Self-care is never a selfish act. It is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.
Running from house to house collecting candy is one of life’s greatest pleasures for most kids.
But as an adult? Enjoying simple pleasures is rarely that simple.
When it comes to emotional wellness, however, finding consistent ways to treat yourself is a non-negotiable.
It’s not a trick…
We’re talking about self-care.
Self-care is the practice of activities that are necessary to sustain life and health, initiated and carried out by an individual for him- or herself.
This includes, of course, the basics such as securing safety, shelter, and food.
But it also includes any number of other things you might do to help keep yourself rested, inspired, engaged, and living your best life.
Think it all sounds a bit… self-absorbed? Think again.
Self-care has been shown to:
- reduce everyday stress and related illness
- help protect against and manage anxiety, depression, and other emotional wellness issues
- improve patience, focus, and mindfulness
- benefit both you AND those you care for
Prefer social events to solo meditation?
Not into bubble baths or spa treatments?
Short on time and resources?
No problem. You can still practice self-care!
Self-care encompasses a wide variety of activities (and inactivities).
Some self-care strategies emphasize time alone to recharge, others focus on connection and engagement with the world around us.
And although some self-care strategies promote relaxation and rest, others promote activity, advocacy, and activism.
Best of all: Self-care can be practiced one strategy at a time, or in limitless combinations!
Not yet convinced there’s a self-care strategy for you?
Read on for just a sampling of ways to practice self-care:
Sometimes it’s best to keep things simple. If you’re new to self-care, start here.
- Ensure you’re someplace safe. (If you’re in an emergency, call 911.)
- Hungry? Eat something. Thirsty? Drink a glass of water.
- How’s the temperature? Adjust as needed.
- Get some rest.
- Pray or meditate.
- Connect with a therapist.
Self-care on the move
Moving your body in ways that feel good is an excellent way to care for yourself. Experiment with different types to discover what you enjoy most.
- Take a leisurely walk around your neighborhood.
- Explore a new bicycle path or hiking trail.
- Try a drop-in fitness class.
- Learn a dance from your cultural background. (Or someone else’s!)
- Embrace the season with an outdoor activity.
- Practice some yoga poses (or simply stretch on the floor) at home.
- Jump on the trampoline.
- Turn up the music and start an impromptu dance party.
Self-care on the couch
Some days it’s a challenge to do just about anything. Give yourself a break: These are the days when you need self-care more than ever.
- Cuddle up with a loved one and/or a pet.
- Turn on the fireplace or a space heater.
- Put on a pair of comfy socks or slippers.
- Wrap yourself up in a cozy blanket.
- Listen to comforting music.
- Read a magazine or book just for fun.
Self-care in the kitchen
If food is your only form of self-care, it may be a sign things are out of balance. But combined with other strategies, food can be a wonderful way to treat yourself.
- Pick a favorite recipe and make it.
- Find a new recipe to try.
- Discover a new fruit or vegetable at the store.
- Try a cooking class.
- Host a potluck.
- Practice eating mindfully.
- Volunteer at a food bank or meal service.
- “Spoil” your dinner by eating dessert first.
Self-care at the “spa”
No need to break your budget on high-end treatments. You can create a relaxing experience right in the comfort of your home.
- Try a face mask. Or make one at home.
- Book a massage with a pro. Or your partner.
- Request (or give yourself) a foot rub.
- Get a mani/pedi. Or DIY at home.
- Learn about essential oils.
- Light a scented candle.
- Enjoy a bath.
- Create a dedicated “relaxation space” in your home.
Self-care on the page
Words are powerful. When used in the name of self-care, they can be incredibly therapeutic.
- Write a letter. Send it… or not.
- Sign (or start) a petition.
- Compose a poem, short story, or essay.
- Make a list of your worries/fears, then destroy it.
- Schedule an appointment to talk with a therapist.
- Join (or start) a book club.
- Visit your local library.
- Read out loud to someone, or ask someone to read to you.
Self-care through gratitude
Whether life is going smoothly, or you’re in the midst of a challenge, gratitude is an essential item to have in your self-care toolkit.
- Thank someone who has made an impact on your life.
- Count your blessings before bed. Or first thing in the morning.
- File a formal compliment via a company’s website for excellent customer service you received.
- Keep a daily journal of things you are grateful for about your partner. Gift it to them on a holiday or birthday.
- Learn to say “thank you” in a different language.
- If you read, watch, or hear something inspiring, contact the creator to let them know what it meant to you.
Self-care through connection
We aren’t intended to function in isolation. Connecting with the community around you is one of the most caring gifts you can give yourself.
- Sign up to be a penpal.
- Leave a kind note for your partner, roommate, or family member to find.
- Give blood. (Bring a friend along who wants to give, too.)
- Join a community garden.
- Help fund a Kickstarter campaign.
- Volunteer at a local animal shelter.
- Introduce two people who you think might like to know each other.
- Offer to mow a neighbor’s lawn. Or shovel a neighbor’s driveway.
- Pay for the car behind you in the coffee/fast food/toll line.
- Invite a friend to coffee. Focus on listening more than talking.
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Ready to connect with a therapist for self-care?