In all of my time as a coach and through many conversations, there are a few main questions and challenges that seem to come up again and again when it comes to beginning a solid self care routine. And, no surprise there, the challenges are generally not knowing what to do, not feeling like it's possible to find the space in life, and feeling guilty about it... So let's dig in and have a look at each of these!
What to do?
From a quick brainstorm, here are 30 Self Care Activities to choose from! This is by no means exhaustive, but is a wonderful starting point. Read through and pick a handful that sound the juiciest to you and get them scheduled in!
Feel free to add any activities that you know you love. Remember, self care is anything that feels nourishing and yummy to you! It doesn't have to look like self care to anyone else.
1. Give yourself a neck or foot massage.
2. Buy yourself a bunch of fresh flowers.
3. Call a friend and catch up.
4. Make yourself a cup of tea and spend 5 mindful, quiet minutes enjoying it in peace (no technology allowed!)
5. Watch a funny movie or television show that you love and get laughing!
6. Cook yourself a beautiful, healthy meal or snack.
7. Go for a hike or walk in nature.
8. Take 5 minutes to meditate or do some deep breathing.
9. Take a bubble bath.
10. Declutter a room or space that's been on your to-do list.
11. Give yourself an at-home facial or hair mask.
12. Put on a favourite song and dance like no one's watching.
13. Listen to your favourite podcast or audio book.
14. Get creative: Set aside some time to draw, paint, or work on photography.
15. Do a puzzle.
16. Take some technology free time to unwind.
17. Go to bed an hour early.
18. Read a chapter of your favourite book.
19. Indulge in your favourite sweet treat and take the time to enjoy each and every bite.
20. Book a photographer and get some shots taken of you! Whether it's natural shots, more glamorous, or even boudoir photography. Investing in yourself and taking some time to be in front of the camera can be empowering, confidence boosting and exhilarating.
21. Get out and get some fresh air: Gardening, walking, cycling, swimming, or any other outdoor activity you enjoy.
22. Go to a museum or art gallery and spend an afternoon getting lost.
23. Learn something new. Whether it's a language, a skill, or a musical instrument, learning new things is fun and keeps your brain sharp.
24. Use a calming essential oil in a diffuser, in a tea or on your skin to help you relax and unwind.
25. Ground yourself for 5 minutes. If you don't know what grounding is, read all about it here.
26. Think of 3 things you're grateful for each day (and record it in a journal for bonus points).
27. Drink enough water each day. Being hydrated will keep you feeling and functioning at your best.
28. Do some yoga or slow, relaxed stretching.
29. Give yourself a manicure & pedicure.
30. Journal: You can either let your thoughts free flow or use one of the following prompts to help you:
+ Write a thank you letter to yourself for investing in your happiness and self care.
+ What are you grateful for today?
+ If you loved yourself unconditionally, what would be possible for you?
+ If you could run away, where would you go and who would you bring with you?
+ What have you been putting off that's been causing you pain or stress?
+ Write about your family. Maybe a family tree, interesting family facts or stories.
+ Write out your bucket list.
+ What are 10 things you love about your life right now?
+ What are 10 things you love about yourself right now?
+ Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What about 10 years?
How To Tips to make Self Care a Reality.
Okay, so now you know what you want to do, but what do you do when you feel like you need a more solid support system in order to make self care a reality and priority in your life? Or maybe you just don't see where it could fit in...
This is going to be unique to everybody as we all have our own challenges. Perhaps for you it's a busy job where you work long hours and come home exhausted. Perhaps it's running around after kids, frequent travel, lack of finances, or an unsupportive partner. Whatever your deal, I've got some solutions for you!
1. Get your friends and/or family on board!
Maybe you ask someone to watch your kids for an hour each week so you can attend a class or get a massage. Or maybe you enlist someone to come with you! If you're not a "do it yourself" kind of person and you enjoy having company, see if there's someone in your circle who could benefit from some intentional self care as well and invite them along. Yes this includes your partner too! Remember that pottery scene from Ghost? Take a pottery class, have some fun and reenact it... Totally self care (and couples care) in my books!
2. Squeeze it in where you can.
You know that hour of tv you watch after dinner? Or that 45 minutes of social media scrolling you do each afternoon? Well that time could easily be spent tending to your health & happiness! Maybe listen to an uplifting podcast or read a book. Take a walk in the park or call a friend to catch up. There is always time if you're motivated enough to find it and willing to prioritize yourself! Remember, even 5 minutes can do wonders.
3. Ask for help from a professional.
Sometimes we have all the tools within ourselves to make things happen, and sometimes we don't. Being brave and acknowledging that can be really hard. But taking steps to create a support system in your life that will help you live the life you truly want to live is a wonderful way to get your self care off the ground (and is actually a form of self care in and of itself!)
4. Reframe what self care means to you.
Remember, self care doesn't always have to mean vacations, massages, and taking expensive classes. It can literally be taking 10 intentional deep breaths when you're sitting in your car after grocery shopping. Give yourself a foot massage when sitting in an airport waiting to board your flight. It can be putting on some nice clothes that make you feel confident when running errands instead of sweats. It can be buying yourself some pretty flowers or going for a cup of tea...
If you find a form of self care that fits into your life without you having to really change all that much, then the only support system you'll need is yourself! Be your own cheerleader and your own shoulder to cry on. Is it ideal? No. But no matter what you've got your own back!
Self care shouldn't be hard, stressful, or just another thing on your to-do list. The whole point is that it lifts you up and adds goodness to your life!
So if a lack of support is the thing getting in your way, it's time to have a look at these options, and time to step up to the plate for yourself. You are worth the time. Worth the energy. Worth the investment. After all, you have to be with yourself (and in your body) from the moment you're born until the moment you die. That relationship is the longest and most important one you'll ever have and it deserves some love and attention.
What if I feel guilty?
That is quite common and totally normal, but not helpful. It's a sign that it's time to ask a few questions and re-frame some things.
1. Realize that you can't pour from an empty cup.
If you want to be the best Parent, sibling, friend, partner, worker, lover, etc. then you've got to fill your cup so that you have a lot to give to those who matter so much to you. If you're drained and you have nothing left to give, then what else or who else will suffer as a result?
I encourage you to get a journal and ask yourself:
Does your partner deserve the best partner?
Do your kids deserve the best parent?
Does your work deserve the best worker?
Do you deserve to be the best version of yourself?
The reality is that caring for yourself will help support the best version of you for everything and everyone in your life.
2. Re-frame what self care is.
Often guilt comes from the idea that self care means spending hundreds of dollars or hours away from your family, but if you look at that list up above most of those things are either free or quite inexpensive and take just small amounts of time. Is it normal to feel guilt if you spend your kids entire school fund on massages? Yep. But is it normal if you buy $5 bunch of flowers to make yourself and your household more cheerful? Hardly the same thing...
When we're looking at beginning an intentional self care routine, a question that's usually helpful is to ask yourself how you want to show up for yourself in this life. Do you want to show up and be your own biggest cheerleader? Your own support system? The person who builds you up and therefore sets a good example for those around you? Or do you want to just scrape by and allow others to dictate your life. Your thoughts, feelings, and capacity to grow and love.
Usually this second option is not consciously chosen, it's more of a default. But by choosing to set out on an intentional self care routine you are taking control back and taking charge of your life, your health, happiness, and future.
Here's to investing in yourself and your self care! You are worth it.
Do you feel like you need a little more help, structure, or guidance to get your self care routine off the ground?
Check out the Seven Day Self Care Booster!
This mini course is a great starting point to creating a nourishing self care routine that'll have you feeling fabulous and taken care of in no time!
Click here to find out more.