Here is my French girl’s guide to self-care. I’m French and I’m living in Paris. During the Paris lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I had to stay at home for about 2 months. During this strange time, I focused on well-being activities and small luxury pleasures to elevate my routine and to feel great and more relaxed. But what does self-care really mean to French women? How do French women approach self-care? What are exactly their secrets to self-care?
I don’t think there is any French translation for the word “self-care”, but maybe the French expression « prendre soin de soi ». French women’s self-care approach is more a way of living and it’s pretty much something they practice in their daily life, and from a very young age. Indeed, French women do not spend fortunes on drastic health treatments, intense workout classes, or the latest healthy cookbook bestseller. Instead, the way French women care for themselves is more about doing something for themselves every day. It’s naturally embedded in their daily routine and it’s mostly traditions and rituals passed from generation to generation.
For French women, self-care is all about slowing down the pace of life to enjoy the small things that they know deep down will make them happy, and taking the time to enjoy life.
With the Covid-19 situation, it can be challenging to practice self-care. That’s why in this article I’ve tried to explain how French women approach self-care plus 5 tips to practice self-care at home. From home decor, end of evening rituals, to natural sleep-promoting supplements, check out all of the best French self-care tips.
The Laissez Faire Approach To Wellness
Before diving into the five tips to do self-care like a French woman, you need to understand the French approach to wellness, which I call the “laissez faire” approach (in English “let it be”). French women do not strive for perfection and it’s an important fact to understand as I don’t want you to believe you HAVE to follow religiously ALL the tips listed below to feel great and relaxed. Do not make drastic changes to your routine, but instead adopt one, two, or three of the French tips below, you know you’ll enjoy. The French approach to self-care is, above all, feeling good with yourself. And it’s rather different from having something imposed on you. Just take a more relaxed approach to wellbeing.
Accept your flaws (which make you charming and unconventionally beautiful) rather than trying to fix them. Appreciate the small things in life, and do not fuss too much about how you look or do not try too hard to be healthy. Do not be afraid to spend time alone to get to know yourself better. Dream, plan the future and contemplate life.
How French Women Practice Self-Care
1. Adopt The French Diet
French women do not try too hard to be healthy. And they believe that if a “healthy” ritual makes them miserable then it must be unhealthy. French women usually do not start any kind of extreme diet or intermittent fasts. The French diet is not about “dieting” and the word “diet” is a terrible misnomer. Instead, the French diet is part of the French lifestyle: preparing and sharing food is one of the essential pleasures of French culture.
The French diet is mainly common sense. It’s all about excluding processed foods, eating local and whole foods, avoiding snacking, avoiding all diet foods, and cooking every single meal where flavor remains non-negotiable, even in healthy food. French women know that health is a matter of balance and if they have a sugary snack during the day, it’s automatic for them to eat something lighter for the next meal. From time to time, don’t forget to have little pleasures. Mines are croissants and pains au chocolat that I’m buying at my local bakery every Sunday morning. Check out my French grocery shopping list on Amazon to get a better idea of what French women usually shop at the supermarket. For more details, I’ve written complete articles on the French diet and what real French women eat in a day.
2. Create End Of Evening Rituals
Sleep is a powerful stress reducer and following a regular sleep routine calms and restores the body, improves concentration, and regulates mood. That’s why it’s important to create an end of evening rituals that will help relax and sleep. When going to bed, I avoid either watching shows on TV (that can keep me up until late hours in the night), consulting my Instagram and social media, or preparing my to-do list for tomorrow. Personally, I love going to bed early with an oil diffuser or with a Diptyque scented candle, a calming tisane, and a good book to read.
Some evenings I like to apply the Caudalie Vinoperfect Overnight Cream packed with everything my skin needs to repair while I’m sleeping. During winter times, I usually take a long bath with Goop’s Emotional Detox Bath Soak and some candles. On the weekend, I usually take time to do a facial or a manicure at home. Also, I recently started to practice a 30-minute bedtime yoga sequence for better sleep. I really love yoga before going to bed, I feel it helps relax my mind and body so I fall asleep quicker and it improves my quality of sleep overall. I’m a long sleeper and I need to have at least nine to ten hours of sleep per night, so I’m always trying to do everything I can to sleep well.
Natural Sleep-Promoting Supplements
When I’m feeling too stressed and anxious, I use natural sleep-promoting supplements to get a good night’s sleep. I like the Solgar Magnesium Citrate, I take 2 tablets daily and for 30 days. Magnesium supports nerve, muscle function and supports a calm, relaxed mood. Also, I’m a huge fan of the Solgar 5-HTP. I always come back to this supplement each time I feel a little bit depressed, anxious, and very stressed. I usually take one capsule at 5 pm and another one before going to bed for 30-days. Finally, a natural sleep-promoting supplement that is working very well on me is the Hawthorn berry herb extract. I usually take one capsule at the beginning of the evening and another one just before going to bed. I usually feel way more relaxed and I sleep like a baby.
3. Exercice Daily To Manage Stress
Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, which puts more pep in your step every day. Exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits. And in order to exercise you don’t have to do any kind of exercise program with high intensity and high-frequency (which are often unsustainable in the long run).
French women favor the gentler, more regular varieties of all-day movement like walking to work, biking on weekends, or taking the “metro” more often than cabs. If you’re working a lot from your computer make sure to take breaks and just get out. Go walk your dog (if you have one) or just walk to the park, in your neighborhood, or on the beach. Make a point of taking breaks during your day as you’ll come back with new ideas and you’ll be more efficient and creative. Personally, I go for a walk near the Seine in Paris every day for at least 30 minutes. Sometimes in the morning or in the evening depending on my schedule or my mood.
4. Make Your Home Feel More Relaxing
If you’re craving a little more serenity in the day-to-day, some simple decorating tweaks can make your space more relaxing. The French are firm believers that it’s the little things in a space that make a big difference, and that is also an integral part of their self-care strategy.
Declutter Your Home
But before adding any new home decor, I strongly recommend decluttering your home first. Do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles? By just simplifying and organizing your home I strongly believe you can have a calmer and more motivated mindset. If you don’t know where to start and how to properly tidy up your home, I really recommend the New York best-seller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again.
Tap Into Scents
Once your home is properly organized, you can start updating your home decor. First, the French embrace soothing shades and there’s a good reason why. Indeed, a timeless neutral is more comforting than stark white, try creamy ivory or greige (a warm, gray-tinted beige). So if you feel the need to update your home colors, a fresh coat of paint can be the biggest mood-changer in a room. Then, you can add scented candles in the different rooms of your home. Indeed, an aroma that evokes a happy memory is a shortcut to feeling happy right now. Pine can transport you to the cozy holidays, while coconut can bring you back to that calm feeling of your last beach vacation.
Pop A Plant In Every Room
In addition, the French love to add plants in their home. And it’s been proven that some indoor plants can reduce stress and give a healthy breathable environment keeping health problems at bay. The top ten indoor plants to relieve anxiety and stress are basil, jasmine, aloe vera, snake plant, lavender, chamomile, areca palm, peppermint, English ivy, chrysanthemum. So like the French, sneak in greenery wherever you can, from the dining room to the bathroom.
Design The Ideal Bedroom For Sleep
Regarding your bedroom, a great night’s sleep doesn’t happen all on its own. Indeed, you’ve got to create the ideal setting. And the French know the power of a good sheet set. In terms of fabric prefer Egyptian cotton, sateen, percale, or linen (for summer). I love white, ivory, blush, camel, or light beige which lighten the room and make your bedroom more relaxing. Finally, don’t forget to surround yourself with meaningful objects and décor elements you love and with things that make you feel ‘warm and fuzzy’.
5. Wear Comfortable Clothing
Wearing pieces that are just as comfortable and cozy as stylish at home is part of the French girl’s self-care routine. You can choose from luxurious knits, neutral colors, tailored fits, and lots of silk. For the French, those very chic and comfy pieces have the power to make them feel better at home. Indeed, even what you wear to bed or around the house can boost your mood and your confidence. Personally, I feel quite different wearing an old T-shirt and hoodie versus a beautiful silky pajama set with a silk robe.
So if you want to feel just a little bit more French at home, you can opt for fitted joggers in a luxurious fabric like cashmere or knit, silky or cotton pajama sets, and slips with knitwear or silk robes (what we call “déshabillé” in French). For French women, even loungewear pieces should feel like luxury. When I’m staying at home, I love to wear the Sezane Mia Jumper and this cozy knit jogger pants. Check out below my selection of the best pajama sets and fitted joggers to wear at home.
Fitted Jogger Pants
And you, how do you practice self-care at home? I would love to hear about it! Please add your comment below.
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Bonjour and welcome to Leonce Chenal! The French online magazine written by a French woman that aims to help you live your French life, wherever you are. I’m Leonce, I'm French and I'm a Parisian expat currently living in the city center of Amsterdam. I created Leonce Chenal back in 2018 when I was living in London and missing my home country way too much. What started as an online space to share my favorite skincare products has since evolved into a destination for French fashion, interiors, and beauty. If you have any question or if you just want to say bonjour, you can contact me at email@example.com <3