Self-care is a popular word, and it’s easy to lose sight of what it means. Search the internet, and you’ll find myriads of suggestions for practicing self-care. In turn, this can make it difficult to decide the best self-care options to suit you and your lifestyle. Can you withdraw from the mix of challenges in your life, relax, and do something to make yourself feel better? Yes, you can. That’s why we wrote these tips for you!
Our tips are easy to practice, and result-proven, and you can even undertake them from the comfort of your home. Based on efficiency, simplicity, and ease, we share 20 of the best self-care ideas you can begin with.
It means that you make conscious efforts to engage in activities that will enhance your physical and mental health.
The World Health Organization defines it as “the ability of individuals and families to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health and cope with illness.8” It encompasses your personal and general hygiene, the quality of food you eat, and your lifestyle.
Practicing self-care doesn’t mean that you are selfish or self-centered. It only means that you take care of yourself so that you’re at your best at work, at home, or wherever you find yourself.
It’s wrong to assume that self-care is only for the times you’ve got nothing in your schedule. We’ll always have something to do. You’ll have to include these self-care ideas deliberately in your daily life.
We find it difficult to decide to take a break and just relax. We live in the busyness of our days, and it’s easy to get burnt out. It’s no longer news that mental health awareness is now on the rise (as our list of mental health quotes & facts, and statistics goes to show). We all get busy at some point and forget to take care of ourselves. It allows us to regain our lost energy and helps us appreciate life better.
We only get to live in this world once. You shouldn’t wait till your old age before you engage in activities that make you happy. Our own self-care provides us with an opportunity to enjoy and relish time in our routines for ourselves, regardless of the stage of life we’re in.
When asked to name the persons on your priority list in life, here’s how it might play out. You’ll mention your spouse, children, siblings, extended family member, or even your pet. You may feel guilty if you include yourself on the top list.
If you’re constantly stressed, fatigued, and drained, you cannot effectively meet the needs of the people around you. But you can only serve others effectively if you’re also at your best. This is the reason you need to add self-love to your own list.
Self-care allows you to be mindful of your needs. Also, since it requires concentration for a particular period, you train yourself to focus on one activity per time. With this, you can build your concentration skills and sharpen your focus.
We can face the draining activities we meet daily better if we optimize our level of self-care. When you feel good about yourself, it affects everything you do. You can concentrate better at work, you feel energized, and you can complete your tasks without feeling overwhelmed.
Our stress levels increase after a day’s work. If you go on with increased stress levels for a long time, this will cause burnout. Self-care allows you to avoid burnout because you’re incorporating practices that allow you to regain energy lost during day-to-day activities.
Self-care provides various other health benefits, not excluding mental health. Below are simple ideas to get you started on your self-care journey.
This is top of our list of the best self-care ideas because it determines how well we’re able to tackle pretty much anything and everything the day ahead might hold for us.
Sleep impacts our well-being. The quality of sleep you get daily is essential to your productivity and general state of mind1. What makes up a good night’s sleep differs for everyone, but an average adult requires 6-8 hours of sleep to stay productive. No matter how many hours of sleep you get, do your best to ensure it’s refreshing and that you wake up well-rested.
If you find it difficult to go to bed early, create a bedtime routine that’s simple and enjoyable. You can include reading a book, yoga, or ambient music as part of your nighttime routine. Many find that simply giving themselves a break from screens and taking time to let the mind relax helps in the search for a great night’s sleep. Going to bed promptly sets the tone for a productive day if you need to be up very early the following morning.
The thought of a routine makes it sound boring. But that isn’t true. A morning routine is not a stringent bunch of rules you have to adhere to. Instead, your routine in the morning can simply comprise two to three things that will set you up just right for the rest of the day.
For example, starting your day with a cup of water refreshes your body active after sleep. While self-care for the mind is staying away from your phone immediately after waking up to avoid immediately becoming consumed by whatever is happening elsewhere.
Other ideas include making your bed; yes, you read that correctly. Take morning coffee, read an inspirational book, or listen to your favorite songs.
You can also boost yourself in the morning with morning affirmations to remind yourself of what’s good about where you are in life, the day ahead, and so on. Science has even proven morning affirmations are good for our mindset. Have a read here of 150 morning affirmations that might inspire the ones suitable for you.
Are you wondering how drinking water connotes self-care? Water is crucial to taking care of our brains and bodies. Our bodies are made up of 70% water, and the amount of water we take in affects how we feel.
Dehydration is the commonest cause of headaches and tiredness among adults. This is because it leads to higher cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is the stress-causing hormone that makes us feel drained and tired. The human brain comprises 85% water, and if you’re not adequately hydrated, you can stress this essential organ. Staying hydrated benefits our bodies by reducing toxins in the body and promoting healthy skin and healthy hair.
So, get yourself a reusable water bottle and fill it up with water whenever you’re on the move to stay hydrated. It’s equally important that you drink it!
Exercise improves our mood, reduces anxiety, and being physically active can boost our self-esteem7. Well, you don’t have to visit a gym to get active and enjoy the benefits of exercise. Simply biking or walking to work instead of catching a cab all counts.
Do you have your lunch break delivered to you? How about walking to the cafe for your lunch break instead? Or go for a brisk walk without a destination to explore the area around wherever you may be. Why not take the stairs when you have the option and walk around your office or at home in the evenings?
Whereas with a bit more time, a long bike ride might be the best medicine and just what the doctor ordered.
It’s more about consistency rather than what you do.
Decluttering can bring a touch of peace that increases our happiness. Sometimes, it’s possible that you’re feeling overwhelmed because of your disorganized room, workspace, phone, or even social media!
Self-care is about spending time on the things that help you reach the perfect body and mind situation. So, decluttering your life is one of the best self-care tips you’ll ever find.
Start with your room and clear out the things that no longer serve you. Check your phone for unused apps and files that only occupy space. Check your social media following to ensure that you only have people who brighten your day and elevate your mood. If there are people that do otherwise, it’s easy to unfollow them. You also spend a bit of time reducing spam messages and followers online to filter for what matters and is important to you.
Scientific research supports journaling as helping to promote mindfulness. The practice of writing your thoughts helps you to be present, process your emotions, and improve self-awareness.
Now, most people get discouraged whenever they hear journaling. Some view it as a quasi-religious activity that you need to perform every day. However, if you’re just starting, journal whenever you feel the need to.
Below are journaling techniques to try out:
Write how you feel without caring about the sentences, structure, or coherence. Expressively writing out your worries can help free up mental resources2 that you can use to complete tasks more efficiently. Check out our list of journal prompts for some ideas to get you started.
It could be as simple as three things you are grateful for every day. You may write as many as you desire because the longer you write, the better you get at focusing your thoughts. You can be grateful for the weather or for speaking with a family friend over the phone.
A gratitude journal allows you to practice, you guessed it, gratitude, which enables you to develop a positive attitude toward life. By taking the time to reflect on what you are grateful for, you can also practice positive self-talk. It also improves your mental well-being.
Here, you write your activities for the day. This is where you narrate how you felt at different times of the day. You can practice script journaling weekly to help you understand how your week went, or as often as daily should it suit.
Have you bottled some feelings for a long time? This is where you write how you feel to that person who hurt you or caused you so much pain. You can keep the letter, tear it, or burn it instead. It only helps you clarify your thoughts.
Journaling is one of the self-care ideas that allows you to care for your mental health.
Listening to music is one of these easy self-care ideas you can do pretty much for free, pretty much anywhere. Music has the power to regulate our moods and makes us feel happier3. Especially if it’s a song, you love. What’s that song that makes you feel good and full of energy? It’s time to include it on your daily playlist.
If you’re unhappy or feel stressed, listen to your favorite music to improve your mood and relieve your negative feelings. Ambient and calming music will provide calming effects on your body, lower blood pressure, and decimate the stress hormone cortisol.
Of course, you may just decide to listen to your favorite podcast instead. For inspiration, check our lists of the best nature podcasts and environmental podcasts.
Try grabbing an Audible subscription, and you can listen to as many books as you like, or sign up to Amazon Music for a massive range of pretty much any music for any taste - all streaming for zero waste listening, what’s more.
We always have something to do. Whether at work or home, it’s a never-ending cycle of long to-do lists and action plans. However, to care for yourself, a simple idea is to set days where you do nothing.
Our brains need to take rest from mental stress. We’re usually on to something, and it’s easy to feel guilty when we’re doing nothing. Ensure you put your phones and computer away. Sleep, have a nature walk, or just daydream. Just do nothing.
Why immerse yourself in warm water? A study found out that whole-body immersion increases oxygen supply to the body and lowers stress. Immersion bathing, but not shower bathing, exerts hyperthermic action that induces increased blood flow and metabolic waste elimination, which may afford physical refreshment. Immersion bathing could improve both physical and emotional aspects of quality of life6.
It’s not just showering for a few minutes but immersing yourself in a long hot bath. You’ll be relieving yourself from stress, relaxing, spending some quality time with yourself, and rewarding yourself for the week’s activity.
Others also champion taking a cold shower every morning to revitalize; whereas it might not be for everyone, why not give it a try?
A massage reduces the stress hormone cortisol and causes your body to release positive hormones like dopamine and serotonin5. It relieves you of stress, headaches, pains, and muscle tension. If you’re constantly feeling stressed, a massage might be all that you need.
Sometimes is easy to leave a massage out of the picture because we have to head to a spa or sports therapist. That isn’t true. You can massage your neck, shoulders, and arms by yourself; just let your hands do the job for you.
Of course, you can also schedule in a spa day and experience those worries drift away as a professional masseuse works their magic.
Here’s another idea to add to your self-care list! Coloring helps to drive focus for a period. It clears your mind of distracting thoughts and lets you focus on the present moment.
Adult coloring can help with emotional and health issues. It helps us dissociate from the stress we face as adults while bringing back our feelings as children. You’ll only need to buy an adult coloring book to get started or get creative with your own outlines.
It’s convenient to develop a negative relationship with your skin if you’ve been faced with confidence or skin concerns. Let that go. Appreciate your skin and acknowledge its uniqueness to you.
An excellent way to care for your skin is to start a skincare routine. Your skincare box routine needs three major products—cleansers for cleansing off dead skin cells, makeup, and dirt. Moisturizers for keeping your skin soft and sunscreens prevent harm from the sun. That’s pretty much all you need for your skincare routine.
You can also treat yourself to a face mask at home. A face mask can be therapeutic and relaxing for you. For example, those infused with essential oils can awaken your olfactory senses and elevate your mood.
Face masks are fun to do! Follow the directions on the product and apply at least once a week.
Related: We’ve got some of the best brands over here for zero-waste makeup, who are pioneering zero-waste skincare with less plastic waste and natural ingredients for additional feel-good skincare vibes.
We live in a culture that prioritizes work over rest. Everyone is up to something every time. Look after yourself by stopping to take care of your mental health every day. Don’t wait until you feel stressed and overwhelmed. Many people think they should only take a mental health day when:
You shouldn’t allow yourself to reach these points. Set up your day every day to do good work, take time for yourself, be productive, and protect yourself from unnecessary stress. By taking care of your emotional energy levels, you'll find yourself better equipped to start a new day.
You can make herbal tea from dried plants. Herbal teas do not contain caffeine, so it’s okay to take them just before bed. Some herbal teas can help you relieve headaches, relax your muscles and help you sleep well at night.
To get a relaxing sleep, lavender, and chamomile teas are great for you. Moringa tea is excellent whenever you want to reduce the stress you’ve gone through during the day. Peppermint tea is ideal for headaches and helps to relieve nasal congestion.
To help rest easy that your tea consumption isn’t adding to plastic waste, grab a reusable strainer or bag to steep your loose-leaf herbal tea. And shop from eco-friendly organic tea brands that care for their people and the planet.
However, try to incorporate one tea at a time into your daily routine. This allows you to observe how your body reacts and note which tea works best for you.
It takes breathing in and out to stay alive. Our bodies need oxygen to survive, which we receive when we breathe in. However, because breathing is such a common and almost unnoticeable phenomenon, we don’t manipulate it to our advantage. A simple breathing exercise you can practice anywhere, with no tools required, is deep breathing.
Taking a deep breath is a scientifically proven way of reducing stress4, anxiety, and depression. When you take time out of everyday busyness to practice deep breaths, you signal your brain to relax and focus at that point which helps prevent your brain from wandering across a load of ideas and thoughts.
Deep breaths allow your mind to focus and avoid wandering, enhance a calm mind, and improve your well-being.
Note how you feel after this breathing technique. It’s definitely relaxing!
Along similar lines, get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air; you can combine your breathing exercises with some time in a park or local green space.
Your sense of smell is one of the powerful five senses in your body that’s good for your mental health. The olfactory senses linked to the brain’s emotional part can compare smells and remind us of where we first experienced that smell. Ever smelled a fragrance that brings back memories after years? That’s why showing some love for yourself through your sense of smell can trigger happy feelings and boost your overall well-being.
Scented eco-friendly candles and a few drops of essential oils can add beautiful fragrances to your home. Another tip is to cultivate fresh flowers scented to your taste in your home, plus they add a touch of beauty good for the eyes as well as the nose.
It’s different from the time you do nothing. A ‘me time’ allows you to connect with your inner self, assess your desires, reflect upon your dreams, and keep yourself on track. We recommend this exercise once a month, usually at the end of that month. You can think back and reflect upon all that happened in that month and simply spend time on yourself.
You bring in memories that you cherish from the past when you write to an old friend. Your brain may have preserved these memories, but you hadn’t stopped and taken the time to process them. Writing a letter creates the time and space to reflect on those memories.
You can write an email if you find that more convenient. Try to write out your feelings or spend some time on thoughts that may have been notched to the back of your consciousness to benefit most from this time.
The food you eat serves as fuel for your body. Cooking for yourself is a special gift you alone can give yourself. We might easily presume cooking to be laborious, stressful, and tasking. Why cook your meal when you can always purchase convenience foods?
Cooking promotes mindfulness as you’re concentrating on the task before you. Receiving positive comments from your family about a meal you’ve made can also light bubbles in your eyes! You can also explore the creative part of yourself by trying out new recipes.
When you go grocery shopping, buy the ingredients for making your favorite meal. Look up healthy recipes that you can make at home. We’re not suggesting that you become an expert cook every day unless, of course, you want to, but this is all about doing something that makes you happy.
Having a disorganized wardrobe or a laundry basket filled with clothes isn’t always a good feeling. As humans, we like to be in control of our surroundings' events. For days when you feel you’ve lost control, folding your laundry can be therapeutic. When you control small things like your clothes pile, you remind yourself that other things will fall right in place.
You can also check out our tips and ideas to minimize your wardrobe for even less clothing clutter.
We know starting with your self-care can take a little discipline, and you need to avoid falling back into old habits to keep up the right amount of self-care for you. However, with so many ideas to choose from, this shouldn’t be a rare practice. Here are tips to ensure you can sustain your self-care activities as you find precisely what the right balance is for your needs.
What will you be doing during weekends and weekdays to include these ideas in your regular life? Try setting aside a half-hour every day for a little self-care.
Setting out your plans for the following day keeps you organized and focused for the day. However, scan through your previous to-do list, and you’ll realize that you haven’t included self-care.
Here’s what to do instead; include it in your list. We know it might seem difficult to fit a bubble bath into your to-do list when you have to beat a deadline before Monday morning. However, whether it’s reading before going to bed, listening to your favorite music, or taking a moment to practice gratitude, pay attention to including these in your list.
This allows you to stay accountable and also lets you remain consistent. If you have any, kids are good accountability partners that will remind you of your desire to keep maintaining self-care practices.
With the tips above, you don’t have to keep wondering how you can implement self-care anymore! Stay consistent with your routines, practice self-compassion, and implement these ideas one at a time. Taking time for self-care for mental and physical health just got simple for you!
June J. Pilcher, Douglas R. Ginter, Brigitte Sadowsky, Sleep quality versus sleep quantity: Relationships between sleep and measures of health, well-being and sleepiness in college students, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Volume 42, Issue 6, 1997, Pages 583-596, ISSN 0022-3999, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0022-3999(97)00004-4
Smyth JM, Johnson JA, Auer BJ, Lehman E, Talamo G, Sciamanna CN
Saoirse Finn, Daisy Fancourt, Chapter 9 - The biological impact of listening to music in clinical and nonclinical settings: A systematic review, Editor(s): Julia F. Christensen, Antoni Gomila, Progress in Brain Research, Elsevier, Volume 237, 2018, Pages 173-200, ISSN 0079-6123, ISBN 9780128139813,
Xiao Ma et al, (2017) The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults US National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health
Tiffany Field et al, (2005) Cortisol Decreases and Serotonin and Dopamine Increase Following Massage Therapy US National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health
Yasuaki Goto et al, (2018) Physical and Mental Effects of Bathing: A Randomized Intervention Study US National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health
Ashish Sharma, Vishal Madaan, and Frederick D. Petty, (2006) Exercise for Mental Health US National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health
World Health Organization, (2021) What Do We Mean By self care? who.int
Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.