15 Effective Self-Care Tips That Are Made for Quarantine

Don't fret: You can be happy and healthy while staying safe.

Let's be honest: The COVID-19 pandemic has made it very difficult to find the time—or even reasons—to focus on routines that were in place in pre-quarantine life. And with stay-home orders in place across the country and around the globe, it can even feel like normal living is something from the distant past. But as millions cope through the worst of this pandemic, they're also rediscovering what it means to practice self-care for quarantine in the safety and comfort of their own homes.

"Everyone copes with stress and change in different ways," says Alex Davis from Ryan and Alex Duo Life. "Allowing yourself space and permission to relax without an agenda can be incredibly relieving and centering while caring for your health during the quarantine." But how do you do that? Well, we've consulted the experts to find the most effective self-care tips to follow while you're stuck inside. And for more mental health advice, check out 17 Mental Health Tips for Quarantine From Therapists.

Create and stick to a schedule.

family to-do list on wall, color coded

Life before quarantine might have been hectic, but when Sundays suddenly feel like Tuesdays, having a plan of action can be the only way to make sure you're actually getting quality self-care time in.

Scheduling can be as easy as writing down four things you want to accomplish by the end of the day and setting times to start and stop each task. "Block off time for work or school projects, cooking and family meals, group exercise, chores around the house, and quiet time for reading or doing something creative," recommends Elena Villanueva, a functional holistic medicine expert. This simple act of organization will do wonders for fighting anxiety and gaining a sense of control over your own life in these days of self-quarantine.

Use cooking as an outlet.

Father and daughter cooking

It doesn't matter if you have top chef skills or can barely boil water; having nothing but time at home now means you can finally give those recipes that have been sitting on your Pinterest page an honest attempt. Preparing food isn't only physically nurturing, but it can also help get your hands moving, provide a great break from devices and screens, and serve as a functional creative outlet.

It can even be a family activity! "Get the kids involved in the cooking," says Villanueva. "After all, cooking is one of those essential life skills they can't learn in the classroom. Use this as a time to dial down on healthy habits. If the grocery store is out of what you typically buy, venture off routine and add some new fruits, vegetables, and products into your rotation."

Start a gratitude journal.

Woman writing in food log journal before eating her meal

Keeping your mind at ease while cooped up is easier said than done. If you're feeling the pressures of quarantine taking a toll on your mental health, block off a few minutes every day to write in a gratitude journal.

"When everything seems to be going wrong, maintaining a positive mindset is crucial," says wellness blogger Samantha Warren. "Starting a gratitude journal will help you be more grateful for what you have, and it will encourage positive thoughts instead of negative ones." How do you start? She recommends simply jotting down 10 things you are thankful for every day in a notebook of your choice. This focus on positivity is an easy act of self-care to boost your mental health. And for more ways to stay positive, check out 30 Super Effective Positive Affirmations You Can Use Every Day.

Learn a new skill.

knitting needles and purple yarn

Working from home can start to feel monotonous after a while. Break free from the cycle by using the time to pick up a new skill you've been meaning to learn. Whether it's as simple as drawing or as in-depth as speaking another language, the focus on a passion project will help boost your confidence and leave you feeling fulfilled.

"If you're happiest when you're productive, teaching yourself a new skill is a great way to achieve personal growth in quarantine," says Warren. "Affordable platforms like Skillshare make it easy to teach yourself new things, where industry experts create short, concise video lessons to help you sharpen your skillset."

Limit your news and social media intake.

woman looking at phone, things not to say to customer service

Sometimes, the most effective self-care techniques aren't about what you do, but what you don't do. Treat yourself to a mental escape by establishing a strict media diet that limits the time you spend scrolling through social media and clicking around the internet.

"Even before the 24/7 cycle of coronavirus information, time spent on social media can heighten anxiety and body image concerns," says dietitian and chief nutrition officer for OMG! Nutrition, Samantha Cassetty, RD. "Stay informed so you can remain vigilant, but maybe cap the time you spend watching or reading the news."

Or do a digital detox.

phone screen being powered off

It's all too easy to replace socialization with time spent on social media or in long binge-watching sessions. But aside from choosing to limit the amount of news you're watching or social media you're taking in, breaking free from technology altogether can be a vital act of self-care.

The next time Netflix has to ask "are you still watching," consider putting down the remote and picking up a book, pen, or paintbrush instead. "It's important to take a break every once in a while so you can relax and remind yourself of what truly matters," says Warren. "Practice self-care by doing a digital detox for a few days, or even a week. In your screen-free time, you can read books, create art, take social-distancing-appropriate walks, or find other hobbies to occupy your time." And don't feel like you need to pen the next King Lear when you're being creative: Consider writing a letter to a friend or family member if you're feeling short on ideas of what to write about.

Find time to meditate.

Man meditating on bed before going to sleep.

Keeping your physical space in order takes on a new level of importance during a quarantine. Unfortunately, we sometimes get so busy cleaning, organizing, and rearranging our homes that we forget to reassess and tend to our mental spaces as well. Starting a daily routine of mindful meditation can help provide clarity, reduce stress, increase productivity, and boost morale.

Stephanie Mihalas, PhD, a psychologist and the founder of The Center for Well-Being in Los Angeles, recommends dedicating five minutes each morning to meditation. "If you are new to this practice, there are apps available to assist you such as Calm, Headspace, and Aura," she recommends. "By starting your day this way, you can manage the kids who may be home with you or working from home, which may be a new experience." And for more apps to soothe your worries, check out 7 Free Anxiety Apps to Help You During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Establish a bedtime routine.

Woman Rolling Up Yoga Mat House Cleaning

Your pre-quarantine routine might've made it pretty clear when it was time to get ready to go to bed. Unfortunately, when your home becomes your office and scheduling gets overlooked, it becomes all too easy to spend your evenings binge-watching shows until the wee hours of the morning.

Establishing a nightly routine full of self-care rituals can help ease stress and make it easier to fall asleep. "My favorite ways to practice self-care at night are taking a warm bath, doing a quick yoga routine, and writing down what I'm grateful for that day," says Christina Heiser, content manager at Saatva. Beyond being a nice way to unwind, these practices have real science behind them: Studies show warm baths improve sleep and pre-bedtime yoga is a known stress-reliever.

Learn techniques to help you sleep.

Senior black man sleeping well

Living under quarantine can quickly wreak havoc on sleeping patterns. Ensuring you get enough shut-eye is absolutely crucial to maintaining your physical and mental health, and experts suggest setting strict schedules for putting down devices, turning off the streaming services, and getting ready for bed at a reasonable hour.

Finding yourself too stressed to sleep well? Liz Brown, founder of Sleeping Lucid, recommends following effective sleep methods such as the 4-7-8 breathing technique or using products such as weighted blankets, aromatherapy machines, and scented blankets. "They'll not only let you sleep faster but will also make your home more comfortable in this difficult time," she says.

Reinvent your fitness regimen.

man doing yoga in his home

With gyms and health clubs shuttered across the country, you may feel hopeless about maintaining a fitness routine during quarantine. But there are plenty of online options that make it easy to break a sweat right from the comfort of home, whether it's paid exercise apps or trainers hosting free workout sessions on Instagram live.

According to experts like Heidi Loiacono, national manager of Training and Development for GYMGUYZ, treating this like any other workout is key to sticking to your self-care regimen. "Always be sure you're out of your comfy sweats and in your workout gear," she recommends. "Have your water with you just as though you were leaving for the gym. Then put on your favorite workout playlist, grab a towel and get ready to work!"

Pencil in time to unwind.

middle aged woman relaxing on couch

So, you've filled your new at-home schedule with tasks like "file my taxes" and "get to inbox zero." But just because your routine looks productive on paper doesn't mean it's going to leave you feeling fully accomplished at the end of the day. Lifestyle blogger and self-care guru Sarah Adler recommends setting aside blocks of time specifically for self-care.

By giving journaling, meditation, exercise, cooking, or simply a long soak in the tub as much emphasis as your work, you'll be creating the downtime you need to feel whole. "Jobs are tough, and working from home can, at times, be even more difficult," she says. "Just give yourself time to slow down and reconnect with what's important to you." And for more ways to maintain peace of mind, check out 9 Tips on How to Stay Calm During the Quarantine.

Embrace being makeup free.

Middle-aged woman siting comfortable and enjoys tea on couch during winter

Even if you're on FaceTime more than ever before, now may be the best time for your face to get a little rest of its own. Peterson Pierre, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of the Pierre Skin Care Institute, says this is the perfect opportunity to give your pores a break and keep that makeup tucked in the drawer for the duration of the quarantine.

"Enjoy the incredible freedom of being makeup-free," he says. "Another benefit is that by not using harsh makeup removers, you can also avoid unnecessarily irritating your skin."

Revitalize your skin.

Man washing his face with a washcloth

Even if you think you've perfected your daily skincare routine, some of your most basic products may be subtly irritating your face. Having more time at home means you can now experiment with new products that may be more beneficial in the long run. MUJI's styling advisor manager Kanako Hatai recommends swapping out products like your everyday toner for one that is less harsh.

"It's difficult to find a simple toner that has moisturizing properties without irritants," she admits, "so I like to switch off between AHA/BHA exfoliating toners and the MUJI Sensitive Skincare Toning Water. This acts as a 'resting period' for my skin, as the toning water does not contain any irritants like alcohol, fragrance, parabens, or dye."

Adler also recommends taking your favorite face oil or serum and using an easy at-home spa technique. "Rub the oil into dry skin, then cover your face with a hot washcloth, pressing it into the skin until the cloth cools," she says. "Repeat as many times as necessary, taking long slow deep breaths into the steam as you do. I love to do this at the end of my workday—it's like an instant facial every night and winds me down before bed."

Turn your bathroom into a spa.

close up of middle aged white woman taking a bath

There's a good chance that life under quarantine has you craving a spa day more than ever. Luckily, just because you're staying at home doesn't mean you can't get that relaxing experience you're looking for. Experts like Emma Knight of Radha Beauty recommend practicing self-care with simple essential oils by running a bath or steamy shower to help take in the healing scents.

Which are the best to start with? "Lavender oil has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety," she says. "Other oils, such as geranium, bergamot, and clary sage have a strong following of users who devotedly believe they help reduce stress."

Establish a budget.

Woman creating a budgeting plan

The idea of firing up a spreadsheet is probably not on anyone's shortlist for inspiring self-care methods. But what if taking some of the time spent in quarantine to get a grasp on your personal finances could help your emotional well-being in the long run? "Money can be a big source of stress, and taking the first step of looking at your accounts and making a plan is a form of self-care that can alleviate stress in your life," says Greg Mahnken, credit industry analyst with Credit Card Insider. "If you find yourself always putting off budgeting, or you tend to avoid looking at your finances out of fear, now's a better time than ever to understand your finances." Not sure where to start? Consider using helpful online tools like You Need A Budget to get going.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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