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You’ve heard endless reminders to practice self-care. But actually finding the time for it can be tricky. So why not set aside one day a week to focus solely on you? Enter self-care Sunday.
The concept of self-care Sunday originated as a digital trend, popping up on your Instagram feed as a hashtag—#selfcaresunday. And it makes sense. As a day of rest before the start of the traditional workweek, Sunday provides an opportunity to tap into ourselves and our needs. The trend has become the antidote to the “Sunday scaries,” that sense of anxiety and dread about the upcoming workweek. And with over 80 percent of working professionals reporting that they experience the Sunday scaries, the concept of a self-care Sunday becomes even more important.
How to practice a self-care Sunday
Practicing a self-care Sunday may seem a bit daunting right now. In the midst of a cold winter month and a global pandemic, many are feeling lost and trapped. It can be difficult to find the time (and let’s face it, energy) to take care of ourselves and our mental health.
But practicing a self-care Sunday doesn’t have to be complicated. You can shift your approach to whatever works best for you in a given week. Maybe you just spent 10 minutes, or maybe you make it a whole day. The most important part is that you’re tuning into yourself.
Brooke Aymes, a licensed clinical social worker and drug and alcohol counselor, says it’s critical to continually practice self-compassion and self-awareness. For example, instead of focusing on what you should be doing (or think you should be doing) on a self-care Sunday, Aymes advises her clients to critically examine their body’s needs.
“[Ask yourself] ‘Is going to the gym going to make me feel better after I’m done today? Or am I going to feel more spent and more exhausted afterward?'” Aymes says. “‘Does my body need to go out and do something to bring me joy today—or does it need rest?’ And then, be kind to ourselves and not judging ourselves for needing that rest.”
How I structured and spent my self-care Sunday
Aymes’ words gave me a wake-up call on my own self-care practices. Most of my Sundays are spent battling the Sunday scaries. I wake up late, filled with dread about how little I accomplished on Saturday. To counteract this feeling, I anxiously start crafting a checklist in my head and ultimately… accomplish none of it. I spend most of Sunday laying on my couch, ordering takeout and scrolling through Instagram. And while none of these actions are necessarily bad, they don’t leave me feeling much better. Typically, I head into Sunday night feeling worse than I did at the start of the day. So, instituting a self-care Sunday was an opportunity to kick this cycle—and reframe my mindset around a semi-terrifying day of the week.
I started my Sunday thinking about my body’s specific needs, as Aymes suggested. What was going to allow me to give back to my body and mind? After spending the week working at my kitchen table, I knew movement was essential. My cramped legs craved physical activity. As an extrovert, I also knew I needed some sort of social interaction. (For me, too much alone time sends me into a state of panicked anxiety.) However, if you identify as an introvert, and benefit from recharging alone, a self-care Sunday spent by yourself may be exactly what you need. I knew I also wanted to collapse on the couch, ditch my phone, and spend an hour (or two) watching TV with my two best friends, a soothing face mask, and an ice roller.
With these three needs in mind—movement, socialization, and rest—I planned out my day. I made the journey to my favorite outdoor cycling class in the morning and took a long walk home. I binged more than a few episodes of New Girl. That evening, I met up with a friend to watch some football. And at the end of the day (and the following morning), I actually felt…better.
Ultimately, how I spent my self-care Sunday isn’t that important. Your self-care Sunday may look similar to mine or nothing like it at all. A self-care Sunday is not necessarily about how many face masks you can put on or how many tasks you can accomplish. It’s about taking care of yourself. So whether you want to dip into a bubble bath, lose yourself in a good book, or enjoy a sweat-inducing power practice, go for it. It’s your day.