I’ve had this idea for a 30-day self care challenge for quite some time, and what better time to focus on self care than during a pandemic?
But really, I’ve personally found it altogether too easy to spend my entire quarantine life in work mode instead of life mode. And that’s just not healthy!
So I’m taking the next thirty days and dedicating them to self care. I hope you’ll join me on this journey, and I’ve put together this calendar to include a variety of self care activities, from mental health and physical fitness to pampering yourself and hanging with your support system. Hopefully you’ll find some new tools for your self care arsenal and create habits that will benefit you for long after the next thirty days!
- Day 1 – Choose a daily mantra
- Day 2 – Call a friend
- Day 3 – Learn something new
- Day 4 – Set goals for the day
- Day 5 – Participate in #TakeoutTuesday
- Day 6 – Practice yoga
- Day 7 – Apply a DIY face mask
- Day 8 – Host a virtual happy hour
- Day 9 – Meditate
- Day 10 – Take a nap
- Day 11 – Listen to a podcast
- Day 12 – Take a bubble bath
- Day 13 – Do a dance workout
- Day 14 – Donate to a cause
- Day 15 – Read for pleasure
- Day 16 – Stretch in the morning
- Day 17 – Take a detox from technology
- Day 18 – Whip up a fancy drink
- Day 19 – Buy a gift card to use later
- Day 20 – Enjoy virtual lunch with a friend
- Day 21 – Take a walk
- Day 22 – Get dressed up
- Day 23 – Create something
- Day 24 – Have a movie marathon
- Day 25 – Try a new workout
- Day 26 – Hydrate
- Day 27 – Give a compliment
- Day 28 – Get enough sleep
- Day 29 – Bake something new
- Day 30 – Make a gratitude list
30-Day Self Care Challenge
Day 1 – Choose a daily mantra
On the first day of your self care journey, you should find a mantra to speak out loud to yourself every morning. Think of what you want to get out of the next 30 days. Better coping mechanisms for the crazy world around us? Inner peace? More moments to spend celebrating yourself?
Whatever you choose, find a mantra that will help you center yourself around that goal each morning. Here are a few I’m considering for the next 30 days:
I am discovering my inner superstar.
Be the person who feels like sunshine.
I will release things that are out of my control.
No one is you and that is your power.
And here are some resources for finding a daily mantra of your own:
- 14 Mantras for Your Best Self Ever (The Everygirl)
- Soothing Mantras to Start Your Day (21ninety)
- Stoke Your Spirit: 31 Daily Mantras + Affirmations (yoga journal)
Day 2 – Call a friend
Sometimes the very best self care is making time for someone else. Whether you check in via Zoom over your first cup of coffee or chat on the phone while taking a lunchtime walk, you’ll never regret reaching out to a friend just to say “hello!”
Who knows? Maybe they’ll be inspired and take up the 30-day self care challenge with you.
Day 3 – Learn something new
Back at the beginning of these strange times, I wrote a post about keeping your brain engaged while in quarantine. One of the best ways to stop your mind from dwelling on all the things we can’t change is to introduce it to something completely new.
Here are a few free resources I’ve used to learn something new while sheltering at home:
- Take a free Ivy League course (freeCodeCamp)
- Learn a new skill like photography or Adobe Creative Cloud with 2 months free (Skillshare)
- Teach yourself a new language with forever free lessons and games (Duolingo)
Day 4 – Set goals for the day
There’s no better way to set myself up for success than by creating a prioritized to-do list. That way I can check off my goals and celebrate as I reach each one.
I use Evernote to create my to-do lists, and lately I’ve been loving the new Routines by Care/of app. It uses three specific factors to help you track your everyday life: goals (morning and evening), reflection on how you feel when you wake up and when you go to bed, and a wellness score that is broken into Focus, Energy, Mood and De-Stress.
It’s my absolute favorite new app, and it’s really helped me focus on self care throughout this quarantine period.
Day 5 – Participate in #TakeoutTuesday
It’s safe to say that, with the nosedive the economy took when this pandemic began, there are a lot of businesses who need our support right now. While I’m a big advocate of the #StayHome movement to help flatten the curve, one easy way to patron your favorite local restaurant is by ordering delivery or take out.
Google Maps seems to have a pretty good handle on which restaurants are open for takeout or delivery. If you’re in the Cincinnati area, WCPO’s “We’re Open” map keeps track of all the restaurants in and around Cincy that are open for business.
If all else fails, do a little old-fashioned cold calling to see which of your local joints is open. You won’t regret it! No cooking for you plus the knowledge that you’re helping a local business stay afloat? That’s a win-win.
Day 6 – Practice yoga
I don’t know about you, but yoga always makes me feel more in tune with my mind and body. There’s no better way for me to start the day off on the right foot than with a little yoga practice. Yoga With Adriene is my forever go-to for accessible, fun at-home yoga.
Here are a few of my favorite free videos of hers:
And if you’re looking for an awesome month of yoga, look no further than TRUE, Adriene’s 2018 30-day yoga journey.
Day 7 – Apply a DIY face mask
Is there a more decadent way to finish out the day than by cleansing your skin and putting on a face mask? That’s going to be a “no” from me. There’s no need to run out to Target for anything fancy. The masks I’ve included below are made with pantry staples, and they’ll have you feeling like the self care queen you are!
- Hydrating Honey Oat Face Mask (Buzzfeed)
- Turmeric Honey Face Mask (Styletotic)
- Deeply Hydrating & Nourishing Chocolate Face Mask (Island Natural Skincare)
While you’re at it, you might as well slap on this Brown Sugar Lip Scrub (Eco Living Mama), too.
Day 8 – Host a virtual happy hour
Sometimes self care means letting go of the week and relaxing with friends, even if you can’t be in the same room together. Reach out to the people you’re missing the most and invite them to hang out virtually. If you want to be really extra, send out an Evite and ask your “guests” to RSVP.
Here are a few things you can do during happy hour:
- Host a virtual trivia night with Last Call Trivia
- Play games as a group with Jackbox
- Watch a movie together with Netflix Party
Day 9 – Meditate
I’ve talked before about how writers can use meditation, and I’ve been really diligent with my daily practices throughout quarantine, and it’s made a noticeable difference to my mental health. I knew I would be remiss if I didn’t include meditation in my 30-day self care challenge!
Currently, I’m obsessed with the Balance app, which delivers personalized meditation practices based on the ratings you give each session. I’ve been making my way through the Foundations sets each day, but there are also a few one-off sessions I would recommend, including the Midday Reset, Creativity, and Wind Down practices.
Day 10 – Take a nap
Is there anything so soothing as an afternoon nap? Today, you owe it to yourself to completely check out for a bit.
Put on your comfiest clothes (or just don’t change out of your PJs #noregrets), snuggle up with a soft blanket, and fill your ears with this relaxing Sleep playlist on Spotify. If all else fails, open up the Balance app and do the Nap meditation.
Whether you indulge in a 20-minute cat nap or a few hours’ long slumber is up to you. We won’t tell!
Day 11 – Listen to a podcast
I love the bite-sized nature of podcasts. Depending on your interests, you can find one about every topic imaginable, and it’s the perfect way to check out from the rest of the world and take a moment (or 30 minutes’ worth) for yourself.
Here are some of the podcasts I return to time and time again:
- Noble Blood – outrageously true stories about history’s most fascinating royals
- LeVar Burton Reads – for those of us who never got over the end of Reading Rainbow
- First Draft with Sarah Enni – meaningful conversations with storytellers for all my fellow writers
- Business Wars – real, behind-the-scenes stories of two companies in an industry when they went head-to-head
Day 12 – Take a bubble bath
Today on your self care challenge journey might feel like the most basic form of self care, and you know what? I’m okay with that. Sometimes you need a little soak to empty your mind, relax your body, and give yourself the pampering that you deserve.
I would encourage you to do a few things to set the self care mood:
- Light some candles (like this one from Target that’s based on your zodiac sign)
- Put on some soothing music (like this Spotify playlist of calming instrumental covers)
- Use a fancy bubble bath (like this one from Lollia that I love!)
- Make your own detox bath (Essential Oils Uses in a Detox Bath (I Should Be Mopping the Floor)
Day 13 – Do a dance workout
It’s time to sweat! Because sitting at whatever makeshift desk you’ve put together in your home for hours on end is not self care.
I’m a sucker for a good dance workout. The beats! The moves! The overly enthusiastic instructor with more energy than you’ll ever have!
Here are a few free dance workout options for you to try today:
- The Fitness Marshall (YouTube)
- Zumba Super Cardio Dance Party (Prime Video)
- Jazzercise On Demand (14-day free trial)
And yes, I am recommending that you give Jazzercise a go. Don’t knock it ’till you’ve tried it!
Day 14 – Donate to a cause
In my opinion, helping your fellow neighbor is the most pure form of self care. What’s better for your soul than a little good karma?
You might have a favorite charity or non-profit organization in your area, and that’s great! Even a small donation can make a big difference to your local area.
If you aren’t sure where to send your donation, here are a few of the organizations doing good during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Feeding America
- American Red Cross (you could donate blood instead of money!)
- Homeless shelters (find one near you)
Day 15 – Read for pleasure
Since I was a little girl, reading has been my escape from the world. Of course I was going to include my own favorite form of self care in our 30-day challenge!
Whether you take fifteen minutes or two hours, grab a book (or download an ebook from your local library) and immerse yourself in a completely different world. Here are a few book lists to reference if you’re looking for a reading recommendation:
- Goodreads Choice Awards – 2019 (be my friend on Goodreads!)
- Best Books I Read in 2019
- 10 Classics to Take to the Beach (or just read them wherever you’re sheltering in place)
- Books to Get You Through the Stages of Grief (a great list whether or not you’re currently dealing with heartbreak)
Day 16 – Stretch in the morning
You’re halfway through the 30-day self care challenge! Congratulations, and keep up that momentum through the end of the challenge.
Today we’re getting into the self care right from the start of the day. I don’t know about you, but stretching is the area of physical fitness that I’m most likely to skip. But I shouldn’t because there are many benefits of regular stretching!
Increase your flexibility, improve your posture, prevent injuries and more with one of these stretching routines:
- Yoga Stretch (Yoga With Adriene)
- 4 Morning Stretches That Will Wake Up Your Tired Muscles (Self)
- This 8-Minute Morning Stretch Routine Could Change Your Life (Cosmopolitan)
Day 17 – Take a detox from technology
Technology is great, especially in the strange world we find ourselves in today. It allows many of us to work from home, connect with family members and friends who aren’t a part of our household, and stay entertained day in and day out.
However, technology can take a toll on our mental health, and I thought it was important to include a detox day. First of all, this doesn’t have to mean you steer clear of all technology all day long. Make a list of what you want to get out of your technology detox and create parameters for yourself based on those goals. For instance, if you’ve created a meditation practice using your phone, do your daily meditation session but put your phone down afterwards to keep from scrolling through social media.
Your technology detox might include:
- Staying off social media for the day
- Using your laptop for personal enjoyment only, not work
- Treating your phone like a utility tool only (alarm, calendar, etc.)
- Not touching a piece of technology all day!
Day 18 – Whip up a fancy drink
I’m truly in awe of some of the coffee drinks and cocktails I’ve seen my friends and family (and Instagram influencers!) put together during quarantine. Today, I want you to join in and whip up something nice for yourself.
Here are a few coffee drinks for you to try out (including dalgona coffee because it’s having a moment right now):
- Dalgona Coffee (Delish)
- London Fog Tea Latte (Gimme Some Oven)
- Easy Iced Coffee (Kristine’s Kitchen Blog)
If happy hour is more your style, I have a few cocktail recommendations for you:
- Spicy Cucumber Margarita (Half Baked Harvest)
- Classic Bourbon Mint Julep (The Spruce Eats)
- Chocolate Martini (Pint Sized Baker)
Day 19 – Buy a gift card to use later
Look, it’s another day on the self care challenge dedicated to helping others! Just like with #TakeoutTuesday, here is an opportunity to fill up your own karmic well by helping others.
While many restaurants have been able to open and provide delivery and takeout services, there are plenty of businesses that don’t have that option. One of the best ways to support these places is by going online and purchasing a gift card. You’ll help them pay their bills and have something to look forward to when the world starts to open back up again.
Here are a few options for businesses that you can buy a gift card for now to use later:
- A local spa (You can even earmark it for a specific service like a post-quarantine facial)
- A locally-owned restaurant
- A local brewery or bar that might not be open right now
- A museum, zoo, aquarium, or amusement park
Day 20 – Enjoy virtual lunch with a friend
I tried to space out all these interactions with friends and family because I think it’s such an important self care practice to spend time with the people who make you feel good. I really identify with the idea that you’re a combination of the five people that you spend the most time with, which might explain why we’re all going through a bit of an identity crisis while in quarantine.
Whether you get together for virtual lunch, dinner, or just a quick coffee break, have a meaningful interaction with a friend today. It’s good for your mental health to connect with friends regularly, and what says self care more than that?
Day 21 – Take a walk
It can be really easy to spend your quarantine days cooped up inside, and that is the opposite of self care. If it’s safe to do so and allowed based on your local government’s restrictions, try to get outside for a walk today.
Even just 30 minutes of sunshine can brighten your mood and help you check out from work, the news, and other stressors that are weighing on your mental health. Turn on a fun playlist (like Happy Hits! from Spotify) and take a walk around the block!
Day 22 – Get dressed up
Please don’t take this the wrong way! I am in no way saying you should not be working in sweatpants. I personally feel like I’ve perfected the “work from home mullet” over the last two months — business on the top, lounge wear on the bottom!
Sometimes, though, it’s nice to put on your favorite outfit and feel 100% like yourself. Today is that day! Whatever getting “dressed up” means to you, make it a goal to do that today (and maybe jam along to this Getting Ready playlist on Spotify while you do). And maybe plan to get in touch with a friend or family member via video conference to show off how put together you are — coronavirus be damned!
Day 23 – Create something
It’s the day to let your creativity run free! Of course, that means something different for everyone. Determine which brand of creativity will bring you the most joy and hop to it!
Here are a few suggestions from not-at-all-artistic me:
- Color in an adult coloring book (like this Jane Austen version)
- Write a poem or short story (Writers, I have resources here for you!)
- Create a melody using your voice, a piano, or another instrument
- Find a DIY craft on Pinterest and complete it to the best of your ability
Day 24 – Have a movie marathon
Ready to veg out on the couch? You deserve some time to get lost in storytelling, and we’ll do that today with a movie marathon. When it comes to losing myself in someone else’s world, I have a couple go-to choices:
- Lord of the Rings (but they must be the special extended editions!)
- Hunger Games
- Harry Potter
- Pride and Prejudice and its many adaptations
You should also feel free to binge-watch a show you’ve been meaning to catch up on. Here are some suggestions:
Day 25 – Try a new workout
We’ve tried out a few different exercises during this 30-day self care challenge, and today is the time to do something completely new.
- Check out a sculpt, strength, power, dance, circuit, HIIT or yoga class online with obé fitness (7-day free trial)
- Start a free online account with ClassPass and stream workouts
- Try out FitBit Premium and access free workouts through the app
Day 26 – Hydrate
I’m not going to lie. Staying hydrated throughout this period has been difficult for me. I’m not the best at remembering to drink water as it is, but accidentally leaving my favorite reusable water bottle at work has not helped the situation.
The one thing that has made a difference in my water intake is an adorably silly app called Plant Nanny². Using your weight and average daily activity level, it calculates how many ounces of water you should drink daily, and you then log the water you drink by watering a seed. Over time, the seed grows into a plant, but if you forget to water it or don’t reach your goal for the day, the plant will begin to wither and die. Keep the plant (and yourself!) alive by hydrating today.
Day 27 – Give a compliment
You know that fluttery, floaty feeling you get when someone gives you a genuine, meaningful compliment? Today you get to give that feeling to someone you love!
Consider all the ways others have gone above and beyond during this time, and make sure they know they are appreciated. Whether via text, video chat, or face-to-face conversation (if you’re quarantining together), a heartfelt compliment can go a long way!
Day 28 – Get enough sleep
Now here’s one thing I’ve been doing well in quarantine! My Fitbit loves these sleep numbers of mine, and since sleep is such a crucial part of maintaining physical and mental health, I thought it made sense to include it in our self care challenge.
Here are some suggestions to get yourself ready for a good night’s sleep:
- Put down all your devices an hour before you go to bed (adios, blue light!)
- Listen to a calming Spotify playlist like Deep Sleep or Night Rain
- Spritz your pillow with lavender essential oil
- Use an eye mask to block any light
- Do the Sleep meditation in the Balance app
Day 29 – Bake something new
It feels like everyone and their sister has jumped on the bread-making bandwagon, and I am here for it! Baking has always been a real source of joy for me because it gives me a sense of accomplishment. Even if what I bake doesn’t come out looking perfect, I’ve created something that will nourish my body and (hopefully) taste good.
Calling all bread fanatics! Here are a few relatively easy loaves to consider making today:
- French-Style Country Bread (King Arthur Flour)
- Five Ingredient Beer Bread (Half Baked Harvest)
- Irish Soda Bread (An Italian in My Kitchen)
If supplying your sweet tooth is more your style, here are a few options for you:
- Earl Grey Icebox Cookies (Crumb)
- Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Cookies (Jo and Sue)
- Cookie Dough Pretzel Bites (Sally’s Baking Addiction)
Day 30 – Make a gratitude list
You did it! You’re at the very end of the 30-day self care challenge. Now that you’ve taken a moment of each day for yourself over the last month, it’s time to pause and see how you feel. What did you enjoy about the challenge? What could you have done without? (If you don’t mind, I’d love for you to drop that feedback in the comments!)
Now that you’re in that contemplative headspace, take a minute to write out the things you’re feeling grateful for. This gratitude could be for
- Certain aspects of your life (“I’m grateful for a job I can do from the safety of my home.”)
- Things about yourself (“I’m grateful for my naturally optimistic spirit, which helps me get through days in quarantine.”)
- People in your life (“I’m grateful for my mom who video chats with me each week.”)
Bonus points if you share those gratitude statements with the people who inspired them!
I’d just like to finish off by expressing my gratitude to you. For reading to the end of this very long post, taking part in the 30-day self care challenge, and maybe even joining along on Instagram — thank you! I hope these moments of self care bring you peace and happiness during these strange and difficult times.
What is your favorite day from the 30-day self care challenge?
P.S. Looking for more self care recommendations? I have an entire list developed specifically for young professionals.