Self care is one of the most important things that we can do for our overall well-being. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t take the time to practice self care, and can even feel guilty or selfish for doing so. But the truth is self care is a necessary and beneficial health practice for reducing stress and rebooting both mind and body. It’s about the actions and behaviors we take on a daily basis to look after our holistic well-being. In short, it’s the practice of ensuring we are thriving as individuals. In this blog post, I will discuss a variety self care ideas that you can use for a mind and body pick-me-up!
Types of Self Care
Self care ideas can be categorized by the different types of self care. Each type of self care addresses a different aspect of our overall wellbeing.
- Physical self care is all about our physical health and taking care of the one body that we have. Take care of your body and it will carry you through life. This one is not just about exercise but has everything to do with living your healthiest life. Self care ideas here will relate to exercise, diet, and recovery.
- Mental self care is about stimulating the mind by feeding it with interesting, challenging, and enjoyable things. Remember, the brain is like a muscle. It feeds off a high-quality information diet and enjoys being challenged. Employ the mental self care ideas below to keep your mind sharp and curious about the world.
- Social self care encourages us to nurture our relationships, both new and old. Although relationships can be hard to manage, remember that we are social creatures and social interaction is hard-wired into our DNA. To quote the longest-running human study in history, The Harvard Study of Adult Development, “Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives”.
- Emotional self care relates to having a healthy relationship with our own feelings, in both the good and the bad times. Many people struggle to understand and come to terms with the emotions they feel. The purpose of emotional self care is to understand what it is we’re feeling and then to express those feelings in a healthy way. This may involve simply sitting with an emotion, processing difficult emotions in a non-judgmental way, or trying to figure out how best to communicate your emotions.
- Practical self care is all about being proactive in addressing our core daily needs so that we can avoid stress down the line. This is what people often refer to as “housekeeping”. This one may not be as obvious as the others but is just as important. Practical self-care reminds us to do what we need to do today, so that we can save time, money and stress tomorrow.
- Spiritual self care, despite the wording, is not necessarily about spirituality or religion. Spiritual self care is about doing things that put you on the course to self-actualization. These are the things that nurture you deeply and allow you to feel connected to a higher purpose. For some, this is done through their religious practice, but it doesn’t have to be. You’re doing it right if whatever you’re doing inspires feelings of meaning. So no matter what your religious beliefs, check our spiritual self care ideas below.
Physical Self Care Ideas
Do at least 15 minutes of exercise daily
Getting at least 15 minutes a day of physical activity can make a huge difference in your overall health. It doesn’t have to be intense, just get your heart rate up and your muscles moving.
Try cold therapy recovery
There’s increasing scientific evidence that cold therapy can help with reducing post-workout pain and fatigue, reduce body inflammation, and boost immunity. The easiest way to do cold therapy at home is to get an ice bath tub and take the cold plunge. Give it a try and I’m confident you’ll feel good as new.
Sweat away your stress and soreness
Saunas and heat therapy are great ways to relax tense muscles and release stress. You can even enjoy this from the comfort of your own home with an infrared sauna. Bonus points if you pair it with some aromatherapy to really enhance the calming effects.
Take a bike ride
A bike ride is an easy and fun way to get some fresh air and physical exercise. Peddle away stress and enjoy the wind blowing on your face.
Try a yoga class
Try yoga for a physical and mental workout. A yoga class with a skilled yoga teacher can help you stretch muscles, strengthen joints, and improve your breathing technique.
Go for a long walk
A long walk is a simple but effective way to get your body moving and improve your overall health. There’s a direct link between the amount you walk and your heart health. So clear your mind, enjoy the scenery, and know you’re keeping yourself healthy.
Have a massage
Much of the day-to-day stress is stored as tension in our muscles. Get a deep tissue massage and release that tension. You can even make it a spa day and pair it with a face mask for an ultimate relaxation experience.
Get 8 hours of sleep daily
Good sleep is the foundation of good health. Unfortunately, the hustle culture of the modern-day tries to convince us otherwise. Getting a full 8 hours of quality sleep will do more for your overall health than any amount of supplements or hacks.
Cook a few times a week
A healthy diet is crucial to obtain all the essential vitamins and minerals we need to function at peak performance. The best way of ensuring a balanced, healthy diet is to cook. Cook a variety of foods, colors, smells, and tastes to keep it interesting. Add a partner to make it fun. If you’re trying to build muscle or tone down, then consider adding some high protein foods to your diet.
Carry a water bottle and finish it every day
We’re all guilty of not drinking enough water. But water is the literal lifeblood of our bodies. Hydration is essential for maximizing physical performance, feeling energized, and keeping our organs functioning. A simple hack is to carry a 1-1.5L water bottle and aim to finish it before bed every day.
Get a change of scenery from the gym and workout outside. It’s an efficient way to get your daily vitamin D and keep your bones and joints healthy.
Mental Self Care Ideas
Read a book
Grab some fiction and transport to another world. Or pick up non-fiction and learn something new. Either way, reading is fun, mentally stimulating, and has been shown to lower stress levels.
Write a short story or some poetry
Get into your creative element and write a story/piece of poetry. This will challenge your creative muscles and get your brain working in ways it may not normally.
Listen to a podcast
Listening to a podcast is an easy, low-energy way to learn something new. Get a mental refresh and listen whilst walking outside.
Play a board game with a friend
Board games usually involve an element of strategy and planning. They make for a fun and sociable way of challenging your brain.
Try something you’ve always been scared to do
This will look different for everyone, but doing something outside your comfort zone is a great way to expand your mental horizons.
Go on a phone detox
Give yourself some much-needed mental space to relax and put your phone away for a few hours. This will reduce your screen time and break the habit of constantly checking your phone.
Try out photography
Photography is a fun way to capture moments and make memories. It also requires creativity and attention to detail – all excellent ways to stimulate the brain. Don’t worry if you don’t have a camera, start with your phone.
Learn a new language
Everyone has a language they’d love to speak, well why not start learning? Languages are a fantastic mental workout and provide future opportunities for travel and cultural exchange. Get yourself a language app or sign up for some classes to get started.
Have you ever tried doing literally nothing? It’s surprisingly hard. But taking time to do nothing can reveal a lot about your own mind. So sit in a quiet spot, let your mind wander, and see where it takes you.
Take care of a plant
Plants are not only beautiful but taking care of them has been shown to reduce anxiety and promote feelings of calm. Who knows, you might find you’ve got green fingers.
Make a bucket list of things you want to do this year
Making a bucket list forces you to think about the things you want to do and the experiences you want to have. It helps give purpose and direction to your year and gives you something to look forward to.
Emotional Self Care Ideas
Go on a social media detox
Social media use has been linked to poor self-esteem and low mood. Self-care can be as simple as going on a detox. Try it and see how your emotional health improves.
Unfollow social media content that produces negative emotions
Even if you don’t want to give up your social media, make a conscious effort to unfollow content that produces negative feelings in you.
Speak to a therapist
Sometimes self care can be hiring someone to do the work for us! A therapist is an efficient way of addressing emotional hangups and improving overall mental well-being. It’s a safe setting to speak your thoughts and emotions out loud without judgment.
Brain dump your emotions in a journal
Having a bad day? Feeling stressed? Brain dump how you feel into a journal. The cathartic release will leave you feeling unburdened and mentally light.
Dance to your favorite music
What’s your favorite music? Play it loud and dance like no one is watching. The endorphin release is sure to leave you feeling great.
Positive affirmations are positive statements said about yourself to yourself. Positive thinking and positive self talk promote feelings of self love and improve self-esteem. To try it out: write some positive affirmations about yourself and repeat them daily.
Do a mindful meditation
Meditation is all about being in the present moment and accepting your thoughts and emotions without judgment. It can improve mood, decrease stress, and increase self-awareness. So sit down, get comfortable, and get your zen on.
Speak to someone you trust about something on your mind
Even if you don’t find a solution immediately, the simple act of sharing your feelings with someone else will unburden your mind.
Spoil yourself for one day
For most, spoiling ourselves is probably what comes to mind when thinking of self care. Sometimes we just need to indulge. This could be sleeping in, watching your favorite shows, buying a fancy morning coffee, enjoying a bubble bath, or ordering your favorite food. This one will be unique to you. So have a think and craft your own self care list of spoils.
Say no to plans
Often, the cost of saying yes to other people can be our own emotional and mental well-being. So sometimes emotional self care can be as simple as having the courage to say no to others, and yes to yourself.
Spiritual Self Care Ideas
Nature bathing is the act of being calm and quiet amongst nature. It can promote feelings of serenity and connectedness.
Keep a gratitude journal
Taking time to express gratitude will do wonders for your spiritual health. Regular expression of gratitude is linked to feeling more generally content.
Breathwork is a thousand-year-old practice that has long been known for its variety of physical, mental, and spiritual health benefits. Deep breathing activates your parasympathetic nervous system to induce a state of deep relaxation and calm. It can also help with quieting the turbulence of the mind and improve mental clarity. And when you get really deep into your breath, it’s said it can induce a sense of deep connectedness to your deepest self and to the world.
Do a Metta meditation
Metta meditation is a type of Buddhist meditation. ‘Metta’ is the Sanskrit word for ‘loving-kindness’. The goal of metta is to cultivate love and kindness for yourself and others.
Observe religious custom
If you’re religious then pray or attend a religious ceremony. Religious expression is a great way to connect with our deepest beliefs.
Volunteer for a cause
Find a cause close to your heart and spend time volunteering. You’ll meet new people, become part of a community, and make a difference.
Take a mindful walk in nature
Practicing mindfulness whilst walking in nature is a great way to mash together multiple types of self care into one. Take in nature as you walk and feel present in the world.
Self-reflect on what you could improve on
Self-reflection can help us identify where we can improve and how we can grow as individuals. When we visualize the path of personal growth ahead of us, we will feel we’re working towards something greater.
Perform a random act of kindness
Perform a random act of kindness for friends or even strangers. The act of selflessness will give you a spiritual boost.
Engage with a faith community
Engaging with a religious community promotes feelings of belonging and a shared higher purpose.
Social Self Care Ideas
Call a friend randomly
Does a friend suddenly pop into your mind? Surprise them with a call. I’m sure you’ll both appreciate the spontaneous catch-up.
Attend a local community event
Engaging in the local community is a great way to meet new people, do new things, and create a new social group.
Make time to call family once a week
Life can be busy and we can often forget to touch base with family. But family is regularly cited as one of, if not the most, important relationship people have. So schedule a regular time to speak to family and keep those bonds strong.
Schedule a date
Next to family, an enduring romantic relationship has been shown to be one of the most important sources of long-term happiness. So make time for a date night and give your relationship some self care.
Host a regular dinner night with friends
The only thing better than good food is sharing it with good people. This one will nourish your stomach and your social sensibilities.
Ask someone for help
We often feel like we are bothering people by asking them for help. But the truth is that asking for help is a great way of being vulnerable and showing that you trust the person close to you.
Plan a getaway with your partner
Spontaneity and variety are the spice of relationships. A getaway is a good way to break up the normality of everyday life and share a new experience with your partner.
Let someone know they inspire you
People appreciate genuine compliments and you’ll feel good for having made their day.
Try to talk with someone new today
Studies have repeatedly shown that speaking to new people makes us happier, more trusting, and feel more connected.
Treat a friend
Who doesn’t appreciate a surprise treat? Sometimes self care can be doing things for others.
Practical Self Care Ideas
Tidy your bedroom
They often say a tidy room is a tidy mind. Cleaning up your space is a great way to free up mental bandwidth.
Create a financial budget
Finances are one of the most common causes of stress worldwide. Creating and sticking to a budget is a great first step toward eliminating this stress.
Plan your workweek
A lot of mental energy is wasted trying to keep track of everything we have to do. Plan out your schedule in advance and see how much time and energy you can get back.
Plan your meals
Planning your meals will mean you’re efficient when it comes to shopping and cooking. It’s an easy way to save time.
Do not use your phone for 1 hour before bed
Screentime before bed has been shown to decrease the quality of sleep. Get rid of blue light before bed for a better night’s sleep.
Declutter a few items from each room
We all have too much stuff. If you’ve not looked at or used an item in over a year, it’s likely safe to get rid of it and reclaim that physical space.
Create a night-time routine
A nighttime routine has been shown to increase the quality of sleep. A good routine should include reducing screen time before bed, relaxing the mind, and getting you to bed at a consistent time. You’ll be surprised how much more refreshed you’ll feel.
Monitor your phone habits
The average person spends 3-4 hours total looking at their phone daily. However much of that time is unproductive and we often regret it. Monitoring your phone habits is one of the first steps to figuring out how to reclaim some of those hours.
It’s never too early to invest in your future. If you’ve never invested then maybe now is a good time to start learning.
Identify new skills you could learn to achieve your goals
Often times the only thing between us and our goals is learning a certain skill. Figure out what that skill is and get to work on it.
Taking the time to practice self care should always be a priority. Incorporate a mix of these self care ideas into your daily routine and watch as your overall well-being improves. Don’t forget to listen to your own needs and find what works best for you. Happy self care!