50 Self-Care Ideas
Feeling exhausted, anxious, overly busy, sick, or unhappy? You NEED these self-care ideas in your life! This unconventional list includes tips, practices, and rituals you can integrate into your daily routine to nourish your body, mind, and soul.
Self-care has become a super trendy phrase these days–we hear it everywhere from skincare companies, therapists, spiritual teachers, and magazines–but what does it really mean?
While commonly thought of as face masks and bubble baths, self-care goes way beyond pampering (though it includes pampering, too!).
Self-care is any activity that we intentionally do to take care of our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health.
Although simple in theory, most of us overlook self-care, telling ourselves that we’re way too busy and secretly resentful of the people who seem to take great care of themselves. “Must be nice to have that kind of time and money!” we bitterly think and then move about our overly rushed and stressful day.
But the thing is, self-care is SO important to stress management, reduced anxiety and depression, improved mood, a healthier relationship with our self and with others, and even improves many physical markers like blood pressure, heart health, immunity, and more.
I know that finding the time to take proper care of yourself can be hard. But if you don’t, it won’t be long before you’re wiped out from exhaustion, angry at other people or yourself for no particular reason, operating in a mental fog, getting sick more often, and generally feeling like it’s hard to care about anything or anyone.
And let’s get one thing straight: self-care IS NOT selfish–it’s necessary to fill up your own cup before you can continue to give to others. Got it? Good!
So now it’s time to make a promise to yourself that you’re going to start regularly including some self-care ideas into your daily routine. While some take more time, planning, and money, many are totally free, and some you can do in as little as five minutes!
You have five minutes a day to add a little bit of love and attention for your own body, mind, and soul–right?!
Check out our list of 50 self-care ideas below to get your wheels turning!
50 Self-Care Ideas
1) Practice intuitive eating.
We’ve started talking more and more about intuitive eating here at R+R, because it’s been shown to reduce stress and actually improve health markers (source). Our bodies are wise and tend to stay in balance… when we actually listen to them.
2) Balance your hormones.
Your hormones control so many functions in the body, so when your hormones are out of balance, there’s a good chance you’re going to feel it. Work with a functional medicine practitioner and take hormone panels, then supplement as needed–you’ll be amazed at what a difference this makes!
3) Honor the energy ebbs and flows of your menstrual cycle.
Men and women have different hormonal cycles. Men have 24-hour cycles while women have approximately 28-day cycles, meaning that men feel more consistent from day-to-day than women do. Each of the four parts of a women’s cycle has a different energy and focus, so when you can align with it, you’ll feel much more supported and in flow with your days. You’ll actually be able to do LESS and achieve MORE–for real! I highly recommend the book Do Less by Kate Northrup to learn more about this topic. Men can benefit from this info too by being able to better support the women in their life.
4) Take the time to plan and prioritize.
No planning or prioritizing means you’ll be running around like a chicken with its head cut off, responding and reacting to life instead of being proactive towards what really matters to you. Tools like the Eisenhower Matrix and the book Free to Focus by Michael Hyatt work wonders for me personally, or for businesses, I love the book Traction by Gino Wickman that teaches you how to set goals and be more efficient.
5) Set boundaries.
I know this is super hard for some of us, but I promise, you’re going to feel so much better when you do it! When you set boundaries, you are taking care of yourself by recognizing what you need and asking for it. Boundaries can help you manage stress, take care of your physical well-being, and create healthy relationships.
6) Unplug daily.
In a world where we’re constantly inundated with incoming information and noise, it’s essential to unplug from the chaos. I recommend being off your phone 1-2 hours before bed and not checking it first thing in the morning so you can be more in control of your day and where you put your attention (remember the prioritizing? This tip will help wonders with focusing!).
7) Take a deep breath.
I know this sounds simple, but especially when we are stressed or overwhelmed, we forget that the simple act of taking deep breaths changes your brain waves and your blood chemistry to help you feel less stressed. This is a self-care idea that ANYONE can do at ANY time!
Even five minutes makes a HUGE difference! Meditation has been shown to increase your mindfulness, reduce stress, enhance your spiritual connection, and improve your overall health and wellness. Don’t think you’re the “meditation type”? Think again! There’s an easy, effective technique that works for anyone–even those with the busiest minds and schedules!
9) Give yourself permission to do something “unproductive”.
Our culture is hyper-focused on productivity, and many of us feel guilty when we’re not checking something off our to-do list. But it’s essential for our well being to have time where we just rest in stillness, or do something to intentionally relax, or indulge in a hobby or interest just for fun and because we love it. Making time for creative outlets actually helps us be more productive (source). Newsflash: we’re not meant to be in high output mode 24/7!
10) Spend time with a friend.
Some research shows that the need to connect socially with others is as basic as our need for food, water, and shelter. (source) Whether in person or on the phone, sometimes there’s just nothing more nourishing that chatting with someone we love who gets us, acknowledges us, and appreciates us exactly as we are.
11) Move your body.
As Rachel Hollis says, movement in your body creates movement in your life. Regardless of what you enjoy, make time for it and watch your mood and energy stabilize. Dance, go to yoga, run in the park, do an intramural sport–whatever feels good!
12) Connect with nature.
Nature is restorative and helps us decompress and realign. Take a walk, sit outside in the grass, or feel the sunshine on your face and notice how much better you feel.
13) Take a bath.
This is an oldie but a goodie when it comes to typical self-care ideas and recommendations–and for good reason! Baths are soothing to our muscles, can increase immunity, and may reduce anxiety. Throw in some epsom salts for extra benefits!
14) Learn about yourself.
I’m kind of obsessed with personality and energy profiling systems because I always learn something new about myself and others, which in turn helps me better understand and relate to my husband, family, friends, and my team at work. I recommend the Enneagram (my favorite book is The Road Back to You), 16 Personalities (Myers-Briggs), and Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies.
15) Nix your inner critic.
Our thoughts create our reality, so catching the negative things we say to ourselves is absolutely critical. Replace the naysayer in your head with positive affirmations, and try looking at yourself in the mirror and saying, “I love you.” Cheesy? Maybe. Effective? Heck yes!
16) Take a nap.
Sometimes, we just need to rest. Taking a nap can also help with productivity and restoring focus and energy. We need time to renew, so don’t exhaust yourself by trying to do all.the.things!
17) Connect to art.
Remember what we said about the importance of creativity? Whether you want to visit a gallery or grab a paintbrush yourself, art therapy is shown to be not just relaxing and enjoyable, but can even be valuable in treating issues such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even some phobias. (source)
Freewriting all our thoughts down on paper can be hugely beneficial in getting them out of our head and reducing stress. It’s cathartic; in fact, journaling helps boost your mood, enhance your sense of well-being, reduce depression, and improve memory. (source)
19) Ask for help.
We can’t do it all on our own. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is ask someone else to help out. Most of the time, other people are happy to help you!
20) Do a social media detox.
Unfollow those people who bring you down or only post angry rants all day. Unfollow hashtags that no longer lift you up. Try doing regular detoxes where you don’t get on any social platforms for a couple days at a time. At a minimum, turn off notifications on your devices so that you’re more in control of your time and don’t get distracted.
21) Drink more water.
We all know water is not only crucial to survival, but staying hydrated helps us feel balanced and flushes out things we don’t need. Fill up your reusable bottle and keep it with you at your desk or when you’re out and about!
22) Don’t compare yourself to others.
The famous quote “comparison is the thief of joy” really nails this point. It’s easy to look at others and make assumptions about them, in turn thinking that we’re not as worthy/successful/beautiful/smart/creative/etc.–and this kind of thinking never feels good or inspiring. Don’t waste your energy here! Remember that social media detox we talked about? Social media tends to bring out all of our comparisons–another reason to take a break from it regularly.
23) Get a massage.
Getting a massage is another common self-care idea, because not only are they insanely enjoyable, but they can help with anything from injury and pain recovery to headaches to stress relief to increasing immunity. (source)
24) Use essential oils.
Essential oils have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, decrease the toxins in your home, relieve headaches (even migraines!), promote better sleep, and improve your immunity, respiratory, and energy levels (source). I love Plant Therapy–their oils are 100% pure, free from any additives, adulterants, or dilutions. Their essential oils come in varieties like synergies, singles, organic, and pre-diluted roll-ons, and their facility is USDA Certified Organic. Plus you can get 10% off your order of $50 or more sitewide with the coupon code ROOT10!
25) Get realigned with acupuncture or chiropractic.
While we’re on the alternative medicine train, acupuncture and chiropractic are both amazing treatments to support your body in staying properly aligned–not only physically but energetically and, in turn, emotionally.
26) Read a good book.
I’m a huge bookworm and reading is my jam. I always enjoy learning or escaping into another reality or having some deep food for thought. And reading to my little one? Priceless!
27) Take solitude to recharge.
Alone time and stillness are key! We all need a break from responsibility to properly rest and decompress.
28) Go on a date.
Whether out with your partner or on a date with yourself, sometimes we just need to get out of the house and do something fun, enjoy a nice meal, go to the movies for no particular reason, or explore a new part of town.
29) Love your body.
Your body is your home. It’s the only thing with you, always. It’s time to start treating it with kindness, respect, and gratitude. Read our post all about how to love your body here!
30) Take a great probiotic.
Probiotics are one of the most common supplements today due to their huge benefits and impact on gut health–but be wary because not all probiotics are created equal! I love Seed’s Daily Synbiotic that’s actually backed by science (a synbiotic is a combination of probiotics and prebiotics–prebiotics are a special form of dietary fiber that act as a fertilizer for the good bacteria in your gut). Use the code ROOTANDREVEL to get 15% off the first month of Seed’s Daily Synbiotic probiotic + prebiotic subscription!
31) Take pleasure in a skincare routine.
I actually love the ritual of washing my face, putting on moisturizer, doing face masks–it feels like a treat to my skin and can be very rejuvenating. See our favorite clean beauty brands here, and my current green beauty routine here.
32) Slow down.
The world is more fast-paced than ever in history with the internet and technology advances. While there are many benefits in that, our bodies aren’t used to being in such highly stimulating environments 24/7. Few things in life are actually super urgent, so remember to slow down, breathe, and remember what’s important.
33) Stick to a rejuvenating sleep schedule.
It’s less about the amount of hours you sleep and more about the quality of sleep you get when you do. We break it all down for you here:
34) Go to therapy or get a coach.
I believe everyone could benefit from a good therapist or coach. We need time to digest what we feel in a safe environment, get another perspective, and–in certain circumstances–hold us accountable to what we say.
35) Seek out inspiration.
We all have interests that we’ve never explored. What are we waiting for? Join a local meetup for something you’ve always wanted to try (knitting? hiking? networking?), or volunteer for a cause you care about.
36) Use a meal delivery service.
Cooking can be a form of self-care, or it can feel like a chore. I love the middle ground of Sun Basket, where they do all the meal planning and shopping for you, then deliver you the ingredients for the most delicious recipes! I regularly rely on this service and enjoy feeling less pressure to plan out my meals and go to the grocery store. Go here to get $35 off your order + 4 free gifts from Sun Basket!
37) Listen to or play music.
We all know how good it feels to listen to our favorite music, or sing-a-long to our favorite song, or–for people who play instruments–to get lost in the rhythm and chords. So it’s not surprising then that music is shown to elevate your mood, ease pain, relieve depression, and even increase your blood flow and heart health. (source)
38) Practice gratitude.
Giving gratitude for what you have in your life has been scientifically proven to help with self-esteem, better sleep, increasing happiness, physical health and much more. (source) Consider giving thanks out loud every morning to kick off your day, or start a gratitude journal that you write in every night before bed. One of my favorite tools is the 5-Minute Gratitude Journal–after just a week of using it, I couldn’t believe how much brighter my mood was!
39) Practice forgiveness (towards yourself and others).
St. Augustine said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” When you hold on to bitterness, the person who is harmed the most is YOU. Studies have found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health, lowering the risk of heart attack, improving cholesterol levels and sleep, and reducing pain, blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. (source)
40) Have sex.
Yep, I said it. Sex has TONS of benefits, like lowering blood pressure, supporting better sleep and immunity, pain relief, decreased depression and anxiety, better heart health, and stress reduction, not to mention increased closeness and intimacy with your partner. (source) There’s no shame in a healthy sex life!
41) Use red light therapy.
The benefits of red light therapy are astounding–it’s proven to boost cellular health and function, immunity, wound healing, reduce inflammation, and improve cell regeneration–all leading to better organ health, skin health, balanced hormones, improved mood and a whole lot more! Believe it or not, there are now over 3,000 peer-reviewed scientific studies showing incredible health and anti-aging benefits of red light and NIR light therapy, with no known negative side effects. (Can’t say that about pharmaceuticals, now can ya?!)
You know that feeling when you have a really genuine, hysterical laugh? Laughter really is the best medicine! In fact, it’s proven to reduce stress and have lots of health benefits (source)–so watch Netflix, your favorite silly movie, listen to a funny podcast, watch some stand-up comedy, or read a funny book to take advantage!
43) Take adaptogenic herbs.
Certain supplements and herbs like ashwaganda and rhodiola rosea help with both your stress response and your thyroid, as they adapt to what your body needs (hence their name). Or try superfood-infused options like Four Sigmatic’s adaptogenic mushroom coffees and elixirs (use the code ROOTANDREVEL for 10% off your order!).
44) Ground yourself.
Yep–putting your bare feet on the earth is a thing–earthing, to be exact–which is essentially walking outside barefoot for at least 20 minutes a day. It is believed that the body runs a type of electrical current, and grounding directly connects the body with the earth’s electrical current, which in turn can reduce inflammation, lower stress hormones and help you sleep better. (source)
45) Embrace your spirituality.
Whatever this looks like for you–whether it’s going to church, praying, seeking spiritual teachers, harnessing your intuition, or pulling an oracle card–it’s shown that people who are more religious or spiritual have better mental health and adapt more quickly to health problems compared to those who don’t. (source) Amen to that!
46) Snuggle your cat or dog.
“Dog is a man’s best friend” is said for a reason, and pet therapy is a real thing. Nothing compares to animal cuddles and their unconditional love!
47) Use a healing crystal.
There are a SO many different types of crystals, each filled with their own healing abilities for the mind, body, and soul. They’re thought to promote the flow of good energy and help rid the body and mind of negative energy for physical and emotional benefits. New to crystals? Try a clear quartz–considered a “master healer” as it absorbs, stores, releases, and regulates energy–or a rose quartz, which encourages love, respect, trust, and worth within one’s self and in relationships.
It’s time to Marie Kondo it up! How good does it feel when you clean out your closet, or reorganize your pantry, or simply tidy up around the house? Remember: if it doesn’t spark joy, let it go!
Do you celebrate when you actually achieve a goal you set? Most of us barely acknowledge our achievements and are more likely to mentally check it off our to-do list vs. actually feeling the joy and satisfaction of having gotten to where we wanted to go. Celebrate yourself for the big things and the small ones!
50) Take a trip just because.
Who needs a reason? Whether a spontaneous solo weekend road trip or a special bucket list getaway with a loved one or anything in between, travel is good for the soul. And you don’t have to wait for a special occasion, or make a work trip out of it. Just go!
Now, over to you! What are you favorite self-care ideas, tips, and practices? Let us know in the comments below!
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
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