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How to Get the Most Out of Your Self-Care Sunday
self care sunday
Mental Health

How to Get the Most Out of Your Self-Care Sunday

Make yourself a priority!

Making time for self care is one of the most important gifts you can give yourself. When you take care of yourself, you’re often happier and more productive—and more able to find joy in your life, even during challenging times. 

Of course, the hard part of self care isn’t convincing yourself that you should do it, it’s finding the time to make it a priority. Enter self-care Sundays: Every Sunday, you carve out anywhere from an hour to the whole day to devote to yourself and your mental health. 

You can choose from any number of self care ideas to indulge in, as long as it’s a good self care routine for you. To practice self care is to take care of yourself, and what could be more important than that? The main goal here is to give yourself the time and space each week to recharge and focus on you - even if it’s just a few minutes. 

Here’s how to get started and get the most out of this self care practice. 

What is self-care Sunday?

Self-care Sunday is setting time aside for yourself before the official start of the week. 

It came about as a way to combat what’s known as the “Sunday scaries” or that feeling of dread that can creep in toward the end of the weekend when you start thinking about going back to work, as well as all of the to-dos you need to tackle for the week ahead.

Instead of numbing out to Netflix and trying to dissociate from the reality that Monday is looming, self-care Sunday helps you find your calm and focus before jumping into the week. Just like a morning routine can set up your day for success and get you in a solid mental space to tackle everything, creating self care activities for yourself can get your week started on a positive note. So get excited! Practicing self care is important, and self love can be so much fun, especially when done right.  

Why is it important to take a self-care Sunday?

In these busy (and, let’s face it, crazy) times, it’s easy to fall prey to burnout. Taking a few moments or a few hours on Sundays to recharge, recalibrate and renew yourself is important. When you’re running on fumes, you’re more likely to be in a bad mood, less likely to take care of yourself and more susceptible to getting sick. 

It’s easy to make excuses and convince yourself that you don’t have time for self-care Sunday. You have things to do on the weekends. You have kids. You have work shifts you’re scheduled for. But I’d argue that if you are truly so busy that you don’t have time to take even an hour for yourself each weekend then you need to build in a self-care Sunday routine more than most people do. 

This is one of those things that you simply have to make time for: Something has to give in order for you to have time to take care of yourself. Your self-care Sunday routine doesn’t need to be long and involved (though it certainly can be). It just needs to be mindfully planned and full of actions that actually help you relax or make your life easier in the week ahead. (Some self care Sunday tips are coming up soon to help you plan yours out.)

Planning your perfect self-care Sunday routine

Everyone’s self-care Sunday is going to look different based on their needs, personality, lifestyle and time constraints. 

Typically, people will build a self care Sunday routine that starts on Sunday afternoons or evenings, though you can certainly take the whole day and focus on doing things that help you prepare for the week ahead, as well as allow you to relax and recharge, too.

Your specific routine will vary based on what self care means to you. You may want to spend time alone or make time to be with friends or family members. You may want to do a lot of activities or not do much of anything. It may take some trial and error to figure out what really helps you set yourself up right for the coming week. 

17 Self-care Sunday ideas to get you started

Creating the ideal self-care Sunday routine may take some time before you get it just right. You know yourself best: If you thrive on ticking off to-dos, then you might want to plan a busier self-care day. If you want to make a point to slow down, create a routine with only a few items for you to complete.

The following ideas will help get you started on making the perfect self-care Sunday routine for you. Know that you can tweak and edit this routine whenever you need to best suit your needs and wants. Let go of last week

Before anything else, it’s important to leave last week in the past. Whatever mistakes you made at work, whatever tasks you didn’t get done, whatever you did that could have been done better—let it all go. 

Some people may need a cleansing ritual to help with this. You can write down all of the things you “did wrong” on a piece of paper and burn it or rip it up. Or you can do a visualization exercise going through your biggest mistakes and imagining them floating away on clouds. Whatever you need to do, help yourself stop beating yourself up about the errors of last week. 

Make Sundays your rest days

Try not to overschedule your weekends, but especially your Sundays. There’s nothing worse than showing up for work exhausted and wishing you had made more of an effort to relax over the weekend. 

Of course, some seasons and months will be busier than others—and that’s okay. But do yourself a favor and really consider every social invite or obligation to make sure it’s going to add to your life, not take away from it, before you say yes. For many of us, less is more. 

Prep for the week by going over your schedule

Sundays are a great time to crack open your weekly planner or pull up your calendar and go over the week ahead. If you have a partner (or kids), you can work together as a family to get an overview of the week, figuring out who’s taking on various tasks or who needs to be where when. This keeps your week free from surprises and helps everyone’s schedule run more smoothly. 

You can also use this as an opportunity to plan out time for yourself, time with your partner or friends and to schedule in exercise so you can continue to take care of yourself during the week. 

Set your goals for the week 

You might also write down some goals you want to meet for the week. Maybe you want to get 10 minutes a day outside or take a walk at least one day. Maybe you really want to make an effort to call a loved one. Maybe you want to meet a professional goal. Make sure your benchmarks are achievable so you can meet them—this will keep you encouraged to keep setting goals for yourself. 

Spend time in nature

self care sundays
(AscentXmedia / Getty)

If you can, go for a hike or take some time to be in the natural world. Doing so is good for your mood and your spirit. Even if you can just take a short walk around your neighborhood, getting fresh air can do wonders for your mood and will give your body a burst of movement, too. You can even combine this activity with spending time with your dog, your family or a friend and make it a multipurpose self-care activity. 

Take a break from your screens

If you’re like most people, you probably spend a lot of your week staring at a computer. Use Sunday as an opportunity to do less of that. Read a book, do crossword puzzles, flip through a magazine—do something that doesn’t involve looking at a screen. Encourage your family to do the same and you can spend Sundays connecting with each other instead of with your devices. 

Do something creative

Sundays are a great opportunity to do a creative activity, from writing to painting, knitting to collaging. Especially if your work life is not very creative, working on something with the other part of your brain on the weekends can help you relax and allow you to use your more imaginative side. 

Book a relaxing treatment

If you enjoy going for massages, facial or getting your nails done, consider booking treatments on Sunday afternoons. This helps you go into the week more relaxed and lets you skip the busy spa rush that often happens on Saturdays. If you aren’t one to book treatments, take a bath, dry-brush or do something nourishing for your body on Sundays that you typically don’t have time for during the week. 

Check in with loved ones

Connecting with others can be a great way to recharge. Use self care Sunday as a time to text friends to check in, call your parents or kids or otherwise connect with those you love. Conversely, if being alone is more restorative for you, don’t feel badly about sending calls to voicemail or waiting until Monday to answer texts or emails. 

Do meal prep and planning

If you’re able to, do your grocery shopping on Sundays and plan out your meals for the week in advance. This way, you know what nights you’ll be cooking (or ordering in) and what you’ll be making. This cuts down on the guesswork of what to eat and the stress of having to figure it all out once your week is in full swing. You can even prep ingredients by marinating meat or chopping fruits and vegetables on Sundays while listening to music or a podcast. 

Declutter and organize your space

Take time on Sundays to clear off your desk, declutter your entryway and do some light cleaning and organizing. Having laundry put away and folded, for instance, can help you get dressed easier in the morning. Making sure all of your work items (and kids’ school items) are put into bags or backpacks can help the Monday morning rush go smoother, too. 

Start a ritual that makes your feel grounded or connected

Make Sundays your favorite day of the week by creating a new ritual. You might make dinner with your family, go out for brunch with friends, visit your place of worship, go for a hike—anything that you can look forward to and then reflect on once you’re in the thick of your work week. Making time to feel connected to others and the world around you can be replenishing and grounding in its own way. 

Feed yourself nourishing foods and stay hydrated

Make Sunday a food and beverage reset day if you’re apt to eat out more or indulge over the weekend. Limit caffeine and alcohol on Sundays and feed yourself foods that hydrate, fill and nourish you. Smoothies packed with greens and high-vitamin fruits can help you move into the week on a good note. (Make extra and freeze the leftovers so you have easy breakfasts you can defrost the night before, too!)

Set boundaries 

On Sundays, don’t spread yourself thin by trying to please other people. Decline social invites for bar crawls if your priority is to not be hungover for work on Monday. Tell family members wanting to Zoom every Sunday night if this doesn’t actually  work for you. Find that balance between obligation to yourself and to others to be sure that you’re not continually bending over backward for everyone else. 

Inspire yourself

Use your self care Sunday time for career and personal development. Watch TED talks, read career or creative development books and otherwise work on yourself. Even little actions can have a big impact. Research podcasts to listen to and cue them up on your phone. Make a great playlist for your commute or morning runs. You might not get time to do these things during the week so making the time to do them on Sunday may be your own chance. 

Get in a good mental space

Work on your inner world by journaling or doing meditation or yoga on Sundays. Clearing your head before the busy week can set you up for better mental focus in all that you do, from work to personal commitments. Even if you think you’re not woo-woo enough for meditation, just take two minutes to sit and breathe in silence. Making a little mental space goes a long way. 

Go to bed early

happy self care sunday
(Flashpop / Getty)

No one wants to kick off the week already exhausted. Be sure that you commit to getting eight hours of sleep on Sunday nights—which means that you may need to cut down your binge watching before bedtime. Get to bed at a reasonable time by doing a simple bedtime routine 30 minutes before you get under the covers. This will prepare your mind, and your body, for sleep. 

How to start a self-care routine?

Beginning a new habit is never easy. But the one thing you can do to make it happen is this: just start. You don’t have to get it perfect the first Sunday. You might even forget the next Sunday. Begin again. And again. And again. 

Your self care journey doesn’t need to look like anyone else’s but if you don’t start, you’ll never actually do it. When you’re feeling like you don’t have enough time, or you get invited to do other things on Sunday, remember your commitment to yourself. (You might find inspiration in these self care quotes to keep you on the right track.) 

Remember that self care isn’t a destination, it’s merely a commitment to showing up for yourself. You are a priority. Believe that and continue to believe it as your self care Sunday journey evolves. 

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