50 Ways to Practice Self-Care
(even if you're on a budget and you have no time.)
An essential part of cultivating self-love and a connection with our bodies and our intuition is self-care.
Many people think that self-care is all bubble baths and chocolate bars, but it really goes beyond those surface-level activities.
Self-care can be defined as any act intended to meet one’s own needs.
When we put it that way, it seems so simple. But the problem is that we spend our days mostly just covering the essential needs for survival—food, water, shelter, hygiene, sleep—and neglecting the rest. There are lots of reasons for this; two of the most common are:
1) Most women—and particularly mothers—are nurturers and instinctually feel the need to take care of everyone else ahead of themselves.
2) There is such an emphasis placed on achievement in our culture that we push ourselves really hard to “get everything done” and we consider it “lazy” or unproductive to engage in self-care activities.
Interestingly, these reasons why we don’t engage in self-care are actually reasons why we should: we are much better equipped to take care of others (more pleasant, more energetic, and less resentful) when our own needs are met, and we are far more productive when we feel good and are not burnt out.
Furthermore, many people view self-care as merely a set of actions to nourish and treat our bodies well, but self-care goes much deeper than the physical body. It encompasses any action with an intent to care for our mental and emotional selves as well.
This is an important distinction to make because, though many self-care activities feel really nourishing and juicy while we are doing them, others do not. Sometimes taking care of ourselves means having a difficult conversation, expressing our anger by beating up a pillow, or going to a new workout class or meditation circle that feels SUPER uncomfortable, but we know is going to contribute to our greater good.
Self-care is about raising our own personal vibration.
It is about doing things for ourselves because we know that we DESERVE to feel good.
It is about nourishing the depleted parts of ourselves in mind, body, and spirit so that we can have a greater impact on the world around us.
Just like with nutrition, there is no one-size-fits-all regimen for self-care. We all have such different needs, insecurities and lifestyles that what feels good and nourishing for one person may not necessarily feel good for another person. And different time in our lives require different self-care practices too.
That’s why I created this list of self-care activities that you can draw ideas from that fit varied lifestyles, budgets, and needs. While it is important to schedule in some time daily just for yourself, scheduling in one or two of these activities per week will make all the difference in your productivity, your energy, and the way that you feel about yourself.
Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to block off big chunks of time or take on too many self-care activities at once. Try one on for size, see how it feels, and then add in more things later.
50 Ways to Practice Self-Care
- Take a nap.
- Go for a walk (or a drive) without your phone.
- Get a mani and/or pedi (either at a salon or DIY).
- Say “no” to anything that doesn’t feel like a “hell, yes”.
- Have the difficult conversation with someone who is bringing you down.
- Put on some music and dance!
- Go for a bike ride.
- Book a massage.
- Take a long, hot shower with oils and body scrub.
- Put on a face mask (there are some great DIY options on Pinterest).
- Hire a coach, therapist, counselor, or trainer.
- Go to a restorative yoga class—not for a workout, but for some juicy stretching and relax time.
- Make your pillow your anger receptacle. When you are frustrated or angry, beat it up with a pool noodle, scream into it, or punch it until you get all that anger out.
- Meditate. Even if you don’t think you can sit still.
- Make some “spa water” to keep in the fridge with cucumber or orange slices or essential oils.
- Find a loving mantra and repeat it daily. One of my favorites is courtesy of Lori Harder: “My life is fun and easy, and there is time for everything.”
- Hula hoop.
- Give yourself permission to be lazy for a couple hours.
- Sleep in.
- Change your sheets and take a shower, shave your legs and moisturize before you get in bed—it feels amazing.
- Exercise in a way that feels really good! Not every workout has to be hard… it should feel fun and exciting.
- Go to the gym and take advantage of the non-exercise stuff like the sauna, the foam rollers, or hot tub.
- Window shop or people-watch.
- Curl up with a book (reading for pleasure—not work or study).
- Crank your favorite tunes and sing at the top of your lungs in your car.
- Dance it out everywhere—on the way to the bathroom, while you are folding laundry, during a commercial break.
- Watch a hair or makeup Youtube tutorial and practice on yourself.
- Get dressed up just because. (Or, if you have to dress up for work, let yourself wear sweats on the weekend.)
- Do some stretches.
- Make a vision board or a dream book.
- Create Pinterest boards full of your favorite quotes, travel destinations, or inspiring photos.
- Write a gratitude list.
- Listen to a fun or inspiring podcast.
- Take a class that you have been interested in for a long time.
- Watch a funny Youtube video or listen to your favorite comedian—laughing feels great!
- Take some time for self-pleasure.
- Pick (or buy) yourself some flowers.
- Burn sage, palo santo or diffuse essential oils in your home.
- Volunteer for a cause that is meaningful to you.
- Play with a pet.
- Walk around naked.
- Join a group—whether it is on meetup or an interest-based group in your area, getting together with other people with whom you have something in common feels great.
- Host a movie, spa, or board game night with friends.
- Call a close friend or family member for a heart-to-heart
- Make a list of all of the things that you love and appreciate about yourself.
- Do something artistic—color, paint, draw, collage, etc.
- Invest in a program or coach that will help you release any struggle and achieve what you desire.
- Treat yourself to your favorite meal or dessert.
- Go through old photos, scrapbooks, or year books and reminisce.