Joyful Self-Care Guide: How to Conquer Darker Days

Joyful Self-Care Guide How to Conquer Darker Days

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Joyful Self-Care Guide How to Conquer Darker Days
Joyful Self-Care Guide How to Conquer Darker Days

Are you a cooler temps, pumpkin spice kinda gal, or do you prefer sipping cool drinks by the pool or beach in the heat of summer? Personally, I wish I could have the best of both worlds–sunshine AND crisper, longer days. Alas, ’tis the season to ‘fall’ into autumn in Happy Valley (central Pennsylvania) and with that come shorter, darker days. How can you conquer the sluggishness you may feel this time of year? My solution is to listen to my body and indulge in self-care at the first signs of inertia.

True confession: As a child, I always welcomed the advent of fall. By August I was ready to be back in school. No joke. I love earth tones and autumn colors, especially when the tree leaves turn bright yellow, red, or orange. Cooler temps meant snuggling more with my cat in bed and reading a good book!

As an adult, it’s a little harder to welcome autumn despite my preference for crisper weather. I just can’t stand when it gets dark outside earlier.

And I must confess, although I love winter coats, suffocating my feet in hot boots is not my jam.

So, here are some self-care hacks for battling those shorter, darker days!

Joyful Self-Care

Autumn (or fall, depending on your preference (I say ‘potato,’ you say ‘potaaato?’) is when you need to up your self-care routines and rituals. If you aren’t currently practicing self-care (or only sporadically), please pause for a moment and think about what you could do to pamper and recharge yourself. 

Is it a warm Epsom salts bath (infused with essential oils)? Or taking 5-10 minutes each morning or evening (maybe both) meditating? Maybe your self-care involves taking the time to eat healthier meals?

Do you enjoy writing? How about spending time each day writing your thoughts/worries into a journal? Yes, I know gratitude journals are the latest ‘thing,’ but sometimes just doing a data (brain) dump onto paper with the good, the bad, the ugly is a more efficient way to wipe out negative vibes.

Dump and delete, then move on….just sayin’…

After the data (brain) dump, if you enjoy writing, maybe you can create some poetry or write a short story?

How much time do you spend on social media? Try cutting back and make plans to see friends ‘irl’ (in real life) instead? Update: Well, the in real life (irl) reunions are on hold for now, unfortunately!

Or if that won’t work due to geographical challenges, pick up the phone and call a friend or try video chat.

Of course, many sites will tell you to hit the spa and get a massage. That’s great, but what would be even nicer is asking your partner for a gentle neck or back massage. It’s been scientifically proven that the sense of touch releases oxytocin (the cuddle hormone which helps keep stress in check). (After I have a chance to recharge, I will find a few PubMed citations to back that up, I promise.)

Have books, will read?

Do you like to read? Hit the library or your local bookstore (Amazon is great, but supporting local business is always nice). Need help finding a good book? Check out the ‘Book reviews’ section.

Try incorporating some movement to conquer the blahs of darker days. Yoga anyone?

True Confession: I am still trying to convince myself that I am coordinated enough to learn yoga poses.

If yoga just won’t work for you, how about a leisurely stroll in your neighborhood? Or maybe hit the gym, but do something less taxing (recumbent bike, anyone?)

I am fortunate in that my $30 a month gym includes a steam room and sauna, so when the temperatures dip, those perks are my carrot for heading over to the gym.

Spend more time talking with your partner and children. In my family, we make it a point to always (with rare exceptions) eat dinner together. Even if one of us has activities after work/school – we just eat a little later, but together.

Since I started a more controlled (read restrictive but in a positive way) food plan, I am always looking for ideas for delicious meals and snacks that are gluten, grain, dairy, and egg-free. If you know of any good recipes, please comment below!

Do you have any festive fall recipes you’d like to share? If so, I’d love to hear from you!  Think hearty but healthy soups, chili, steamed root vegetables, sinfully delicious but healthy desserts, you get the idea. I am open to all gluten and grain-free suggestions!!

To recap (yes, I know I like to ramble, but I feel like I’m talking to a good friend when writing to you), here are some self-care ideas to help you conquer the autumn (or fall) blahs and bring back some joy!

Joyful Self-Care Guide How to Conquer Darker Days

Self-Care List

  1. Take a warm Epsom salt bath with essential oils.
  2. Read a good book.
  3. Call a friend or get together in person (as my kids would write, ‘irl’).
  4. Write about your day in a journal.
  5. Create poetry.
  6. Exercise an art or craft (painting, knitting, crocheting, sculpting, photography, diy gifts to prepare for the holidays.
  7. Experiment in the kitchen with filling but healthy meals.
  8. If you are craving a certain chain coffee shop’s PSL, experiment with making your own.
  9. Take a walk around the neighborhood.
  10. Go for a bike ride.
  11. Visit the gym.
  12. Ask your partner for a massage. (If you need massage oil recommendations, let me know.)
  13. Cuddle with a pet.
  14. Meditate daily – even 5-10 minutes can clear out negative energy.
  15. Invest in a special light if you experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
  16. Give yourself a facial. Here’s a simple DIY recipe.
  17. Find an indoor pool and go for a swim.
  18. Allow yourself to say ‘no’ to outside commitments that don’t bring added value to your life.
  19. Declutter a room or an area in your living space. You’d be surprised at how some people feel more relaxed after cleaning up the clutter! [Note: I wrote this before the Mari Kondo craze exploded, lol.]
  20. Am I missing your favorite self-care hack? If so, please comment below on how you rejuvenate.

As a mom, you owe it to yourself and to your family to claim ‘me’ time and devote it to self-care. True confession: My younger son noticed that I was stressed out this week. He scolded me and said, “Mom, you need to inhale some of your essential oils and chill out.” Yep, he’s right–I need to take time out for myself on a regular basis!


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