Woman coloring an adult coloring book, new stress relieving trend, mindfulness concept, hand detail
Image: Andrea Obzerova / Shutterstock

The older we get, the more time we spend working. Sometimes we never stop working, even if it’s the weekend. I know I can’t stop myself from checking my email and making sure no one needs a reply while I’m sleeping. Newsflash: that’s still work. Mondays have generally been synonymous with going back to work, but with more and more people working from home, it’s hard to separate work from play. Because of this growing problem, self-care has become more important than ever. We may think we’re taking care of ourselves by “relaxing” on Instagram or binge-watching Friends on Netflix, but our bodies need more than just a little free time to recuperate. We need serious self-care, and what better time to initiate that than after a long, hard Monday?

Read a Real Book

Even though we spend a lot of time reading news articles or social media timelines, we often read those things on small, brightly-lit screens. If we have the chance to read a book, we whip out iBooks on our phones and try to get through that book that’s going to be a movie next month. Instead, try finding a book you haven’t heard about (I recommend What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi) and go physically buy it or get it from the library. When we read from a screen, our eyes jump around so much that we can often get distracted and skim things. Take care of yourself by giving your eyes a break and by giving your brain something deeper to think about.

Cook yourself dinner

Most times when people want to relax, they order Chinese food or pizza because it’s quick and it doesn’t involve a lot of work. We often feel like it’s a treat to get to eat out because we don’t have to make our own food, but that may not be the case. To improve your Monday, take the time out of your day to plan a real, cooked meal. Find a new recipe that you’ve been meaning to try, get into your favorite pajamas, and make yourself a beautiful, healthy meal. Taking care of your body is just as much an act of self-care as “relaxing,” even if you aren’t relaxing in the way you might think. Eating out is fun, but staying in has many more benefits.

Turn off your phone

I know, I know, you couldn’t possibly disconnect from the world. What if there’s an emergency? What if work needs you? This is why we can’t seem to separate work from play. We are all convinced that we need to be working 24/7, but most of the time we aren’t even needed when we’re off the clock. Even though smartphones are beautiful things, they can be harmful when used in excess. By turning off your phone, you’ll stop checking it every two minutes, and you can spend your time doing something more meaningful or actually relaxing. If you can’t bring yourself to hit that power button, consider turning on airplane mode or at the very least, do not disturb. By getting away from your phone, you not only have more free time, but you can truly start to relax. Work will be fine without you. Go do something more meaningful than checking your email or scrolling through Facebook!

Start journaling

Journaling has become a lost art in the world of digital media. Rather than physically writing down our thoughts or doodling our lives away, we type out our thoughts in 140 characters on Twitter or we start our own blogs to tell our family how we’re doing. One way to relax after a long day is to pick up a pen and jot down what’s happening in your life. This journal can be anything you want. Make it creative by turning it into an art journal, or keep it simple and just write. You can add lists or turn it into a sketch diary or even just make a plain-old bullet journal. Pinterest has a number of great ideas, but ultimately you should spend your time writing rather than scrolling.

Jenna is a contributor for 301 Digital Media in Nashville, TN. When she isn’t reading or taking photos, she makes YouTube videos about her life. Follow her online @jennaclarek