I Tried Five Self-Care Methods So You Don’t Have To
Self-care is in the air. Here’s my honest review of five popular stress-busting techniques.
Ahh, back-to-school season. Along with the new, blank notebooks and freshly sharpened pencils comes a wave of self-reflection and goal-setting. And as I gear up for fall and the year ahead, I’m attempting to take a habit of self-care along with me. But as much as we hear about “wellness” and “self-care,” which of these methods actually works? Below, I tried five self-care techniques to see what worked for me.
Want more M Dash?
Manifesting can take a variety of forms—vision boards, journaling, affirmations—but common to all of them is the practice of focusing on a goal, then shifting your thoughts in order to achieve it. Though it was first popularized in Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, it’s taken on a life of its own: Google searches for “manifesting” increased 669% during a four-month period in 2020.
Anxious to see what all the fuss was about, I armed myself with a journal and got to work. I started with some affirmations, writing “I am” statements and finishing the sentence with the end result of my goal. For example, if your goal is to have $1M in your bank account and be rich, you might write, “I am rich. I have one million dollars.”
The exercise quickly felt…extremely awkward. My brain fought back with a heavy dose of realism. But while I struggled with pretending I had already achieved my goals, it was helpful to put pen to paper and officially record my goals in the first place. The more specific I got, the more I was able to see the specific actions I’d need to take in order to achieve them. So while manifesting wasn’t particularly useful for me, having my goals—and a roadmap toward them—outlined on paper made it easier to take steps toward achieving them.
4. Sound Bath
What could be more relaxing than “bathing” in the vibrations and sounds of singing bowls and instruments? Bonus: It didn’t require me to do anything but lie on the floor with a cushion. I could do this.
For a sound bath, you usually lie on a mat or cushion in a darkened room while a practitioner uses various instruments (like Tibetan singing bowls, cymbals, bells, and didgeridoos) to create a soothing, vibrating soundtrack with overlapping sounds. At first, the vibrations felt a bit intense, but before long, I floated into a peaceful, meditative state. It was, frankly, pretty tough not to fall asleep.
When it was over, I felt extremely calm and blissful, and I definitely slept well that night. Do I think it had a lasting effect? Not at all. But I can see it being a great way to unwind after a long or particularly stressful week. Plus, it let me use the word “didgeridoo” in a sentence, and that opportunity doesn’t come along very often.