Category Archives: Self Care

Celebrate everyday in November (plus self-care tracker)

Photo by Josh Hild on

Welcome back to another season of Cool Yule…where we celebrate everything wonderful about Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and the winter holidays.

Here are 30 self-care activities for every day in November. We all need to take extra good care of ourselves at this time. I invite you to download and print the November Self-Care tracker, which is aligned with these days to celebrate and self-care ideas.

Feel free to do the activities in any order you choose. The more you do, the better you will feel!

Fun, Safe and Free: Self-Care Activities in Northern Virginia in November

2020 Unplugged. For adults: Pick up a packet containing yoga, mediation and breathing exercises, calming coloring sheets, brain games to engage your mind, and trivia to test you from the Dolley Madison library in McLean, VA.

Make Your Own Greeting Cards (adults). Stop by at the Thomas Jefferson Library in Falls Church, VA and pick up a kit with blank cards, brush pens, and lettering practice sheets. Available November 1 – December 1.

Take ‘n Make: Mini Zen Garden Relax with your own Zen garden! Kits available from November 9 until supplies last at the Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library.

U.S. Botanic Garden and WithLoveDC offer a free, 1-hour weekly meditation and yoga class every Saturday 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Space is still first-come, first-serve for the 100 people to log in. REGISTER:

Virtual Yoga for All Jennifer Eubank combines breathing, poses, mindfulness and meditation in this session. Mondays at 6:00 p.m. and Wednesdays at 10:00 a.m. 

Gentle Yoga and Mindfulness An experienced Yoga instructor will combine Yoga and mindfulness into a flowing sequence to help recharge the body and calm the mind. Thursdays at 12:00 p.m.

Virtual Trivia Happy Hour Virtual trivia program will feature different categories for adults of all ages and bonus questions to test your trivia mettle. Thursdays at 5:30 p.m.

The Kennedy Center presents free “Arts Across America” live performances Monday – Friday at 4 p.m. Watch on Facebook Live or YouTube.

The all-virtual Alexandria Film Festival runs November 12 -15 and features 18 premieres.

Sunday, November 1

Today is All Saint’s Day. Daylight Savings Time ends today; set your clocks one hour back. Adapting to new times is an adjustment. Make it a relaxing Sunday and take a nap, if you need one.

Monday, November 2

Have you tried using affirmations? Affirmations are positive statements you make in the first person and are a form of self-care. Abundance affirmations help you appreciate all that is good in your life. I tape them in up on next to my bathroom mirror sometimes. Here is a simple one you can repeat.

Today is the Day of the Dead in Mexico (and elsewhere, where celebrated). In London, the courts will rule on the Johnny Depp libel case.

Tuesday, November 3

Today is Election Day. It is not a Federal holiday and banks will be open. It is believed we will not know the election results tonight. At least one half of the country will feel disappointed or disenfranchised and there will be collective anxiety. One way you can take care of yourself is to plan out your day to moderate your exposure to social media and news coverage. For example, instead of checking it frequently, assign yourself times when you will be online. Then distract yourself with an outdoor walk and doing other things you enjoy. Remember to avoid crowds during the pandemic. This too shall pass.

Wednesday, November 4

Today is Stress Awareness Day and I bet we will all be aware of our stress levels today! One way you can de-stress is with soothing scents. Smells are closely tied to our emotions and memory. Fortunately, autumn is chock full of soothing scents, like pumpkin spice, cinnamon and apple. Some other soothing scents to try are Lavender, Chamomile, Mint and Rosemary. I like to put the Aura Cacia essential oil roll on called “Chill Pill” on my wrists or spray their Relaxing Lavender spray on bed sheets. I have also put sliced lemon and dried rosemary in a large pot of water to simmer on the stove (this is great to inhale if you have a cold). Or drink a cup of chamomile or peppermint tea. Twinings Winter Blend is a lovely herbal tea containing chamomile, apple, cinnamon and cardamon.For more potent fragrance, light a pumpkin spice or apple-scented candle or burn some cinnamon incense.

Thursday, November 5

Donating is a form of self-care because it improves your sense of well-being and connection. Donate your gently used coats and holiday decorations to Goodwill. Goodwill provides job training, mentoring and employment for people with disabilities and people facing challenges.

Friday, November 6

Brrr…it’s getting chilly! How would you like to create a cozy bedroom?

Photo by Dmitry Zvolskiy on

You can add little white lights and string them like a canopy over your bed or along the walls. I have seen good deals on flannel sheets and some nice buffalo plaid blankets and comforters. And check out this Target spread for creating a contemporary fall bedroom. Just beautiful!

When you turn on the heat, you’ll probably want a humidifier in your bedroom…and a LOT of distilled water. I pick up a gallon or two each time I go to the store because, as you may recall, distilled water was hard to come by this spring. You can use regular water but distilled water prevents those cakey calcium deposits from forming on the heating element and the humidifier will work more effectively.

A humidifier keep your nasal passages moist while you sleep which helps prevent the transmission of respiratory viruses. So, it’s a great form of self-care in the cold months. They are indispensable for preventing or treating croup in babies. I like this one from Vicks. You can also lower the temperature in your bedroom (but not baby’s room) a few degrees at night, if you like, because the humidifier will make the air a little warmer.

And you know what else? It’s National Nachos Day.

Saturday, November 7

The Rock n Roll Hall of Fame inductions will air tonight on HBO. Have you thought about trying a new hobby this winter while we remain safer at home? There are inexpensive options. You can buy a skein of yarn and a pair of knitting needles or a crochet needle and make a hat! That will be my first project. What will you choose to do? Paints? Learn how to play the ukulele? Sewing?

There is a Nature Scavenger Hunt today at Green Springs Gardens in Alexandria, VA. $5.

Sunday, November 8

November is Native American month. Here is an authentic butternut squash soup recipe to try — it sounds delicious! You could use frozen butternut squash instead of fresh to save peeling and chopping.

Monday, November 9

It’s Mindfulness Monday! Today, take a mindfulness walk outdoors. The mindfulness aspect is that you are doing one thing only — no music, no cell phone conversation — simply clear your mind and take in the sights, sounds and smells of autumn on your walk.

Tuesday, November 10

Are you taking Vitamin D every day? Normally, I’d say you’d get most of the nutrients you need from a balanced diet. But as winter approaches, there is less sunlight. A lot of people are deficient in Vitamin D but that deficiency can lead to bone fractures and osteoporosis later. A bottle of 1000 mcg of Vitamin D costs less than $6 (Nature Made brand). Dr. Fauci takes it every day; there is evidence to support Vitamin D supplementation may reduce your risk of being infected with the corona virus.

Wednesday, November 11

Today is Veteran’s Day, a Federal holiday. Your bank will likely be closed today. The 54th annual Country Music Awards are tonight, hosted by Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker. Annnd….it is also Workout Wednesday! Here is an arm workout you can do at home.

Thursday, November 12

The pandemic has really hit the food banks hard. Check the websites of your local food banks and pick one to donate some canned food today.

Friday, November 13

Today is Friday, the 13th! It is also World Kindness Day. Given that we are in the midst of a pandemic, what do you think is the kindest thing you can do? That answer will be different for everyone but do this today. Here are loads of suggestions that hadn’t occurred to me.

Saturday, November 14

Ready for a Thanksgiving-themed movie? Yeah, that’s too bad. Because there is not one Thanksgiving movie out there I can honestly recommend. Not one! Maybe a Friends episode. Maybe just curl up with any old favorite movie you enjoy. There are some good Hitchcock movies that are free to watch on YouTube, like my favorite, Notorious.

Sunday, November 15

Today is the New Moon and it is also known as Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day. That’s a good idea as you get ready for winter feasts. Home Depot explains how to do it.

Want to organize your refrigerator better? Ever since I bought these “Fridge Binz,” I am saving money because I can easily see what’s in my fridge and I know where everything is. Worth every penny in minimizing frustration, too! I purchased mine at the Container Store but I’ve seen less expensive versions at stores like Home Goods. And I bet you could engineer Dollar Tree baskets…maybe. But these hold up and they work great.

New Moons are good for setting intentions. Now that you’ve organized your refrigerator :), what else in your life needs atttention? What would you like the rest of November to look like? Reflect on this Sunday night, set your intentions and write them down.

Monday, November 16

It’s Mindfulness Monday! I love to color. It’s almost like meditatiing. Here’s an autumn leaf mandala for you to download (free) and color today. By the way, this is also my only child’s birthday. Happy Birthday, sweet boy.

Tuesday, November 17

It’s Take a Hike day! Hopefully, the weather will cooperate. Bundle up and get some fresh air so you can color in a turkey on your self-care tracker today. Or attend the library virtual program Finding Inner Peace and Calmness Through Meditation. Gerry Gorman talks about the journey of finding peace, happiness and a greater sense of wellbeing by applying simple meditation techniques. 12 p.m. Register.

Wednesday, November 18

It’s Workout Wednesday again! Since exercise is an important part of self-care, we really should try to do it at least once a week so we can color in our turkey! Head outside for a cool weather workout. How about ice skating at one of the many outdoor ice rinks in the area? Skate for an hour and you will burn 400 – 800 calories.

Thursday, November 19

Thanksgiving will be different this year. The CDC has issued guidance for pandemic-safe turkey day celebrations. New York City Mayor DiBlasio is urging people not to travel at all during the Thanksgiving holiday. Maintain those social bonds by sending beautiful Thanksgiving cards. Dollar Tree sells Hallmark greeting cards and they are 2/$1. There is nothing like getting a beautiful card with a heartfelt message of gratitude in the mail!

Today is also Beaujolais Day, International Men’s Day and the Great American Smokeout.

Friday, November 20

Music reduces stress so well, it really should be part of your Thanksgiving celebration. By now, the radio is playing Christmas music. But what about Thanksgiving music? Not to fret, here is a playlist of contemporary songs about gratitude. Or make your own playlist today for T-Day.

Saturday, November 21

In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia,world leaders will attend the 15th annual summit of the Group of 20 economies.

The Winter Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Gardens in Vienna, VA opened on November 11. If you go see it today or before (with social distancing and masks), you may beat the crowds that will visit at Thanksgiving and thereafter.

Sunday, November 22

Today is Go for a Ride Day! Pile in the car and take in the electric holiday splendor of the Bull Run Festival of Lights, a drive through light display in Manassas, Virginia.

Monday, November 23.

The 48th annual Emmy Awards are tonight. It is also Mindfulness Monday. Here is a lovely guided meditation on gratitude for you to enjoy.

Tuesday, November 24.

A big part of your self-care plan for the holidays is understanding your boundaries and communicating about them (if needed). If you are spending Thanksgiving with loved ones, reflect on your boundaries and how you can, wordlessly or with love, ensure that they are honored by your family. For example, perhaps you want to have a discussion today with your children or family members about cell phones at the dinner table. Or maybe you need to be sure you carve out a little alone time for yourself every day. Think about what you need to feel happy and safe on this holiday.

Wednesday, November 25

The day before Thanksgiving is notorious for drunk driving accidents. You really don’t need that extra can of cranberry sauce, do you? Stay home and try this Thanksgiving-themed yoga workout, instead.

Thursday, November 26.

Happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving can be an emotional time, laden with expectations and dashed hopes. And all of that is compounded with the pandemic.  Allow yourself to feel all of your feelings — gratitude, loss, happiness, irriration. Try writing them down instead of sharing them aloud (and minimize your alcohol intake).

It can still be a joyous day, though! Take a walk with your loved ones, call all your relatives, play board games, cook, watch football, count your blessings and eat! You can also Zoom-share your dinner with loved ones. Even a solitary Thanksgiving can be meaningful (I should know).

Say Grace

Here are 24 ways to say grace at Thanksgiving.

Macy’s Day Parade

The 94th Annual Macy’s Day Parade will air on Thanksgiving Day from 9 a.m. to Noon on NBC, with some changes for the pandemic. People won’t be holding the balloons!

Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Sadly, a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving will not be airing on broadcast television for the first time in more than 50 years. Apple TV has a monopoly on the Peanuts specials. You can’t even watch it on Amazon video. As of this writing, the DVD is out of stock at Walmart AND Target.

To which I say WHAT. THE. HELL!?!?

2020, you just get worser and worserer.

I don’t usually do this but desperate times call for desperate measures. If Apple wants to hijack an American tradition, they deserve what they get. People are uploading the program in pieces on YouTube. Here is the playlist. You can watch it right here 🙂

Make it a Healthy Day

Thanksgiving is about splurging but you can still save fat and calories.

Here is the football line-up for Turkey Day.

The Houston Texans plays the Detroit Lions at 12:30 p.m. (which is just too plain early for football). The game airs on CBS.

Washington (no longer the Redskins) plays their arch-nemesis, the Dallas Cowboys at 4:30 p.m. and God save us all. Watch on Fox.

The Baltimore Ravens battle the Pittsburgh Steelers at 8:30 p.m. You can see it on NBC.

Don’t Trot the Turkey

Please note: it’s traditional for Turkey Trot 5K foot races to be held today. The CDC considers participating in these crowded, outdoor races as a high-risk activity. Things must be really bad. So, avoid them. There will be other years for races!

Kiss Black Friday Goodbye in 2020

The CDC also recommends that people shop online and avoid entering stores and malls today and tomorrow. Read the CDC pandemic recommendations about Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Friday, November 27

Today is Black Friday. This is not the year to head to the malls, my dears. There will be loads of Black Friday deals online or you can choose to skip shopping altogether. One idea would be to order supplies ahead and make a gift or two for a loved one this year. Even little children can paint wooden boxes or frames.

You might think the museums will be empty on Thanksgiving or Black Friday. Or maybe you’re thinking about heading to the Kennedy Center because you think it will be a ghost town. Or maybe you’re thinking about popping down to Mt. Vernon.

WRONG. The museums are uncomfortably crowded on these days. Parking will be non-existent. It’s just about the worst time to go to any of these places, even when the pandemic isn’t happening.

I’d like to recommend the Christmas parades and tree lightings that are happening today and I get in a lump in my throat when I think about missing them. But I will not be going to them this year.

No, the best thing for all involved (particulary since drunk driving accidents also increase this weekend) is to stick close to home ane enjoy indoor and outdoor activities away from others. Plan ahead for extended togetherness! — buy some crafts materials to make Christmas ornaments, for example.

Saturday, November 28

Today is National French Toast Day! It’s the perfect day for a leisurely breakfast before NOT going absolutely anywhere. How do you like your French toast, with powedered sugar, maple syrup or both? French toast is also part of the delicious Monte Cristo sandwich. You could make a Thanksgiving version with some of that leftover turkey and cranberry sauce!

If you feel like venturing out…

Turkey Walk (4-Adult) Discover the wild turkey’s habits and secret ways during a walk in the cedar forest. Look for wild turkeys and their signs. The program at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park (Chantilly, VA) runs from 10 to 11 a.m. The cost is $6 per person. Children must be accompanied by an adult registered in the program. For information, call 703-631-0013.

Sunday, November 29

Today is the first Sunday in Advent, the beginining of the Christmas season. Even if you don’t celebrate Advent, it would be a nice evening to light some candles. If you head to Old Town Alexandria just before sunset, you can see the outdoor Christmas tree (or see the outdoor ones at Tysons Corner, Fairfax Corner or Reston Town Center, with social distancing).

Monday, November 30

Today is Cyber Monday, the official online Christmas shopping day. But….it’s has pretty much been Cyber Monday since March. But you might find a few bargains, if you need anything. Tonight is the full moon. The November full moon is known as the Beaver Moon. There will also be a penumbral lunar eclipse.


A soothing “log cabin” meditation to ease you into the new year

Photo by Pixabay on

An excellent resolution for the new year would be to add meditation to your self care routine.

If you can’t meditate every day, why not resolve to meditate on Mondays? Meditation Mondays — that’s easy to remember.

Meditation is so good for you! It can help you reduce stress, alleviate depression and anxiety, improve your memory and prep your mind for better decision-making. Many report that meditation helps them sleep better and make mindful choices. It can even build up your immune system! Continue reading

A Cozy New Year’s Eve In

Photo by Element5 Digital on

It happens. You had planned to go out for New Year’s Eve…but the weather turned out to be too dreadful. Or you or someone in the family isn’t feeling well. Whatever the reason, you’re home this year for New Year’s Eve and it’s going to be a quiet evening. But you still want to celebrate! How to make the best of it?

Continue reading

ASMR Christmas

Photo by Public Domain Pictures on

This is something a little different to try, if you haven’t tried ASMR before.

This YouTuber, ASMR Darling, has assembled a variety of Christmas items. Along with her voice, she uses the items in this video to produce sensory effects that can spur a pleasant and relaxing response in many people. She receives millions of views for her amusing and well-produced ASMR videos.

Watching and listening to the “triggers” in a video like this can make you feel relaxed or sleepy. Some of the sounds might make you feel shivery or tingly (but not in an unpleasant way). Others might not elicit a response. Everyone is different. I recommend you listen to this video using headphones to take advantage of the binaural effects.

I hope you enjoy it! It’s an innocent, free, holiday pleasure!

I especially like the tapping…and the Christmas tree! Let me know if you had any tingles!

A guided Christmas-themed meditation

Photo by Pixabay on

Here is a lovely, guided meditation from Peaceful Meditations that offers a soothing and creative spoken script facilitating visualization of beautiful Christmas imagery, accompanied by soft, background Christmas music.

I hope you can take time to relax and make meditation a part of your self care this holiday season.


The Tradition of Winter Hygge

What is hygge…and how do you pronounce it?

It’s pronounced hoo-ga and the Oxford dictionary defines it thusly:

A quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).

So, Denmark. If you’re like me, all you know about Denmark is that it has something to do with IKEA. And like me, you would be wrong, because IKEA is a Swedish company.

Continue reading

Your Christmas Self-Care Plan

Did you know that 1 in 5 people cope with a mental illness, such as depression or anxiety? And that 1 in 10 people are in recovery from addiction? If you have one of these challenges, you are not alone. And you may know that Christmas can be an especially stressful time, and that stress can make these conditions worse.

Even if you do not have one of these conditions, if you are spending Christmas alone, you may feel anxious or down about it. Or maybe you just find getting together with your family to be a bit stressful.

Well, it is stressful. Christmas Day is the number one day of the year for heart attacks. The second highest is the day after Christmas.

That’s why everyone needs a self-care plan for Christmas. Your self-care plan should remind yourself that you have value and provide for resources in case you need them. Talk with a therapist, sponsor, relative or friend about your Christmas Day self-care plan. This builds in a measure of accountability.

Here’s an example of a self-care plan for Christmas.

  • Stay on schedule with medications, meals and sleep routines.
  • Get a flu shot and wash your hands frequently to avoid catching a cold or other virus.
  • Set aside time to relax and measure your expectations. Don’t take on more than you can handle.
  • When it is freezing outside, bundle up. Sudden exposure to frigid weather is hard on your heart.
  • Stay hydrated and enjoy meals that are right for your dietary needs. Decide where you will conserve calories and where you will splurge. Eat mindfully at a dining table.

    advent bake blur break

    Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.comRemember to drink water throughout the day. Try hot herbal tea to relax.

  • Abstain from alcohol or reduce it.
  • Set aside time for exercise. Movement helps reduce anxiety and depression. You can burn 250 – 350 calories in just one half hour of skating!
  • Practice mindfulness. Meditate, pray, say affirmations, do deep breathing, complete a Christmas craft or color.
  • Connect with people. If you can, spend part of the Christmas holiday with family or friends. If you can’t, arrange time to call them on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. If these aren’t options, spend a part of the day around people: at a restaurant, museum, church or support group, for example.
  • Do something nice for yourself. I like scented candles, so I will light those when I relax. Maybe a small poinsettia would brighten your day.
  • Plan something fun to do that you really enjoy. Having something to look forward to is a big element of personal happiness. Music, laughter, creativity and exercise are elevating. Check out the December calendar.
  • red lighted candle

    Photo by Nubia Navarro (nubikini) on

    Express gratitude. Write thank you notes for presents or send cards to people you appreciate. Say thank you to people to sales people, postal employees, wait staff and teachers.

  • Laugh! Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas, Friends Christmas episodes or listen to old time radio Christmas episodes of The Jack Benny Show or Our Miss Brooks.
  • Plan for help if you need it. If you have become depressed or anxious in the past on Christmas, develop a self-care plan with your therapist. If you don’t have a therapist, call the Merrifield CSB 24-hour crisis number (703) 559-3000 for assistance.
  • Enjoy a Christmas Day meal with other people in recovery. The Unity Club in Falls Church, a hub for 12-step meetings, offers a free Christmas meal from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. with fellowship and great food. You can sign up in advance to bring a dish to share, if you like.
  • Plan something fun to do on December 26. Christmas day and the day after Christmas can be a big let down, which can lead to a worsening of depression or other symptoms. The way I get around this anti-climax of a day I extend my Christmas until January 6 (Epiphany), so that the end of the season is more gradual thing. I don’t recommend that you head to the malls on the day after Christmas, even if they do have sales on this day. Having worked in retail for years, I can attest that people will be irritable on the day after Christmas, parking will be abysmal and lines will be long. Do something fun instead. There’s still a lot of Christmas left in the month!

What other ideas do you have for a Christmas self-care plan?

Take a break with a gratitude meditation

This year, I have been learning and practicing meditation and mindfulness as part of my self care and personal development. I wanted to share this gratitude meditation. It’s only 5 minutes long.

If you feel your attention wandering, just notice the feeling or thought and turn your attention back to your breath. It’s normal to feel distracted or think of other things.

Continue reading

Thanksgiving for one: making a solitary holiday special

Have you ever spent Thanksgiving by yourself? You’re not alone! Maybe you are one of the people who…

  • Are single and live alone; a growing population in nearly every age range.
  • Share custody of their kids and it’s not their turn to spend Thanksgiving with them this year.
  • Can’t afford to travel to see distant relatives.
  • Don’t have any family members left or are estranged from their family.
  • Work on Thanksgiving Day or on Black Friday.
  • Experience depression, anxiety or other challenges that cause them to isolate.
  • Enjoy having the day to themselves.

Continue reading

Your Thanksgiving Self-Care Plan

Be present in all things, and thankful for all things — Maya Angelou

718-6IH9jXLDid you know that 1 in 5 people cope with a mental illness, such as depression or anxiety? And that 1 in 10 people are in recovery from addiction? If you have one of these challenges, you are not alone.  Thanksgiving can be an especially stressful time, and that stress can make these conditions worse. Even if you do not have one of these conditions, Thanksgiving may stress you out.

Continue reading