When life gets busy it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself. But practicing self-care can have great benefits for your mental health.
Don’t feel guilty about taking time to care for yourself. It’s not selfish to make your health a priority. You will be better able to help others when you are your healthiest.
How to practice self-care is different for each person and can be different from day to day. An act of self-care for one person could actually be triggering for someone else, such as visiting with family. The important part is to find a balance of activities that work for you.
Here are some ideas on ways to get started, and don’t forget that you can also combine these activities. For example, eating your favorite desert at the park or going to the beach and reading with a friend.
Build a Healthy Foundation
1. Get enough sleep and do your best to keep a consistent sleep schedule
2. Eat a balanced diet and include fruits and vegetables
3. Remember to drink enough water
“Self-care means to me: making sleep a top priority, always staying on-top of refilling my prescription medications, spending time to cook meals I enjoy and setting aside time each week to do things I love like read, yoga and walk my dogs!” - Shannon Y.
4. Avoid triggers
5. Take breaks from your computer, phone, or social media
6. Learn to say no – it’s ok to say no if you don’t want or aren’t able to do something at the moment. Taking on too many commitments can put extra pressure on yourself and cause more stress.
“I try to avoid triggers/people or situations that set me off when I am in a vulnerable state. It's important to take a step back and realize what your limitations are and to remember that self-care is important for your health and is not selfish.” – Melanie Luxenberg
Feeling Low on Energy? Even Small Steps Matter
7. Wash your face, take a shower if you can
8. Put on clean, comfortable clothes
9. Eat something and drink water — if you’re able to make your favorite snack or order takeout
10. Read, watch your favorite shows or movies, and try not to feel guilty about not being productive
11. Play video games
12. Watch your favorite tv show
13. Rent a movie
14. Play Sudoku or other puzzle games
15. Listen to music
16. Use scented candles or diffuse essential oils
18. Take a bubble bath or shower and use your favorite shampoo/conditioner, body wash, and lotion
19. Read a book
“Reading in particular is helpful. I'm able to leave my own thoughts and feelings behind and enter an entirely new world.” – Kaitlin D.
20. Do some simple stretches to get your blood moving
21. Go for a walk
22. Go to a yoga class or try yoga videos at home
23. Try other fitness classes like water aerobics or kickboxing, many gyms offer classes for a wide range of athletic abilities
25. Join a community sports team like softball or kickball
26. Go for a short walk
27. Ride your bike, skateboard, or rollerblade
28. Have lunch in the park
29. Go to the beach
30. Go for a hike
"Being in nature reminds me how calm life can be when we seek stillness. When I want to practice self care I seek the beauty around me in nature on long walks, hikes near the beaches and feel reminded of how naturally beautiful life is." - Kristin Green
31. Have dinner or coffee with friends
32. Text, call, or Skype with a friend
33. Join an online community to connect with others
34. Go to a movie with a friend
35. Visit with your family
36. Play board games with friends or family
37. Plan a trip with friends
40. Adult coloring books
42. Try a DIY (Do It Yourself) project
45. Work on anything that inspires you
“I try various methods to practice self-care. I enjoy painting, writing, dancing, yoga, reading, meditating. Of course some of these become a little harder when I am manic, so I go for walks rather than meditate, and try and focus on the moment, hold on to reality.” – Nanieve Groenewald
46. Get a manicure or pedicure
47. Give yourself a manicure or have your friend give you one
48. Get a massage
49. Buy something small for yourself
50. Eat your favorite meal or dessert
Do you have any other suggestions? Tell us in the comments below.