If you’ve felt your mental health or overall wellness take a dip since the onset of the pandemic, you’re not alone. According to recent data, Americans are reporting significant increases in symptoms of depression and anxiety related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Finding the time and motivation to take care of yourself while also taking care of your family during such a strange time can feel impossible. The wellness spots you usually turn to — such as fitness centers, spas, or maybe even a favorite cafe — have been affected by closures or reduced store hours, meaning you no longer have access to the self-care resources you did before.
No matter how difficult it may be, it’s worthwhile to invest in self-care to combat the stress of adapting to the new normal. You can even practice self-care from the comfort of your own home with this 30-day self-care challenge. Each activity is designed to improve either your mental, physical or emotional health, which are all equally important to helping you feel your best during these, particularly difficult times.
This challenge comes with a printable calendar and stickers that make it easy and fun to track your progress. And the daily challenges are concrete and approachable steps that you can take to improve your health. It can be hard to find the motivation and time to take care of yourself, so it’s helpful and rewarding to take on challenges that feel achievable. These challenges are great for squeezing in between family time or even sharing with your family.
Ultimately, this challenge is for you, so feel empowered to modify the daily challenges and create a plan that best supports your needs. Are you ready to improve your mental, physical and emotional health? Let’s go!
Find the 30-day self-care calendar, stickers and daily challenge details here.
Self-care challenges help you focus on your health each day. By participating, you’ve already shown up for yourself.
After downloading the 30-day calendar, we encourage you to track your progress daily by taping or gluing a self-care sticker of your choice to cover the circles on the calendar as you complete each challenge.
Remember, this challenge is for you, so make any modifications to the daily challenges as needed. Challenge accepted? Let’s get started.
Day 1: Hydrate With the 8×8 Rule
Not sure how much water is enough? Follow the 8×8 rule and aim to drink eight ounces of water, eight different times today.
Drinking enough water is critical to your health, as it helps your cardiovascular health, promotes healthy digestion, and improves your energy level and brain function.
Day 2: Commit to a Day of Eating Healthy
Eating healthy can do a lot for your body like improve your skin, reduce inflammation, and increase your energy level. On the other hand, having a diet that includes predominantly unhealthy foods (such as ultra processed, fried foods, and refined grains) can have serious implications to your health—from increased risk of disease, hair loss, and mental health issues to a weaker immune system and more.
Today, challenge yourself to eat more plants and/or less processed foods for every meal and see if you notice any improvements in how you feel.
Day 3: Find Your Inner Yogi
Do a yoga flow today, focusing on your breath and your mind. If you really want to get the most out of this practice, set up your space to promote a sense of calm by opening a window, playing soft music, or lighting a candle.
If you’re new to yoga, don’t worry. There are several beginner yoga poses that you can work into your practice like child’s pose, forward fold, cat pose, downward facing dog, and savasana. Here’s a great online yoga practice to get you started.
Day 4: Try Something New
Experiment and do something you’ve never done before. You could try a new recipe, start a new hobby, or change up your hairstyle. Whatever you choose, moving outside your comfort zone can give you a sense of accomplishment today.
It’s important to keep challenging yourself and your brain. Doing so can improve your memory, enhance your skills, and make you more creative. You may even find that you have a new hobby or interest.
Day 5: Find a Quiet Spot and Read
Pick a cozy corner or create a zen space in your home and read a book. Get lost in something other than what’s directly happening in your life—it can be a great escape, without ever leaving the house. Your book can be on any topic you’d like, as long as it gives you a mental break and leaves you feeling more relaxed (or invigorated) than you felt before you picked it up.
Day 6: Get an Extra Hour of Sleep
Treat yourself and sleep in today. Plan accordingly to get an extra hour of sleep by either going to bed an hour earlier or waking up an hour later. As it’s important to ensure you get 7-9 hours of sleep every night, consider using a sleep tracking app to help you figure out how much sleep you’re actually getting.
If you need help sleeping in, try lowering the temperature slightly in your home or wearing an eye mask to make your bedroom as dark as possible. Eliminating blue light before bed is also a great way to ease your body into a restful night’s sleep.
Day 7: Schedule Time for Your Health
Is there a health appointment you’ve been avoiding? It could be a yearly physical, a skin scan, STD check, or even a dental appointment. Whatever it may be, take this time to schedule it.
Don’t let checking up on your health be an inconvenience—it’s one of the most important things you can do for yourself. If you’re strapped for time, consider taking an at-home health test, which makes it easy to test various areas of your health such as your thyroid, heart health, vitamin D levels, and more, from the comfort of your own home.
Day 8: Create a Fitness Goal
Have you always wanted to run a marathon or be able to do splits? You’ve got this. Take this time to create a fitness goal to work towards.
Create micro-goals like increasing your distance a little bit each time you go for a jog, or gradually improving your flexibility by aiming to touch your toes first. Make a plan—and celebrate milestones, both big and small—to achieve your goal.
Day 9: Start Your Day With Your Favorite Herbal Tea
Begin your day by enjoying a soothing cup of herbal tea. Not only is it a delicious way to start your day, herbal teas are full of antioxidants and other compounds that may be helpful in preventing illness or disease.
Day 10: Learn How to Grow Something
Gift yourself a plant or start an herb garden. Plants are decorative, fun to grow, and have many health benefits. Plants can do things like improve air quality and may even support your mental health.
An added benefit of growing plants is that it brings life into your home, and is a constant reminder that the things you give attention to can flourish and grow. If you’re afraid you don’t have a green thumb, you can start with taking care of a small indoor plant like a succulent, or begin with easy outdoor vegetables and herbs like cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, lettuce, mint, basil, and oregano.
Day 11: Meditate for 10 Minutes
Find time for 10 minutes of stillness and meditation to clear your mind and find a sense of calm. You can do this in your home, outside in nature, or wherever you can avoid distractions.
By correctly practicing meditation, you may reduce stress, control anxiety, decrease pain, and enhance self-awareness. If you’re new to meditation, you can use this guide to help you get started.
Day 12: Create a Morning Routine
Start your day right with a morning routine. Customize your routine with activities that will help set you up for your best day. This could be sitting outside with a cup of coffee, making your bed, or doing a morning stretch—whatever gets you in the mood to tackle the day ahead. Once you perfect your morning routine, stick to it. Research shows that it takes a person on average 66 days to make performing a task a habit.
By beginning your day with a routine you love, you’re setting the tone for the day. So instead of waking up to your alarm and checking your email in bed or rushing to work, try doing something each morning that is simply for you.
Day 13: Unplug
When’s the last time you took a break from your phone? Challenge yourself to keep away from your phone or any digital distractions for an entire day. If a full day without digital devices is unrealistic for you, try an hour or two.
It can be very beneficial to step away from the rings and pings for a while and only focus on what’s in front of you. This might also help you connect with the people around you today, or sleep better tonight.
Day 14: Replace Your Coffee or Energy Drink with Green Tea
If you find yourself choosing highly concentrated sources of caffeine like coffee or energy drinks, try replacing it with green tea. Green tea is growing in popularity due to its many health benefits. Studies have shown that drinking green tea may improve brain function, burn fat, help prevent cardiovascular disease, and protect your brain from aging.
Day 15: Start a Food Journal
Start a food journal, detailing what’s (literally) been on your plate. If you have any food sensitivities, this is a great way to figure out the foods that make you feel your best, and the ones that don’t. It’s recommended to not only take notes of the food you ate, but to also observe how it made you feel—both physically and mentally.
Day 16: Write a Blog Post
Reflect on your day, favorite memory, or a recent trip and write a blog post about it. Blogging can be a healthy mental release and a way to capture your thoughts. It can also just be a creative way to unwind at the end of your day.
It’s up to you on whether you post it online, but if you’d like to, there are tons of blogging platforms that make it easy to share your thoughts with the world. A few of the most popular platforms are Wix, Yola, WordPress, Jekyll, and Blogger. Who knows—this might even turn into your new hobby or side hustle.
Day 17: Skip the Added Sugar
Limiting added sugars from both food and beverages in your diet is important for your overall health. Added sugars often make up more than 10% of daily caloric intake in the American diet and can contribute to an elevated risk for certain chronic diseases such as obesity and cardiovascular disease.
To make navigating your fridge or the grocery aisles easier, focus on whole foods like vegetables, fruits, lean meats, fish, nuts, and unprocessed, whole grains. Going without added sugar today will be a great experiment to see how much you rely on it every day, and allow you to adjust your diet accordingly.
Day 18: Write 3 Intentions for Yourself
Pick three intentions for yourself, or things that you want to achieve. Setting an intention—either physical, mental, or emotional—can be a powerful mental exercise. In doing so, you’re mapping out what it is you want in life or what you want to improve on—which is the first step in achieving it.
Write these intentions down and put them somewhere visible as a reminder of what you’re working towards. It’s okay if you don’t follow through each and every day, but make an effort to hold yourself accountable to the intentions that you wrote down.
Day 19: Take a Bubble Bath
Total relaxation is on your list tonight. Take a long, warm bath complete with bubbles, candles, and maybe your favorite book or magazine.
While this might not feel like a challenge, a warm bath can do wonders for you. In fact, taking a warm bath in the evening can not only help boost your mood and promote relaxation, but it can also help you sleep better at night.
Day 20: Create a Zen Den
Everyone needs a corner or room in their homes that’s specifically designed to promote a sense of calm and relaxation—so create a zen space that you can utilize whenever you need. If your space is limited, consider adding a cozy chair, plant, and bookcase to a quiet corner of your house, or optimize your bedroom to promote relaxation.
Essential oil diffusers or mood lighting can go a long way when creating a calming space. Be creative with it, and design a space that is perfect for you to unwind after a long or stressful day.
Day 21: Get Rid of 3 Things You Don’t Use
Out with the old. It’s time to declutter your space and pick out three things you don’t use to toss or donate. This helps you open up your life and your space for new or better things.
A good rule of thumb to follow when decluttering is if you haven’t used or seen it in a year, you probably don’t need it. Clearing out unused items within your space is a great way to keep your home tidy. This can also help prevent dust and dander from building up in your home, which can cause allergies.
Day 22: Create a Bedtime Routine
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep (seven to nine hours per night). Customize a bedtime routine that will help you wind down and eliminate stress before bed.
Some ways to promote healthy sleep habits include: taking a warm bath, unplugging from screens one to two hours before bed, drinking herbal tea, and implementing a little aromatherapy.
Day 23: Start Your Day With Gratitude
Remember what you’re thankful for today. In the morning, before beginning your day, write down at least three things that you deeply appreciate.
By focusing on gratitude, you can increase your positivity, improve your self-esteem, reduce stress, and boost your mood. It’s also a great way to gain perspective during chaotic periods and remember that there are things to be happy about and grateful for.
Day 24: Go Green
Replacing a meal with a green smoothie or accompanying a meal with green juice is a great way to get a daily dose of fruits and veggies, which are packed with vitamins and minerals like vitamins C and E, potassium, and folate.
Need some inspiration to make your own green drink? It’s common for green drinks to blend herbs with fruit or vegetables. Some examples to try: kale, spinach, mint, apples, cucumber, ginger, mango, peaches, and pears.
Day 25: Dance Along to Your Favorite Tunes
Whether it’s to get you ready to start your day, a 10-minute break at lunch, or while you’re making dinner, dance and sing along to your favorite tunes today. Don’t be afraid to get silly.
Dancing is not only an instant mood booster, but it’s great for your health and a good way to burn calories.
Day 26: Identify Your Stressors
What keeps you up at night? Take a moment to identify the stressors in your life and write them down. By doing this exercise, you’ll be able to pinpoint the areas of your life that cause you the most stress or anxiety—this is important to manage stress and prevent it.
If you’re among the 45% of people who report lying awake at night due to stress, identifying the stress in your life and working out solutions to eliminate it can help you live and feel your best.
Day 27: Have a Spontaneous Date Night
It’s time for a little spontaneity. Have an impromptu date night with your partner at home, with your friend over a video call, or by yourself.
Need ideas? You could do a fondue night, a picnic in your living room, play a board game, have a themed dinner, do a virtual workout class, build a fort, create a scavenger hunt, or get dressed up and have a romantic evening by candlelight.
Here a few more at-home date ideas to choose from.
Day 28: Go for a Long Walk
Schedule time during your day to take a long walk (30 minutes to an hour). Get out of the house and enjoy the fresh air. Walking outside for an extended period of time is not only great exercise, but exposing yourself to the right amounts of vitamin D can also help boost your mood.
Make it fun by going to your favorite path or trail. You can even make it a family activity, bring your partner along, listen to your favorite podcast, or call a friend.
Day 29: Send a “Thank You” Note
Research has shown that being thankful and expressing gratitude is good for your health. It’s a simple practice, but can have great benefits for the sender and receiver.
Is there someone in your life you’re truly thankful for? Let them know today. This will make you feel good, and the receiver of the note will probably feel better, too.
Day 30: Engage in Self-Reflection
Congrats, you’ve made it to day 30 of the self-care challenge! For your final challenge, take a moment to reflect on the last 30 days with the following questions:
Do you feel any different than when you started?
What was your favorite part of the challenge?
What was your least favorite part of the challenge?
What are you going to continue to incorporate into your daily or weekly routine?
Additional 30-Day Challenge Ideas
Now that you’ve completed your self-care challenge, consider committing to another one. Print out the blank calendar above, and pick out 30 tasks to create your own self-care challenge for next month.
Make this your own and incorporate challenges that will help you meet your personal wellness goals. If you have favorite challenges from the last 30 days, start by jotting those down, and check out a few new ideas below that you can add to your challenge list:
- Give up alcohol for 30 days
- Drink herbal tea before bed
- Spend time coloring
- Watch a TED Talk
- Eat your meals without distractions, like your phone or TV
- Walk 10,000 steps a day
- Feng shui a room in your home
- Set a reminder for three mental breaks during your day
- Join an online workout class
- Start a morning journal
- Write down three kind things you did today
- Do 10 push-ups
- Be creative and try painting
- Write a business plan
- Start a hobby like cross stitch
- Make a sugar scrub
- Take a personal day
- Call a friend
- Write a love letter to yourself
- Treat yourself to a massage
- Make your bedroom a zen room
- Light incense or a candle
- Complete a puzzle
- Sit in nature
- Video chat a family member
- Sketch a landscape
- Do 30 sit-ups
- Declutter your space
- Eat something green with every meal
- Walk along a nature trail
While COVID-19 has forced us to confront the importance of maintaining our health, it’s still important not to lose sight of the benefits of creating daily intentions to focus on wellness. Hopefully, by completing a 30-day challenge, you’ll see how easy it is to do on your own.
Visit the CDC’s resource page for more information on maintaining your health as we face the global threat of COVID-19, and check for updates on the Everlywell COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit.
This piece originally appeared on Modern Brown Girl