Life feels so full nowadays; full of responsibilities, friendships, activities and events. We have so many plates to juggle that our metaphorical arms are exhausted. Carving out a pocket of time in order to rest and relax can be really challenging. Justifying the break can be even harder. You’re so busy, you haven’t got time to spare and just sit around! Just think about all the things you could be working on instead! You could be obliterating your to-do list! You could be working… studying… socialising… cleaning… cooking… tidying… you could be doing something!
But by taking a well-deserved break, you are doing something – something which is really important and often overlooked. You are practising mindfulness and prioritising your wellbeing. You are identifying what makes you happy and injecting some of that into your daily and weekly routines. You are acknowledging that there is more to being healthy than being physically fit. Focusing on self-care on Sundays is easier as they are generally slower-paced and more relaxing than the other days of the week. Hopefully the practices you will adopt on Sunday will overflow into the rest of your week and raise your overall happiness.
When I moved to Germany, I was quite horrified to learn that all supermarkets, shops, banks and boutiques close on Sundays. I learned this the hard way by going to Zara and being baffled as to why it was closed… and the shop next to it…and all the shops along the high street. As a Brit, I am used to Sunday being a second-Saturday; a second chance to be productive, run errands, do my weekly food shop and trawl through clothes racks before the working week starts again. None of those activities are possible here. The situation is not completely desperate; many restaurants and cafes are open but as a freelancer, I can’t be dining out every single Sunday. So I asked myself “What else can I do on Lazy Sundays?”. I call them Lazy Sundays but Luxurious Sundays would be a better description; they have
forced enabled and encouraged me to create and implement a self-care routine which really feels like I am taking care of myself.
In this post, I would like to share some ideas about how you can add some more indulgence into your weekly routine. Most of these activities are free or cheap as I don’t equate pampering with extravagant spending. However, your ideal Lazy Sunday activities (and budget!) may be quite different from mine – do what makes you happy!
Activities inside the house
- Cook. My boyfriend cooks the majority of our meals at home (He’s an amazing cook and yes, I’m very lucky) but I really enjoy cooking for us on Sundays. It is a relaxing, leisurely activity without the immediacy of mid-week meals. I choose healthy, affordable recipes that I can make in bulk so we have lunches or dinners prepared for the week ahead. On your self-care Sunday, why not try a new recipe or use an ingredient you’ve not used before?
- Bake.When we lived in London, I used to bake often – usually creating delicious homemade cookies on Sundays to take to work the following week. Admittedly I haven’t done as much baking since moving here as our rented apartment doesn’t have lots of gadgets and equipment, but friends of mine have hosted some lovely weekend bakeathons.
- Read. What’s more relaxing than curling up on the sofa, with a hot drink beside you, and allowing your mind to be transported somewhere altogether different? I read all my books from my Amazon Kindle; we’re inseparable!
- Listen to an audio book. Amazon’s Audible has a large catalogue of over 100,000 book titles. You can sign up for a 30-day free trial (after which it costs €9.95 per month or equivalent). There are several advantages; the books you buy are yours to keep (even if you cancel your membership), you can listen online and offline and there are different subscription plans available.
- Study a language. I am studying German and Italian (the latter with more enthusiasm than the former – I just love the way it sounds!) and use Duolingo to revise and expand my vocabulary and hearing, writing and reading sentences. The app is free and can be used on your phone or computer.
- Exercise. You can definitely get a good workout at home – there are thousands of fantastic workout videos out there. I bought affordable dumbbell weights & a Pilates mat and follow videos on the Youtube channel Fitness Blender. Yoga with Adriene is also very good if you want to focus more on your flexibility.
- Learn something new. Udemy and Skillshare are two excellent distance learning websites for exploring your interests, expanding your skillset and advancing your career. There are thousands of courses about business, coding, maths, webdesign, foreign languages along with really creative subjects like how to DJ, read tarot cards or become a hypnotherapist. Futurelearn offers completely free online courses on a wide variety of topics, such as languages & culture, law, literature, politics & the modern world, science, engineering & maths.
- Meditate. Meditation helps to reduce stress and anxiety. Check out the Calm or Headspace apps.
- Pamper yourself. Apply a facemask, give yourself a DIY manicure/pedicure, paint your nails or have a bath. Bonus points if you surround yourself with bubbles and use a bath bomb.
- Have a hot drink. Limit coffee and drink fruit or green tea instead (I am obsessed with chai and Turkish apple tea). Or treat yourself with a homemade smoothie or a hot chocolate (marshmallows optional).
- Have a nap! A mid-afternoon nap can be a beautiful, restorative thing, especially if it’s raining outside!
- Call your loved ones. Facetime, Skype or call them to catch up on each other’s news.
- Perform a random act of kindness. This could include donating to a charitable cause, supporting your friends on their new ventures or sending a genuine, heartfelt compliment (without expecting one in return!)
- Fill in puzzle books. My sister bought me some books full of crosswords, word searches and other puzzles. I am completely hooked! It’s fun to brush up on my general knowledge and it’s a healthy break from a phone or computer screen.
- Listen. Podcasts, audio books, Ted talks and your favourite playlists.
- Write. Journal entries like morning pages or the five-minute journal, blog posts, short stories, poems, whatever comes to mind!
- Get creative! Draw, paint, knit, scrapbook or fill in colouring books.
- Watch. An inspiring Ted talk, a TV series that has got you hooked, one of your favourite films or one that you’ve been wanting to see for ages.
- Play games. Board games, quizzes or card games. Why not invite some friends over for a games night?
- Sing and dance along to your favourite playlists.
- Use candles and essential oils. Lavender is especially calming, especially if you haven’t been sleeping well. Dab some oil directly onto your wrists and neck.
- Sit… and enjoy the stillness.
- Switch off! Turn off your computer or phone. Enjoy being screen-free and not following any kind of schedule or time constraints.
Activities outside of the house
I love the indoorsy activities listed above, but it is important to get outside and enjoy some fresh air at least once a day. Here are some ideas about how you can practise self-care away from home:
- Sit in a park or garden. Being surrounded by nature is so calming. I feel my most relaxed when I’m near water – I love being by rivers, lakes or the sea. Watching a stunning sunset is also a great way to relax and unwind before bed.
- Exercise. Walk, swim, ride a bike, go jogging or head to the gym.
- Explore a new area of the city. Let your feet and mind wander.
- Visit a museum or art gallery. In Rome, the first Sunday of the month is free entry for all state-run museums. Perhaps your city has a similar initiative?
- Go on a walking tour of your city. I recently did a tour with Sandeman’s New Europe tours. Even though I’ve been living in Hamburg for over a year, I still learned a lot of new things about the city.
- Try a new café. Treat yourself to a hot drink and sweet treat.
- Go to a pub quiz night. Get some friends and choose an inventive team name. Good luck!
I hope these self-care suggestions have been useful. If you have any more, feel free to share them in the comments section. I’d love to hear them!
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