so calming.
Laughing is such an uplifting and joyous activity that is wonderful self-care. A enjoys stand up comedy via podcasts and Netflix (or live), J loves watching ‘Bad lip reading’ clips on YouTube, and A likes to use a silly voice to have a conversation with herself for the laughs.
Self-care is individual. What may relax and centre one person, might feel frustrating or silly for another. It doesn’t matter what you do for self-care, it’s all about how it makes you feel. Experiment with some new activities and add any that feel good to your 'self-care toolbox'. Self-care should be preventive coping as well as responsive coping. Regular self-care can help bolster us for life's storms, as well as soothe us when things do become challenging. How could you improve your self-care habits?
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