Self-care is essential at all times, and these self-care suggestions can help you get started.
This phrase keeps popping up on Instagram feeds, blogs, and magazines throughout the world—accompanied by photographs of fantastic bubble baths and freshly made beds, of course.
But, exactly, what is self-care? And why should we be doing it in the first place?
Self-care is about much more than taking a hot bath and going to bed early. It refers to a variety of activities that are done with the goal of reducing stress, increasing energy, and improving health.
In a society where we are constantly attempting to please others – whether our job, family, friends, or a variety of other individuals – Agnes Wainman has described the practice as “something that refuels us, rather than depletes us.”
Why should we prioritize self-care?
Well, it has the potential to be extremely beneficial to our physical health. The body’s fight or flight reaction is turned off by the “relaxation response,” which is triggered when we accomplish the actions listed in this article.
Our blood pressure and pulse rate are reduced, our digestive system can work normally, and our adrenaline and cortisol hormone levels can return to normal.
By practicing self-care, we may avoid emotional burnout, increase our self-esteem, and eliminate emotions of resentment, making us better equipped to relate to and care for others.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 15 easy self-care ideas to help you live a better, happier life. Continue reading to learn about tiny changes you can make to help your mind, body, and soul.
“Self-care means giving yourself permission to pause.” – Cecilia Tran
1. Start your day with a glass of water
We are all dehydrated because we do not drink enough water. The Institute of Medicine suggests that we drink 10 cups of water per day, yet the majority of us only manage 1.8 cups.
That’s a tremendous difference, and it basically indicates we’re not drinking nearly enough to keep our bodies functioning at their best. As a result, almost 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated on a daily basis without even realizing it.
Dehydration makes us physically and psychologically fatigued, and it has a negative impact on our performance. Drinking too little water can cause brain fog, irritation, and a decline in cognitive performance.
Dehydration might also make us prone to headaches and dizziness. Avoid high-sugar liquids like fruit juice, as well as tea, coffee, soda, and alcohol.
Drinking clean water is the best way to stay hydrated, and starting each day with a glass of water is one of the best and easiest forms of self-care.
That way, before you do anything else, you’re preparing your body to get the nutrients it requires to perform optimally.
Purchase a reusable water bottle and make it a habit to drink enough water. It may seem challenging at first, but you’ll soon notice the advantages of staying hydrated — greater energy, clearer skin, less bloating, and fewer headaches.
2. Create a Weekly Meal Plan
Many of us are aware that we could and should eat more healthily. In fact, among individuals who make a New Year’s Resolution in January, decreasing weight is one of the most common options.
However, 80% of resolutions fail within six weeks, which means that those of us who pledge to alter our diet, eat healthier, and lose weight by Valentine’s Day will have failed miserably.
The reason so many resolutions fail is a lack of planning, not a lack of motivation.
We know we should consume better, healthier foods, but whether we are at our desks or out and about, we find ourselves going for the easy alternative. Take one day every week to establish a healthy eating routine instead of relying on pre-packaged or fast food options.
The key to success, according to Peter LePort M.D., Medical Director of MemorialCare Surgical Weight Loss Center at Orange Coast Medical Center, is adequate planning. “By pre-planning your meals, you can often avoid impulse, ‘pressed for time’ purchases” — you know the ones we’re talking about: fast food drive-thrus, candy bars at the cash checkout, or office doughnuts.
One of the most effective kinds of self-care is making a weekly meal plan. Once a week set aside time to draw down a specific plan of attack to help you feel more prepared and keep on track. Allow room for snacks, and never shop for groceries when you’re hungry.
Make a shopping list and stick to it. You’ll enjoy healthier food, find it easier to say “no” to curveball treats, and you might even save yourself some money, too!
Each of us needs to withdraw from the care which will not withdraw from us” – Maya Angelou
3. Try a New Class
Trying something new, whether it’s pilates or yoga, a gym class, or a language program, can provide a significant boost.
Your brain, like the rest of your body, is subject to the “use it or lose it” principle, which means it thrives on new challenges. Taking a new class, learning a new language, or picking up a new skill are all things that our brains enjoy.
The best technique of self-prevention for diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s that can impact us as we age is to constantly challenge our brains to learn new things.
Fitness courses can help us meet new people who share our aims, and yoga’s advantages – sleeping better, lowering stress, breathing better, and improving our immune system – are all intimately tied to self-care.
Learning new languages from home has never been easier thanks to software and applications.
Have you ever wished to learn Italian, brush up on your Mandarin before a business trip, or speak like a movie American? In only a few minutes, you may download software like Babbel and begin learning a new language!
Related: Tips to Help You Be a Better Parent
To attempt anything new, it doesn’t have to be a new year, month, or even week. Whether you’re learning a new talent for the first time or brushing up on an old one,
“Make the time to close your eyes and breathe.” – Morgan Harper Nichols
4. Take 5 Minutes for Yourself
Because we are so used to noticing and meeting the needs of others, this may be the most difficult thing on the list. Self-care, at its core, is about taking time for ourselves in order to improve our physical, mental, and spiritual wellness.
Making time for yourself every day is the first step. Take 5 minutes to just be, whether it’s first thing in the morning over coffee, at the conclusion of the working day, or before you go to sleep at night. Put your phone down, pause what you’re doing, and sit quietly with your own thoughts.
Take a few deep breaths to decompress and let go of all that has happened thus far today.
According to author Alexandra Elle, there is a misperception that “self-care has to be expensive and fancy, but it doesn’t.” She reminds us, as the author of Growing in Gratitude, that self-care can be as easy and crucial as taking time to breathe.
We are conditioned to prioritize the needs of others over our own. Every day, taking 5 minutes for yourself serves as a reminder that we can’t serve others from an empty cup. We can only serve others from the overflow if we work on filling ourselves up.
5. Get an Early Night – Sleep is Self-Care
We’re more attentive, have more energy, and are more open to acquiring new abilities.
There are numerous advantages to getting adequate sleep, but most of us continue to go through our days as if we are running on fumes.
Many of us say that we are too busy to obtain a good night’s sleep. However, refueling at least once or twice a week is critical.
Skipping sleep and surviving on the bare minimum has a severe impact on our immune system, leaving us open to infections of many types. You’re not getting enough sleep, and you’re wondering why you’re getting every viral cough and cold going around? You’re answering a question that you’ve posed to yourself.
Set aside a few nights a week for this. I know I said self-care wasn’t all about bubble baths and getting a good night’s sleep, but sleep is an important element of self-care.
We’ve been told our entire lives that we should get a solid 8 hours of sleep every night, but the reality is that at least 40% of Americans receive significantly less than 7 hours of sleep on a regular basis.
Adults under 50, parents of young children, and young people between the ages of 18 and 25 are among the most sleep-deprived.
Our brains are able to clear themselves of the toxins that have collected throughout the day while we sleep. We can also solidify our memories and create crucial neural highways, all of which contribute to improved brain health.
Instead, have a hot bath or shower, put on your PJs, read a book or magazine, do some puzzles, or play a game.
The blue light emitted from devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops actually interrupt our natural circadian rhythm, which is why Harvard researchers suggest going screen-free at least two or three hours before bedtime. Try it and see.
“Almost anything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you” – Annie Lamott
6. Do a Social Media Detox
Are you intrigued by the thought of turning off in the hours leading up to bedtime to combat the negative effects of blue light?
Why not take it a step further? In 2016, an estimated 196 million people in the United States used social media in some manner, with many of us using it on a daily basis.
Why not take advantage of the opportunity for a detox if you’re weary of seeing the same old repeated news, fashion pictures, or photos of celebrity pets?
Switching off from Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter — or all three – is one way to start a social media detox. Many of us use social networking websites to pass the time, but there are so many more productive things we might be doing with all those lost hours perusing.
Take language classes at your local college or learn a new skill like photography, live drawing, flower arranging, or cooking. Take advantage of the opportunity to go for walks, treks, or bike rides outside.
Get together with friends to see the latest film, try out new restaurants in your neighborhood, or listen to live music.
Though social media can be a great force, connecting us with individuals who share our interests, introducing us to new bars and restaurants, book recommendations, and retailers, it can also be a very harmful influence.
The relationship between social media, isolation, loneliness and poor mental health among young people and adults has been extensively covered by Psychology Today.
The drive to be “successful” on social media and to appear successful to others can exacerbate anxiety, sadness, paranoia, and loneliness.
Ironically, while social media was designed to make it simpler for like-minded people to connect, it may also separate us from our families, friends, and opportunities to meet new people.
The usage of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites activates the same parts of our brain as narcotics like cocaine, indicating that social media addiction is a genuine phenomenon.
Recognizing that there is more to life than social media, establishing boundaries for reading email and interacting with others online, or embarking on a cold-turkey detox are just a few of the options available.
“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” – Eleanor Brown
7. Eat Breakfast
Many of us miss the “most important meal of the day” because we prefer to hit the snooze button first thing in the morning, but eating breakfast is a terrific way to look after yourself.
Eating a nutritious breakfast — whether you choose fruit and oatmeal or eggs and toast – helps you keep your blood sugar levels in check, reduces binge eating, and sets the tone for the rest of the day.
“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper,” nutritionist Adelle Davis advised in the 1960s.
Breakfast fills you up for the day, reduces snacking, and allows you to eat a variety of lean proteins (like eggs) and healthy fats.
You’re less likely to end-load your calories at supper or in the evening when your body is less able to handle them if you keep your blood sugar levels steady throughout the day.
Obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease all have a causal relationship with individuals who eat later.
Making breakfast a priority is a terrific idea whether you’re actively attempting to lose weight or simply want to fuel your body in the most efficient way possible. It’s also a great opportunity to shake up your daily routine and spend quality time with your family at the breakfast table.
8. Get Pampered
Pampering might mean different things to different individuals, but it ultimately boils down to doing something luxurious that makes you happy and comfortable.
Whether you choose to relax in a tub full of bubbles, get the girls together for a face mask party, get a pedicure at your local nail salon, or schedule a deep tissue massage, the message of self-care is clear: do it.
The goal of self-care is to make time in your schedule—no matter how busy you are with work, family, or other activities—to do something you enjoy and that makes you feel good.
Getting a massage, manicure, or pedicure on a daily basis might be costly, but there are plenty of alternatives to relax at home. A few candles in the bath, a new moisturizer, or a monthly beauty box subscription may be all you need to invite yourself to a night of pampering on a regular basis.
You could even make your own face masks with items from your refrigerator and pantry! Check out these 5 easy-to-make face mask recipes – and you’ll know precisely what you’re putting on your skin.
“No one will believe in you until you believe in you.” – Robin Sharma
9. Move More
We all know we should be exercising to maintain a healthy physique, but it can be tough to fit it into our daily routines. The Mayo Clinic recommends that we engage in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day.
It doesn’t have to be at the gym or in a fitness class; it might be as simple as going for a brisk walk, swimming, or even mowing the lawn. Consider purchasing a treadmill or stationary bike for your home or office if you live in a cold environment.
Moving more has a slew of health benefits, including lowering your chance of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, as well as reducing stress, assisting weight reduction, enhancing your mood, and improving cognitive skills.
Staying active is a vital element of any daily routine because it promotes both physical and mental well-being.
Do you find it difficult to commit to 30 minutes? Why not go for three 10-minute walks throughout the day? Here are some more fun ideas to get you moving more:
Make a dance party — clear the floor, turn on some music, and show off your moves. It doesn’t matter if you’re dancing by yourself, with your flatmates, or with the kids. What matters is that you’re moving your body and having a good time.
Get a used bike and explore your neighborhood in a whole new way. Maybe you haven’t ridden a bike since you were a youngster, and now is the perfect time to see if it’s still possible.
“You really are good enough, pretty enough, & strong enough.” – Al Carraway
10. Grow a Plant
According to this article in Psychology Today, caring for plants can have significant therapeutic benefits. Growing plants, whether in a yard or on a small windowsill in your home, brings out the inner nurturer in all of us.
Horticulture has become an important aspect of mental health care since plants don’t care who cares for them — young or old, male or gender, sick or healthy. Many people have found that caring for plants and gardens has a positive impact on their self-esteem.
If you want to cultivate flowers, herbs, or a tomato plant, first learn about how it grows, where it may survive, and how to care for it. Then pay a visit to your local nursery and speak with a specialist who can assist you in discovering your green thumb.
Plants may be immensely rewarding as well as calming to grow and care for. When you’re growing something from seed, it’s simple to keep track of your development.
Watering, weeding, trimming, and sowing are all rhythmic and repeated acts in horticulture that generate feelings of tranquility and contentment.
11. Work on Your Posture
When your mother told you to sit and stand up straight, she was correct. Dr. Kenton Fibel, a family care physician specializing in sports medicine at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Anaheim, California, states, “Poor posture can have numerous detrimental impacts on your health.”
There are numerous reasons to focus on sitting and standing up straighter, ranging from poor circulation to jaw discomfort, weariness, migraines, and sexual dysfunction.
Sitting slumped over a desk, whether at work or at home, has become second nature for many people.
Try sitting up straight in your chair, placing your hands on your thighs, and pushing your shoulder blades together instead of slumping. Repeat three or four times throughout the day, holding for five seconds before releasing.
Looking for a reason to buy a new bag? Improving your posture may be the solution!
Larger, carry-all tote bags, according to doctors, maybe create havoc on your neck and shoulders, resulting in bad walking posture. Choose a smaller pocketbook and only carry what you need. You’ll thank your neck, back, shoulders, jaw, arms, and head later.
A woman in a gingham check outfit pens a gratitude journal in red leather.
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” – William James
12. Write Things Down
Because of the proliferation of note-taking and journaling apps for smartphones and tablets, we are jotting down fewer things than ever before. Confronting our issues on paper, on the other hand, is a really valuable, meaningful, and practical manner of practicing self-care.
Alex Elle, the author of Growing in Gratitude, suggests tackling any negativity you may have on paper: “Write down the lies—the negative self-talk, the self-doubt—and then counter with what you know to be real, what you’re capable of,” Elle advises. “Writing it down allows you to address the negative while not allowing it to overshadow the positive aspects of your life.”
You don’t have to merely write down the negatives. Every day, take the time to jot down 5 things for which you are grateful in a notebook.
We all have things to be thankful for, whether it’s a good day or a bad one: a home, a car, the ability to drive, two legs to walk around on, the ability to see, people who care about us, a comfy bed…
Gratitude isn’t just about grand gestures; it may also be as basic as being able to see the good things that happen to us on a daily basis.
Do you want to take it a step further? Learn modern calligraphy, or hand-lettering, to make your writing even more attractive. It’s the ideal screen-free activity for kids.
13. Meet Up With Your Friends
It’s all too simple to say that we’re too busy to spend time with our pals.
Weeks and months pass, and we realize we haven’t put any effort into our friendships in a long time.
We haven’t seen one other in a while, and despite the fact that we used to be very close, we have no idea what’s going on in our mutual friends’ lives. Finding time for yourself, as well as making time to see others, is a vital element of self-care.
Once a month, set aside a day or evening to meet up with friends and catch up on what has happened in the previous month. Even if you get behind on texting or phoning in the meanwhile, you’ll know you’ll be able to catch up soon.
It doesn’t always have to be cocktails or a lavish supper; you might take turns hosting each other. Grab some snacks, order pizza, or throw a potluck supper together. You’ll have something to look forward to if you have a regular event on your schedule.
This is especially crucial for people who suffer from anxiety or depression, as they may avoid engaging with others when they are feeling sad. Meeting up on a regular basis can help to alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness, as well as provide a welcome distraction from other concerns.
“We can’t help everyone but everyone can help someone.” – Ronald Reagan
14. Help Others
Helping others can be a terrific way to practice self-care, and perspective can be a great lesson.
“Imagine the effect it could make in the world if everyone volunteered just one hour a month,” says psychologist Dr. Nancy Irwin. And she is correct. Giving an hour of your time once a month to your local community and yourself can make a significant difference.
Whether you volunteer in a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, or children’s shelter, you’ll be giving back to those who have far less than you, meeting new people, and putting your talents and skills to good use.
Meals on Wheels and other charitable groups operate around the country, and they are always searching for fresh volunteers to assist them to serve others. There are many ways to help people, and you don’t always have to give up your time.
It’s simple to become involved with your local food bank. Find a convenient location where you can drop off some leftover groceries and make it a regular stop after your weekly grocery shopping.
Whether you donate money or volunteer your time, you’ll feel good about making a difference in someone’s life. And you are, in fact, making a difference in your own life.
“Carve out and claim the time for yourself and kindle your own fire.” – Amy Ippoliti
15. Learn To Say No
Last but not least, learning to say no is an important part of self-care and prioritization.
Have you ever agreed to work some more hours and then regretted it because you were already exhausted? Or offered a family member your free weekend to help them move some stuff into a storage unit?
We’ve all been in that situation. You want to say no, but you feel forced to say yes as if you’ll be letting someone down if you don’t. So you agree to do it, however grudgingly, and then spend the rest of the time wishing you hadn’t.
“Our expectations of ourselves in different contexts are unrealistic,” says Erica M. Wollerman, Psy.D., psychologist and founder of the Thrive Therapy Studio.
We are predisposed as humans to want to say “yes” to everything and to feel terrible if we can’t, which is why we develop endless lists of things to do. “You are more important than your to-do list,” Wollerman reminds us, “so prioritize your well-being over some of the tiny extra activities you might believe you need to do.”
Saying no may be immensely liberating, even if it feels like you’re “losing out” in the near term. It also assists us in carving out time for ourselves when our days are otherwise crammed with responsibilities and activities.
Allowing ourselves to let go of the expectation that we must do it all, that we must always be prepared to go, and that we must prioritize others before ourselves.