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I Spent An Entire Month Trying Every Self-Care Habit I Could Find

I wanted to feel less anxious, get better sleep, and spend less time getting stuck on the little things. So I tried pretty much everything.

Hi, I'm Michelle, and I'm an anxious person.

So going into a new year, I decided to take steps to change all of that.

Before getting started, I read everything I could get my hands on about self-care and ~well-being~.

Then I rounded up a bunch of the most popular habits and made a month-long schedule during which I'd try them all.

All in all, here's what I learned along the way.*

*And obviously, my findings are based on my personal circumstances, genetic predispositions, and weird illogical preferences. So, just take 'em with a grain of salt, since what worked for me (or didn't) might not work for you (or will!).

1. I'm impatient AF, so I thought I'd hate meditation. But I was wrong.

2. Podcasts didn't change my life, but I did get answers to a few questions I didn't even know I had.

3. Keeping a gratitude journal was something I immediately loved.

4. But essential oils did nothing for me, except give me a headache.

5. Yoga was *really* uncomfortable at first, but actually turned out to be the best thing I tried all month.

6. Shutting off my screens at 9 p.m. didn't have the relaxing effect I thought it would.

7. My white noise app was supposed to be soothing, but stressed me out instead. *face palm*

8. Quitting alcohol for a week made me pretty asocial, but I think it's because I went about it the wrong way.

9. Puzzles wore me out (in a good way!), made me sleepy, and were actually pretty addictive. 🤓

10. Beauty self-care (in the form of face masks!) turned out to be the nicest thing I did for myself on any given day.

11. Forcing myself to go to bed early (and getting that extra two hours of sleep) made my mornings extra peaceful and set a ~zen~ tone for the day.

12. Reading turned out to be a commitment-free way to entertain myself.

13. Ditching coffee for a week made me realize that I'm actually — gasp! — better off without the stuff in the mornings.

So, after a month of experimenting, here're my TL;DR on what actually worked for me:

Meditation via Headspace: I used it to "scrub" my mind in the mornings and set it to a clean slate. I've also used it during the day to help me calm down during moments of high stress.

Keeping a gratitude journal: Reminding myself, on a daily basis, of what I already have, continues to give me clarity on how to deal with my stress and how everything fits into the bigger picture.

• Yoga: Combines meditation with exercise = win/win.

Shutting off all screen usage (laptops, TVs, and iPhone) after 9 p.m.: Though it wasn't a cure-all, this helped in reducing the prebedtime buzz in my head.

Doing a puzzle: Loved this! A good, mindless, yet just-challenging-enough activity to turn your attention away from your ruminating.

Reading an escapist book: Though it takes a little more effort, reading has been and always will be a way for me to feel less alone in the world.

Beauty self-care: Don't mind if I do. 💅

Going to bed two hours earlier than usual: More sleep = less repetitive negative thoughts at night + more time in the morning to read/meditate/do yoga.