If you’ve developed a solid self-care routine, pat yourself on the back. People who prioritize their own well-being experience reduced stress, more energy, and increased resilience. But perhaps now that you’ve established a groove for what feels good and fills your emotional reservoir, it could be time to branch out a bit. What if your self-care could be not only rejuvenating but also a little exciting as well?
Getting out of our routine can compound the benefits of self-care for a more stimulating practice. Novelty has been shown to increase dopamine, the neurotransmitter that regulates our perception of pleasure and activates motivation. Plus, introducing something new into our leisure pursuits can promote creativity. In her classic creativity manual The Artist’s Way ($17), author (and artist, and poet, and playwright… the list goes on) Julia Cameron says, “Mystery is at the heart of creativity. That, and surprise.” In the spirit of personal growth, we’re bringing you six alternatives to common self-care practices to awaken inspiration and energy.
1. A Different Healing Touch: Though massage is almost never a bad idea, other types of touch therapy are worth exploring too. Reflexology — the application of pressure to specific areas of the hands, feet, and ears — also releases endorphins, promotes relaxation, and reduces muscle tension. Many reflexology clinics offer 30- or 60-minute sessions, just like massage, with comparable pricing. The zen-like environment and unique tactile approach make for an experience all its own.
2. A Walk to Remember: For many of us, going for a walk is a quick way to clear our head and get our heart rate up — two important self-care objectives. Take one step further (literally) toward awakening your senses by moving your walk to a different location. Cameron says, “Changing a known route throws us into the now. We become refocused on the visual, visible world. Sight leads to insight.” What insights might result from revisiting our childhood neighborhood (if possible), taking a stroll around a place that holds emotional significance, or walking around an area we’ve always wanted to live in?
3. Edible (or Drinkable) Pleasures: If treating yourself to a fancy coffee is your usual pick-me-up, expand your horizons by visiting a smoothie or juice bar. The fruit or vegetable content in a smoothie or juice blend will provide more nutritional benefit than a java brownie frappuccino for the umpteenth time. Similarly, if you frequent the same handful of places for a leisurely lunch, opt instead for a meal at an ethnic or health-food restaurant — somewhere off the beaten path with a cuisine you’re curious to try.
4. More Mindful Entertainment: Everyone loves a good movie — especially one of your perennial favorites, or anything you watch snuggled up with your S.O. But let’s face it: A Netflix binge has become more of a mindless weeknight habit than a truly invigorating entertainment experience. With a little forethought, you can instead choose a form of entertainment that will mean more to you in the long run. Saving up to see an admired artist in concert is worth a dozen average movies. Attending a play or classical music performance might enrich your life with a jolt of culture and intrigue you didn’t realize you were missing. And a visit to a museum or an art gallery is likely to spark your creativity.
5. A New Kind of Meditation: Any kind of meditation improves mental health and refreshes the soul. Whatever your meditation of choice, why not mix it up by entering new contemplative territory? Check YouTube for a guided meditation that takes you to a specific place, like a tropical beach, a forest, or a mountain. Other options to keep it fresh include meditating with a friend or taking your practice to a different space, such as a park or prayer chapel.
6. Be a Kid Again: When you were a kid, you didn’t have to worry about taxes, insurance, car payments, or any such boring grown-up responsibilities. All you wanted to do was play. There’s no reason you can’t still take yourself on a play date! Recapture your sense of wonder by visiting the zoo or swinging at a playground. Or give yourself a mental break with a simple craft or art project.
How do you add novelty to your self-care? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photo via Getty)