Chronic stress is all too common — especially in the midst of the various fast-paced seasons of life. Whether it’s work stress, sports events, family gatherings, or travel plans, your individual needs might be a distant afterthought. But, we’re here to remind you that self-care, daily self-care, is a must! Without it, you’re left feeling run down, fatigued, and burnt out — and who wants that? You can’t pour from an empty cup. But, we get it — even if you’re well aware that you need some extra TLC, getting started can feel daunting. If you just had a little push… right? Good news, that’s where we come in! Say hello to your 14-day self-care challenge. Two weeks of self-care with easy-to-implement tips and tricks that will help you feel your best, inside and out. And once you get the momentum going, staying consistent with a self-care practice will feel like a breeze! No more putting your needs on the back burner — it’s time to put yourself first!
14-Day Self-Care Challenge
Day 1: Self-Reflect On Your Goals
Let’s kick off the challenge with a little self-reflection. Take an assessment of where you’re at and reflect on what you hope to accomplish — both over these next couple of weeks and beyond! What are your short-term and long-term goals? Where do you feel like you need support? What do you need right now?
Maybe you want to improve your sleep habits or relationships. Maybe you want to focus on your diet and really make healthy eating a priority. It could be boundary-setting and learning to say no when it isn’t a heck yes!
Here are some questions to reflect on to help you get started. Use these to help inspire you or modify them as you need!
- What areas am I looking to improve upon?
- What are my biggest setbacks?
- Am I holding on to something I need to let go of?
- What are my top 5 priorities?
- What would make me the happiest?
- What are my long and short-term goals?
Day 2: Do Something You Don’t Usually Have “Time” For
This challenge is all about prioritizing you and your needs. You know those little things that you want to do, but you just don’t have time? Well, today is the day to carve out space! Do you constantly sign up for the 45-minute express yoga class when you really want to unwind for 90-minutes of uninterrupted heaven? Sign up! Do you long to get lost in the therapeutic nature of your local plant shop but just don’t have the time?
This is your sign to go — maybe you even treat yourself to a plant! While you could certainly use this space to hit up the spa or get a massage, it doesn’t have to be anything expensive or extravagant, either. If Target is calling your name, don’t deprive yourself! If that’s what fills up your cup, it’s totally self-care.
Day 3: Start a Book or Podcast
When was the last time you read a book? Or listened to a podcast or audiobook? With the age of social media, we’re constantly connected — to everything except ourselves. Turn your attention inward for a change and use this as a chance to destress and escape the outside world. In fact, a research study from Mindlab International at the University of Sussex found this simple act of self-care could, in fact, help lower stress.
Wind down the day with a warm herbal tea and a book, or embrace quiet mornings with you, your coffee, and a good read. If you’re unsure where to start, Goodreads can give you some recommendations based on books you’ve read in the past!
Some of our favorites include:
- The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- Untamed by Glennon Doyle
- Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor
Day 4: Cook Your Favorite Meal
For no reason other than the fact that you want to treat yourself to something special! Make it a whole experience. Hit your favorite market and pick up some fresh ingredients. Turn on some music. Diffuse a calming essential oil blend while you’re cooking. And once your meal is ready, sit down and mindfully enjoy every nourishing bite! No phone, no distractions.
Need some inspo? Sign up for FitOn PRO and get access to personalized meal plans, including foods you’ll love to eat!
Day 5: Sign Off Social Media
Close your computer, silence your notifications, and log out of social media. Both your mental and physical health beg of you! Even if you’re seemingly unbothered by constant connection, taking a brief break can be more beneficial than you think. For starters, research shows even a short social media break can improve your health. A recent 2022 study found that signing offline for a single week significantly improved feelings of depression and anxiety while benefiting overall wellbeing. Can’t part ways for that long? We totally get it. Consider reducing your usage to 30 minutes per day — similarly, it’s been shown to reduce stress and anxiety and boost mental health.
Mood-boosting benefits aside, think about your physical body. Staring at a screen for hours on end can put a lot of strain on your eyes. And, if you’re hunched over, your neck, shoulders, and low back will pay the price too!
Give this detox a try — at least for the remainder of the challenge — and see how you feel! You can always start small and build your way up to a longer period of time, too.
Day 6: Go for a Distraction-Free Walk in Nature
According to your Apple Watch, you’ve been slaying your daily steps. We’re so proud of you! But, there’s a big difference between lacing up your sneakers for a walking work meeting and hitting the pavement for a distraction-free walk. Both serve their purpose, and squeezing in movement during the workday is 100% self-care, but for this challenge, we’re pushing you to go a little deeper.
Also known as ‘forest bathing,’ there are so many powerful benefits to soaking up the scenery with distraction-free time in nature. It can lower blood pressure and cortisol levels, boost mood and happiness, and simply do wonders for your wellbeing. According to research, the benefits of walking in nature come with 120 minutes per week. If you break it down, that’s around 18 minutes per day. I think we can all manage that, don’t you!?
Day 7: Meal Prep for Next Week
When it comes to TLC, we often think of spa days and vacations. But, nourishing your body with healthy, wholesome food is one of the greatest acts of self-care. By prepping nutritious food for the week ahead, you’re telling yourself that your health is a priority. It sets the tone for the week and can help promote healthier choices in other areas of your life, such as sleep and fitness! And if you’re ultra-busy, this is a great way to feel less overwhelmed.
Try this sample meal-prep menu to help you get started:
- 1 tbsp almond butter
- ½ cup oats
- ⅔ cup blueberries
- 2 tsp chia seeds
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
Step #1: Mix together the almond milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and almond butter.
Step #2: Add the remaining ingredients, including sweetener of choice if desired, and stir well to combine. Place in the fridge overnight or for at least 4 hours for the oats to soften.
Step #3: Serve cold right from the fridge, room temperature, or heat up in the microwave. Add an extra splash of milk if needed if the mixture becomes too thick.
Lunch: Pasta Salad Jar
- 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ cucumber, diced
- 1 cup pasta of choice, cooked
- 1 carrot, grated
- 14 oz chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 head Romaine lettuce, shredded
- 2 oz baby broccolini, diced
Step #1: To make the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Season with sea salt, pepper, and chili flakes to taste, if using.
Step #2: To assemble the salad jars, divide the salad dressing and pour it into the base of 2 glass jars. Then start layering your salad ingredients into the jars. To keep the lettuce and herbs fresh, place these into the jar last.
Step #3: Place a lid on the jars and keep them stored in the fridge until ready to eat. To serve, pour the contents of your jar into a bowl and mix with a fork to coat the ingredients evenly in the dressing. Alternatively, you can enjoy your salad straight from the jar. Simply mix well with your fork first.
Snack: Filling Protein Snack Pack
- 2 cups cucumbers, sliced
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- 4 cups mixed berries
- 2 cups baby carrots
- 4 eggs
- ½ cup low-carb hummus
Step #1: Measure out each ingredient. Arrange on a plate or pack to enjoy later.
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ cup breadcrumbs (optional)
- ¼ cup onion, minced
- 3 garlic, minced
- ⅛ tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 egg white
- 15 oz white beans
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp grill seasoning
- 15 oz canned black beans
- ¼ cup cilantro, minced
Step #1: Drain and rinse the beans well. Add them to a bowl with the garlic, cilantro, onion, bread crumbs, salt, and steak seasoning. Mash together the beans using a fork, masher, or food processor.
Step #2: In another bowl whisk together the eggs and Worcestershire sauce. Add to the beans, and using your hands, combine. Divide the bean mixture into six patties
Step #3: Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add 1/2 tbsp oil. Place three of the patties in the pan, moving them around in a circular motion as you put them down (to prevent them from sticking to the pan). Cook for four to five minutes on the first side, and then flip and cook for another four to five minutes. Remove to a plate. Add the other 1/2 tbsp oil and repeat for the other three patties.
Day 8: Order Your Favorite Drink at Your Favorite Cafe
… and actually sit down to enjoy it. Let’s face it — we’re always in a hurry to order (and drink) our coffee. Mindlessly guzzling it down isn’t doing your body — or your taste buds — any good. When was the last time you actually sat down at the coffee shop to enjoy it? Invite in all your senses and make it a mindful experience. How does it smell and taste? What does it feel like to sit and hold a warming mug without the pressure of running to your next destination? These simple acts can shift your mindset and promote healthier habits!
Day 9: Detox One Area of Your Life
Choose one area of your space for a deep clean: clean out your closet, organize your junk drawer, or vacuum your car. Having a clean, uncluttered space can help reduce stress and tension while easing your mind. If you haven’t used it or worn it in the past month or two, are you really going to? Give back and drop off a box to Goodwill — you’ll feel better and help others in the process!
Day 10: Treat Yourself
You’ve worked so hard over the past 10 days, it’s time to treat yourself! It could be as simple as a coffee or as extravagant as a staycation — whatever your heart desires.
Here are some ideas:
- Book a massage. Book a deep tissue massage to release tension or a lymphatic drainage massage to help rid your body of toxins and inflammation.
- Sweat it out with a sauna sesh.
- Splurge on a green juice, and add in your favorite fixings (even if it’s a little extra).
- Buy a new (toxin-free) face product based on your skin needs and skin type.
- Spend the day alone for some much-needed rest and rejuvenation.
Day 11: Do a DIY Hair Mask
Between the salt water and hot summer heat, summer can do a number on your hair. The number one hair concern during the hottest season? Dehydration. Your hair is thirsty for nutrients that provide hydration and nourishment on a deep level, and we have the perfect self-care remedy: a DIY hydrating hair mask! Made with avocado, honey, and olive oil, this restorative blend will nourish your hair from roots to ends. Bring the spa to you — you could even make it a self-care night and invite some girlfriends to join!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Avocado: packed with omega 3s, antioxidants, and vitamins A, B6, D and E to enhance hair shine and lock in moisture.
- Honey: Rich antioxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties work to soothe scalp irritation and promote new growth.
- Olive Oil: Rich in fatty acids and antioxidants to soften, strengthen, nourish, and unleash your inner hair sheen.
- ½ ripe avocado
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp olive (or coconut) oil
Step #1: In a medium-sized bowl, mash avocado, then mix in honey and olive oil. Stir until well combined, forming a paste.
Step #2: Cleanse and rinse your hair as normal before beginning. Then, starting from the bottom, apply the mask to wet or damp hair working your way up to your roots. When you get to your scalp, spend a little extra time massaging the mixture and working it into all areas of your hair.
Step #3: Wrap your hair in a bun. If possible, cover with a shower cap or light towel. Let sit for 10-30 minutes.
Step #4: Rinse your hair, following with shampoo or conditioner as you normally would.
P.S. — as best you can try to keep up with routine hair trims! It will help rid damaged strands to promote new growth.
Day 12: Visit a Farmers Market
Benefit your health, support your community, and find some new-found recipe inspo – visit your local farmer’s market! Load up on seasonal goodies that are rich in flavor and nutrients.
Day 13: Sleep In
It’s nice to wake up before the world (or maybe your kids) and enjoy some uninterrupted peace and quiet, but sometimes sleeping in is what our body really needs. Turn off your alarm, silence your notifications, and let your body wake up on its own! If you’re not able to adjust your mid-week schedule, try this on a weekend when time isn’t an issue so you can fully turn your brain off.
Day 14: Make a Vision Board
You just spent two beautiful weeks making yourself a priority with simple (yet effective) acts of self-care. Just as you started the challenge, cap it off with a little self-reflection. Check in with your emotions and mental health. What worked best? What inspired you most? Was there anything lacking or any realizations that came to mind? Reflect on anything and everything!
And, to keep the momentum going, your final challenge is to make a vision board! Now that you’re clear on your goals, it’s time to put them into action. Let it serve as a constant reminder (and aesthetic dose of inspiration) to keep reaching for your goals. You can always update your board by adding or removing things that no longer serve you! And there’s no right or wrong way to make one — if you’re tech-savvy, create your vision board online! If you’re more kinesthetic, grab some magazines and make a beautiful board. Whatever feels best for you.
Customize, Repeat, and Keep The Self-Care Going!
Congrats! Take a moment to congratulate yourself — you just did something so incredible for your mind, body, and emotions. Check in with yourself and notice how you feel now vs the start of the challenge. Now, don’t you want to maintain this feel-good energy? Well, you can! Sprinkle these actionable self-care tips into your day-to-day life, customizing however you’d like. Maybe you swap out or modify some tips, or repeat the whole challenge again! The takeaway? Daily self-care (even if it’s just 5-minutes) goes a long way in supporting your health. Keep it up 🙂