You work hard keeping all the balls in the air for your family – taking time for yourself is essential. Here is a list of self-care activity ideas that will help you be your best self.
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Daily life is not always easy. You may struggle to balance work, family obligations, keeping up your home, etc. It’s so easy to get so wrapped up in your daily routine that you forget to do good things for yourself.
This is why being intentional about your own self-care is so important. The reason we keep seeing the concept popping up in magazines and social media is that more and more women are beginning to realize that having their own needs met really is an important thing.
When you make it a point to practice self-care, you begin doing things that take care of your physical, mental, and emotional needs. What self-care looks like to you might not be what it looks like for anyone else. What matters is that you keep an open mind and commit to practicing self-care.
When you make sure that your own needs are met, you can show up as the best version of yourself. Taking time to do the things that make you “you” is vital to living a balanced life. Your overall health and happiness can improve dramatically just by finding that balance between serving your obligation to others while also doing things for yourself.
The following list of self-care activities is meant to be a starting point. Use it to think about the many different ways you can start meeting your own self-care needs.
Best Self-Care Ideas for Relaxation
When we start thinking about self-care, activities that promote relaxation are often the first thing that pops into our head. (This is a GREAT place to start!)
Here are a few great relaxation activities to help you with self-care.
Mediation is a fantastic tool to recharge if you want to shut down and relax after a long day. It’s also a quick dose of self-care when you are strapped for time. It can be done in as little as just a few minutes or last as long as you’d like.
Meditation also has several health benefits, including reducing blood pressure and providing stress relief. It’s great for our mental health and the perfect place to start when you need an instant self-care routine.
As long as you have access to a quiet place, you can practice meditation. Finding a chair in a quiet room is a good choice.
You can close your eyes or just look down softly. (Laying down is usually only a good choice if you’re meditating right before bed. (It’s super easy to fall asleep while meditating in this position.)
Practice deep breathing by slowly inhaling and then slowly letting your breath out. You can also put on some calming music if you choose.
There are plenty of free apps and websites devoted to meditation you can check out.
Practicing mindfulness simply means that you are consciously aware of what is going on around you and that you are fully in the present moment. You aren’t distracted by your surroundings or lost thought – you’re fully present in the moment.
Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere! You can practice while unloading the dishwasher, playing with your kids, or sitting quietly by yourself.
Like meditation, mindfulness also has many mental health benefits. Those benefits include stress relief, increased memory and focus, and overall improved cognitive function. By practicing mindfulness, you allow yourself to take a few minutes just to yourself to simply “be.”
Soak in the Tub
Taking a bubble bath is the perfect way to relax and enjoy some alone time. (A hot shower before bed is a good alternative if you’re short on time.)
Diffusing essential oils or adding a few drops directly into your bath water can help create a soothing, spa-like experience. You can also add in bath salts and listen to a playlist of your favorite music while you soak.
Pick up a Good Book
Self-care is really about taking some time for yourself. If you enjoy a good book, reading is a great way to relax and spend some time alone at the end of the day. Once you’ve finished dinner and the kids tucked in, grab a book you’ve wanted to read.
Reading a book before bed is also MUCH easier on your eyes than putting in more screen time by staring at your phone or the TV. You may even find that it helps you fall asleep easier.
If you’re a morning person, you could also wake up early and get in some “me time” then. Pour yourself a warm cup of coffee and immerse yourself in a good book while the house is still quiet.
Spending an hour or so at a book store browsing and coming home with a few new books to add to your collection can also make for a relaxing afternoon.
Have a Spa Day
If booking a massage and a pedicure or facial fits into your budget, a few hours at a local spa is an amazing way to get in some R&R. If not, check out this post on how to create your own spa day at home. You’ll find easy, affordable spa ideas you can create in your own home.
Take a Lunch Break
How often do you either grab a quick lunch at your desk or skip lunch altogether? Adding a lunch break to your calendar can positively impact your whole day, even if it’s just 30 minutes.
Get some nourishing, healthy food into your system, go outside and get some fresh air, or get up and stretch. You will be amazed at how this simple act of taking a quick break during your workday can totally change your mood and energy levels.
Self-Care Activities to Meet Your Physical Needs
Not only do these activities fit perfectly into your self-care plan, but they improve your physical health. You don’t need to go overboard or become a fitness addict, but moving your body can provide the following health benefits:
- Get your heart rate up, lower blood pressure, and improve your immune system
- Release endorphins that make you happy and reduce stress levels
- Give you more energy
- Help you get more vitamin D when you are active outdoors
Here are some physical activities that can be great for self-care:
Yoga has amazing mental and physical health benefits that you can achieve even if you only practice it a few times a week. It increases flexibility and strength, but it also helps you relax, which can help alleviate stress.
If you’ve never practiced yoga before, the best way to learn is to find a local studio. Not only will you be able to get professional instructions, but by committing to a class and adding it to your calendar, you’ll be much more likely actually to do it. Yoga really is a practice everyone can benefit from, and most instructors will help you learn and go at your own pace – so there’s no need to be intimidated even if you’ve never taken a class before.
Walking, Hiking, Biking
Going for a walk can be a peaceful exercise that has a ton of benefits for your body. If you’ve had a bad day at work and need to clear your head, grab your earbuds, throw on your athletic shoes, and head outside for a walk. You can walk for as much time or as little time as you’d like -but 30 minutes should give you time to decompress while getting the benefits of exercise.
Hiking is another physical activity that can help you foster more self-care in your life. Hikes can be enjoyed on your own, with a family member, or with a friend. Not only will you be getting some exercise, but you’ll be experiencing some of the best parts of nature along the way. Regardless of where you live, you can usually find a hiking spot – even if you live in the city, there are likely some great trails to explore.
If you have access to a bike, going for a leisurely bike ride is a great way to get in some exercise. Checking out the biking trails near you may even give you a chance to explore parts of your area you haven’t seen before.
Self Care Activities to Harness Your Creativity
Self-care isn’t just about soaking in a tub or going for a walk – there are many creative activities that also provide many benefits.
You delve into your artistic nature and let it shine by adding creative activities into your everyday life. Whether it’s coloring, cooking, actual art projects – or starting a new hobby altogether – you might be surprised by how therapeutic participating in creative activities can be.
Here is a list of things you can do to add a spark of creativity to your life:
Even if you only have a few minutes, that’s enough time to break out a coloring book when you need some “me time.” The adult coloring book industry has exploded in popularity in recent years, and there are plenty of options available that aren’t child-like at all:
- Flowers and gardens
- Animals and pets
- Interesting designs
- Inspirational quotes
There are even coloring books out there that have been created to help facilitate meditation and mindfulness. You can also pick up your own set of colored pencils, crayons, and markers.
Not only is coloring a quiet activity you can do anywhere, but it’s also great for relieving stress and anxiety.
If you’re looking for more creative freedom than coloring in pre-drawn pictures, painting is a great activity and a relaxing way to pass the time.
You can look up photographs online of beach scenes, mountains, or any landscape that inspires you for inspiration. The possibilities are endless, and even if you’ve never painted before, there are several educational videos online that can help you get started. You could also commit yourself and sign up for a local painting class. You don’t need expensive materials to get started – just a basic set of acrylic paints and a few brushes are fine for a beginner.
Cooking and Baking
Most of us already have ingredients on hand to make a yummy home-cooked meal. Cooking or baking can be a really rewarding activity and can even contribute to your self-care confidence.
You can make up new recipes to test your creativity or watch a cooking show for inspiration and then try to recreate the results. It’s incredibly satisfying to eat something you’ve made yourself. Plus, if you think your recipe is a keeper, you can share it with family and friends to spread the love.
Cooking can also be extremely therapeutic. It offers a chance for you to practice mindfulness while you are chopping away at vegetables or mashing potatoes. By learning how to cook healthy meals, you are fostering both physical self-care as well as mental self-care!
Social Activities Can Be a Part of Regular Self-Care
While self-care means taking care of yourself, that doesn’t mean you always need to be alone when practicing it. Sometimes, what we need is quality time with others.
This can mean spending time with your family or friends, but it can always mean getting out of your comfort zone and meeting new people.
Here are a few activities that are great for interacting with others:
Take a Class
Self-care is about finding out what you like and what makes you happy – and then finding time for it! If you want to boost your social circle, try taking a class through your local recreation department, community center, or local business.
Start looking around your community, and you might even find a new hobby it never occurred to you t try. You can find everything from cooking, to photography, to jewelry-making – really almost anything you can think of. You could learn a new skill or take a class and learn a new language. If there’s something that has been on your bucket list, I almost guarantee you can find someone who will teach you how to do it.
Join a Running Club or Sports League
If you enjoy running, it’s not something you need to do solo. Join a running club to add a bit of extra social interaction to your daily workout. There are running clubs for all levels of runners. You can usually find more information by checking out your local running or athletic gear shops.
Most communities also have recreational sports leagues for softball, basketball, volleyball, and soccer, depending on the season. You don’t need to be a star athlete. Most of these leagues are just about having fun and meeting new people.
Volunteering can be a super rewarding way to spend your free time. If you pick an organization whose cause you firmly believe in, you’ll find it even easier to make the commitment. Volunteering allows you to take some time away from your “real life” and indulge in a passion while also helping others.
Spend Time at Home
Maybe your version of self-care means taking a break from work responsibilities so you can spend more time at home with the people you love. Having fun at home with family or friends is a great way to practice self-care while being social at the same time.
Here are a few suggestions for a day or night in:
Host a Game or Movie Night
If you want to spend more time with your family or friends, try hosting a game or movie night?
Maybe there’s a game you especially love or a movie your whole family has been anxious to see? If not, have everyone write their suggestion on a piece of paper and draw the winner to see what you will watch or play next. Or, rotate through your family with everyone getting to make their choice.
Have a Dinner Party
If it feels like forever since you’ve spent time with your friends, don’t wait for a formal night out where everyone needs to secure a babysitter. Invite them over (kids included) for an informal dinner party.
One of our favorite things to do at house is to “host a buffet.”
Let the kids decide on an array of foods that you wouldn’t necessarily put together on a menu (picture a combination of chicken nuggets, a charcuterie board, potato skins, salad, pigs in a blanket, and everything in between). The combination is different every time.
Sometimes it’s just family, sometimes we include friends, and we keep the buffet “open” for a few hours so everyone can graze.
Spend a Whole Day Having Fun with Your Kids
Take a day off during the summer or spend a free weekend day doing fun things with your kids. You could bake, plan a special meal together, or do crafts. If the weather is nice, pack a picnic and explore a local beach, park, hiking trail, or even your own backyard. A day spent with no responsibilities or errands to run is a great way to reconnect with kids.
Self-Care Activities That Will Make You More Productive
This final category of self-care activities can actually help you to become more productive!
Getting more done has a tremendous impact on how you feel. When you feel prepared, you experience less stress, are more in control, and life is generally more enjoyable. Here are some ideas for taking care of yourself that will also make you more productive:
Start a Goals Journal
Starting a journal devoted to tracking your short and long-term goals will help you feel more organized and more likely that you’ll meet your goals.
Start by setting realistic daily or weekly goals – and make sure to add in activities that you enjoy. Don’t feel like you have to create huge goals right away. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment even when you achieve the small goals you set for yourself in your journal.
By scheduling self-care, you are helping yourself ensure that you actually do it rather than relying on making a spur-of-the-moment decision to fit it in. Your long-term goals don’t have to be anything particularly grand. Even just making a year-long commitment to self-care counts as a long-term goal.
Go on a Phone Detox
Devote a minimum of one hour each day to “no screen time.”
It’s so easy to get distracted by our phones when they are always within our reach. Unplugging for a while can be super relaxing and leaves you with extra time to do something you enjoy instead of mindlessly scrolling through your social media feeds.
Catch More Zzzz’s
A good night’s sleep is one of the best self-care activities you can do for yourself. You will feel refreshed, recharged, and ready to take on the next day by getting enough sleep. You’ll have more energy and feel more mentally clear when you have 8-9 hours of sleep behind you.
I know it can seem like you’re being productive when you knock a bunch of items off of your to-do list, but you’re doing yourself a disservice if the tradeoff is missing out on sleep. You’ll be a lot more productive and better prepared for your day after having a decent night’s sleep.
Making Time For Self-Care is NECESSARY For Your Well-Being
I know that it seems like there are never enough hours in the day to get all the things done, let alone to take time away to do something for yourself. But, because it’s so easy to fill the days with work and taking care of everyone else, it’s super important that you make a conscious decision to practice self-care.
When you take care of your mind, body, and emotional needs, you can live your best life and be your best self. If you’re not taking care of yourself, you can easily get burned out meeting all of life’s demands. Even committing just 30 minutes a day to yourself to regroup, relax, or do something you enjoy will have a huge impact on your well-being.