At its most basic definition, self-care is any intentional action taken to meet an individual’s physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional needs. In short, it’s all the little ways we take care of ourselves to avoid a breakdown in those respective areas of health.
I think that, for most of us, there are times in life when it all just feel like too much. There may be some days, weeks, months, maybe even years when – for whatever reason – just getting through the day, or going to work, or putting one foot in front of the other feels hard. Really, really hard. Maybe it’s because you’re wrestling with anxiety, depression or other mental illness. Maybe it’s because you’ve had your heart broken. Maybe you’ve gone through a physical or emotional trauma. Maybe you’re deeply grieving. Or maybe there’s no easily understood reason for why you’re feeling bad.
Whatever the case may be, I want you to know that it’s OK if you’re going through a tough time. But this doesn’t make you any less lovable, capable or worthy. This just means you’re human and being a human can be a messy, hard, confusing, painful experience sometimes. So if you or someone you care is going through one of these tough times, a time where everything just feels like too much, here are some ideas for self-care to help you or your loved one get through it.
1. Call in sick. Take a mental health day.
2. Take a long hot shower, followed directly by hopping into clean pj’s or comfy clothes.
3 Have a good, long, body-shaking cry.
4. Free write about anything that comes to mind. Free form in a journal or a Google doc. Get it all out and vent.
5. Reread your favorite picture and chapter books from childhood.
6. Hunker down and read a good book. If it’s warm, head outside with a rug and get some vitamin D – don’t forget sunscreen and a hat! If it’s cold, light some candles and snuggle into a cozy blanket.
7. Give yourself permission to have a couch day. Housework can wait.
8. Breathe. Deeply. Slowly. Four counts in. Six counts out.
9. Take your furry friend out for a walk. Or borrow a friend’s dog and take them for a walk.
10. Bake a yummy dessert.
11. Unplug from technology for awhile. Delete or deactivate social media if it feels too triggering right now.
12. Sip on a cup of tea and listen to music.
13. Catch up with your girlfriends for a girls night out or in.
14. Go outside and be in the sunshine.
15. Pray. Meditate. Write a letter to God/The Universe/Source/Your Higher Self, whatever you believe in.
16. Challenge your negative thinking.
17. Roast marshmallows.
18. Put on a face mask.
19. Take a picture of something you find beautiful.
20. Go away for the weekend. There’s nothing like a road trip.
21. Clean your house from top to bottom.
22. Volunteer for a cause you are passionate about.
23. Have you been getting enough sleep? If not, go to bed early and make sure you are getting at least 8 hours sleep a night.
24. Listen to music from the good old days, whichever days they are.
25. Make a playlist or mix tape about your current mood. Give yourself permission to make one that expresses how you feel, or maybe even how you’d like to feel.
26. Accompany a friend or family member to something. Even if it’s just keeping them company while they run errands, sometimes this kind of contact can feel like good self-care.
27. Go through your wardrobe and throw out your old clothes, donating them to charity.
28. Volunteer at a local shelter or hospital or nursing home. Practice being of service to others who may also be going through a tough time.
29. Develop a relaxing morning and evening ritual for yourself.
30. Get up early and watch a sunrise ♥
31. Ask an elderly neighbour if there’s anything you can do for them.
32. Dance in the rain.
33. Write down everyday 3 things you’re grateful for.
34. Try a new recipe.
35. Take a bubble bath and pour some good smelling essential oils.
36. Watch pet videos on YouTube.
37. Put on some upbeat jams and dance!
38. Go for a bike ride.
39. Hydrate. Have you had enough water today? Drink more water. The benefits are endless.
40. Get expert help with whatever you need. Whether that’s through therapy or psychiatry, let those trained to support you do it.
41. Plant something—a tree, a small vegetable garden, a flower.
42. Accept that nothing lasts forever, that there will be light at the end of the tunnel, that there is a lesson of life here and that everything happens for a reason.
44. Read some inspirational quotes.
45. Cook up a healthy meal chock full of veggies and hearty goodness.
46. Paint something. Artistic painting that is. Unless you really love painting walls, or your nails :)
47. If you want to stay in bed all day watching Netflix, do it. Indulge.
48. Dance around wildly to your favourite, most cheesy songs.
49. Remember: Your only job right now is to put one foot in front of the other.
50. Go to the ocean. Soak up the negative energy.
51. Color in some adult coloring books.
52. Listen to monks chanting, singing Tibetan bowls or nature sounds to help soothe you.
53. Congratulate yourself for doing difficult things, even if they might not seem difficult to others. Depending on the individual, plenty of everyday things can be difficult, like riding the bus, standing in line, filing paperwork, going to the doctor, making food, doing chores, etc.
54. Ask friends and family to remind you that things will be OK and that what you’re feeling is temporary.
55. Turn off the lights, sit down, stare into space and do absolutely nothing.
56. Go for a walk in the woods.
57. Scream, pound pillows, tear up paper, shake your body to move the energy out.
58. Go visit or volunteer at your local animal rescue. Pet some animals.
59. Spend a little money and treat yourself to some self-care and comfort. Maybe take a taxi versus the bus. Buy your lunch instead of forcing yourself to pack it. Buy some good smelling flowers that delight you.
60. Go out in public and be around others. You don’t have to engage. But maybe go sit in a coffee shop or on a bench at a museum and soak up the humanity around you.
61. Remind yourself and your partner why you got together in the first place and go on a date, even if it’s just for popcorn and a movie. Why not try make it a regular thing? Date nights can help put the spice back into your relationship!
62. Ask yourself: What’s my next most immediate priority? Do that. Then ask the question again.
63. Write out a list of 25 Things That Make Your Life Beautiful.
64. Knit. Sculpt. Bake. Engage your hands.
65. Cuddle someone or something. Your partner. A pillow. Your friend’s dog.
66. Eat. Have you eaten something healthy and nourishing today?
67. Exhaust yourself physically – running, yoga, swimming, whatever helps you feel fatigued.
68. Remember: You only have to get through the next five minutes. Then the next five. And so on.
69. Lay down on the ground. Let the earth/floor hold you. You don’t have to hold it all on your own.
70. Put up some Christmas lights in your bedroom. They often make things more magical.
71. Create something for no practical purpose such as a song, a poem, an essay, a painting, a drawing, a comic strip, a collage, etc.
72. Go wander around outside in your neighbourhood and take a look at all the lovely houses and the way people decorate their gardens. Delight in the diversity of design.
73. Eat your favourite, most comforting foods.
74. Pick one or two things that feel like progress and do them. Make your bed. Put away the dishes. Return an email.
75. Allow and feel and express your feelings – all of them!
76. Look for and Google up examples of people who have gone through and made it through what you’re currently facing. Seek out models of inspiration.
77. Educate yourself about what you’re going through. Learn about what you’re facing, what you can expect to feel, and how you can support yourself in this place.
78. Use a planner or a calendar to intentionally schedule “me time”.
79. Do something nice for someone and make sure no one can trace it back to you—an incognito act of kindness.
80. Go for a walk by yourself with headphones on, listening to music you love.
81. Shower with all the lights off. It forces you to move incredibly slow and it’s so relaxing. Make sure to have safety mats in place so you don’t slip on your way out.
82. Swing on a swing set. Too many adults forget how much fun this is.
83. Go out to see a movie at your favourite theater all by yourself.
84. Worry less about your bathroom scale or any other appliance that makes you feel bad about yourself.
85. Roll out a blanket and eat your dinner on the grass at home or in the park. Invite someone else if you’d like company.
86. Tell yourself something that resists self-criticism but feels encouraging like, “I’m doing the best that I can”.
87. Try to memorise one constellation you don’t already know and find it in the sky tonight.
88. Finish this sentence: “I love myself because I ______________”. Do this once per day, with a new ending each time.
89. When you wake up in the morning, get in the habit of making your first thought a positive one: ““I am ready for today”. “Today is a new opportunity”. “I will do something I am proud of today”.
90. On a clear night, find a safe and secluded spot away from the lights of the city, grab a blanket, stare up at the stars, and let your mind wander from big to small thoughts.
91. Take your mom, dad, or another family member to lunch. You’ll be glad you did.
92. Try journaling if you’ve never tried it before. There are a lot of different ways to do it and lot of resources available to help you get started.
93. Cut some fresh flowers and display them prominently to lift your spirit.
94. Get that trendy or fashionable haircut you’ve been thinking about but always talk yourself out of.
95. Set your camera to macro and take close-up pictures of bugs, flowers, and anything else that catches your eye outside your home or in a public space.
96. Go to a store that sells crystals and buy one that speaks to you. Look up what it means or does. Some of them are quite cheap.
97. Write something encouraging on a post-it and put it where you will see it every day! Or write directly on your mirror: “I am beautiful and brave”.
98. Make up a brand new dance move and teach it to someone.
99. Send a completely random care package to someone you love. Who doesn’t love a surprise?
100. Check in with yourself a few times each day and take a moment to process your thoughts and emotions. Don’t let them build up.
And most important, remember that what you’re going through right now is temporary. It may not feel like that from inside the tough time you’re in, but this too shall pass and you will feel different again someday. If you can’t have faith in that, let me hold the hope for you. Don’t forget: You are awesome and you will get through this! ♥