Living/Mental Health In Quarantine/Self Love

4 Self-Care Obsessions I Picked Up In 2020 That I’m Bringing Into 2021

By | Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Grief, loss and stress are some awful feelings that came with 2020,

but last year also became a chance to pause, rest, and reflect.

The societal changes last year put a new emphasis on self-care. With widespread anxiety about the pandemic, climate change and cultural unrest constantly reaching us through the 24-hour news cycle, taking care of ourselves became less of a leisure activity or indulgence and evolved into a necessary life source for many 

Personally, I know I couldn’t have gotten through this time period without some of the soothing rituals I developed for myself. Grief, loss and stress are some awful feelings that came along with 2020, but there were some positive shifts too: the shutdown of last year also became a chance to pause, rest and reflect. Having less distractions yielded the opportunity to look inward, and self-care as a practice evolved. 

Compared to last January, my schedule this month is looking relatively blank. There are no parties, after-work drinks or tropical vacations planned. But the fact that my world has shrunk means that I’m doing less people-pleasing, and truly taking the time to figure out what caring for myself looks like. Creating a roadmap for the best way to get sufficient sleep, cook balanced meals, consistently exercise and find fulfilling hobbies is more feasible with a flexible schedule. 

Of course, one crucial aspect of self-care that’s hard to get right now is human connection. I miss overcrowded bars, dinner parties, and most of all, the dance floor. But when we are able to breathe air with whoever we want again, I think I’ll be feeling more in tune with my needs than ever before. 

As we journey into 2021, here are some of the self-care habits I’m taking with me. 

1. My Candle Obsession

While I’ve always appreciated the warmth that lighting a candle can bring into my space, my candle craze really picked up over the past six months or so. Since I’m spending most of my time at home these days, candles really help me set an essentially cozy mood, and change up the vibe of the space throughout the day. 

This concept is certainly nothing new, especially for those who experience shorter days as a result of winter solstice. For example, the concept of hygge is something that helps Scandinavians get through long evenings when light is scarce. According to The Swedish Genealogist, the term hygge “comes from a Norwegian word meaning “well being” and it’s a centuries-old Scandinavian / Danish concept that is used to describe a moment or feeling that is cozy, special, or charming. It brings to mind pleasant, engaging, mellow, good-humored, safe, and snug environments.” 

While hygge doesn’t refer to one particular thing or action, it is often, “associated with lighting candles to make a place feel warmer. The idea also embraces cabins, wool, homemade crafts, knits, and fireplaces.” In isolation, I’ve certainly learned to self soothe with anything and everything cozy, taking the lessons of hygge to heart.

2. Walking…. As A Hobby

Taking a brisk walk around the block was never my idea of a good time — until now. While I enjoy hiking, and have always walked a fair amount as a commuting method, walking, as an activity in itself, is new. Dog owners and runners are probably rolling their eyes, but as a dog-less asthmatic (thus, no running for me) I’m just discovering how rejuvenating taking regular walks can be. 

Here’s a shortlist of the ways I’ve enjoyed walking as my new hobby: 

  • A moment of scheduled alone time, especially since I share my home with roommates
  • An opportunity to listen to something (like a podcast or audiobook) uninterrupted 
  • A time for getting fresh air and exercise 
  • As a means of “breaking up the day,” because working from home means no commuting
  • Daily connection with nature, even while living in a big city 

The lesson here? Simple and no-cost self-care is actually extremely effective. 

3. Low-Stakes Crafting 

Substantial free time and ample creative energy has resulted in an urge to craft. I’ve found artistic expression to be imperative during moments of stress and anxiety, and use it as a tool for relaxation. In particular, the feeling of completing a project that I can see and feel is really gratifying, whether I keep the piece for myself, give it as a gift or even sell it

There’s something to be said for the satisfaction that comes from trying something new, too. Quarantine has helped me discover my love for what I call “low-stakes” crafting, which basically constitutes a simple, low-cost, step-by-step creative project. Rather than committing to one type of creative practice, trying new ones keeps things interesting. For my next projects, I’m eyeing punch needle kits like these ones, and candle making with funky molds from Etsy.

4. Moments Of Pause 

When was the last time you sat in a moment of complete silence? With the constant distraction of smartphones and computers, it can be difficult to take time out of your day to just be. But this is a calming practice to make time for: whether it be meditating, sitting on your porch in silence, or even just laying on your bed sans iPhone, taking a few minutes out of your day to simply do nothing is a habit that will clear your mind and improve your overall wellness

While I do like to stay informed, taking the opportunity to shut off the news cycle gives way to relief. And while sometimes I fill these silences with creating, talking to loved ones, cooking or any number of other possibilities, the moments when I’m truly free to breathe are the ones when I feel closest to myself.

Ashley is a freelance writer and on-going contributor at TFD based in Toronto. An avid traveler, she recently returned home to Canada after two years living abroad in Vietnam and Japan. She loves to read, try new things in the kitchen, and get outside. You can learn more about her work here and can follow her adventures on Instagram @ashley_corb

Image via Unsplash

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