Now that our homes are now our gym/office/creche/pub/date-night destination, it’s difficult to genuinely unwind. But creating me-time at home can be a way to de-stress.
When you’re exercising in your sitting room, working in the spare room and home-schooling in the kitchen, it’s hard to find the time and space for essential ‘you’ time. But, by making the effort to take time for you, it will benefit both your brain and relationships. Here, we highlight the very best ways to create ’me time’ at home – whatever your lockdown situation…
Me-time for pamper lovers
1) Hit the tub
Closing the bathroom door and sliding into a hot, lavender-scented bath not only buys us valuable alone-time, it also boosts our emotional wellbeing. Research by Dr Neil Morris at the University of Wolverhampton shows that regular baths “lead to a significant drop in feelings of pessimism about the future.”
Add some relaxation-inducing lavender oil into your bath, then soak for at least 10 minutes to ease stress. Or you could try epsom salts. These salts are actually a mineral compound of magnesium and sulphate. They also help with pain relief, inflammation and relaxation. Perfect for a post-workout recovery bath.
2) Give yourself a massage. Yes, really
There’s nothing like a good massage to really relax you – but you don’t have to wait until spas reopen to get the benefits. Giving yourself a neck and shoulder massage is easy and surprisingly effective.
To create a relaxing atmosphere, start by lighting a candle and playing some gentle music. Use some essential oils if you have them – try lavender, rose, or jasmine. Then, relaxing your shoulders, slowly tuck your chin in towards your chest to elongate the neck. Using two or three fingertips, press firmly on the nape of your neck and hold for a few seconds, until the muscle feels more relaxed. Roll your shoulders forwards and backwards slowly, in circular motions. Repeat whenever tension strikes.
Me-time for hectic households
3) Watch something upbeat
After a day entertaining pre-schoolers, dealing with #quaranteens or juggling home-schooling and work, it’s never been more important to plan in some quality evening time. Downtime in front of the TV now comes research-approved: a recent study suggests that TV helps lower cortisol levels in women, which means less stress.
4) Get outside – alone
Whether it’s a walk through your local park, an evening bike ride, or just half an hour in the garden with a cup of tea, scheduling time outside with only yourself for company is a great way to boost feelings of wellbeing. Research suggests that a few minutes of solitude every day enhances feelings of control over time and gives a sense of freedom. Simply being outside can also improve memory, lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, fight depression, and lower blood pressure.
Me-time for single households
5) Take up a new hobby
With everyone desperate for escapism, it’s no wonder we’re getting craftier. Hobbycraft reports that it’s seen a surge in traffic to its online Ideas Hub, where there are tips, guides and videos about knitting, macramé and crochet. Why? Well, experts say that crafting distracts us from anxious thoughts and helps us deal with life in isolation. “For many, the creative urge is often limited by lack of time, and anecdotally it seems that we are seeing enforced isolation as an opportunity to develop a new skill or pick up an old hobby,” says Natalie Melton, creative director at the Crafts Council.
Many people have taken up baking during lockdown, and mindful baking can help keep your mind occupied. By focusing on technique, you’ll be able to forget the day-to-day worries and stresses for an hour or two.
6) Get creative with Zoom
Our love affair with Zoom continues, but we’ve moved beyond those awkward group chats with friends and quizzes. Now, we’re hosting proper ‘dress-up’ dinners, meeting our parents for afternoon tea, and even dating on the app.
We’re also enlisting Zoom to provide a much-needed creative workout, with Zoom membership of online art classes booming and many art schools putting their curriculum online. The prestigious New York Academy of Art is even offering nude drawing sessions every Friday, and the University of California is giving free DIY sculpture classes, where rubbish is upcycled into art.
Me-time essentials – for everyone
7) Get some exercise
Is there anything that working out can’t help? Studies show that moving your body when you’re stuck at home helps in many different ways. It helps you relax, improves sleep, boosts your mood, decreases stress hormones and wards off depression. That’s why at Vitality we are always encouraging you to lead a more active lifestyle – to help you stay healthy and happy.
If you’ve never had the time or inclination to meditate before, now could be a great time to start. Spending a few minutes every day zoning out will provide some much-needed mental downtime during lockdown: it could improve our immune response, reduce depression and anxiety, and increase feelings of self-compassion.
Developing a regular practice is key – which is why apps like Headspace, which provides courses of guided meditations, are popular.
Want to try meditation? Don’t forget that eligible Vitality members can enjoy a 30% discount off the price of an annual subscription for Headspace.