Self Care Ideas and Activities
You know that self-care is important, but it’s always at the end of the to-do list. Something that’ll likely be pushed to another day.
You don’t prioritize it because there are so many other pressing things to do.
And then the inevitable happens…
YOU CRASH AND BURN.
I’ve experienced this first hand, especially since I became a mom. Life is busy. You have a tendency to put everyone else first.
When you make the time to do a little for yourself, you feel either guilty or unproductive – that you just wasted time that could have been spent doing something important.
The thing is YOU NEED THAT BALANCE.
You need that care for yourself. Self-care activities are respecting and appreciating your mind and your body. It’s a form of self-preservation.
Whether you’re a woman or man, mom or dad, adult or teen, here’s a list of self-care ideas and activities that are cheap, quick and easy for even the busiest of people.
Some of these activities might seem basic or trivial. I’ve tried to make this list as simple as possible so that it’s realistic for you!
Some might seem like an indulgence. Find the ones that resonate with you and just do them.
But first to clarify what self-care is…
What is self-care?
Self-care is the practice of taking action to protect and improve your well-being – including your mood, mental health and happiness.
Most importantly, it can reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
What is a self-care activity?
There is no right or wrong self-care activity.
A self-care activity is a personal decision. It’s what you need, what you want it to be.
It doesn’t have to be spiritual, have meditation or self-reflection involved. You don’t have to go on a weekend long yoga retreat to experience a self-care activity.
32 Self-Care Activities
Here’s a list of self-care activities that are cheap, quick and easy to implement in your everyday life.
1. Read a Book
Stimulating your mind with an entertaining or thought-provoking book might just be the self-care you need.
Don’t feel like you have to read a whole book in one sitting. You can break it down into a chapter or two a day.
If you’re really busy and can’t see yourself taking the time to read a paper book, check out Audible.
Audible, an Amazon company, has the world’s largest selection of digital audiobooks. You can listen to a book anywhere and anytime.
You can listen to audio books while doing something else you need to like cooking, cleaning or changing diapers. I love listening to audiobooks while I’m driving.
A neat feature I love about Audible is that you can increase the speed of the narration. That way you get to listen to more books!
Check out Audible’s 30 day free trial where you can get 2 books for FREE. Even if you cancel within the free trial period, the books are yours to keep!
2. Have a nap
Napping might seem like a self-care activity that only babies and toddlers do.
It might seem completely out of the question for workaholics because there’s no multi-tasking activities during naps. When you nap, you nap. You can’t nap and listen to the news for example.
Sometimes you just need an afternoon nap!
Perhaps you didn’t get enough sleep at night. You’re exhausted and overworked. You just need to reset your mind and body.
A nap also gives you the energy, creativity and self-awareness that makes you more productive and healthy. You can’t perform your best without the rest you need.
I understand it can be hard to have a deep, quality sleep in the middle of the afternoon. What can help is putting on a sleep mask.
If you have makeup on, this sleep mask has a 3D design so it doesn’t actually touch your eyes (including your eyelashes, eyelids, or eye makeup if you have that on).
It’s light, breathable, and doesn’t leave line marks on your face. This mask can be worn comfortably whether you’re a side, belly or back sleeper. It works well to 100% block out the light if you adjust the straps.
It also comes with a travel pouch and ear plugs.
3. Clean your house
Cleaning your house might be your self-care activity of choice if you’re the kind of person who finds it therapeutic and relaxing to clean.
Maybe it’s the process (the act of cleaning) or the result (the clean space).
A clean house often makes everyone in the household more happy.
It improves the quality of the air indoors. You can sleep better knowing that you’re in a clean bed with clean sheets.
Like cleaning, organizing can be a therapeutic activity that makes you happy and reduces stress.
You don’t have to organize the whole house at once.
Pick one area to start with. It can be a cupboard, your kid’s toy room, your closet, the fridge or freezer, the pantry.
Organizing a space in your house also has benefits for the whole family. It saves everyone time knowing where everything is.
You might have heard of the book Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It focuses on only keeping possessions that “spark joy”.
Getting rid of the things in your life that you don’t like or use anymore – that’s just making more space for other things that do.
You spend less money on maintenance and less time going through your things.
Decluttering also not only clears a space in your house. It often clears your mind.
Living in a chaotic environment filled with things is stressful. Studies show that it’s linked to unhealthier eating, poorer mental health, and less efficient thinking.
Understandably, decluttering can be a big task so take it slowly. Give yourself a little to do each day. When you look through your things, think about its usefulness now and in the future.
Here are some areas you could clear:
- Wallet/purse e.g. clear out the cards you don’t use, receipts you need to file
- Closet e.g. take out the clothes you don’t wear and place them in a garbage bag to give away or to sell
- Cupboards e.g. store your appliances only if you’re regularly using them. Otherwise, get rid of them!
- Paper e.g. shred the paper you’ll never reference, consider moving the important paperwork to your computer so you don’t have to manage the physical paper file
- Emails e.g. delete the emails you’ll never reference
6. Have a hot beverage
Perhaps it’s coffee, tea or just hot water. There’s something about a hot beverage that warms your body and mind.
I love a hot tea with lemon in the morning. Just that 5 minutes of sitting down and drinking it relaxes me.
It’s a simple act, but self-care is often about the simple pleasures.
There’s no fiddling around with coffee grinds or leaves, filters and boiling water. It’s a simple process requiring a simple pod and then a few button pushes.
7. Get some fresh air
There’s a reason why daycares take out children 1-2 times a day rain or snow.
Fresh air is good for you.
According to the Huffington Post, it can boost your immune system, energize, reduce stress and increase happiness.
You can get fresh air through a run or walk, sitting on the patio, or playing outdoor sports.
If you can’t get outside, just open a window and let that fresh air circulate and freshen up your room.
8. Get some sun
Just like fresh air, you need sunshine. In this Forbes article, you can see that sunshine elevates mood, improves sleep, and promotes bone growth.
If there’s no sun or it’s winter time, you can get vitamin D supplements. These vitamin D supplements come with vitamin K2, which complements and enhances the benefits.
9. Drink water
Around 8 glasses a day is how much water each person should be drinking.
If you don’t drink the recommended amount, you might get dehydrated and experience exhaustion and lack of energy.
For your self-care, you should be drinking water throughout the day.
I know it can be difficult to remember to regularly drink water. I find having a large water bottle nearby helps you remember to stay hydrated when things get busy.
10. Do something on your To Do List
You might be the type of person that feels like a weight is lifted to get something – anything – done on your to do list.
If your to do list seems like a never-ending sea of daunting projects, break these up into smaller, more realistic tasks. Just do 1-3 a day.
11. Be creative
Sometimes using your creativity can get you out of a mental funk and give you a sense of accomplishment.
You can be creative in many activities like cooking, crafts, drawing, playing with your children. It’s just about stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new.
You can pick an activity that naturally works with your daily routine like cooking or baking.
Or change up your day to day like having a paint night.
I did this with my husband on Valentine’s Day. We went to a restaurant that was hosting the event. With the guidance of a professional painter, we tried to duplicate this one painting.
We still have our paintings today! It was such a special and memorable event. Just a great way to break the routine, exercise a different part of your brain and create something.
When you’re ready to start, you can YouTube “Paint Night” or “Painting Tutorial” and follow along. If you’re feeling creative, you can paint whatever you want without assistance.
It’s cheap entertainment for a few hours, you get to exercise your artistic side of the brain, and you’ll have a keepsake you can hang up! If you want to have a paint night every month or two, you’ll only have to buy the canvasses.
12. Listen to your music or informative medium of choice
Tunes are soothing and relaxing.
Listening to podcasts often gives you that information or motivation to stimulate your mind, give you ideas and push you forward.
Don’t neglect yourself and only listen to what your partner or other people in your house want to listen to. Don’t feel like you have to adapt to other people’s preferences.
You also don’t have to listen to your kid’s YouTube videos or shows if that’s what’s always on.
Give yourself time to listen to your music or information of choice.
If you’re busy, you can do it on your drive to work, when you’re in the kitchen cooking or cleaning or when you’re getting ready for bed and brushing your teeth.
13. Watch a Movie or TV Show
The same thing applies to what you watch.
Put on that movie or show you’ve been dying to watch.
14. Eat your favorite food
There’s a reason it’s called “comfort food”. It makes you feel better. It satisfies your soul.
You eat it not so much because you’re hungry, but because it makes you feel good. It hits that emotional spot.
While having your comfort food gives you a sense of peace, there’s probably a reason why you’re not eating it regularly. Maybe it’s unhealthy (e.g. ice cream or donuts) or expensive (e.g. steak).
Either way, just do it in moderation.
Give yourself that little bit of indulgence and appreciate the moment. And then discipline yourself to not eat it for another week or month.
My favorite food is sushi, but it’s expensive. I have it every month or so.
It’s my self-care treat and makes me happy. I don’t feel bad about eating it because I don’t do it often.
You’ve probably heard that when you exercise, your body releases endorphins and it makes you feel happy.
This doesn’t mean you have to go to your local gym. You can do jumping jacks or use a jump rope at home.
A jump rope allows you to get a sweaty workout at any time.
Using the jump rope has a lot of benefits including:
- It’s cheap when compared to other exercise equipment
- It’s light and portable
- It can be used by anyone
- It simultaneously is a cardio and muscle toning workout
According to WebMD, you can jump rope for just 15-20 minutes and it will burn off the calories from a candy bar.
This jump rope is very solid, making for an extra sweaty workout. It’s got an extra thick, heavy cable that weighs .66 lbs.
The rope length is adjustable and tangle-free. It has a non-slip cushioned foam handle.
It’s also a weighted jump rope, meaning that it’s particularly built for increasing strength and promoting weight loss.
There’s a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
I love to dance! I used to think that I needed to sign up for dance classes or go to a night club to dance.
But you can dance at any time. Just turn on some music and shake your body. It might seem initially awkward, but that’s just you telling you that.
If you want some guidance, you can use the game Just Dance or any of the versions of Just Dance (there are so many!).
I have this game. Usually after 3 songs, I am sweating buckets and it feels great!
My daughter and I sing together all the time. I play on her toy piano and she plays on her toy guitar or drums and we jam together to Baby Shark or the ABC song.
It’s always a fun experience! And it only takes 5 or so minutes.
Even more than that…singing is actually really good for you.
It not only gives your lungs a workout, it can strengthen your diaphragm.
There are a lot of other health benefits for singing including alleviating anxiety and stress.
If you’re shy about singing, do it in the car. You can sing along to your favorite tunes.
18. Get a manicure and/or pedicure
Just to clarify, I’m not saying get a manicure and pedicure at a nail salon every week or 2 weeks for maintenance.
Treat yourself to one every now and then.
It might just be what you need to brighten your day and make you feel pampered.
Also, you don’t have to go into a nail salon to get one done.
19. Talk to friends and family
When you’re feeling stressed and anxious, having a conversation with a friend or family member might just be the self-care activity you need to be able to mentally move forward.
I know whenever something’s bothering me, telling my family – just getting how I feel out of my system – helps.
It’s also often informative and reassuring to hear their advice and opinions on the matter.
Sometimes you’d rather work things out in your own head and not discuss your thoughts with others.
If so, journaling might be your self-care medium of choice to express yourself.
I’ve been journaling on and off for years.
It’s a great way to organize and prioritize your thoughts and goals, write down what you appreciate, and get your fears and concerns out. I feel more at peace with who I am when I journal.
I use a classic Moleskine journal. You can get it with lined, dotted, squared or blank pages.
If you’re artistic and want to draw pictures, I recommend getting the ones with blank pages.
What goes hand in hand with journaling is dreaming.
The great thing about your journal is that it can be whatever you want it to be.
You can create that list of weekly or annual goals or your bucket list. You can dream big in your journal if you’d like.
It’s important to set goals and have purpose in your life. I know some goals can be unrealistic or unachievable.
If one of your goals is to improve your personal finance situation, here’s an article to help you set attainable financial goals.
22. Light a candle
Your self-care can consist of something as simple as lighting a candle, putting your feet up on the sofa, and wrapping up in a blanket.
My husband loves watching bonfires. He finds them mesmerizing and soothing. I think he would be able to achieve the same effect by lighting a candle and watching the flame.
If you’re lighting a scented candle, you’re also involving your sense of smell, which can make you feel even more relaxed and calm like this candle with a fresh linen scent.
23. Get a massage
A massage provides you with the relaxation to soothe your mind and body. It can also help you relieve pain or swelling in your back, joints, legs, hands, and feet.
While you can get one with a registered massage therapist, you can also do a DIY massage.
If you have tight muscles, you can use a foam roller.
Foam rolling is more typically used to increase your range of motion. This means you can get even deeper into each exercise e.g. you can get deeper into a squat. This makes every exercise more efficient.
This foam roller is particularly firm, but does have flexibility and kneads out your knots. If you prefer a firm touch that really gets at those trigger areas, this one is ideal.
If you prefer a softer foam roller, this one has a more gentle compression.
You can also use a heating pad, particularly if you have aches and pains you need relief from.
24. Take a long hot shower alone
This might seem like a ridiculous activity to include on this list.
If you’re a mom or just a busy person that uses dry shampoo and other methods to get clean so you don’t shower every day, know that you’re not alone.
If you have little ones, you also might not always get the shower to yourself.
If you haven’t taken a long, hot shower alone in a long time, just do it.
Lock yourself in the bathroom and give yourself that time to get clean, refreshed and rejuvenated.
25. Take a bath
Alternatively, you could take a relaxing bath instead of having a shower.
Soak in magnesium bath flakes to further calm your muscles.
You might be wondering, what’s the difference between magnesium bath flakes and epsom salts (which are more typically used in baths)?
The flakes are made from magnesium chloride. Salts are made from magnesium sulfate. Magnesium chloride is more easily absorbed and used by the body.
I recommend going with magnesium bath flakes if you have the option between the two.
26. Use an oil diffuser
I know many people who use an oil diffuser in their house.
They use it to not only have a nice fragrance in their house, but to get the benefits of being around plant life. For example, helping you to relax, fall and stay asleep, lift your spirits, and boost your performance.
Lavender is the most common essential oil people put in their oil diffuser for relaxation and stress.
It’s included in this set if you’re looking for variety.
27. Do something nice
We know we should be kind to others, but did you know that doing good actually makes you feel good?
With the consumerism in our society and the gifts that accompany major holidays like Christmas, you often think that happiness stems from getting stuff.
According to this study in Live Science, being kind and giving actually makes you happier.
You don’t have to donate thousands to do good.
You can open a door for someone. Do a household chore your partner would normally do. Say something nice to your children.
28. Go to bed early
I used to sleep after 11 pm.
Nowadays, I sleep closer to 10 or 9 pm. It wasn’t a conscious decision. It was because I was exhausted after putting my daughter to sleep.
After making that change, I feel more refreshed and relaxed when I wake up in the morning.
There are many benefits to sleeping early including looking healthier and lowering your risk for chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
It’s worth trying to sleep 30 minutes or an hour earlier.
29. Find an inspiring quote
Sometimes you’re so involved in your day to day or used to a certain way of living – you can’t see past your viewpoint.
Finding inspiration can be the self-care that breaks your routine, opens up your mind, and makes you a better person mentally and physically.
It might be what brings you closer to your goals in life.
This is what happened to me when I read this quote by Warren Buffett.
This quote shook me. It made me think. It continues to shape my plans and goals even today.
30. Stretch and breathe
This is such a simple act and it takes less than a minute, but it’s very beneficial to relieve stress and focus your thoughts.
There’s a reason why yoga has exploded in popularity recently.
You don’t have to go full-out and attend a hot yoga session at a studio.
You can just do some simple arm and leg stretches while breathing deeply.
Sometimes I do this at my desk. Just a few stretches while breathing everyday can make a difference to your mental and physical health.
31. Take photos of something that’s beautiful to you
This is an activity I don’t do often enough. I don’t take enough photos of my daughter.
Not only are photos documents of your memory that you’ll be able to look back on year after year.
Taking photos of something you love is a stress reliever. It takes your mind off of troubles and pulls you into a single beautiful moment.
32. Have a drink
Have some alcohol. A beer, some wine, a cocktail. It’s okay to have the occasional alcoholic drink to take the edge off.
Final Thoughts on Self-Care Activities
As you can see, self-care can be anything that makes you feel better. It doesn’t have to be a big complicated trip where you experience a self-awakening.
It’s whatever you want it to be. Whatever fits your lifestyle and goals.
You can start with 1 self-care activity a week and go from there.
You can combine self-care activities like eating your favorite food outside while you soak in the sun and fresh air.
If you’re looking for more ways to simplify your life, here’s an article on how to be more productive and give yourself more time.
Recap of Self-Care Activities
- Read a Book
- Have a nap
- Clean your house
- Have a hot beverage
- Get some fresh air
- Get some sun
- Drink water
- Do something on your To Do List
- Be creative
- Listen to your music or informative medium of choice
- Watch a Movie or TV Show
- Eat your favorite food
- Get a manicure and/or pedicure
- Talk to friends and family
- Light a candle
- Get a massage
- Take a long hot shower alone
- Take a bath
- Use an oil diffuser
- Do something nice
- Go to bed early
- Find an inspiring quote
- Stretch and breathe
- Take photos of something that’s beautiful to you
- Have a drink
Related Articles about Self-Care Activities and Ideas:
- How to Simplify Your Life and Be More Productive
- Your Money or Your Life Review
- The Opposite of Spoiled Review
- Money Quotes that will Inspire You to Take Action
- Funny Money Quotes
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