In this article, I share some ideas for a self care Sunday you can use if you are overdue for one!
Why is a self care Sunday good for health?
Anyone else feeling overscheduled and overstretched?
Before you go thinking of self-care as a “treat”, may I suggest thinking of it as a vital ingredient to your healthy living journey? It's not all about bubble baths and spa days.
And it's not all about you, necessarily.
Having a self-care Sunday means taking the time to spend doing the things that you know in your gut you need. Whether that's prioritizing going to church and being fully present for the message, calling a friend you've been putting off contacting, or cleaning out that closet you haven't been able to get to.
It's doing the things that will help you feel full when you lay down your head and refreshed when you wake up Monday morning. The things to get your mind right and priorities set for the week.
This morning, instead of hitting the ground running trying to catch up, take some time to slow down and do the things that matter the most.
And don’t let progress get in the way of perfection! Your self care Sunday routine may vary week by week and depending on the season of life you are currently in. Maybe you can't make it to church because you have a newborn or you're under the weather so you podcast a sermon instead. Or maybe you can't make it to the gym because the car broke down so you do a walk outside instead. The point is, even if it's not perfect, do what you can!
From a physiological perspective, managing stress by using some of these ideas helps to bring down cortisol levels. It's really important to your health that you manage stress because chronically high stress levels leads to things like:
- inflammation in the body
- weight gain (especially in the belly)
- high blood pressure
- high glucose levels.
And Americans are stressed. In fact, 76% of millennials and Gen Z report having high stress levels.
Swap stress for peace of mind with these ideas!
What to include in your Self-Care Sunday
Wake up slowly
Get some good rest. Sleep in if your body allows. Lay in bed and think about how you want your day to go. Basically, just rest a little longer than you normally would if circumstances allow.
Get in the sun
Getting sun on your face first thing in the morning actually sets you up for a better night’s sleep that night. This is because it gets your circadian rhythm, also known as your body clock, going. I talk more about this in my Morning Routine post and share some research from Andrew Hubarman there if you are curious!
Have a nourishing breakfast
There are a lot of benefits to eating a nourishing breakfast to start your day on the right foot!
Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea
Really savor the smells, taste, and experience of that first sip.
If you opt for coffee, try to wait about 30 minutes to 1 hour after waking up to drink it. This is because coffee increases cortisol levels which are already at their highest in the morning and start to come down about an hour after waking up.
It's also a good idea to eat with your coffee (at least a little something) because having coffee on an empty stomach is bad for your health over time.
Go to church
A recent Gallup survey shows that recent church attendance levels are about 10 percentage points lower than in 2012 and most prior years. Many people got out of the weekly habit of church with the closures and shut downs during COVID.
BUT there's a shift that might surprise you going on. In 2022, younger generations are re-engaging in church, especially Millennials. This is a shift that might potentially mark a new chapter in church attendance.
For a while there, all you saw was people leaving the church. But Barna’s research from last year suggests that, though millennials did leave, they’re now coming back – slowly.
I'll be honest. It's hard for me to get out of bed, get ready, and make myself actually get in the car and GO somewhere on Sundays, but I always feel better when I prioritize it.
I'm not the only one. Research shows that people who regularly attend church report stronger social support networks and less depression.
Need more convincing?
They lead healthier and even longer lives! In a very real and physical way, Church is literally good for your health.
Put on your favorite playlist
According to a research study involving 55 healthy university students, listening to music for the purpose of relaxation was shown to decrease their reported stress levels and was also proven to decrease their levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.
What this tells us is that adding music to our daily life really does lead to a decrease in stress. I like to put on some of my favorite tunes when I feel like I’m in a funk.
It’s an effortless way to decrease stress levels.
Yoga or do a self care Sunday stretch
Get your body moving and blood flowing with a quick yoga routine or a stretch.
I love turning on a YouTube video so someone can guide me through a routine and I don’t even have to leave my house. You can simply open YouTube and search for "morning stretch" or "morning yoga".
Take a self care Sunday walk
Walking has so many great benefits. It’s a natural mood booster, helps clear your mind, helps balance blood sugars and improve gut health, and can help you lose weight!
Plus, it’s free!
Read a book on self care Sunday
I can’t overstate how good reading is for your health. It really forces you to slow down and focus. Reading has been proven to reduce stress, strengthen your brain, and prevent cognitive decline.
Plus, it has also been shown to improve empathy and decrease depression.
It's a great habit to incorporate into your self care Sunday, especially if there's a book you're looking forward to reading.
Make a grocery list and do your shopping for the week
A great way to have a healthy start to the week is to fill your fridge and pantry full of healthy goodness for the week!
You can either go to the store or order online for delivery.
Either way, I do suggest doing a little meal planning for the week and going with a list to help with overspending.
Now that you’ve done the grocery shopping, the next step on your self care Sunday is to get in the kitchen and do some food prep!
I usually make 2-3 recipes for the week, but your schedule might look a little different depending on how many mouths you’re feeding and how many meals will be away from the home.
Take Sunday to chop everything, make marinades, and cook the stuff that can be cooked ahead of time. Things like chopping vegetables and fruits, cooking some quinoa or prepping overnight oats, and hard boiling some eggs are examples of food prep that will help you eat healthier throughout the week.
Plan out your to-dos and schedule for the week
Even if you're not the type to have an hourly play by play, getting a general idea of what your week looks like and what you want to get done helps with productivity.
Leave some blank space for things that inevitably pop up!
Planning ahead helps you be more intentional and focused during the week so prioritize the things that matter the most.
Pro tip: Starting the week by checking off your most dreaded “to-do” or the one that is going to take the most time and brain space is a good way to gain momentum.
Indulge in a skincare routine
Your skin is your body's first line of defense! Take some time to care for it.
Kick back, relax, and let yourself feel pampered. You don't have to go get a fancy and expensive facial to give your skin a little love!
Declutter your space on self care Sunday
One of my absolute favorite writer/podcast/speakers, Gretchin Rubin, talks about clearing the clutter in your space helps you live happier, healthier, and more productive and creative.
When you have a space free to clutter, it inevitably leads to a less cluttered mind, too.
Plus, physically taking the time to clean up your space is a good way to get out of your head and get your body moving! Throw on that good playlist or podcast and throw in your laundry, clean the floors, and wipe down the counters!
Text a friend to tell them you’re thankful for them
Practicing gratitude has been shown by research to rewire your brain over time, improves relationships, and decreases anxiety and depression.
At the end of the day, relationships are everything. The longest scientific study of happiness ever conducted show us that relationships are what make for a good life. And gratitude benefits both the giver and receiver. So tell God thank you for your life, tell your friends and family thank you for being them, and tell yourself thank you for showing up.
Take action! Think someone you are feeling particularly grateful for today and take a second to let them know!
Catch up with a good friend
One step further, call an old friend that you’ve been meaning to check in on and see how they’re doing. Bonus points if it's someone you are expressing forgiveness to. It doesn't feel good to hold a grudge and there is always another side to every story.
Plus, we tend to put off phone calls with friends that we haven’t talked to in awhile because we want to have a whole hour to devote to them knowing we will have so much to catch up on.
Call that friend even if you only have 20 minutes. This is also a great one to do while you’re cleaning, food prepping, or walking.
Smile at a stranger or compliment a stranger
I had to put my dog down almost 3 months ago.
It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do and while I didn’t want to leave my apartment for a few days, I did still have to go on with life.
Smiles from other residents in my complex who I’ve never even met before in those first few days meant everything to me.
Something about a smile or a wave in the times you’re feeling most vulnerable can help you o a tough day. Be that person for someone. You just never know what it will mean! You words and actions matter.
So if you pass by a neighbor or stranger and notice something about them that you like, have the courage to show them some love and say it out loud. Especially when you can tell someone put extra effort into what they are wearing or how they look that day.
Stay off social media and disconnect from your phone altogether
If you really want to hone in on your self care Sunday, it's nice to take a few hours away from your phone.
Just unplug and get back to what matters which is not the things happening on facebook or instgram.
You don’t need to worry about what anyone is posting on social media right now. It’ll still be there for you later this afternoon.
Treat yourself to an epsom salt or bubble bath
Epsom salt helps to soothe sore muscles and reduce inflammation! As a bonus, it's a great way to relax!
I love using the Dr. Teals Eucalyptus epsom salt.
I usually read or *try* to meditate or pray while I’m in the bath. Or you could just sit back and relax.
A self care Sunday can help decrease stress levels which is important for your overall health! It is also a great way to slow down and prioritize what matters most at the start of a new week.
Choose as many of the items in this self care Sunday post as you want.
In the words of Billy Joel “Slow down, you crazy child. And take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while. It’s alright, you can afford to lose a day or two.” -Vienna, Billy Joel.
If you liked this post, I'd love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or reach out to me on Instagram @mallorythedietitian!
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