CEW+ 30 Days of Self-Care
During these unprecedented times, it is no surprise that many of us are facing increased anxiety and feelings of stress. To help all of us address our daily stress, we invite you to join us in making new habits for ongoing self-care over the next 30 days.
As a community, we have collected 30 days of tips to offer you ideas for how to introduce practices of self-care into your daily life. We know that no one practice will work for everyone, so we have gathered a variety in the hopes that you will find at least a few that speak to you. We hope that you will join us in consciously focusing on reducing our personal stress, and we hope that this 30-day practice in self-care will lead to sustained components of your routine.
It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
– Audre Lorde from “A Burst of Light” and Other Essays
Day 1 | Lower Back Massage
No time for yoga? Lie down on the floor on your back and pull your knees into your chest. Holding them in place, rotate your knees in circles alternating directions. Let your comfort level determine the size of your rotation. If you want a good stretch, let your knees rest on the floor on one side while you look in the opposite direction.
– Christine, CEW+ Leadership Council
Day 2 | Unplug
Find time to intentionally unplug each day. Every day I go for a walk and only take my keys. I intentionally leave my phone behind to unplug and step away from its constant distraction.
– Morgan, CEW+ Staff
Day 3 | Drink Fancy Tea
Drink some fancy tea. You determine what fancy means! Savor the warmth of a hot cup of tea that has soothed people across the world for centuries. Allow yourself a comfy place to relax with your favorite mug and relish in your own personal tea time.
– Cara, CEW+ Scholar Community Board Member
Day 4 | Inhale/Exhale
If I start to feel overwhelmed or anxious, I turn to meditation to help me refocus and relax. Specifically, Anapana meditation, which focuses on your breath as a way to “calm and concentrate the mind.” I prefer this free resource on vridhamma.org because it allows me to choose how long I want to meditate.
– Tiffany, CEW+ Staff
Day 5 | Journaling
Keep a journal on your desk or a place you find calming and jot down feelings and thoughts as they come up throughout the day.
– Annie, U-M Graduate Student
Day 6 | Engage Your Senses
Create a comfortable space filled with things that engage your senses in a soothing way, and go there when you need a break. My space includes a soft blanket to touch, a warm vanilla candle to smell, a portable speaker with smooth jazz for listening, a bowl of spearmint candies to taste, and a window with a good view.
– Courtney, CEW+ Staff
Day 7 | One Thing at a Time
Focus on one thing at a time. For example, if I’m working on homework, I don’t allow myself to start worrying about what chores I have to do or what civil action I want to take. I write those thoughts down for later and go back to the main task that I was working on at the moment.
– Danielle, U-M Graduate Student
Day 8 | Gratitude Practice
Make a daily note (in your phone or a journal) of one thing for which you are grateful. It could be something big – health, home, family; or small – a sunny day or enough time away from your kids to take a shower.
– Erin, CEW+ Staff
Day 9 | Spontaneous Connections
Try spontaneously calling someone when you think of them. Our lives are overly structured with scheduled Zoom meetings and calls. This, combined with social distancing and having to plan everything before we go out, means a lack of spontaneity. Try calling someone when you think of them for a surprise conversation or leaving a heartfelt voicemail that will bring you both joy!
– Susan, CEW+ Leadership Council
Day 10 | Continue to Check in with Yourself
In moments of high stress make sure to monitor your body for reactions to stress and practice looking for ways to center your mind.
– LaVashia, CEW+ Staff
Day 11 | Find a Tree Buddy
Find a tree to be your buddy. Name it, describe it, sketch it. Visit it as often as you can–daily, if possible, but once a week is fine. Use all your senses to connect to it: touch it and hug it; listen to it (a large tree might have a sound like a seashell, or you might hear wind rustling leaves and branches); sniff at the bark and leaves. Let your tree buddy connect you to Mother Earth, and to yourself.
– Jacqueline, CEW+ Scholar Community Board Member
Day 12 | Protect Your Mental Health
Unplug. Social media and other sources can add to unwanted stress or negative thought patterns. Take time to decompress. Figure out how you feel about things without extra opinions and do something with that time that brings you peace. Get around positive people who can help create a hopeful atmosphere and help you navigate through some of your feelings.
– Marchelle, CEW+ Staff
Day 13 | Connect With Your Body
Take thirty minutes of your day to move your body. Break a sweat. Set wellness goals that are sustainable and allow you to unleash your body’s strength. Realize the power you have within you and work toward being the healthiest version of yourself, for yourself.
– Carolina, U-M Undergraduate Student
Day 14 | Coloring
Buy coloring books, word puzzles, Sudoku, etc from a dollar store and go to town on them. I decided that “solving a problem” that wasn’t world peace was less stressful.
– Shay, CEW+ Staff
Day 15 | Stretch
Sitting in front of Zoom all day is exhausting, so I try to get up and move my body every hour or so. Touch your toes. Reach up high. Look out a window, and take a few deep breaths. Repeat.
– Catherine, U-M Graduate Student
Day 16 | Still Growing
Take time to invest in yourself and learn a new skill or research a new (to you) topic. Since I can’t control the world around, I find building my knowledge gives me a sense of control and productivity. Having a growth mindset helps me feel more positive.
– Alicia, CEW+ Staff
Day 17 | Reclaim Your Ancestral Power
For me, Reclaiming Ancestral Power is an ongoing process of embodied practices embracing connection to ancestral lineages. Spend intentional time dancing, eating, standing, verbalizing intentions, or storytelling so that the mind, body, and Spirit roots in its Wholeness.
– Erika, CEW+ Scholar Community Board Member
Day 18 | Make a Favorite Food
Make or bake a favorite dish or order from a favorite restaurant. For me, I like to make something that brings back memories of a person, place, or time of year that is meaningful to me and provides me with a sense of joy.
– Jamie, CEW+ Staff
Day 19 | Grounding Scents
Stash a favorite, grounding smell to return to and inhale deeply after stressful moments. This could be a dried herb, a particular candle or soap, a citrus rind, a piece of clothing/material from your childhood home, even going out to stand in the fallen leaves.
– Julia, U-M Graduate Student
Day 20 | Dance to the Music
Find a private space and play music that speaks to you, letting the music move your body in any way that feels good to you in the moment, without a care of being watched. In the words of Sylvester Stewart of the great band, Sly and the Family Stone, “Dance to the Music,” and if it feels good, sing along too!
– Doreen, CEW+ Staff
Day 21 | Take a Walk
By yourself or with your dog. No need to set a goal, just lace up your shoes and head out the door. Let your feet and your mind wander. Listen to music if you find it soothing.
– Lee, CEW+ Leadership Council
Day 22 | Light at the End
There is always hope during each hardship. Think positively and this will ease your challenging days. Meditation, walking in nature, and working out are great exercises to get started! So take breaks from work or school and do what makes you happy! It always seems impossible until it happens, so be optimistic!
– Aya, Current U-M Student
Day 23 | Go into Nature
Spend time outside. Try to get to a place where you can’t hear cars, or at least not hear them as well. Listen to the wind in the trees, and birds and wildlife. Look at the sky.
– Sarah P., CEW+ Staff
Day 24 | Unplug from Technology
Unplug from technology. This can be for at least five minutes to as long as an hour. During this time let your eyes take a rest from the screens. Do something else like read a book, listen to music, write in a journal, or take a nap.
– Dominique, U-M Graduate Student
Day 25 | Look Beyond the Moment
Some circumstances in life are disruptive but these can also open new paths. Look at it as a means to make connections, experiences, and become more resilient. Connect with family, friends. Focus on what’s good. Enjoy the simple things that make you smile.
– Caroline, CEW+ Leadership Council
Day 26 | Walk
I recommend walking and other forms of exercise. I enjoy strolls with my dog, Pearl.
– Sarah C., CEW+ Staff
Day 27 | Meditate
Day 28 | Morning Breathing
Start the day with a waking breath. Immediately upon waking, take time to calm and focus your thoughts and breath. First, take 5-10 slow breaths – inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Then complete an audible survey of your surroundings, listening and appreciating the sounds that you hear, birds chirping, traffic outside, the movements of your pet, etc.
– Janice, CEW+ Staff
Day 29 | Car Retreat
Don’t underestimate the power of getting in your car and going for a drive. Take your mask off, listen to what you want, roll your windows down, drink your coffee – this is your time! Whatever you do, don’t get stagnant in your space. Bring in fresh flowers, take a moment, step outside, and take a deep breath.
– Ciara, CEW+ Leadership Council
Day 30 | Spend Some Time Alone
Sometimes the best way to recharge is to take a break and unwind with some alone time. As nice as it is to spend time with others, sometimes not having to talk or meet other’s needs is just what we need. I personally love to put on music, dance, act silly, talk to my dogs and cats, and just enjoy spending time with myself.
– Sarah K., CEW+ Staff