I think self-care has gotten kind of a bad rap in the past few years because a lot of people look at the topic of self-care as privileged moms spending their day at yoga class while the nanny picks up the kid from school. But self-care is actually so much simpler than that. In fact, it’s so simple that we often forget about it or bump it down the list of priorities.
The time you spend on yourself isn’t selfish, it’s necessary. Carving out time to focus solely on your own self allows you to function at a higher level and give of yourself fully. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so set aside a few minutes each day to fill yourself back up.
If you need a little help getting started, consider these 19 self-care practices. Sometimes the best things in life are really free.
Write yourself a letter. You don’t have to mail it or anything, just tuck it away for when you need a pick-me-up. Write down five things you admire about yourself and five things you’re grateful for. This act alone is self-care for the soul, but now you’ll also have a tangible reminder to refer back to when you’re feeling down.
Reorganize your closet with the goal of feeling joy when you look inside. Think of this as an opportunity to lighten your load and engage your creativity in order to enjoy your daily routines more thoroughly.
Watch a motivational TED Talk. Let someone else give you a pep talk. We love these five female-led TED Talks for when we need inspiration.
Wash your sheets and shave your legs. Truly one of the most luxurious experiences in life is clean sheets and smooth legs. It’s a sensory thing, so make sure you put those clean sheets on the bed as soon as they get out of the dryer and moisturize the hell out of your legs after your shower.
Bake yourself some fresh bread. Enjoy the slowness of the process, focusing on all the sensory elements from kneading the dough to the smell of the bread as it rises. It’s a luxurious reward for little-to-no cost.
Watch a sunrise or sunset. And keep your phone in the other room. This isn’t the time to be “creating content.” It’s about soaking in the beauty the earth has to offer and the effect it can have on our soul.
Clean up who you follow on social media. Comb through who you follow on social media and purge, purge, purge. You know Marie Kondo’s concept of asking, “Does this spark joy?” Do it with people! Ask yourself if following this person really adds any positive value to your daily scroll. If not, hit unfollow. If you can’t unfollow, mute them. They’ll never know.
Pause whatever it is that you’re doing and drink a glass of water. People often underestimate how reenergizing water is throughout the day. When we feel a slump coming on, we often reach for caffeine, but in reality, water is most likely what our body needs. So stop what you’re doing and drink an entire glass. If you want to get extra fancy and add some fruit or cucumber, good on you.
Have a virtual movie night. Life is busy, but that’s where technology comes in. Download the Teleparty extension for your browser and watch a movie with your best friend. Personally speaking, “Pride and Prejudice” is balm for the soul.
Make yourself a fancy fruit and veggie platter. Cut up apples, make melon balls, use cookie cutters to create flower-shaped bites. The point is to make it an experience. Look up some ideas on Pinterest and let yourself get creative. You’ll be creating an indulgent experience while also getting some much-needed vitamins.
Join a free online support group. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression or just want to have a network of people to connect with, there are a lot of wonderful dedicated support groups that are completely free to use as resources.
Lay out a blanket and stargaze or cloudgaze. Again, no phones, no agenda. Just lay back and watch.
Open your windows and let the breeze in. The concept of “daylighting” has such a positive effect on your overall wellbeing. I personally like to open up the curtains and the windows as I’m making coffee in the morning. It creates an intentional shift in the room that really revives me.
Make a facial steam. Boil water and pour into a heat-safe bowl. You can add a few drops of your favorite essential oils or even dried flowers. Drape a towel over your head and enjoy the scent and the sensation of the steam for about 5-10 minutes.
Organize, declutter, purge. We carry around so much stuff out of obligation, nostalgia or habit. Living in a space that feels airier and more spacious, and knowing that those things are somewhere making someone else happy, gives us an unexpected sense of peace.
Breathe deeper for two minutes. More oxygen, more energy.
Send snail mail. Send an unsolicited card or letter to someone who means a lot to you. Write down the reasons why you love them and what they mean to you. Not only will you feel good putting those thoughts on paper, but the recipient will receive an unexpected delight in their mailbox.
Whip up your favorite meal. And go all out with the presentation. Don’t eat it on the couch. Set the table with full silverware, your best glassware and chilled sparkling water. Light some candles. Focus on presentation and remind yourself that you are worthy of beautiful, nourishing and delicious food.
Practice Niksen. When in doubt, the art of doing nothing is the best self-care act of all.