Self care is one of those things that can feel like a nice idea that you just don’t have time for. Between work, family and other commitments, are you juggling so much that self care gets pushed further and further down your to do list? You’re not alone.
If you’re always running at full speed and putting everyone else first, it’s only a matter of time before your health suffers, or you experience burnout. Finding a way to squeeze in moments for yourself is vital for ensuring you have the energy to care for those you love. Check out these 35+ self care ideas for inspiration.
What is Self Care?
Self care is any action that nourishes your mind, body and spirit. So many people confuse self care with pampering or indulgent activities, but it doesn’t need to be. There are tons of self care ideas that are free. And basic things, like sleep and exercise, are central to a good self care routine.
The purpose of self care is to restore your energy. Self care builds you up to tackle tough projects, challenges, and every day stresses. Essentially, self care means taking an active role in protecting your own well-being and happiness, especially during periods of stress.
Self Care Ideas for Your Mind
- Begin writing in a daily journal: Even if you need to set a timer and limit yourself to 5-10 minutes of writing, try to get your thoughts and feelings out on paper every day. Journal writing can be an excellent way to clear your mind, release negative emotions and process difficult situations. And if you’re not ready to dig into the hard stuff, try writing in a gratitude journal. It can feel a little silly, but studies show taking time to reflect on the things you’re grateful for can improve your mood. Plus, looking back through your gratitude journal on tough days provides comfort and a reminder of all the positives in your life. The journals below all include prompts to help you get started.
- Take Time Off: Rest and rejuvenation are a key part of self care. Your to do list will still be there tomorrow. If you’re always tired, find yourself struggling to get motivated, or realize the things you used to be passionate about now feel like chores, it’s time for a break. Whether it’s an afternoon off to play with your kids, or a weekend away with your husband, taking time off is important for recharging both physically and mentally.
- Get out in nature: More and more studies are finding that spending time out in nature is healing for both adults and children. Take a hike, sit by the ocean, or explore your nearest state park. Spending time in a natural setting away from the noise of city or suburban life will help restore your energy and clear your mind. I’m in the midst of reading Balanced and Barefoot (an excellent book, especially if you’re parenting a child with sensory challenges) and plan to spend as much time as possible outdoors with our little ones this spring.
- Practice meditation: I haven’t taken this one up yet, by trying meditation is on my to do list. You’ll find tons of information on how to start meditating online, or you can download an app like Headspace. Friends that meditate rave about it as a great way for increasing focus and decreasing anxiety.
- Take Time to Reflect: When you have a lot going on, sometimes something has to give. It’s really hard when everything seems like a priority. But rather than multitasking non-stop, take 30 minutes to pause, breathe, and think. What is most important for you to tackle in this moment, day, week, or month? Think through what your priorities are and make sure you’re taking action to move them forward on a consistent basis. Build them in to your schedule first. Everything else can wait, or be fit into the margins.
- Try a Digital Detox: Challenge yourself to walk away from your cell phone, iPad, computer and TV for an hour, a day, or even an entire week. Give yourself a break from the incessant information overload. You’ll realize the world won’t end if you’re not accessible 24/7 for a brief period. And you may free up some time for the other self care activities you’ve been neglecting.
- Strengthen Your Personal Boundaries: The world won’t end if you say no. Once you know your priorities, it becomes much clearer which things you can cut from your life. It’s okay to decline invitations or pass on opportunities when you know you can’t juggle any more. Not letting other people take advantage of your generosity is an important part of self care.
- Consider therapy or personal coaching: If you’re really struggling to take action, it can help to seek outside support. Therapists and coaches can be incredibly helpful during difficult times, or times of transition. Give yourself permission to invest in self care during periods when you could use additional support.
Self Care Ideas for Your Body
- Get better sleep: Sleep is essential for your body to repair itself. Looking to improve your sleep? Make sure your room is dark and comfortable. Limit use of cell phones, computers, and other electronics in the hour before bed. Don’t have a big meal right before bedtime, limit your alcohol consumption, and watch your caffeine intake.
- Improve your diet: One of the best things you can do for your body is increase the number of healthy and whole foods you consume. When you’re busy, it’s so easy to grab takeout, but depending on your choices, it can leave you feeling worse. Having healthy snacks on hand and in reach can make a huge difference in how you feel. With a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter, you’re more likely to grab a piece.
- Get moving: Exercise is a huge part of self care. It can feel overwhelming when you’re already juggling a million things, but it’s fine to start small. Can you squeeze in a walk with your dog? Or 10 minutes of yoga before your kids wake in the morning? The benefits of exercise extend beyond improving your physical fitness – the endorphins released improve your mood, help you manage stress, and can increase your productivity.
- Stay hydrated: Lately I’ve been drinking a big glass of water every morning, and I swear it makes me feel better. Maintaining proper hydration boosts energy, flushes out toxins, improves your complexion, is good for your immune system, prevents headaches and can decrease cramps. So much good from one simple change!
- Schedule your doctor’s appointments: Do you keep cancelling, or rescheduling, your annual physical? When was the last time you visited the dentist, or eye doctor? While none of these tasks fall under fun self care, they’re important. Make sure you get them on your calendar and commit to going, even when life is crazy, so you don’t waste additional energy feeling guilty.
- Have a cup of tea
- Get a massage
- Book a manicure
- Read a book
- Call a friend
- Plan a date night
- Go on a walk
- Take a nap
- Light a candle
- Build a fort with your kids
- Do some gentle stretches
- Pick up a treat from your favorite bakery
- Color, or paint a picture
- Take a bath
- Make a list of five things you’re grateful for
- Go to a movie
- Sit outside in the sun
- Go to bed early
- Play with a pet
- Listen to music
- Go for a run
- Spend time organizing or decluttering
- Practice deep breathing
- Do something kind for a stranger
- Have some dark chocolate
- Take a day off from household chores
Interested in Learning More?
- Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Techniques That Work
- How to Get Motivated When You’re Struggling to Get Started
Do you struggle to find the time for self care? What are your favorite self care activities?