5 Ways to Create a Self-Care Sanctuary in Your Home

Written by Sheri Goodman Graham

On April 18, 2020

This article was original published on April 2, 2020
on the redfin.com website by

With each week that goes by, things are drastically changing as we try to flatten the curve of the coronavirus. Most people are working from home, businesses are creating new ways to provide for their customers, and most states are issuing stay-at-home orders. So whether you’re living in Dallas or you’re living in Miami, you’ll likely be spending most of your time at home for the next few weeks, if not longer. 

As you’re hunkered down in your home, practicing self-care is a great way to manage stress and avoid cabin fever during these uncertain times. Whatever your go-to form of self-care is, you can create a self-care sanctuary within your home that helps you reduce anxiety, foster creativity, or build connections. Whether that’s creating a nook for at-home workouts or setting aside time to learn some new cooking skills in your kitchen, having an escape at home can help you adjust to a new normal. Check out these tips to help you create and make the most out of your self-care sanctuary. 

bench press in home gym attic

1. Create a dedicated workout space

Stay motivated and keep your exercise routine going

Exercising is a great way to relieve stress and a common form of self-care for many. Having a dedicated self-care sanctuary in your home for physical activity can make it easier and more motivating to get your body moving. Luckily, you can still order most, if not all, of the equipment you’ll need to make your home gym your own self-care sanctuary.

Pro tips to keep in mind when working out at home:  
It’s important to maintain your fitness and stay healthy during this time, which is why you need to create structure and balance. Gym time is still gym time – adapt to the change in your environment, but not your routine. – Ashley Mutch, Mutch Fitness 

Even though we aren’t getting up and going to work, I still set my alarm for 5 a.m. and exercise before the day starts. – Jennifer Stawarz, A Healthy Hot Mess

Light to moderate exercise at least three times a week helps boost your immune system. Try a great home workout called “Tabata This” — pick 3 body movements (such as sit-ups, push-ups, and air squats) and do 20 seconds of work with 10 seconds of rest, 8 times per movement. Kathy Loewenberg, Crossfit Science Park

Don’t have an extra room? Repurpose under-utilized space in your home 

Try re-purposing a spare room into a home gym or converting your garage to your dedicated workout space. If you live in a smaller home, you may have to get creative and turn one of your larger areas into a multi-purpose room. 

Pro tips and tricks: 
One of the most important steps in keeping active at home is to set up your workout space. If you can’t have a dedicated space, then find a flex space that you can quickly set up, is easily accessible, and you enjoy being in (think speakers, posters, mirrors, or plants). – Akshay Ahooja, Trainiac 

woman doing crunches in self-care sanctuary

Once you have your space, optimize it for an effective workout

There’s now plenty of workout classes that can be done from the comfort of your own home with live-streamed classes, app workouts, and virtual training sessions. Set up a TV or a computer screen in a central part of the room so you can easily stream classes or follow along with an app workout. 

Pro tips and tricks: 
Working out has always been my go-to for stress relief so I make sure to get a workout in. When the gyms closed I wasn’t concerned because I can do any of our apps or do our live workout, 365 — recently, I’ve been doing HIIT app workouts in my apartment. – Amanda Murdock, Daily Burn

It’s so easy to do a workout at home now, and with a good instructor and a few square feet, you can easily get an effective workout. At a minimum, you should understand (1) the target areas and muscles are being used, (2) what you should and shouldn’t feel, and (3) what are the actual benefits of the exercise. – Dean Pohlman, Man Flow Yoga

Yoga is unique in that you can do it whenever and wherever is convenient, and by incorporating on-demand or live stream classes, you can maintain consistency with a practice that generates positivity and is truly within your control. – Elizabeth, Bayou Yoga

Get creative with household items to adapt your workout 

Of course, one downfall to gyms being closed is the lack of equipment most people have in their homes. But this shouldn’t have to stop you from having an effective workout at home — look around and see what household items you can use as a substitute for weights. 

Pro tips and tricks: 
Use everyday items around your home to help keep your muscles active. For example, a client wanted more of a challenge doing her workout at home so she incorporated a cast-iron skillet during air squats and water-filled milk jugs for bicep curls. – Jacob, FitSW

Yoga is one of the best ways to reduce stress and anxiety because it specifically works on the autonomic nervous system to bring us back from the state of fight/flight/freeze. Because we know most people don’t have a hammock in their house, we’ve started a series of videos in which we use a regular bed, instead of an aerial hammock, to drape over. – Michelle Dortignac, Founder, Unnata Aerial Yoga

man cooking meal in kitchen self-care sanctuary

2. Use your kitchen as a therapeutic escape 

Getting crafty in the kitchen can be a fun and calming form of self-care 

Cooking and baking are fun ways to help relieve stress. What better time than now to try out all of those recipes you’ve been saving on Pinterest, or to finally break out the mixer sitting in the back of your pantry?

Pro tips and tricks: 
So many people are taking the time to bake right now, which is a go-to stress reliever for me and many others. I encourage you to steer clear of unrefined sugars and flours as they turn into sugar in the body. Instead, try substituting white sugar with coconut palm sugar, and white flours with spelt and whole wheat pastry flours. – Marisa Wolfson, Get Vegucated

Keep it clutter-free and decorate with things that make you happy

To create a calming, self-care sanctuary within your kitchen, it’s important to keep it clean and free of clutter. Incorporate house plants, scented candles, and other decor that you love to create a peaceful atmosphere that keeps you inspired. 

Take advantage of this time to create wholesome meals

It’s easy to throw out your good eating habits, but try to use this as an opportunity to fine-tune your cooking skills. Instead of opting for quick and easy meals, you can now dedicate time to cooking wholesome meals.

Pro tips and tricks: 
Since accessing fresh veggies can be hard right now, we’ve been freezing giant bags of greens like kale and spinach, and using them to make green smoothies in the morning. Add your favorite protein powder and you won’t even know you’re eating veggies! – Lindsey Hyland, The Little Pine

Food sources of vitamin C are more effective at strengthening your immunity and overall health than supplements. Fruits and vegetables, like strawberries, also offer much more than just vitamin C; all of their micro-nutrients work together to help prevent and fight disease. – Sheri Goodman Graham, Plant-Based RD and Lifestyle Coach

Social distancing offers a very unique opportunity to move into a “metabolic winter” mode. Using this time to rest more, eat less, and opt for simple staple whole plant foods (such as legumes, starchy vegetables, and whole grains) is a great way to optimize and refresh your health. – Julieanna Hever, MS RD CPT, Plant-Based Dietician

fresh grapefruit and greens

If you’re new to cooking, this is a great time to immerse yourself 

As you’re spending more time cooking rather than eating out, this is the perfect time to start experimenting in the kitchen. Cooking nutritious meals can actually be quite simple.

Pro tips and tricks: 
Never has it been more important to support your immune system with a plant-based diet full of leafy greens and vegetables, so eat your vegetables! Keep meals simple if you aren’t used to cooking for yourself by starting with the foundation of beans, greens, and grains. – Diana Morgan, Plenty Vegan

Be sure to have color at every meal — fresh, frozen, and canned are all perfect forms to add in color. At your next meal try to have at least 2 -3 colors on your plate (you can even turn this into a fun game for the whole family). – Adrien Paczosa, iLiveWell Nutrition

Cooking can be a fun way to spend time with your family 

If you’ve been looking for ways to entertain the whole family, use this time to dive into cooking together.

Pro tips and tricks: 
Find fun cooking videos for kids online, dust off cookbooks in your house that have been pushed aside when you are too busy to cook meals and turn on some upbeat cooking music. Even better, try to eat mindfully at your kitchen table away from all the screens. – Andrea Holwegner, Registered Dietitian & CEO, Health Stand Nutrition Consulting

woman reading book on pink couch

3. Create a space for relaxation and reflection

Use this opportunity to slow down, rest, and focus on yourself

In the midst of the coronavirus, take this time to focus on yourself and your well-being. Spend time doing more of the things you love and find a balance between work and rest.  

Pro tips and tricks: 
Practice putting less pressure on yourself during this time. It’s okay to relax and slow down; this is, after all, an opportunity to let go. – Josh Seiler, Final Move Fitness

While we keep our distance from others physically, now is the perfect time for self-care, introspection, reflection, meditation, and doing the projects we’ve been too busy to get to. Lydia’s Kind Foods

Find an area that’s quiet and cozy in your home

Try finding an area in your home that’s secluded so you can find peace and quiet. This is, after all, your space for “you time.” One simple way to make your self-care sanctuary feel relaxing is by adding plenty of pillows, blankets, and scented candles.

Adapt the space to support your favorite form of relaxation and self-care

Whether your idea of self-care is getting cozy and watching a show, meditating, reading a book, or something else — design your self-care sanctuary to best suit your needs. If you plan to create a reading nook, opt for a space that’s well-lit. If you’re going to use your space for meditation, try finding a clutter-free area and keep your essential oils nearby. 

Pro tips and tricks: 
As I work from home, I do mini-meditations throughout the day: breathe deeply, think of people I love, things that inspire me, or something I’m grateful for. This elevates my spirits and keeps fear at bay. – Jean Denney, Mother Earth Living 

wine in backyard self-care sanctuary

4. Find a self-care sanctuary within your backyard 

Make use out of your patio 

This is a great time to spruce up your outdoor space into a relaxing oasis. Just a few simple changes can make all the difference, such as adding a few pieces of furniture, stringing outdoor lights, or creating a backyard fire pit. You can even repurpose this space as an outdoor workout area. 

Plant a garden 

Gardening can be very therapeutic and calming, and it’s a great way to get outdoors. Better yet, you don’t need a large space to start a garden, and can even do so without leaving your house. There’s plenty of ways to order everything you need online, or you can call your local garden and plant shop to see how you can support their business during this time. Some garden shops have even incorporated the ‘take out’ method restaurants are currently doing.

Pro tips and tricks: 
You could use this time to get outdoors and plant a garden with your family — try to include greens like lettuce, kale, parsley, and chard. There’s plenty of videos on YouTube that can guide you step-by-step. – Jesse Schwartz, Living Tree Community Foods

5. Create a digital ecosystem in your home to stay connected 

Even though we’re hunkered down in our homes, continue to connect with others and spend quality time with those you’re sheltering with. Remember, social distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation. And thanks to technology, there’s plenty of ways to feel connected even as you’re keeping your distance. 

Pro tips and tricks: 
We may all be physically distant from each other, but we’ve been handed a rare opportunity to connect with friends and family in new and creative ways. Reach out through technology, listen, ask questions, play games via Facetime, have happy hour with friends, or take an online fitness class to meet new faces. – Lindsay Bergeron, AMP Fitness


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