smiling woman enjoying self-care Sunday sitting outside sipping tea

Self-Care Sunday: A Guide to Rest and Relaxation

When the sun starts to set on Sunday evening, the idea of facing your weekday routine again may cause anxiety. Starting routine “self-care Sundays” is a great way to manage that stress. Check out everything you need to know about the practice to make your Sundays enjoyable again.

What Is Self-Care?

Self-care is a person’s ability to care for themselves through acts that improve their comprehensive well-being with self-awareness, self-reliance, and self-control. These activities happen routinely to affirm a person’s peace and health. It might start with a spa day and result in a daily skincare practice that relaxes you each night.

Self-care looks different depending on what each person finds most soothing.

man in pajamas standing next to a large window, feeling the warmth of the sun

What Is Self-Care Sunday?

Self-care Sunday is a commitment to doing acts of self-care on Sundays. Ideally, you’ll engage in your relaxation practices whenever stress about your Monday activities starts building.

People often make vision boards or lists to keep track of their self-care options. If you have a collection to choose from, you can tailor each Sunday’s activities to your stress levels.

Benefits of Practicing Self-Care on Sundays

There’s more to self-care Sunday ideas than relaxing activities to end your weekend. Consider these nurturing ideas:

You Might Eat Healthier Food

People with self-care routines don’t engage with anything that makes them feel bad. Your favorite high-fat, high-sugar comfort foods might also cause gas or bloating. Revitalizing your Sunday routine might mean eating healthier during those nights. 

smiling athletic woman eating an apple

Substituting a healthy meal for one that’s highly processed might introduce you to inspiring new recipes. It could transform how you eat during the week because you enjoy how healthier food makes you feel better or improves test results after check-ups with your doctor.

You Could Start Better Sleep Habits

An effective self-care routine also considers your mental self-care. Sleep deficiency deteriorates emotional regulation skills along with your physical health. If your Sunday anxiety — also known as the Sunday scaries — makes you lose sleep, you might start your self-care routine by improving your rest with new bedtime habits.

Even if you don’t go to sleep earlier, reducing your overall stress with other self-care activities makes it easier to sleep through the night. Anything that reduces your anxiety will transform how much rest you get during any night of the week.

You’ll Process Your Emotions

Recognizing your Sunday scaries instead of ignoring them is a form of emotional self-care. You have to acknowledge your feelings and allow them to exist. It’s how everyone processes their emotions. When you’re present with your mind and body, you gain more control over both.

Self-care activities focusing on being present with your emotions will make your recurring Sunday stress less intimidating because you know how to dismantle it. You can practice accepting your anxiety, working through it with self-care habits, and releasing it so it doesn’t affect your quality of life.

Self-Care Ideas for Your Weekends

When you’re ready to transform your physical and mental health, create a self-care Sunday routine with these ideas. As you get to know what helps most with your stress, you can explore related activities to add more stress-fighting tools to your mental health toolbox.

1. Take an Evening Walk

Going for a nature walk is a powerful way to regain control of your mental health. People add walks to their self-care Sunday routines to lower their stress and anxiety while reducing their rumination on negative thoughts.

All you have to do is slightly increase your heart rate while enjoying the sounds of rustling leaves, feeling the breeze on your skin, and taking deep breaths of fresh air.

woman taking a walk outside

2. Listen to White Noise

Your anxiety might feel more intense when external stimuli make your nervous system too reactive. It could look like multitasking too many responsibilities on a Sunday afternoon because you’re so stressed that you can’t sit still.

If you feel overwhelmed, listen to a white noise video with headphones on. The soothing sound blocks out other distractions. As your mind centers itself on the singular sound, you’ll regain the focus you need to care for your mental and physical health before bed.

3. Visit a Relaxing Spot on Sunday Afternoons

Getting out of your house is one of the best self-care Sunday ideas. You’ll put yourself in an environment unaffected by your stressors. It may even have the kind of environmental stimuli to engage your nervous system in a soothing way.

If you live near a beach, you could lounge on the sand and listen to the waves. The sunlight could help decrease feelings of depression, while the ocean reminds you that time flies. Problems are fleeting compared to how long the ocean has rippled between shorelines.

This anxiety hack works in any location you find similarly relaxing, so consider the places near your home to visit them this weekend.

picnic on a beach

4. Journal Your Concerns

Sunday scaries are most powerful when your brain becomes consumed with thoughts about the week ahead. When your mind won’t stop racing, write your thoughts in a journal.

You don’t need to invent solutions for them, either. Just put them on paper to ease your mind. It’s like venting to a friend, but easier to access whenever you need a listening ear.

5. Follow a Yoga Video

Stress often engages the body with things like muscle tension. If you feel physically affected by your anxiety, add yoga to your self-care routine. You can follow a video for stress relief to work the nervous tension out of your body.

man performing yoga on a mat

Try it during your next self-care Sunday afternoon to see how much better you feel when the video ends. You can always attend a weekend class at a nearby yoga studio if it becomes something that significantly helps you.

6. Revamp Your Shower Routine

People sometimes think you can only practice self-care in professional settings like a spa, but that’s not true. Create your own spa day with an everything shower. This practice includes mood-boosting essential oils, revitalizing face masks, and moisturizing lotions. Use your favorite products to nurture your body during and after a hot shower, and you may feel relaxed enough to fall asleep easily.

7. Sing Your Favorite Songs

You’ve likely felt the adrenaline rush that happens after belting a great song in the car by yourself. Make your brain produce the same feel-good hormones by singing your favorite songs at home. It’s a great mental self-care trick because it distracts the mind and increases your oxygen intake.

You might even love going for a self-care Sunday drive if you prefer belting your mood-boosting playlist while driving your car.

smiling man listening to music via his headphones

8. Spend Time With a Loved One

Research shows that spending short amounts of time with someone you care about improves your mood, even if that person isn’t a romantic partner. Try adding a bit of socializing to your self-care Sunday routine. You might feel less intimidated by the upcoming week after gaming with a friend, video chatting with a family member, or sharing a meal at someone’s home.

9. Enjoy a Funny Movie

Movies pull people away from their lives, so they’re the ultimate distraction. Watch a comedy on Sundays to make relaxation easier. It may not seem helpful for your mental health, but you might feel more at ease after the credits roll. If your mind is in a better state, you can continue other self-care ideas like an evening walk or yoga routine.

smiling woman watching a funny show on TV

10. Practice Positive Affirmations Out Loud

While you’re making your vision board or researching self-care ideas, consider positive affirmations. These are statements that uplift you when you’re stuck in negative or anxious thoughts. Studies show affirmations help people form positive attitudes and behaviors when dealing with difficulties. Try repeating phrases like these out loud in the mirror:

  • “I am smart enough to do anything I put my mind to.”
  • “I’m worthy of better mental and physical health.”
  • “I can improve my Sunday nights with activities I love.”
  • “I surround myself with people who love me.”
  • “I can unpack and solve any problem that comes my way.”

You might also find affirmations helpful by writing them in a journal. As long as you repeat them when you feel stressed, you’ll train your mind to think those affirmations instinctively. They’ll become your primary perspective on Sunday nights instead of spiraling into anxiety.

11. Jump in a Swimming Pool

Some people don’t enjoy white noise as a sensory way to disengage their nervous system. You might have better results by jumping into a pool instead. The feeling of water on your skin and the way water blocks out the noise outside the pool could ground you more effectively. It’s one of the better self-care Sunday ideas for people with access to swimming pools, lakes, rivers, or the ocean.

smiling woman wearing sunglasses relaxing at the side of a pool

12. Turn on an Aromatherapy Machine

If you regularly find yourself relaxing when you smell something pleasant, turn on an aromatherapy machine. They’re an excellent resource for your mental and physical health. Soothing essential oils reduce physical stress levels when inhaled regularly. 

High levels of stress increase your risk of diseases like high blood pressure, so add an aromatherapy machine to your next self-care Sunday routine. You can even enjoy your diffusing oils while reading or doing another relaxing activity.

Why Your Anxiety Might Linger After Self-Care Activities

If you try a new self-care routine for a few weeks and don’t feel any positive effects, it might be time to seek help for your mental health. You might be dealing with things a licensed therapist can help you unpack in cognitive behavioral therapy sessions. Your doctor may also recommend adding anxiety or depression medications to your self-care routine.

Asking for help is always a good idea when you need it. It’s another way to practice self-care. Relying on experts who are ready to help you get more rest is sometimes the best way to make personal progress.

Take Care of Yourself Every Sunday

Now that you know about self-care Sundays start thinking about how you’ll care for yourself this weekend. As you plan for the week ahead, you can practice new habits that care for your physical and mental health. Start with these ideas to soothe your mind. You can always branch into other options once you find activities you find most relaxing.

Cora Gold freelance writer

About the Author

Cora Gold is a freelance wellness writer and the editor of women’s lifestyle magazine, Revivalist. She writes about self-care, healthy living, and mindfulness for publications including YouAligned, The Balanced CEO, and Om Magazine. To read more from Cora, connect with her on LinkedIn.

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