8 Tried and True Self-Care Products to Engage the Senses
Updated: May 28
Self-care is a buzzword that’s been echoed throughout the mental health community in recent years. You might have heard of the concept in the past but thought, I eat, sleep, and pay my bills… don’t I already take care of myself?
Well, self-care consists of tending to more than just our basic human needs for food, shelter, and water. Self-care can be considered all the behaviors we exhibit when we prioritize our mental, emotional, and bodily needs in order to maintain our psychological and physical health. That means that
it’s not just ensuring that you’re eating, sleeping, and paying your rent that’s important, but that you’re capable of feeling energized, present, engaged, and joyful in your life.
If you’re pretty well-versed in basic healthy habits and know what we therapists mean when we refer to self-care, maybe your reflex is to think, ain’t nobody got time for that.
Sometimes all it takes to improve your mental health is one or two minutes out of each day to actively reflect on your physical and emotional needs. If you can identify when you’re feeling most stressed or enervated throughout your day, you may be able to generate a few simple options to invigorate you and shake up your routine.
For example, if you notice that you tend to get hit with a post-lunch food coma, consider subbing your afternoon coffee (which can result in a crash and need for even more coffee) with a quick lap outside to boost your endorphins and energy level. If that’s not your thing, think about experimenting with your meals to see if adding fruit or replacing a simple carb with a complex carb might help keep you more awake and attentive.
Putting in the extra few minutes to brainstorm quick and easy ways to improve your day could mean the difference between enjoying a romantic dinner with your partner after work and losing your temper over differences in dishwasher loading preferences. Think about it: When you’re taking care of yourself throughout your day rather than letting stress build up like plaque, you have so much more of yourself to share with the people you care about.
If you’re still questioning whether engaging in self-care is for you, you might be thinking, why do I deserve to be taken care of? If that’s the thought that comes to mind, you might be a good candidate for psychotherapy.
Whether this is your first or 50th article on self-care, we could all use more brain food on ways to ‘treat yourself.’ The following list was designed to help start the dialogue (internal monologue?) with yourself about what might help you destress on a regular basis and tend to your psychological well-being. These products were compiled based on recommendations for ways to
increase stimulation of the physical body and mindful awareness of the senses.
Microwavable heating pads are great for muscle aches, back strain, and stomach cramps. They can also usually double as cold packs in the case of swelling or fever. The added element of calming lavender makes these a great option for anyone experiencing issues with sleep. Using a heating pad before bed can relax your muscles, while the lavender can naturally reduce your heart rate and blood pressure.
This particular product can be used for adults and children, smells great, can be easily cleaned, and can simulate the experience of having a pet (another known stress reliever).
When you take care of your sleep space and treat it like a special retreat, you can make sleep a protected part of your routine. Because studies have shown that even the smallest sleep deprivation can result in fatigue and problems with concentration, ensuring that you get approximately 8 hours of sleep could result in a number of positive benefits (e.g., improved mood, energy levels, weight loss, stress reduction, etc.).
One way to make bedtime a more pleasant experience is investing in the quality of your bedding. Try softer sheets, a fluffier comforter, a mattress pad, new pillows or other ideas you might have about making your bed a safe haven at the end of a long day.
These candles are on the expensive side, but their scents are pure and the wicks are long-burning. They are sustainably made in reusable glass containers and the scents are creative blends that match a particular “self-affirmation.” For example, if you are looking to feel more present-minded, try their patchouli “I Am Grounded” candle.
Other blends include mint/citrus/eucalyptus, lavender/floral/thyme, basil/grapefruit/citrus, and lemon/fir/woods. Scented candles can help bring awareness to one’s present moment by focusing one’s attention on an aroma and its effects on the body and mind. They can also help provide a temporary break from a nearby stressor or relief from a stressful day.
Connecting with your sense of smell is one way to help you feel more attuned to your body, and as a result, more able to care for and emotionally regulate yourself.
An easy way to increase your connection to your body is to focus on sensations in the shower or bath. By using products that make you feel clean, smooth, and freshly scented, you can turn your hygiene routine into a self-care ritual that helps you feel connected with your body, the present moment, and feelings of positive self-regard.
All of the bath products made by Rituals are impressive when it comes to texture and aroma. Even the men’s line features highly luxurious shaving kits and shower gels.
These toys are often used for kids who have trouble regulating themselves at school, but they can also help adults relieve stress and tension. These objects can help with self-soothing, provide a physical outlet to focus anxious attention, and give you something to concentrate on when you need a mental ‘breather.’
If you don’t already have some form of greenery in your living or workspace, consider a trip to Home Depot. Studies suggest that exposure to nature can improve body image, feelings of altruism, and symptoms of depression. That’s a pretty strong argument for investing in an office fern.
I've mentioned scented candles, but the glow of multiple tea lights can make your space feel really special really quickly. Whether you want to create a romantic evening with a partner, a relaxing Netflix and chill in your dorm room, or a book club/movie night/dinner party to remember, decorating your space with intentionally selected pieces to create a certain mood can make you feel productive, accomplished, and skilled when you see the emotional experience you can gift to yourself and your guests.
Just as focusing on scent can help with mood and stress relief, so does listening to music. Even though smell is actually a stronger memory trigger than sound, music tends to be more noticeable and ubiquitous in our lives. Music we’ve listened to in times of happiness and sadness can take us back to those mood states.
Spotify is only one of many music providers offered online, but it tends to be a favorite given the wide range of music it offers, as well as weekly and daily mixes based on your personalized preferences and tastes. Plus, check out their Sleep playlists for nature sounds and white noise options.
(I did not get paid to promote any of these products and I will not get paid if you click any of these links.)
about the author
My passion is helping people connect with their most authentic selves. Through this blog, I hope to offer resources to demystify psychotherapy and encourage you to think about your mental wellness.
In my integrative psychotherapy practice in Echo Park, my mission is to support you in finding your best self and living an examined life.