Now more than ever, we can all benefit from a little physical and mental health TLC. We know it’s all-too-easy to put ourselves last — especially as we’re all just trying to stay afloat, work, care for our families, be supportive friends and so much more. So if nothing else, let this be a little reminder to stop and consider your own self-care today — whatever that may look like — and know we’re rooting for you (and trying to squeeze all of this in ourselves…).
Here’s a list of books we’re reading, workouts worth trying, songs to listen to, and all of that good stuff. Hang in there, Mamas.
Self-Care #AtHome: 34 Stress Management Ideas From Team TME
Laura’s Self-Care Tips: Endel App, Barre3, Headspace App, & Meditation
Endel App — My SIL Cassie (a music teacher) recommended this sound app to me early last week, and it’s been wonderful for providing background music for calm, focus, relaxation and sleep. I mostly use it in those times I’m feeling really on-edge during the day. It works for me, for Sienna (6) and even for our pup Camper. I swear it helps so much.
Barre3 — This has been my lifesaver for years now. You may have seen me rave about it recently in our Sunday newsletter. It’s a low impact workout, started here in Portland, that requires few to no props and gets inspiration from pilates, barre and yoga. ANYONE can do it, whether you’ve worked out a ton recently or not. It’s smart and safe and strengthening and beautiful. They offer a free 15-day trial of their online membership. Start off with a class from my friends Meredith, Andrew or Christa Joy, and you will adore it (all of the instructors are amazing, but those are some of my favs). The breathing techniques and practice of listening to my body that I’ve learned from barre3 have changed my life, reduced stress, and given me tools to not only use during workouts but throughout the day.
Headspace App — I’ll admit I’m not one who thrives on long, daily meditations. I’m a do-er who likes to always be doing. But slowly, over the last year or so, slowly…did I mention slowly? I’m learning how meditation makes a huge difference in my attitude, well-being, and approach to the day. I like the Headspace app because it introduces you to this practice in a gentle, guided way (and the guy’s British accent doesn’t hurt either.) You’re not expected to do an hour of meditation every day, but rather a few short minutes. I’m hoping to start doing this each morning with Sienna for a few minutes, too, so she can build a practice in this as she grows up.
Meditation Video — My friend Jess did this beautiful golden egg protection meditation that has been bringing me peace throughout these last weeks. Go through the full meditation a couple of times and then you can imagine it at any time in any situation, and it doesn’t have to take you more than a minute or two…creating a mini-moment of protection for you and your loved ones and the world when you’re anxious really helps. xo
Scotti’s Self-Care Tips: Peloton App & The Untethered Soul
Peloton App — I started using this with my spin bike (you don’t have to use an actual Peloton bike) back in January when I saw they had a free 30-day trial and fell in love. They’ve now extended their free trial to 90 days and added dance cardio to their already packed list of class options that include cycling, strength, yoga, meditation, running (both treadmill and outside–just audio for that one) and boot camp. I love that you can search by length of time (anywhere from 10-90 minutes for whatever time you have), music and instructors. Music is a huge motivating factor for me so I love that I can see the playlist ahead of time. You can also choose to join live classes if you want, and it’s kind of cool to know that you’re experiencing a class right along with thousands (literally) of people all around the world.
The Untethered Soul — I’ve been trying to explain why this is such an important book, but it’s really difficult to find the right words. I love all of the meditation and relaxation apps out there, but this gave me a different perspective of thinking about why it’s important to be aware of our thoughts and emotions. I was hooked from the start when the author wrote about that annoying inner voice we hear at all hours of the day–especially when we’re trying to fall asleep and that inner dialogue just won’t go away. It put the idea of “consciousness” in a whole new light for me and actually gave me a great deal of comfort. It’s the kind of book you’ll want a hard copy of (I actually read it on my Kindle first and then bought the paperback), so you can read it over and over again (and highlight the parts that stand out to you if you’re anything like me!).
Jess’ Self-Care Tips: 10% Happier Meditation App, The Book of Awakening & Yoga Studio Phone App
The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo — We’ve all been through not-so-easy periods in our lives — I mean, before coronavirus if we can remember back that far. One of those not-so-easy moments in my life happened 7 or 8 years back, and this is THE book that got me through it (also yoga and pot…those too). Mark Nepo wrote this motivational daily guided mediation book when he was very sick with cancer. He talks a lot about his journey toward physical and mental healing through that time with daily uplifting real-life stories and short guided meditation. He wrote 365 of them — one for every day of the year. The first time I read it through chronologically, and the second time I would just open the book up to any random day and found that it helped me. I’ve also gone on to read most of his books, including his poetry, and it just really works for me, but The Book of Awakening is still my go-to whenever I’m feeling down — that’s how much I cherish this book.
Yoga Studio Phone App — Another thing I’ve picked up along this long, bumpy road of ‘learning to love myself’ is yoga — it was a serious life changer. It helped me to release fears and feel physically stronger, and more confident about myself and my body. The Yoga Studio Phone App was my go-to. It offers yoga classes at every level, as well as short videos for each pose to help beginners learn and guided yoga flows for stress relief, back pain, emotional trauma and even flexibility stretches for runners. Also, they are always adding new features to upgrade the app like breathing exercises and relaxation meditations and make it more helpful. It’s a good one to have around in your back pocket.
10% Happier App — A doctor recommended this to me because she loved it. Although I’ve just started using it, I’ve reeeeally like it. Also, it seems a lot of other people think it’s pretty effective because it was Apple’s ‘App of the Day’ in January of this year.
Syd’s Self-Care Tips: Tru Luv #Selfcare, Yoga, & Fresh Air
Tru Luv #Selfcare — I came across this app while at GDC (The Game Developers Conference) a year ago. It’s a wonderfully calming self-directed meditation app that is free on the app store. If you can’t physically stay in bed all day, you virtually can.
Yoga Video — Since the social distancing thing started, I decided to no longer go to the gym in my apartment building. I had been tossing yoga into my lifting routine throughout the weeks, but now we’re full into yoga for the sake of staying away from people! I love Brett Larkin’s videos because the energy is soothing and calm, and she guides you through the motions without breaking pace. I’m hoping to video chat with my sister so we can do some yoga together.
Open Your Windows — I know this may not work for everyone (especially those of you stuck in winter still), but when I feel myself getting a little bummed, a little tired, lethargic, I throw open my windows. Maybe it’s the woodsy kid in me, but getting some nice fresh air into my room makes me feel a bit more at peace.
Em’s Self-Care Tips: Nostalgic Tunes, Yoga with Adriene &…Earthing
Top Songs from Any Year — Did you know you can ask Siri or Alexa to play the top hits from almost any year and they’ll spit ’em right out for you? (The answer is probably yes, but, hey — maybe you’ve never thought to do it!) If I’m in a funk — procrastinating, suffering from writer’s block, about to succumb to some hormone-induced ugly crying — I think of some particularly uplifting year in my past and ask Siri to play the hits from that time. The year I graduated from high school, the year I met my husband, the year we got married — even songs associated with the year Lana was born, which I remember as feeling so hard at the time, are now all bathed in this rosy glow, and they instantly change my mood.
Yoga with Adriene — I’m not a well-practiced yogi by any means, so Adriene’s style of practice is perfect for me. She’s chill and serene, but best of all: she doesn’t take herself too seriously (lots of subtle hip-hop lyrics and pop culture references slipped in here and there), and each session is an achievable 20-30 mins — perfect for starting or ending my day, but it also makes an excellent midday reset. Her HOME series convinced me to make yoga practice a daily ritual for 30 days — something that I never thought I would achieve.
Get Outside…Barefoot — The trendy term for this is “earthing,” and there’s plenty of science that supports the benefits of getting your bare feet reconnected to the soil, which in theory transfers some of the Earth’s energy back to your body. If it sounds like a bunch of psychedelic poppycock, I hear ya. But when I’m feeling particularly low-energy, unmotivated, or even jet-lagged (not that any of us are traveling at the moment…), it works wonders. We are so fortunate to live near the beach, but even 15 minutes laying in the grass or throwing a ball around in the yard with bare feet can do the trick. And talk about a mental shift! Even just the idea of committing to getting outside is usually enough to trigger a little reset.
Danielle’s Self-Care Tips (Me): Unf*ck Yourself & At-Home Spa Day
Unf*ck Yourself — This isn’t just a message…it’s a book. Unf*ck Yourself is all about how to stop negative self-talk. The author writes, “get out of your head, and into your life” right on the cover and as soon as I saw that… I said, “yes! I need this!.” I just recently dove into this, and the tone is definitely reminiscent of my way of dealing with mental health — I tend to shy away when things are too emotional or deep. I kind of need it explained in a very surface-level way. This book uses humor to make a very important thing not-so-serious and easier to digest. (I should note — zero mockery, just a touch of lightheartedness.) I’d like to think it’s ideal for those of us who hate icky things…like feeling feelings. It’s an important matter I feel we all need to discuss and face at some point, but we, of course, all have our own ways of taking all that “heavy stuff” in. This is essentially the training wheels of mental health I never knew I needed.
At-Home Spa Day — My friends and I often joke about how we act like a face-mask is going to fix all of our problems. Although that has yet to really happen…we haven’t given up. Besides the laughs you get from seeing your Michael Meyers-esque reflection, it truly just makes you feel like you somewhat have your life together. If all else fails… at least you have fresh, clean…skin ?? Plus, no one can argue that there’s no greater feeling than lighting a candle, indulging in some self-care and relaxing. If you can convince someone in the house to give you a massage… even better!
Cam’s Self-Care Tips: Podcasts, Books, Apps & Some Thoughtful Reminders
I’m gonna be honest right now, all of my tips are less specific and more what tends to randomly work as I try to “roll with the punches”, that is being at home 24/7 with our three beautiful children…all while sort of homeschooling them. iiiiiiy. I mean, none of this easy. I’m just going to give you my ideas…
Podcasts + Books You Can Get Lost In
Find Yourself a Good Video Chat App
Let Go Of High Expectations (or literally, any expectations)
Be Kind To Yourself
Open The Windows
Get On TikTok
Lex’s Self-Care Tips: Rest, Mindfulness, Hygge & Social Capital
My self-care go-tos are all about contributing to calming the body’s sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, contributing to decreasing stress hormones, maintaining some kind of routine, being able to self-soothe and to sleep at night, and ultimately boost (or at least avoid depleting) the immune system. I may not have all the extra time I fantasized about at the beginning of this #StayAtHome period, but I hope to care for myself and the folks around me (put my own oxygen on first…) to get and stay healthy while I can.
Yoga — Like I mentioned in my yoga at home post, this daily routine is so life-sustaining for me that I rarely neglect it. My twice-daily practice is one of the few habits I’m sticking to as we find our new normal, and has become increasingly important now that I’m not riding my bike, or clocking all those Center City miles that normally keep my body limber. It’s especially crucial right now for winding down at night.
Meditation — So, I’m not doing as well on this one considering how much time we’re spending at home. What little I do do is with Insight Timer, the app I’ve been using since 2015/2016. With over 40,000 FREE meditations and teachers like Sheryl Sandburg, Sarah Blondin and Tara Brach, plus special guests such as Elizabeth Gilbert (Liss), as well as yoga, talks, and kids’ meditations and courses, it’s an all-in-one go-to. Insight Timer is also highlighting a slew of meditations specific to COVID-19 and immune boosting, as well as sleep, and reducing anxiety and stress overall (I find chanting mantras —like this one on fear — particularly useful during times of acute anxiety and stress, if that’s useful to you right now). There are ways to incentivize daily use, and all kinds of ways to customize. I often listen to a meditation during a hot bath, while showering at the end of the evening, and always first thing in the morning.
Sleep — Remember when you had an infant? And everyone said sleep when the baby sleeps and/or sleep when you can? That applies here. If our bodies are constantly pumping cortisol and other stress hormones, and/or our routines are out of whack, then our sleep schedules might fall off. So naps are allowed. Especially 20-minute power naps. Especially after a night of troubled sleeping. If you can’t sleep, yoga nidras are an excellent way to relax, zone out or rest and can offer a short-term alternative to sleep.
Get Daylight/Head Outdoors — This one is all about being able to sleep — at night…during the hours we’re supposed to. We’re opening the blinds all the way, all day right now, and getting outside even if it’s just a short walk around the block. Natural light during the day is essential to sleeping at night, and we absorb that all-necessary Vitamin D from the sun both through our eyes and through our skin. However you can safely get your government-approved outdoor activity in during the day, do it. And the flowers, public art and signs of life might bring a bit of joy too.
Hygge — One of our greatest weapons right now against external stressors is a cozy environment. We’re going all in on essential oils and diffusers, candles, plants, and making home as cozy as possible. Goose runs the Dyson cordless every morning to eliminate the visual clutter, and her independent music lesson occurs while I’m prepping breakfast. Once afternoon hits, the essential oil diffuser is on, and with sundown come the candles. One of these days, it’ll be more music than news as background noise, but we’re not there yet.
Books Unrelated To My Life — Surprise, my favorite things to read are nonfiction, but this is one of those times that calls for something else. When I’m particularly stressed or just need to relax my bloody analytical overwhelmed l mind, fiction before bed. Usually it’s The New Yorker, but now, fiction. Inspired by Laura’s laugh-out-loud book post, I downloaded and ordered for aspirational goals of pleasure reading (aka that one page I get through before falling asleep), but decided to start with Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Last American Man. I also find really well-written, non-didactic mindfulness books are super-helpful during times of drastic or sudden change (when I quit smoking cigarettes, during relationship upheaval). Pema Chödrön’s books (she’s a Buddhist nun), such as When Things Fall Apart, are useful for practicing accepting as opposed to rejecting, and being with discomfort.
Social Capitol — Last but not least. I don’t text or talk on the phone much in general. But I’m back on group text chains with my friends, and even my family. My neighbors are now my friends, so I didn’t really leave them out. I often don’t respond or contribute (working mamas can relate) much — unless clicking on the likes, HaHas and !! or (emojis count —right?), but I love the memes and videos friends post, and keeping in touch with my nurse and healthcare worker friends. Also, when I was in the hospital with pneumonia recently and home alone right after — those messages from friends and offers to help were my lifeline.
Julieta’s Self-Care Tips: Obe Fitness Workouts, Journaling & Grounding
Obe Fitness workouts — 3 – 4 workouts in a week? That’s new for me, and no, it’s not because I’m eating all the cookies and chips. Please never feel like you have to workout because of what you ate. Exercising is just as important for our health as eating or sleeping. I started the 1-week trial right before everything happened. I loved it, and it’s been my saving grace the past weeks. Live classes that push me to get out of bed and just do it. It’s only 28 minutes and believe me, it’s more than enough. I feel revitalized and stronger after I do it, and hey, my muscles feel more toned so there’s that…
Gratitude journal — I got one of those Start Today journals where you write 5 things you’re grateful for and 10 dreams as if they’ve already happened. I’m not at a point where this is a habit, but love it when I actually do it.
Grounding or Earthing — We sleep almost naked on a grounding sleeping mat, and I also keep a smaller one under my desk when working. It helps me with keeping the headaches away (which were getting more frequent lately), helps me sleep better, makes my period easier, my rosacea is significantly better and seasonal allergies haven’t bothered me this year (knock on wood). It basically reduces inflammation in your whole body. New to grounding? Watch this documentary to understand it better.
Off Days — This came at a time when I was in the process of launching my virtual styling business. I don’t stop for days, which is why you haven’t seen much of me here lately. With my husband owning his own business, locking himself in my office all day and me dealing with two little kids, I sometimes crash in the bathroom crying and in full-blown anxiety mode. Thank God for my little sister being here. On Saturdays, I get my sweatpants on and forget about everything. No cleaning, no work, no social media, watch all the movies, dance, read books and many family snuggles. Best book to read on your off day? Untamed by Glennon Doyle — couldn’t put it down.
Do you have any self-care tips you swear by? Leave us a comment below!