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Make the most of your leap day

A couple sits outdoors in camp chairs with blankets and mugs.

To: Me. From: Me. Leap day is a gift.

Feb. 28, 2020—This year we get an extra day on Feb. 29. Considering that it often feels like there are never enough hours in the day, these extra 24 are something to celebrate, especially if you use them for some restorative self-care.

So how can you give your mind and body a boost this Saturday? Here are 10 ideas from Mental Health America, the National Institute on Aging and other experts:

1. Savor a healthy breakfast. Especially if you normally skip it—or eat breakfast on the run—treat yourself to a no-rush, good-for-you breakfast. How does scrambled eggs served with turkey bacon, fruit, and whole-grain toast sound? Or a yogurt parfait layered with fruit and granola?

2. Do something that energizes you. Put on your favorite music and dance. (It's OK to make up your own steps—nobody's looking.) Get your heart pumping with a brisk walk or bike ride. Do some gentle stretching. Or go for a refreshing swim.

3. Be a tourist in your own town. You don't have to wait for out-of-town guests to explore some new local attractions—or revisit your favorite spots. Take in what your hometown has to offer.

4. Plan a future getaway. Just planning a vacation and having something special to anticipate can boost your overall happiness.

5. Take a guilt-free nap. Sleeping for a short time—say, 20 minutes—early in the day can help you feel energetic and refreshed without making it hard to nod off at night.

6. Soak up nature. Head to a nearby park or green space for a stroll. Find a quiet spot in the woods to sit and think—or hike a nature trail. Time outdoors can increase feelings of well-being.

7. Relax with a warm bath. This is definitely a day for bubbles. And as you soak, why not listen to some soothing music or light a candle?

8. Spend time with people who make you happy. Good moods are contagious. Why not catch up with a friend you haven't seen in a while? Or spend some quality time with someone you see every day?

9. Practice gratitude. Write down three things (or more) you're grateful for—from the roof over your head to a friend who gets your humor.

10. Challenge your brain. Tackle a crossword puzzle or word scramble. Or play a strategy game, like chess. Mental workouts are stimulating—and may help you stay sharp as you age.

Now go enjoy the day! And remember: Self-care is a year-round necessity, so don't wait for the next leap year to roll around before you put these ideas into practice again. Make them a regular part of your life.

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