Even though self-care sounds nice in theory, sometimes life gets in the way before we get a chance to put it into practice. We run out of time to cook ourselves something nutritious, we simply have to attend a work event even though we'd rather be in bed, or it's too cold outside to consider going for a run or meeting a good friend for dinner. But taking care of our needs is essential if we want to find fulfillment and excel in the other facets of our lives. So we're reprioritizing self-care this year by coming up with simple, doable tasks that help us find inspiration, recharge, and release negative energy on a daily basis.
Since being kind to ourselves looks different to everyone, we broke this guide down into a few categories. First, read about the habits that promote thoughtful introspection for deeper insights and awareness, then get some ideas for easy things to pick yourself up and press pause after a long day, and finish with activities that will reenergize you and connect you with your surroundings if you're feeling stuck and restless. So whether you're ready to pamper yourself, set some goals, or discover a new community, these 21 self-care ideas will point you in the right direction to be the best version of yourself.
Self-Care: Time to Get Introspective
Download a meditation app or sign up for a guided meditation class. Not only can it help you relax and be more mindful and present, but studies have also shown that meditation can enhance relationships, increase productivity, relieve pain, improve insomnia, and decrease the risk of certain cardiovascular diseases. If meditating isn't for you, try a more interactive approach with healing crystals.
Start listening to an empowering podcast during your daily commute, while you cook, in the shower, or any free moment. We suggest starting with Oprah's Super Soul Sunday and the Good Life Project.
If you already have an idea of what changes you want to make in your life, set some intentions in your journal and revisit your progress on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
Start keeping a self-reflection journal. Here are some prompts to get you started: Draw a line graph that charts the happiest and lowest times in your life, and then think back about those periods in your life. Ask yourself what was making you happiest or lowest. What has driven my recent actions? What relationships are adding value to my life? How do I define value? What actions or lifestyle habits don't reflect who I am as a person?
Commit to reading a book that will inspire you to think, live, and act more compassionately to yourself and others. This could be anything from The Universe Had Your Back to When Things Fall Apart or even a novel you'd like to revisit. If you don't feel like you'd be able to hold yourself to this reading goal, look into local book clubs and join one.
To turn the self-care treats into lasting, effective habits, set some simple goals. For example, commit to drinking enough water daily and getting a certain amount of sleep each night, which is somewhere between seven to nine hours depending on how much your body needs.
If you've been feeling stuck in a rut, lonely, uninspired, or just generally unsure, pick up the phone and give your wisest friend or family member a call. Ask for advice, or simply catch up with them—sometimes just hearing their voice is enough to set things straight.
Self-Care: Time to Relax
Go get a blowout or makeover. You don't need a reason other than wanting to feel fresh and get pampered. Who cares if you're just going home after? That's what Instagram's for.
Forget about your chores and errands for the evening and go to bed early instead. To make sure you do, use a Spacemask. They're basically anti-anxiety self-heating eyemasks that lull you into a deep, restful sleep. If you don't have time for that, bring one of these masks to work and indulge in a 20-minute power nap.
Go shopping. Even if you don't buy anything, it's still fun to look around, try things on, and make a wish list to work toward. Here are some fun hoop earrings to get the ball rolling.
Treat yourself to an afternoon at the spa or turn your own bathroom into a makeshift spa. If you can't go get a facial and massage at a salon, consider doing a facemask at home and then give yourself a mani-pedi.
Pack your overnight bag, book a hotel room for the evening, and splurge on a staycation.
When was the last time you took a bath instead of a shower? Make this one worthwhile with candles, a glass of wine, bath salts, bubbles, and your favorite relaxing playlist.
When was the last time you got some fresh air? Stop what you're doing and just go outside. Feel the sun on your skin (or if it's nighttime or cloudy, the chilly wind will do). You don't have to go anywhere in particular or stay out long, as long as you get outside for a few minutes.
Self-Care: Time to Blow Off Steam
Get a gym membership, find a running buddy, sign up for a guided workout class, or join a league for a team sport you used to love but haven't made time for as an adult. The group setting will keep you accountable so you'll get exercise more consistently.
Start making more time for your hobbies rather than relaxing at home with Netflix during your free time (unless, of course, that's your definition of self-care). Bring out your old art supplies, start getting crafty with a new DIY project, and have a cook-a-thon with your favorite recipe book.
Round up a group of friends for a night out. Sometimes just going out and celebrating your friendships with a night of dancing and singing can make you feel more supported and grateful for all that you have. If you don't want to go out, consider doing something out of the box like gallery openings, karaoke bars with private rooms, roller rinks, bowling alleys, and escape rooms.
Break out of your routine and do something extra adventurous. Look into lessons or training in a new extreme sport or go all out with something like skydiving.
Commit to going to the flea market on a weekend morning instead of sleeping in and head to the farmer's market or a plant nursery on a weekly basis for fresh produce and flower shopping. Though it may seem like a small step, getting out and engaging with these communities might help you feel more active and connected to your surroundings.
If you don't need the extra push to work out regularly but do want to get outside more, discover new hikes in your area. Take in the breathtaking views and get a workout in at the same time. If you have more time, dedicate a weekend to taking a camping trip.
Is there a trip you've been dying to go on but have been putting off the planning? Now's as good a time as ever to finally plan that dream vacation or adventure. Sometimes traveling is the best form of self-care because it helps you step outside of your life for a moment to gain a fresh perspective.
This was originally published on January 11, 2018, and has since been updated.