March 21, 2016
Real Self-Care: 108 self-care ideas for world-changers
I want you to know that self-care is possible. And that there are brilliant, actionable self-care ideas beyond, “Take care of yourself.”
I want you to know that you can have a kinder, more intimate relationship with your own well-being, even if you are facing health challenges. I want you to know that self-care is never one size fits all. There are self-care ideas that can fit into your actual, non-Pinterest-ready life.
I still believe in self-care that is:
Now, I’ve revamped this list with even more inspiration.
It’s updated, expanded, and infused with my latest insights and fresh inspiration. I’m always examining new self-care ideas and inspiration. I’m always growing in my own self-care. I’m always gaining new perspective on how we can care for ourselves, as people who want to build a more compassionate world.
As one of my teachers would say, this is the weather report: current conditions in my practice that I hope will inform yours.
Here we go. 108 self-care ideas so you can change the world:
- Drink a glass of water with lemon. Try water that’s warm or room temperature.
- Spend 5 minutes tidying your workspace.
- Call a friend.
- Send a handwritten note.
- Move around the block once. Get some sunshine, if it’s available, or a little breeze on your face.
- Spend some time with an animal — your own, a friend’s or at the shelter. (The SPCA often looks for folks to play with their pups and kittens.)
- Eat off of a plate, rather than out of a container. Sit down instead of standing over the sink. Use silverware instead of plastic.
- Cook a whole meal from scratch, with love.
- Make enough for leftovers. There’s no shame in leftovers. They are a gift from your past self.
Drop a habit that doesn’t serve you. Sometimes self-care isn’t about doing something, it’s about not doing something.
- Go touch the earth – or a tree, or a rock. Imagine it absorbing anything you want to release.
- Meditate. Just for five minutes.
- Try walking meditation — a nice alternative when sitting doesn’t work for you, physically or mentally.
- Put one plant in your view. You could start it from a cutting from a friend.
- Don’t look at screens (including your phone) after 9pm. Or after dark. Or at the dinner table.
- Put your phone on airplane mode, turn off notifications or otherwise make yourself unreachable.
- Delete any apps you’re not using – or ones that don’t make you feel good.
- Copy your favorite poem and put it in your wallet, so that you’ll always have it with you.
Make your favorite tea in your favorite mug. Sip slowly.
- Clear the clutter from one surface of your home.
- Create your own custom booty-shaking, singing in the shower playlist (mine includes Dolly Parton and A Tribe Called Quest).
- Cross something off your to-do list that you just don’t feel like doing (that’s not life or death). Let yourself off the hook. Decide to live without it or outsource it.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart feel your body in relationship to the earth. You might bend your knees a little and let your arms swing back and forth. Notice the sensation of the soles of your feet on the ground. Take three deep breaths.
- Immerse yourself in hot water: bath, hot springs, hot tub. Whatever suits you. Really savor the feeling of being held, surrounded by warmth and water.
- Add epsom salts to your bath for even more muscle-soothing loveliness.
- Or a tiny bit of essential oils.
- Leave yourself loving post-it notes.
- If you’re feeling run-down, set some good boundaries around your time, energy, helpfulness.
- Find a sacred spot: a view you love or a place that makes you feel deeply alive. Visit it as often as possible.
- Explore a new neighborhood in your town or city. Build intimacy with the place you call home.
- Get your hands in some dirt and connect with the earth element.
- Eat a piece of really good (ethical) chocolate. Allow it to touch each of your senses.
- Eat something green — a smoothie, a salad, a plate of kale.
- Eat lunch away from your desk.
- Have a conversation — at the grocery store, at the farmer’s market, at a restaurant — with someone who grows or prepares your food.
- Find a beach (or a sandbox) and wiggle your toes in the sand.
- Enjoy some art: whether at a museum or a mural on the side of a building.
- Re-read your favorite novel.
- Take a picture, every day for a week, of something or someone who brings you joy.
- Take a picture of yourself, every day for a week. Notice all the things that make you… you.
- Smile at the next five strangers you pass.
- Clean out your closet.
- Build an altar.
- Give yourself some reiki, or healing energy.
- Play cooperative boardgames. None of the competitiveness, all of the silliness and fun.
- Observe the cycle of the moon. Create a ritual to mark the new moon and full moon.
- Keep regular hours: go to bed at about the same time and wake at the same time each day. Let your body find its rhythm.
- Spend a day in total silence.
- Use a salt lamp: it creates negative ions and counteracts the effects of harsh screens.
- Two words: organic skincare. What you put on your skin eventually goes into your body.
- Hold a skill-share. Gather friends to learn something new and allow yourself to sit in the seat of the teacher.
- Host a potluck. Fill your home with friends and food.
- Feed yourself a food you’re craving deeply – notice what foods for which your body truly hungers.
- Listen to an uplifting podcast.
- Go to bed as early as you like.
- Wear your comfiest flannel shirt. Or something fabulously sequined. Wear something you save for a special occasion – or something that just makes your body feel really good.
- Honor your breath. Either use a pranayama technique that’s familiar to you, or take three to five deep breaths when you need a break.
- Apologize for something. Clean up your mess and make amends with someone.
- Forgive someone without getting an apology.
- Forgive yourself for any regrets.
- Practice some lovingkindness for yourself.
- Watch your favorite movie with a happy ending.
- Wrap yourself up in your coziest sweater or blanket.
- Clear your space. Light a candle, smudge with sage or palo santo – even opening a window to let a breeze in. Let the stagnant out and the fresh in.
- Give yourself a hand or foot massage.
- Trade massages with a partner or friend.
- Get yourself some fresh flowers. They don’t have to be from a store. Wildflowers or something from the garden will do. (I actually like succulent cuttings.)
- Tell one person who doesn’t know it that you love them.
- Buy a divination deck (tarot cards, oracle cards, etc.) and use them. You can also borrow from a friend. Pull a card to guide your day. What does it have to teach you? What messages should you look for?
- If you’re a schedule-minded person, schedule a self-care date with yourself. Put it on your calendar the way you would any other important work.
Say no to a project.
Say yes to an adventure.
- Do the thing on your to-do list that you’ve been most dreading.
- Curl up with a hot water bottle by your belly or feet.
- Wash your sheets and make your bed — attend dutifully to the place where you spend maybe a third of your life.
- Take a nap.
- Move. In a way that suits your body today.
- Do one thing (whether a task or something for pleasure) with your whole attention.
- Stretch. Your body, your brain, your perceptions.
- Close your eyes and allow your intuition to tell you what to do next, rather than your to-do list.
- Chant or sing your favorite song. Out loud.
- Switch up your alarm clock to one with a more gentle sound.
- Watch cartoons in your pajamas.
- Make art: knitting, watercolors, sketching, hand-lettering. Let it be bad. Just allow yourself to play and create.
- Try coloring books, if you’re craving more structure. They’re fun, beautiful, and great for mindfulness practice.
Burn what doesn’t serve you anymore. This could be a metaphorical fire. Or a literal burning of old papers or journals.
- Learn to cook five healthy, delicious recipes. (Or five new ones!)
- The last few months, I’ve been loving coloring books. Maybe a little silly, but so awesome.
- Fill your home with framed pictures of loved ones. Or yourself having adventures.
- Pause before you eat to center, give thanks, and send energy to yourself and your food.
- Make friend-dates, or even friend-phone-dates. Cultivate your friendships the way you might a new romance.
- Do the dishes before bed.
Take a road trip.
- Listen to stand-up comedy or go to an improv comedy show.
- Pick up a hobby from when you were a kid: I loved ice skating and horseback riding.
- Cultivate gratitude. Start integrating thankfulness and joy into your life in a regular way.
- Go tell someone else why you’re grateful for them.
- Create a win book: a blank notebook where you write down all of your “wins.” Include compliments, achievements, “yeses” you’ve received. These wins can be big or small, so keep track of all of them.
- Wear a color you love.
- Do 10 minutes of savasana, or corpse pose in yoga. Or put your legs up the wall for 10 minutes. Nurture your nervous system with some restorative yoga.
- Take everything out, organize it, and put it back.
Let yourself ask for what you need.
- Focus all of your attention on one of your senses: taste, touch, smell, sight, sound. Fill them with something wonderful.
- Free write: journal without letting your pen leave the page for 3 full minutes, and notice what comes up.
- Fix something that’s broken. That ripped shirt? The bulb that’s been burned out for ages? Offer them some love and make them good as new.
- Finally, if the above doesn’t work, there’s always pizza and binge-watching episodes of NCIS (or other procedural). I’m not kidding.
Look, not every one of these self-care ideas will be your cup of tea.
They won’t all be the perfect antidote to what you’re working through. But I hope that there’s enough inspiration to get you started. What I want you to know most is that you have the power to claim self-care. The inspiration here is just a starting point.