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Self-Care Sundays: 21 Restful Tips for Neurodivergent Adults

A notebook with a self care list written, and text that says "Self Care Sundays: 21 Restful Tips for Neurodivergent Adults"

“Self-Care Sundays: 21 Restful Tips for Neurodivergent Adults” was written by Laura Ugwuoke and edited/reviewed by Gabi Abreu, BSc and Jackie Silver, MHSc, RD.

Medical Disclaimer: The information in this article is meant for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be personalized medical or nutrition advice. For a plan tailored to your needs, please consult with a Registered Dietitian or qualified healthcare professional.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links with which I may earn a small commission but at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links help bloggers like me to provide you with free content. All opinions expressed here are genuine. 

Last updated: April 16, 2024

Why Bother With Self-Care? 

In the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, finding moments for self-care can seem like a challenge. Nevertheless, it remains essential to our well-being and mental health.

Mental healthencompasses our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It goes beyond just the absence of a mental illness, and rather an essential part of maintaining our health and quality of life.

Self-care takes many shapes, whether it’s treating ourselves to a day at the spa or simply taking a moment to check in with ourselves and acknowledge our needs. It is about making time to do something for ourselves, to foster appreciation and self-awareness! 

A pink background with Self Care written in a lightbox

What exactly are Self-care Sundays? 

Self-care Sundays are about dedicating a day to prioritize your personal needs and well-being. While Sunday often serves as an ideal day due to its association with relaxation and a break from weekday chaos, there’s no strict mandate that it must be the chosen day. Self-care is deeply personal, tailored to individual preferences and schedules. It’s crucial to discover what suits you best and identify opportunities within your routine to carve out moments for self-nurturance.

The Benefits of Self-Care Sundays for Neurodivergent Adults

An infographic listing the benefits of self care Sundays for neurodivergent adults
  1. Reset and Recharge

Allocating this dedicated time for yourself ensures you enter the new week revitalized and prepared, rather than drained. Research has highlighted the importance of self-care for adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), who often contend with elevated levels of anxiety and depression. Implementing structured self-care routines can significantly alleviate these mental health challenges, promoting a sense of refreshment and readiness to face the week ahead.B

  1. Reduce Stress

Research has shown that integrating self-care practices into our routines can significantly reduce stress. By giving ourselves moments of relaxation and rejuvenation, we can better manage stress and prevent it from overwhelming us.

Other studies indicate that autistic and ADHD adults often experience elevated stress levels due to various factors specific to their conditions, such as social challenges and executive function deficits. Understanding these unique stressors is crucial for tailoring effective self-care strategies to enhance their well-being and resilience.

  1. Create Balance

Self-care serves as a cornerstone in achieving balance across various facets of our lives. By nurturing and prioritizing our physical, emotional, and mental well-being, we intentionally allocate time to recharge, which helps us cope with stress while creating separation from work, school, and other mentally taxing areas of daily life. 

  1. Emotional Resilience
A shape of a person's head and arrows pointing to it and a sticky note that says "Resilience" - self care sundays

Emotional resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity, challenges, or setbacks. Engaging in self-care practices such as mindfulness meditation, journaling, or seeking therapy enhances emotional awareness and regulation. By taking time to process our emotions and practice self-compassion, we are able to respond to life’s ups and downs with greater resilience and adaptability.

  1. Improved Physical Health

Self-care often involves activities that promote physical health, such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep. By prioritizing our physical well-being, we boost our energy levels and overall health, enabling us to be more productive and present in our daily activities.

  1. Increased Productivity

Engaging in self-care can actually enhance productivity. When we take breaks and allow ourselves time to rest and recharge, we return to tasks with improved focus and creativity, leading to better productivity and efficiency.

  1. Setting Boundaries 

Self-care helps us establish and maintain healthy boundaries in our personal and professional lives. By recognizing our limits and saying no to activities or commitments that drain us, we create space for activities that bring us joy and fulfillment.

  1. Enhanced Relationships

Taking care of ourselves allows us to show up as the best version of ourselves in our relationships. When we prioritize our well-being, we can offer support, empathy, and understanding to others while maintaining a healthy balance between giving and receiving. As a result, we are able to build more meaningful relationships. As the saying goes, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.”

A man with his arm around a woman
  1. Increased Self-Awareness

Self-care encourages self-reflection and self-awareness. By understanding our needs, desires, and limits, we can make intentional choices that align with our values and contribute to our overall happiness.

  1. Preventing Burnout

Regular self-care helps prevent burnout, a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress and overwork. This is particularly crucial for neurodiverse individuals, such as those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or ADHD, who are susceptible to experiencing burnout due to their unique cognitive and sensory profiles.By taking breaks and practicing self-compassion, we reduce the risk of burnout and maintain a healthier balance in life.

21 Self-Care Sunday Tips to Explore

An infographic with 21 Self-Care Sunday Tips to Explore

1. Read a book

Whether you are out in the sun or cozying up away from the winter cold, taking a moment of silence with a good book is a great way to relax and enjoy self-care Sundays. Reading not only enhances focus, memory, empathy, and communication skills, but also serves as a valuable tool for stress reduction. Be sure to check out your local library. It is an awesome place to check for a book to snuggle up with!

Book recommendations:

Self-Regulation and Mindfulness: Over 82 Exercises & Worksheets for Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD & Autism Spectrum Disorder by Varleisha Gibbs: 

This resource offers a range of exercises and mindfulness techniques to support self-regulation for neurodivergent individuals with sensory processing challenges.

Different, Not Less: Inspiring Stories of Achievement and Successful Employment from Adults with Autism, Asperger’s, and ADHDby Temple Grandin: 

This compilation features success stories of neurodivergent individuals in various fields,motivating readers to recognize their unique potential and talents.

The Autistic Brain: Helping Different Kinds of Minds Succeed by Temple Grandin and Richard Panek: 

Renowned autism advocate Temple Grandin shares her expertise and personal experiences, offering practical advice for harnessing the strengths of the autistic mind.

“Adulting With ADHD: A Guide to Nine Essential Skills for Managing Your ADHD” by Russell A. Barkley and Christine M. Benton: 

This book focuses on managing ADHD in adulthood and provides guidance on essential skills for daily life and self-care.

A book open in front of a window with flowers between the pages

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown: 

This book explores the power of vulnerability, courage, and self-compassion in embracing our authentic selves and living wholeheartedly.

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz: 

This spiritual book presents four guiding principles for personal freedom and happiness, encouraging readers to practice self-awareness and mindful living.

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear: 

This book provides practical insights on building positive habits and making small changes that can lead to significant personal growth.

Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourselfby Kristin Neff: 

Kristin Neff offers insights on the transformative power of self-compassion and how it can improve mental and emotional well-being.

Self-care for people with ADHD: 100+ ways to recharge, de-stress, and prioritize you! by Sasha Hamdani, 

This book is a comprehensive guidebook offering a diverse array of practical strategies to help individuals with ADHD manage stress, improve well-being, and prioritize self-care.

Self Care Sundays Tip 1: Read a book

2. Prepare a Nutritious Meal or Snack 

A great way to spend Self-care Sundays is by taking the time to nourish not only your mind but also your body. Taking time out of your busy life to prepare a meal can be a fun way for you to get creative and try new recipes. This Greek Inspired Orzo Pesto Salad and Creamy Coconut Milk, Pumpkin and Mushroom Risotto recipe are perfect for a self-care Sunday lunch or dinner! 

For those managing ADHD, carving out time for meal planning and cooking can be challenging. However, by embracing Self-care Sundays, you can allocate time to focus and cook at your own pace.

When you’re in a time crunch or seeking a simple way to meet your nutrient needs, smoothies are also an excellent option. They offer a quick and convenient solution to ensure you get the essential nutrients you need.This Sunrise Sunset Tropical smoothie and High Protein Chocolate Berry smoothie are a couple of our favorites!

Self Care Sundays Tip 2: Prepare a nutritious meal or snack

3. Spend Time in Nature

As the weather warms up, one of our top picks for Self-care Sundays involves going outside and soaking in that sunshine.

 Whether you opt for a hike, bike ride, spend some time gardening, enjoy a picnic in the park with friends, or simply go on a walk or roll, immersing yourself in nature can improve your mood, reduce stress, induce relaxation, and encourage physical activity. 

Research has also shown that being outside or engaging in gardening can even help with ADHD symptoms such as impulse control and focus. 

Engaging in planting and gardening is a grounding form of self-care that connects you with nature, promotes mindfulness, and brings a sense of accomplishment and serenity to your environment. Neurodivergent folks can benefit from these impacts while developing a deeper connection with nature and promoting creativity and problem-solving skills. 

Spending time in nature is also beneficial for autistic folks. Although we need more research in this area, a small study showed benefits for autistic children spending time outdoors. 

There is an “Autism Nature Trail” at Letchworth State Park in upstate New York specifically designed with neurodiversity in mind.

4. Exercise

Exercise serves as a cornerstone of self-care, enabling individuals to prioritize both their physical and mental health while reducing stress, improving mood, and enhancing overall well-being. 

Engaging in regular physical activity can be an act of self-compassion, helping individuals to recharge, focus on their needs, and maintain a healthy balance in their lives. 

Exercise releases endorphins (the “feel-good” hormones) which can help to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression by providing a positive outlet for managing stress and emotional challenges. 

There have also been studies on exercise benefits for children with ADHD and ASD. Exercise may also improve executive functions in autistic children and adolescents. Unfortunately, there are very few studies on exercise benefits for ND adults but there likely are many benefits.

Self Care Sundays Tip 3: Exercise

5. Mindful Meditation

Practice grounding techniques through mindful meditation to find calm and reduce anxiety. Meditation can be a beneficial practice for individuals with ADHD, as it helps improve focus, attention, and self-awareness. Please note that we acknowledge meditation does not work for many neurodivergent folks so please do what feels safe for you.

For beginners or those who find it challenging to meditate on their own, guided meditations can be helpful as they provide instructions and prompts to follow during the meditation session! 

Below are some meditation podcasts to check out:

  • “Mindfulness for Beginners” by Tara Brach: Tara Brach, a renowned meditation teacher, offers mindfulness practices suitable for beginners, including those with neurodivergent experiences.
  • Meditation Minis Podcast by Chel Hamilton: The Meditation Minis Podcast offers short and soothing guided meditations designed to fit into busy schedules, catering to neurodivergent individuals seeking moments of calmness.
  • Insight Timerby Various Teachers: Insight Timer is a meditation app with a podcast section featuring guided meditations from various teachers. The app provides a diverse range of practices to suit different preferences.
  • Ten Percent Happier by Dan Harris: Hosted by ABC News anchor Dan Harris, this podcast offers guided meditations and interviews with meditation teachers, making it accessible for newcomers and experienced meditators.
A woman meditating, a tip for self care sundays

Here are Some Mindfulness Apps to Check Out:

  • Insight Timer: This app offers a vast library of guided meditations, music tracks, and talks led by different meditation teachers. It has both free and paid content, with an extensive collection available at no cost.
  • Headspace: While Headspace is primarily a subscription-based app, it provides a limited number of free guided meditations to get started.
  • Calm: Calm offers a free trial period during which users can access a selection of guided meditations and relaxation exercises. After the trial, some content remains free, while a subscription is required for full access.
  • Smiling Mind: This app is entirely free and provides mindfulness and meditation exercises suitable for all ages.

Remember to explore these apps and find the one that best aligns with your preferences and meditation goals. Most of these apps offer in-app purchases or subscription options for access to premium content, but they also provide free content for users to enjoy.

6. Sensory Soothing

Engage in comforting sensory activities, like using fidget toys, weighted blankets, or taking a bath to relax and destress.To learn more about sensory sensitivities, check out our blog post here

Self Care Sundays Tip 4: Sensory soothing

7. Do a Face Mask

Indulge in self-care by treating your skin to a rejuvenating face mask for a pampering experience that honors your skin’s needs and well-being.

8. Listen to Music or a Podcast 

Elevate your mood by listening to your favorite tunes or expand your knowledge by tuning into a podcast. Research shows that engaging in music while performing task-oriented activities can help to maintain alertness, concentration, and reduce susceptibility to distractions. Listening to your favorite music may also increase dopamine which is associated with feelings of pleasure.

Headphones plugged into a smartphone

Here are some of our favorite podcasts to check out:. 

  • The ADHD Rewired Podcast by Eric Tivers: This podcast provides valuable insights and practical strategies for managing ADHD, featuring expert guests and real-life experiences.
  • Neurodiversity Matters by Sharon daVanport: This podcast discusses issues related to neurodiversity, including autism, ADHD, and other conditions, with a focus on promoting understanding and inclusion.
  • Neurodivergent Nurseby Sunny Day: This podcast focuses on mental health, neurodiversity, and wellness, featuring conversations with mental health professionals and neurodivergent individuals.
  • The Anxious Achiever by Morra Aarons-Mele: While not specifically for neurodivergent individuals, this podcast addresses mental health and the challenges of high-achieving individuals, which may resonate with some neurodivergent adults.
  • ADHD for Smart Ass Women by Tracy Otsuka: This podcast centers on women with ADHD, providing tips, inspiration, and a sense of community for neurodivergent women.
  • The Adulting With ADHD Podcast by Sarah Snyder: This podcast delves into the experiences and challenges faced by adults with ADHD, offering relatable content and helpful strategies.

9. Baking 

Nourish your creativity and taste buds by baking a delicious dessert that brings you joy. This One-Bowl Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Banana Bread recipe is not only delicious but also packed with fiber! These Raspberry Oatmeal Muffins and Banana Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins are also great high-fibre options that will satisfy your sweet tooth! 

10. Journal

Explore your thoughts, emotions, and experiences through journaling to promote self-reflection and growth. Journaling provides multiple benefits, enabling individuals to slow down, organize their thoughts, identify recurring patterns, and process emotions more effectively (Hamdani, 2023).

Self Care Sundays Tip 5: Journal

11. Make art

Express yourself through creative outlets such as drawing and poetry. Art can bring your thoughts and feelings to life and allow you to dive deeper into your inner emotions, so you can better understand them. 

12. Reorganize Your Space 

Declutter and organize your space to create a calm and harmonious environment that promotes relaxation and focus. Cleaning your environment can reduce sensory overload, promote a sense of accomplishment, and support your overall well-being.

If the thought of decluttering becomes duanting, break tasks into manageable steps, use timers, and consider sensory-friendly tools for comfort. 

You can also make the process more enjoyable by playing music or audiobooks, seeking support from others, and celebrating each accomplishment, acknowledging that every effort contributes to a tidy and comforting space.

Putting clothes away in boxes and reorganizing room, a tip for self care Sundays

13. Take a social media break

Taking a social media break can be an act of self-care by allowing you to disconnect from the digital noise, regain mental clarity, and focus on real-life experiences. 

For neurodivergent individuals, this break also provides an opportunity to reduce overstimulation, distractions, and impulsivity by promoting mental clarity and enhancing engagement with real-world activities and relationships.

14. Drinks some tea or a cozy drink before bedtime

Sipping a warm cup of tea or a cozy drink before bedtime is a soothing self-care ritual that promotes relaxation, calms the mind, and prepares you for a restful night’s sleep. 

The warm temperature and comforting flavors can create a comforting sensory experience, making it an enjoyable self-care option for those neurodivergent folks.

15. Meal plan for the week

Engaging in weekly meal planning is particularly beneficial for neurodivergent adults, offering benefits such as improved time management, reduced decision fatigue, better nutrition choices, and enhanced focus on daily tasks. To learn more, check out our Beginner’s Guide to Meal Planning extensive meal planning guide here!

A meal planner with various fruits and veggies beside it

16. Practice Positive Affirmations or Gratitude Listing 

Cultivate a positive mindset and nurture your emotional well-being by either writing down affirmations or compiling a gratitude list, focusing on the blessings in your life.

Positive affirmations are particularly beneficial for neurodivergent adults as they can boost self-esteem, promote self-acceptance, and empower individuals to embrace their unique strengths, ultimately leading to improved well-being and confidence.

Check out our 65 Body Image Affirmations for Self-Love blog post for some inspiration!

17. Make Time for Gentle Stretching

Take a moment to engage in gentle and mindful stretching exercises, tailored to your sensory needs, to promote relaxation and sensory regulation. Explore poses like Child’s Pose, Forward Fold, Cat-Cow Stretch, and more to release tension and foster tranquility. Check out our Beginner’s Guide to Chair and Wheelchair Yoga to learn more!

Self Care Sundays Tip 6: Make time for gentle stretching

18. Get your prescriptions refilled

Make the most out of your Self-Care Sundays by putting your health first. Take a moment to refill your necessary prescriptions, ensuring you’re prepared for a successful week ahead.

19. Indulge in Some Extra Sleep

Prioritize your rest and rejuvenation by giving yourself the luxury of sleeping in. Allowing for a slow-paced morning can set the tone for a calm day ahead, promoting a sense of tranquility and well-being. 

20. Create a Mood board

Whether you opt for the digital route with Pinterest or get hands-on with a physical collage, creating a mood board can be a fun way to creatively visualize your goals and intentions.

This process not only sparks neural connections in the brain, fostering a sense of happiness, but also motivates us to take actions towards our goal.

Self Care Sundays Tip 7: Create a mood board

21. Spend Time with Loved Ones

Spending quality time with friends and/or family is an essential aspect of self-care as it provides an opportunity to engage in meaningful social interactions that positively impact our emotional well-being

By connecting with loved ones, we create a supportive network that can offer comfort, understanding, and a sense of belonging, all of which contribute to improved mental health and overall life quality.

Try making plans to meet friends for brunch or coffee for your self-care sundays.

A family holding hands in a forest spending time together

So, there you have it! Self-Care Sundays provide a much-needed opportunity to recharge, rejuvenate, and prioritize our well-being. By dedicating a day to intentional self-care practices, we can foster a deeper connection with ourselves, reduce stress, and enhance overall happiness and contentment. 

Whether it’s engaging in mindfulness activities, indulging in creative pursuits, or simply taking time to relax, Self-Care Sundays offer a powerful tool for maintaining balance and nourishing our minds, bodies, and souls. 

So, let’s embrace the art of self-care and make Sundays (or any other day that works for you) a day of personal renewal and self-love. Remember, investing in ourselves is not selfish but essential for leading a fulfilled and thriving life.

Share your favorite self-care practices or how you plan to make the most of Self-Care Sundays in the comments below. Let’s inspire and support each other on this journey to well-being!

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Laura Ugwuoke is wearing a dark brown and navy striped sweater and standing in front of a beige wall

About Laura

Meet Laura Ugwuoke, a wellness advocate with a deep-rooted passion for promoting a healthy lifestyle. Armed with a BSc in Nutrition from UBC and actively working towards a degree in Dietetics and Nutrition, Laura possesses a wealth of knowledge to guide individuals on their path to wellness. Embracing the belief that wellness should be inclusive and available to all, Laura is committed to breaking down barriers and making healthy choices accessible.  Beyond the world of nutrition, you’ll often find Laura unwinding and enjoying the latest binge-worthy series on Netflix, finding joy in a well-deserved moment of relaxation.

About Jackie

Jackie is a Registered Dietitian whose mission is to empower and support the neurodivergent and physically disabled communities through nutrition. Jackie runs a virtual private practice and blog which has simple recipes and health information tailored to these communities. She loves cooking, exercising, traveling, journaling, and spending time with family and friends.

Check out her full bio here →

A headshot of Gabi Abreu

About Gabi

Gabi Abreu, BSc, is a Nutrition & Dietetics graduate from Toronto Metropolitan University and the Blog & Social Media Manager at Jackie Silver Nutrition. She is also the founder of the Working Woman’s Health Collection. WWHC was created with the purpose of inspiring women to achieve a healthy relationship with food, while taking into consideration the busy lifestyles that we live today. Beyond her professional pursuits, she loves experimenting with new recipes, trying new workout classes, and indulging her love for adventure through travel!

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