Self-care has become a hot topic of late, with popular culture giving the impression it’s mostly made up of face masks, massages, and scented candles.
But this concept of looking after ourselves goes beyond these activities and can involve doing things to help with managing your mental health, physical health, spirituality, and relationships. And, when we’re exhausted, overwhelmed, or stressed out, taking time out to do these activities can seem daunting.
Here are five self-care activities you can do when you feel this way.
1. Make dinnertime easier
When we’re exhausted, making a healthy dinner can be more effort than we have energy for, meaning we may resort to junk food or repetitive meals.
To combat this, taking the time to prepare meals that you enjoy ahead of time can be one form of self-care.
For example, you might buy particular items – such as pre-prepared sauces or other ingredients – so you can recreate your favourite meal with less effort than it might take to do it all from scratch.
2. Take a small, nagging job off your to-do list
Do you have a lingering task you keep meaning to do and often think of intrusively at moments when you can’t do it?
Though these kinds of tasks might not be important enough to put at the top of our to-do lists, they can become quite draining to think about.
As a form of self-care, making a point to tick one of these tasks off your list can help you stop thinking about it and reduce your mental load, especially if you choose to do it over seemingly more important things.
Another method to try is the ‘1 minute rule’, where you start a task with the aim of doing it for just one minute. This could be cleaning up a space, making your bed, or any other task. Once the minute is up, you can decide whether you want to keep doing it – which may feel easier now that you’ve started – or you can choose to do something else.
3. Give your senses a break
Though this might be the most similar example to the stereotypical self-care activities such as enjoying a bubble bath, relaxing in a low sensory environment can help you wind down.
This could involve dimming the lights, putting on some quiet music or a short meditation, or lying quietly and focusing on the length of your breaths.
Focusing on breathing and reducing the amount of sensory input around you is used in a variety of settings and can be a grounding technique when things become too much to handle.
4. Take time to stretch
When we’re feeling stressed, tension is often held in our bodies without us knowing, leading to additional tiredness or soreness.
Yoga, meditation, and relaxation techniques are useful tools we can use to release the tension, but these can feel too onerous when we’re already feeling low in energy.
Instead, choosing a few stretches or strengthening exercises can serve as a form of self-care, forcing us to slow down, take some time, and connect with our bodies.
5. Adjust your temperature
Altering body temperature, using either heat or cold, is commonly used as a relaxation technique. Since physical and emotional tension are linked, using an ice or heat pack to ease tension in different areas of your body can help soothe emotional tension.
For example, using an ice pack to cool off can be one way to unwind after running errands or sitting in the sun watching the kids.
Self-care can be quite personal, and finding your own versions which don’t feel too demanding can help you look after yourself when you’re already feeling exhausted, stressed out, or unmotivated.
This article originally appeared on Over60.