Self-care is everywhere these days. You type in those two words into any search bar and you will get hundreds, thousands, or even millions of results. Frankly, it can get overwhelming if you ask me, and I consistently practice self-care.
Before I can give you a compiled list of self-care tips, I have to talk about what self-care actually is. Dictionary.com defines self-care as “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health; the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress”. If you look at tips for self-care, you’ll often see things like “take a bubble bath, do a face mask, etc.” While I plan to include tips like this, there is also a more “negative” aspect of self-care that I will talk about as well. And when I say “negative”, all I mean is that there are less stylized or pretty versions of self-care that are important too. Things like brushing your teeth, cleaning your house, taking out the trash, doing homework, etc., can also count as self-care. Self-care does not have to cost you a lot. Honestly, all some self-care tips will cost you is time. This list I will provide will list a lot of different ideas. You don’t have to follow them all. Find what works for you. I’ve separated them into three lists: what you should do every day or consistently, what you should do often (at least once a week), and what you should do occasionally (maybe once or twice a month). So without further ado, here is an exhaustive list of self-care tips for anyone, whether you’re male, female, old, young, student, worker, or at any stage in your life:
- Sleep- I have to start with getting sleep. But I don’t mean “sleeping to avoid responsibilities.” You need sleep to aid in your immune system, in your physical strength, in your mental strength, and in your memory. Sleep is one of the easiest ways to practice self-care.
- Exercise- As Elle says in Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. And happy people don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t!” On a more serious note, exercise improves both your physical and mental health. It is good to get your heart rate going because it may help you to lose weight or get in better shape, and it can help produce chemicals in your brains to improve your mood and overall brain function. I know for me, when I have bad days, I like to be more active. By the end of my workout, I feel a lot better than I had before.
- Brush your hair and teeth- Even these simple mundane acts are self-care. Brushing your teeth obviously helps with your dental hygiene; brushing your hair helps your appearance and helps you to feel better about yourself.
- Make your bed- I do this every morning. I cannot tell you how nice it is to come back every day and see that my bed is made. It also starts my day on a productive note.
- Shower- A good, long shower is a good way that I relax. Plus, it allows you to get clean. Being clean helps your skin fight off viruses and bacteria that may be trying to get into your body.
- Get some fresh air- When it’s nice out, I love having the windows open. Go for a walk, do homework, sunbathe. Whatever it takes. Vitamin D is good for you both mentally and physically.
- Journal/bullet journal- I keep both my bullet journal and my regular journal next to my bed. I write about my bad days, but I also write about my good ones. I don’t journal every day, and I don’t need to. Journaling is a good way to get my thoughts and worries in a more tangible form. Filling out my bullet journal every day helps put a lot of things into perspective especially when my day is less than great.
- Wash your face- This is such a small task, but along with making my bed, always starts my day off to a good note. Some people wash their face at night. Others wash their face twice a day. Do what’s best for you. I wash my face every morning and every time I shower. On that note…
- Set up a skincare routine- I know that skincare routines are marketed toward teenage girls, but I think everyone can benefit from it. In the mornings, I wash my face, apply toner, moisturize, and apply facial sunscreen. Once a week, I use a body scrub while I’m in the shower. I still wash my ear piercings even though it’s healed enough that I don’t have to. I continually apply lotion to my tattoo and other places when needed. Your skin is your body’s first line of defense. Take care of it!
- Eat healthy- Junk food is delicious, but it’s not always the best. Do what you can to eat food that is better for you. I love ice cream, but rather than cutting it out completely, I buy Halo Top, which has lower calories. I make my dinner each week and try to find healthy recipes or use healthier ingredients.
- Drink water- Water is the best thing you can drink. It helps with physical health.
- Take vitamins- Vitamins are a good way to help with some nutrients you may not be getting. I’m not a nutritionist and I don’t know your health needs. But vitamins can be helpful to your physical health if you are not getting enough on your own diet.
- Do a face mask- I try to do a face mask twice a week. It’s a good way for me to get a deeper clean on my face and I feel like my skin looks better when I do.
- Do your homework- I know what you’re thinking. “Kim, this isn’t self-care!” As long as you’re a student, yeah it is. With my work schedule, I don’t have time to really do homework every day. So on days I don’t work, I try to use that afternoon/evening to get things done. This Sunday, you want to know what I did? I slept in, made dinner for the week, did homework, had dinner with a friend, and did my Sunday night routine. That’s it! And I felt so accomplished largely because I did homework. I understand that school is stressful, and it can be hard to complete your homework. If you don’t have the mental capacity to do it right then, that’s okay! I’m not saying don’t do it. Rather, if you have any deadlines, do what you canto meet them. If it does not need to be done right away, then plan for a day to do it. Like I said, for me, it’s days I don’t have to work and usually Sundays. This way, I can prepare for it and devote the mental energy I need. You won’t fail from one missed assignment, but don’t make it a happen.
- Clean your living space- Whether that’s just your room or an entire house, it’s good to keep it clean. This isn’t in the first category because it doesn’t necessarily have to be done every single day. I usually do my dishes every night, but I only take out the trash maybe once a week, and vacuum maybe twice a month. Even my room here in my apartment has to be cleaned. But I’ve noticed that I’m more stressed and uptight when my living space isn’t clean. Similar to homework, I plan out a day to do it, put music on, and work at my own pace.
- Meditate- This is one thing that I cannot do. But if this works for you then great! I’ve heard meditation can help clear out your mind and reduce the tension in your body.
- Make some art- If you consider yourself a creative person, then making art is so important. I know for me, there was a time that I was stressed out semi-recently to the point where I wasn’t able to do things I wanted to. Finally, I had some time and painted a couple of canvases, and it was so amazing. I forgot how much I love painting in that time when I stopped doing it.
- Spend time on your hobbies- I’m getting back into reading for pleasure. I love watching movies, and I am going through a TV series again. I don’t know what your hobbies are. It could be drinking tea while curled up with a newspaper. It could be playing extreme sports. Whatever makes you happy is something worthwhile to do.
- Know your limits- It’s okay to say no. Sometimes self-care is saying no to taking on more than you can handle.
- Engage in laughter- Laughter is one of the best medicines for your brain. It helps so much. So go to a comedy club, watch funny movies, tell jokes, or watch funny videos on YouTube. Everyone needs to laugh more.
- Catch up with friends in person- Have a meal with them, go out, even a phone call would work. On Sunday, I had a friend invite me to dinner. We talked, and I was able to bring up something that was worrying me. My friend didn’t really provide a solution, but I felt better than I had in a while because I was able to voice my concerns to someone who would be there for me. When I’m home, I like to see as many of my friends as possible. I like having my friends over at my apartment too. Being with friends is a good way to destress and relax.
- Listen to music or a podcast- I think I listen to music every single day. The right song or album can completely change my mood. That’s also something I like to do on stressful days. Music is so important to my life. I know podcasts have become pretty popular recently. If you’re more into podcasts than music, then by all means listen to them!
- Strengthen your religion/spirituality- My faith is important to me, and working on growing it has really improved my life. Pray, meditate, read the texts. If it is something that’s important to you, work on improving it.
- Spoil yourself- On Saturday, I went out shopping and bought dinner rather than making it. I planned to spend quite a bit of money, and I had a really good day. I’m not planning on doing that this weekend. It’ll probably be a bit before I do something like that again. But being able to budget for that and enjoy myself was good for my mental health.
- Take yourself on a date- Similar to spoil yourself, it is important to treat yourself every now and then. At the end of last semester, I had made it a plan to take myself out. I dressed up, took some cute pictures, went to dinner, saw a movie in a theater, and bought dessert afterwards. It was so awesome, and really helped with my self-love.
- Try something new- When we try new things, our brain has to make new connections, and it challenges us. Whether that’s a new recipe, a new hobby, or even a different way to work, it is important to do new things. Otherwise, we just get stuck in ruts and our mental health worsens.
- Drink/eat your favorite things- Tea, coffee, alcohol, pizza, ice cream, mac and cheese, etc. Your favorite foods and drinks are your favorites for a reason. Eating them all the time is pretty bad because your body needs nutrients, but every now and again is not going to harm you.
- Do your laundry- Laundry is not fun. But having clean clothes is awesome. Sometimes self-care means doing your laundry so you can…
- Wear your favorite outfit- You know what I’m talking about. The one that makes you feel the most confident, the one where you think you look the best, or even the one that is the most comfortable. Your clothes help a lot with how you feel. It is important to wear things you like.
- Spend a day in your pajamas- I love weekends because I usually can get away with not getting dressed for at least one day. That doesn’t mean I don’t do anything, but I like being able to lounge about in comfy clothes.
- Take a day and be lazy- Watch movies or read books all day. Order pizza or takeout. We work so much in our lives. Sometimes we need a day to just be lazy. There’s nothing wrong with doing nothing. It becomes a problem when you neglect your responsibilities.But if you have a day where nothing is super pressing, then it’s okay to be lazy in my opinion. Taking a break is as important as the work you do.
- Find some good deals- I love finding cheap things. Goodwill, Five Below, and Dollar Tree are some of my favorite places to shop. I had a really good offer on Friday and I took advantage of it. If I’m spending money, I prefer to shop at places where I can either get coupons or really good sale prices. I remember just before Christmas this past year, Bath and Body Works was doing their candle sale. I went, but didn’t really find any scents I liked. So I went to Michael’s, where I found good holiday-scented jar candles for $3 each or 3 for $10. I bought 3, kept one for myself, gave one to a friend, and gave one to my mom for Christmas. Even with the sale at Bath and Body Works, I was able to find a better deal (with a lot less people).
- Bake/buy a dessert- Fresh-baked cookies rock. I love donuts. Like your favorite foods, there is nothing wrong with them every now and then. It just becomes a problem when it’s done all the time.
There are so many more ideas out there. What’s really important about self-care is that you find what works for you. Self-care is not neglecting your responsibilities to have a spa day or take a really long nap. Self-care is doing your work on time and treating yourself as a reward. Self-care is found in the things you do every day, like sleeping, that improve your mental and physical health. Most importantly, self-care is making you be the best you that you can be!
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