People on the internet are always going on about how important self care is, but how do you actually practice self care? This article contains ideas for self care and tips for including more self care in your life.
So, if you’re a student or young professional who needs more self care in your life, read on!
It also contains information on what self care means, why self care is for everyone and why self care is important. (So, if you’re not yet a believer in self care or find a lot of what you’ve read on it so far a bit patronising, stick with me here!).
Affiliate disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I'll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please read my full disclosure here.
First of all, what is self care?
Self care is basically any action you take to improve your mental and physical health and overall sense of wellbeing.
Now, before we go any further, I will say, while self care can help you feel better, self care DOES NOT cure mental illness. If you are suffering from a mental illness, please seek professional help. You can find some resources here.
EVERYONE needs to practice self care, particularly now as the world (and our lives in general) become increasingly stressful. Whether you’re a student, professional, mom, or anything in between, self care is for you. But don’t worry, I’m not saying you have to take a bubble bath if that’s not your thing!
With today’s hustle culture, we often find ourselves working longer hours and making less time for ourselves, at the expense of our wellbeing. If you keep going and going and never take care of yourself, you will eventually burn out and simply not be able to continue any longer. Self care can help keep you from reaching that point.
For my tips on dealing with burnout and general overwhelm, check out this article and this one.
Now that you’re (hopefully!) convinced you should incorporate self care into your everyday life, what are some things you can do? Here are my top 29 ideas for self care. My hope is that you’ll find at least one activity on this list that you enjoy!
While it may stress you out more at first (FOMO is real!), turning off your phone (or at least your notifications off) is a great self care activity. We spend so much of our days on our phones constantly being pulled in a million different directions attending to others’ needs. Cutting yourself off for a little while can help you look inward, take a step back, and actually relax.
Just be sure to tell anyone who would ordinarily expect to hear during that time from you what you’re doing!
If you’re feeling extra, you can even set-up an automatic reply for your texts and emails.
I’ve talked about this before, but watching Bob’s Burgers genuinely improves my health and happiness. No matter what, it instantly calms me down and makes me feel at peace.
I heard somewhere that people with anxiety tend to enjoy watching shows over and over again because there aren’t any anxiety-inducing surprises or suspense and I definitely agree with this. I’ve seen all of the episodes of Bob’s Burgers so many times so watching it is incredibly relaxing for me.
We spend SO MUCH time consuming content on the internet that reading a physical book can feel indulgent and luxurious (oh gosh, what has the world come to??).
The other night I got stuck into a good book and READ THE WHOLE THING in one sitting, which I don’t think I’ve done in several years. And, let me tell you, it felt great!
Now, I don’t have a bath (and think it’s pretty gross to take baths in a flatshare, but that might be just me). But, I LOVE taking super hot showers as a form of self care. I know hot showers are worse for your skin and hair and whatever, but THEY’RE JUST SO NICE.
Whether I’m sad, hungover, or just feeling a bit off, taking a shower ALWAYS makes me feel better.
Bonus points if you wash your hair and shave—that always makes me feel even better!
I know the proverbial ‘they’ wants us to avoid emotional eating and rewarding ourselves with food, but I think it’s okay to do every once in a while. Eating a delicious vegan mac and cheese or burger or brownie just makes me feel good! If eating junk food doesn’t make you feel good, make yourself (or order in!) a tasty healthy meal instead.
Check out some of my favourite places to order vegan food from here in London in this article.
I also like wandering around the supermarket and buying myself treats as a form of self care. Sometimes, we’ll go down to the natural foods shop and buy random exciting vegan alternatives to things. As a bonus, it gets you out of the house which is good for your wellbeing as well. Which leads me to my next idea…
Getting outside (and, even better, getting out in nature) will have a positive impact on your mental and physical health. Plus, the endorphins from exercise don’t hurt either!
Now, particularly with everything going on at the moment, I haven’t been good about getting outside even for my daily exercise. However, I always feel better when I do.
Doing some light cleaning and tidying up can drastically improve your mood. I always feel so much more at peace and motivated when I have clean surroundings.
(For more tips on getting motivated, check out this article).
Okay, so I know this because I’ve lived in Britain for so long but I LOVE TEA. Also, I know this is one of those cliché ideas for self care that tends to make people cringe. But, there’s nothing better than a fancy cup of tea and it genuinely does make me feel amazing.
Gratitude is SO important and actively practicing gratitude has massively improved my life. I know this one can be hard (I’ve got depression, so I understand having those days where EVERYTHING feels like it sucks). Try to think of at least three specific things in your life you’re grateful for (every day if you can!).
I like to free-write in my journal as a form of self care. Sometimes I write about my life, sometimes I write stories, or sometimes I write my dreams for the future. You can really write anything you want!
Hug yourself. Cuddle your partner. Cuddle a dog in the park. Cuddling feels amazing and will make you happy.
Get that vitamin D, girl! It’s essential for your physical and mental health and just generally makes you feel GOOD.
Now, in Britain, especially during the winter, we don’t see the sun very much. If you’re in a dark place like I am, I’d recommend buying a Lumie bodyclock alarm instead.
Spend some time figuring out what you really enjoy doing and do it! For some people that’s gardening, for others it might be knitting or singing. For me, it’s blogging! There’s a lot of pressure these days to turn every activity we enjoy into a money-making venture and that absolutely doesn’t need to be the case. Do things you enjoy for the sake of your own enjoyment!
While I love planned Zoom calls with activities, I’m not always feeling up to them. But, there are some people who, no matter how introverted or mentally drained you’re feeling, you can talk to. So, call those people!
I know these days most social calls are planned, but everyone has those few friends (or your parents!) who would be down for a quick, unplanned, no-pressure chat.
Sitting with your eyes closed listening to a podcast is a great form of self care.
Some of my favourites are:
Again, I know this isn’t for everyone, but I personally love doing these things.
You don’t have to go out and buy anything, expensive, though! You can even make a face mask at home if you want with things that are already in your pantry!
Putting on my dressing gown feels like getting a big hug.
Pro tip: warm it up on the radiator first for extra self care points!
Pair that with some fuzzy slippers and you'll be feeling nice and toasty!
Conquering something new that’s a little bit (but not too far) out of your comfort zone can be a great form of self care. Maybe try making a new recipe or try out a new hobby.
Getting those creative juices flowing is an amazing way to improve your mood. I personally find drawing and painting very meditative.
My flatmates and I love playing card games like:
Or, you could play a video game. The sky is the limit! Games are a great way to get your mind off of anything that’s stressing you out and increase your happiness levels.
I know this is also super cliché, but I LOVE candles. Sitting in the dark with delicious-smelling candles lit just makes me so calm. I also find it helps me meditate, which is another idea for self care I’d recommend.
Make a pillow fort. Play wrestle with your partner. Just PLAY. We don’t play enough as adults!
The other weekend, my partner and I made a pillow fort and had a picnic and it was SO FUN.
Now, drinking isn’t exactly self-care, but putting effort into a making a fancy cocktail or mocktail can make you feel straight out of Sex and the City. Anyway, it’s a nice treat, which is really what self care is all about!
I LOVE dancing alone in my room. If you’re not up for dancing, listening to music works too! I love putting on my noise cancelling headphones and just completely blocking out the world.
Some people like to go to bed early and wake up early so they can have some peaceful time to themselves before the rest of the world is up. Others like to have a lie-in and a bit of a duvet day. I personally am a fan of both!
Now, I know retail therapy isn’t particularly healthy. But, if you’re like me and hardly ever buy anything for yourself, it can feel like a nice treat and improve your wellbeing.
If you’re looking for other inspiration, check out this article.
While incorporating any of these ideas into your everyday routine is great for your mental and physical health, sometimes you need more. Give yourself a whole day or night to do anything you want (or nothing at all!). Self care Sunday here we come!
Setting goals and dreaming about the future is a massive form of self care for me. Now, not everyone is into goal setting, but for me, it just makes me feel GOOD.
For tips on setting (and reaching) goals, check out this article.
This is another one that may seem a little bit weird, but helps me feel more on top of my life and generally better so I’m including it!
Now that you’ve got some ideas for self care, what are my tips for actually incorporating self care into your life?
If you’re really busy, you may need to actually block off time in your calendar to practice self care. Treat it as you would any other commitment and stick to it.
While it can feel pleasantly so, self care isn’t overly indulgent and you shouldn’t feel guilty taking time to engage in it. Be kind to yourself and give yourself permission to practice self care. Also, if you’re not doing great with your self care practice, don’t beat yourself up over it. Being kind to yourself is one of the most important self care tips there is. While it does require practice, it can seriously improve your mental and physical health.
If having a full self care Sunday feels overwhelming, why not practice a little bit of self care every day instead? Maybe spend 5 minutes breathing after work or go on a walk after dinner. You don’t have to complete some monumental laundry list of self care activities for it to be effective!
Self care shouldn’t feel like a burden and you shouldn’t be putting so much pressure on yourself to practice self care that it becomes counter productive. Figure out what self care activities you enjoy and what the path of least resistance is to incorporating them into your everyday life.
If you’re not great at making time to take care of yourself, enlist a friend! You can do things like face masks or paint together and help each other stay on track.
What are your favourite ideas for self care? Let me know in the comments below!
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