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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.

Want more self-care ideas? Grab my e-book, Tending Your Life.

I still believe in self-care that is:

  • Custom
  • Intuitive
  • Feasible
  • Kind

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:

  1. Drink a glass of water with lemon. Try water that’s warm or room temperature.
  2. Spend 5 minutes tidying your workspace.
  3. Call a friend.
  4. Send a handwritten note.
  5. Move around the block once. Get some sunshine, if it’s available, or a little breeze on your face.
  6. 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.)
  7. Eat off of a plate, rather than out of a container. Sit down instead of standing over the sink. Use silverware instead of plastic.
  8. Cook a whole meal from scratch, with love.
  9. Make enough for leftovers. There’s no shame in leftovers. They are a gift from your past self.
  10. Drop a habit that doesn’t serve you. Sometimes self-care isn’t about doing something, it’s about not doing something.

  11. Go touch the earth – or a tree, or a rock. Imagine it absorbing anything you want to release.
  12. Meditate. Just for five minutes.
  13. Try walking meditation — a nice alternative when sitting doesn’t work for you, physically or mentally.
  14. Put one plant in your view. You could start it from a cutting from a friend.
  15. Don’t look at screens (including your phone) after 9pm. Or after dark. Or at the dinner table.
  16. Put your phone on airplane mode, turn off notifications or otherwise make yourself unreachable.
  17. Delete any apps you’re not using – or ones that don’t make you feel good.
  18. Copy your favorite poem and put it in your wallet, so that you’ll always have it with you.
  19. Make your favorite tea in your favorite mug. Sip slowly.

  20. Clear the clutter from one surface of your home.
  21. Create your own custom booty-shaking, singing in the shower playlist (mine includes Dolly Parton and A Tribe Called Quest).
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. Add epsom salts to your bath for even more muscle-soothing loveliness.
  26. Or a tiny bit of essential oils.
  27. Leave yourself loving post-it notes.
  28. If you’re feeling run-down, set some good boundaries around your time, energy, helpfulness.
  29. Find a sacred spot: a view you love or a place that makes you feel deeply alive. Visit it as often as possible.
  30. Explore a new neighborhood in your town or city. Build intimacy with the place you call home.
  31. Get your hands in some dirt and connect with the earth element.
  32. Eat a piece of really good (ethical) chocolate. Allow it to touch each of your senses.
  33. Eat something green — a smoothie, a salad, a plate of kale.
  34. Eat lunch away from your desk.
  35. Have a conversation — at the grocery store, at the farmer’s market, at a restaurant — with someone who grows or prepares your food.
  36. Find a beach (or a sandbox) and wiggle your toes in the sand.
  37. Enjoy some art: whether at a museum or a mural on the side of a building.
  38. Re-read your favorite novel.
  39. Take a picture, every day for a week, of something or someone who brings you joy.
  40. Take a picture of yourself, every day for a week. Notice all the things that make you… you.
  41. Smile at the next five strangers you pass.
  42. Clean out your closet.
  43. Build an altar.
  44. Give yourself some reiki, or healing energy.
  45. Play cooperative boardgames. None of the competitiveness, all of the silliness and fun.
  46. Observe the cycle of the moon. Create a ritual to mark the new moon and full moon.
  47. 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.
  48. Spend a day in total silence.
  49. Use a salt lamp: it creates negative ions and counteracts the effects of harsh screens.
  50. Two words: organic skincare. What you put on your skin eventually goes into your body.
  51. Hold a skill-share. Gather friends to learn something new and allow yourself to sit in the seat of the teacher.
  52. Host a potluck. Fill your home with friends and food.
  53. Feed yourself a food you’re craving deeply – notice what foods for which your body truly hungers.
  54. Listen to an uplifting podcast.
  55. Go to bed as early as you like.
  56. 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.
  57. 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.
  58. Apologize for something. Clean up your mess and make amends with someone.
  59. Forgive someone without getting an apology.
  60. Forgive yourself for any regrets.
  61. Practice some lovingkindness for yourself.
  62. Watch your favorite movie with a happy ending.
  63. Wrap yourself up in your coziest sweater or blanket.
  64. 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.
  65. Give yourself a hand or foot massage.
  66. Trade massages with a partner or friend.
  67. 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.)
  68. Tell one person who doesn’t know it that you love them.
  69. 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?
  70. 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.
  71. Say no to a project.

  72. Say yes to an adventure.

  73. Do the thing on your to-do list that you’ve been most dreading.
  74. Curl up with a hot water bottle by your belly or feet.
  75. Wash your sheets and make your bed — attend dutifully to the place where you spend maybe a third of your life.
  76. Take a nap.
  77. Move. In a way that suits your body today.
  78. Do one thing (whether a task or something for pleasure) with your whole attention.
  79. Stretch. Your body, your brain, your perceptions.
  80. Close your eyes and allow your intuition to tell you what to do next, rather than your to-do list.
  81. Chant or sing your favorite song. Out loud.
  82. Switch up your alarm clock to one with a more gentle sound.
  83. Watch cartoons in your pajamas.
  84. Make art: knitting, watercolors, sketching, hand-lettering. Let it be bad. Just allow yourself to play and create.
  85. Try coloring books, if you’re craving more structure. They’re fun, beautiful, and great for mindfulness practice.
  86. Burn what doesn’t serve you anymore. This could be a metaphorical fire. Or a literal burning of old papers or journals.

  87. Learn to cook five healthy, delicious recipes. (Or five new ones!)
  88. The last few months, I’ve been loving coloring books. Maybe a little silly, but so awesome.
  89. Fill your home with framed pictures of loved ones. Or yourself having adventures.
  90. Pause before you eat to center, give thanks, and send energy to yourself and your food.
  91. Make friend-dates, or even friend-phone-dates. Cultivate your friendships the way you might a new romance.
  92. Do the dishes before bed.
  93. Take a road trip.

  94. Listen to  stand-up comedy or go to an improv comedy show.
  95. Pick up a hobby from when you were a kid: I loved ice skating and horseback riding.
  96. Cultivate gratitude. Start integrating thankfulness and joy into your life in a regular way.
  97. Go tell someone else why you’re grateful for them.
  98. Laugh.
  99. 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.
  100. Wear a color you love.
  101. 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.
  102. Take everything out, organize it, and put it back.
  103. Let yourself ask for what you need.

  104. Focus all of your attention on one of your senses: taste, touch, smell, sight, sound. Fill them with something wonderful.
  105. Free write: journal without letting your pen leave the page for 3 full minutes, and notice what comes up.
  106. 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.
  107. 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.

Want to dive in all the way? Grab your copy of Tending Your Life.

Or listen to the podcast right here!

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