In an ideal world, people would take care of themselves every day of the week. But mindful self-care is unfortunately rare – especially in the United States.
Americans work more than any other nationality on Earth – about 8.8 hours each weekday, an hour longer than most countries in Europe. In addition, Americans get the least paid vacation time in the world, and in fact are not legally required to receive any days off. Compare that to Norway where the average employee clocks 70 paid vacation days each year.
With the stress, busyness, and lack of time off, there’s a case to be made for a day of the week where you can let it all go and relax. Meet Self-Care Sundays, the Internet’s answer to the chaotic conundrum of daily life. Self-Care Sunday is exactly as it sounds: an opportunity to do whatever it is that makes you happy and recharge for the week ahead.
Too busy to figure out what to do this Sunday? Here are three ideas to get you started.
Disconnect for the Day
Americans spend a lot of time on electronics. A 2015 report from The Nielsen Company shows the average adult will spend more than 11 hours on electronic media each day. That ranges from smartphone use to television watching to using the computer at work. That’s a long time; especially when you consider you’re awake for only 15 to 16 hours each day. Not only that, but Americans are said to check their phones more than 150 times daily. Self-Care Sunday can be the ideal time to break that habit.
Try shutting down or stepping away from these devices. Not only will the reduced blacklight be better for your eyes, but your mind will slow down when it’s not being bombarded by a constant deluge of new information. Unplugging for a day each week will also provide valuable time for you to connect with family and friends in person, interactions that have greater value than those conducted over a phone or computer.
If you need a little help disconnecting, Mac users can try the Self Control app. The app allows you to block access to certain websites or mail servers for a period of time that ranges from 15 minutes to an entire day. An app called Freedom can perform similar functions for Windows users.
Spend Time in Nature
There’s no better place than nature to step away from your device. The outdoors are a restorative environment, and there is scientific proof that being in nature is good for your health.
Research conducted in China shows that even short exposures to the outdoors could have a positive impact. Two trial groups of men were sent on two-day trips – one group to a forest and the other to a city. At the end of just two short days, the men who spent time in nature were shown to have lower cortisol levels than the men who visited urban locations. High cortisol levels are often considered a marker for stress.
Sometimes self-care can involve simply slowing down your pace of life and doing nothing at all. Perhaps relaxing involves the latest Netflix series and a bowl of popcorn. Maybe it’s wrapping yourself in a plush bathrobe. Or maybe you find yourself enjoying a delicious meal at your favorite restaurant.
If you don’t know what will make you happy and at ease, maybe it’s time to figure it out through a bit of self-reflection.
Author Esmé Wang talks about the power of stopping your daily activity and listening to what your body wants. As a former self-proclaimed workaholic, she advocates for the power of silence in helping you determine what is best. “It’s making room for that inner voice, and not three-hour massages and green juicing every morning, that’s the front-line work of self-care,” she says.
Ultimately self-care is a uniquely personal experience. Take some time (perhaps this Sunday) to figure out what self-care means to you. Don’t wait until you’re burnt out or stressed out before discovering those releases.