When did you last do something just for you? Something to make yourself feel good. Something that wasn’t related to work, losing weight or being a mom/wife/girlfriend? If you can’t remember and don’t even know what I mean, print these 20 simple self-care ideas, put them somewhere you can see them regularly and start your own self-care routine because trust me, you need one. Everyone needs one.
What Is Self-Care
By its definition in the dictionary, self-care is “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.” or “The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.” (source)
To me, self-care was such a blah word for a very, very long time. It was that mysterious holistic thing people who drink green smoothies first thing in the morning talked about a lot and I just couldn’t keep my eyes from rolling. That whole thing changed after I became a mom and wasn’t only taking care of my own butt.
In fact, after having a baby I got lost pretty quickly and forgot I also needed some care and not just chocolate and coffee. The fact that I am also a human, a living creature with needs and desires wasn’t clear to me anymore. Forget about the luxury of engaging in activities like sleep or exercise – I was in survival mode and I let my life run on autopilot which resulted in weight gain, lots of crying and disappointment.
Thankfully, with time, I got back to my senses and found my way back into this world as me – an individual, a human, not just a mom. And I did it 10-20 minutes at a time by adopting a few simple self-care habits.
20 Minutes/Day Can Do Wonders
I know it’s such a cliche now, but you actually can change your health, well-being and seriously, your entire life 20 minutes at a time. Did you ever achieve anything worthwhile by doing EVERYTHING at once, on one day? Probably not. Living well is about taking small steps in the right direction every single day. At least that’s what has been working for me. And I still have to practice these habits, some days I need them more than others. Because trust me, my life’s nowhere near perfect. It’s messy and it’s overwhelming at times, but it’s beautiful most days.
How To Find Time For A Self-Care Routine
The best time for me to practice my little self-care routine is in the morning. I talked about it here and here a little bit. But what I haven’t mentioned so often is that I also had to discipline myself to practice small self-care habits throughout the day. Why stop at 8 or 9 am? Doing a morning workout will not benefit me hugely if I then sit on my butt for 3 hours straight even when I have to pee. Believe me, you can always sneak in a 2-3 minute stretch when working at your desk or go out for a 5-minute walk outside when your head is foggy.
20-Minute Self-care Ideas
There’s something so relaxing about looking at the sky. In my experience, even 1-3 minutes can do miracles at making you calmer and more clear. You can watch the clouds go by, the clear blue sky if you’re lucky, or if you’re really lucky: the stars at night. I had forgotten how magical stargazing can be, but the other day as I was getting out of the car I looked up and saw for the first time in a while a clear sky covered with stars. It seriously took like 5 seconds to make me so incredibly happy. I need to remember to look up sometimes.
If you have a goal or a dream you wish you could fulfill one day, plan for it now. You can make it happen, you’ll see. Taking just 20 minutes to plan out your next moves will make that dream real for you, it will bring it closer to you and it will make you motivated and excited – which is a great feeling.
A little while ago I did a 7-day challenge that consisted of doing yoga every day for 30 minutes. It did not need to be 30 minutes at once, the goal was about adopting the habit of including yoga throughout the day. I love yoga because it’s a holistic practice. It is not a workout, it’s more like mindful movement and it’s beneficial for your physical, mental and emotional health. It’s a practice where it all comes together.
If you want to make yoga a part of your everyday routine, I highly recommend checking out MyYogaWorks. It’s an online platform with thousands of yoga classes that you can do at home. You can start with a 14-Day free trial and get your first three months of premium online yoga classes for just $1/month using the code YOGA3.
4. Light some candles and enjoy a glass of wine
I am not gonna pretend that I’m one of those people who are crazy about wine and can tell the difference between a $100 and a $10 bottle when they taste it, but sometimes when things are stressful, a glass of wine is all I need to really loosen my soul. To just let go and relax.
Also, this is something you can do on your very own. I’ve never needed to be on a date with my husband to light the candles and to open and drink the wine. And while we’re dreaming, let’s add a bubble bath to this mix. Now we’re talking.
A day, a week, even a month can go by in what feels like seconds. Leaving us feeling unaccomplished, like nothing happened and wondering where the time went. We have a way of always remembering the negative, rather than the positive things. I read somewhere that this comes from our desire to survive. We remember the bad more, so that we’re prepared and can react better in case something similar happens again.
It’s just, well, you can’t really feel good when your mind automatically reminds you of only the bad things that happened. We need to put in the time and effort to reflect on the good things that happened throughout the day, week and month. This practice is so underrated. Don’t let your anticipation for the future dull your excitement for past moments, life’s not a checklist (although they do help!).
Turn off your phone and read for 20 minutes. Read things that make you happy or excited, books that expand your mind.
I know I mentioned yoga already, but as I also mentioned yoga is a holistic practice, not so much a workout. But we do need some sweaty workouts in our lives to feel great. Maybe it’s Pilates, strength training or cardio – it’s all up to you. Here 20 minutes can change your mood for the better remarkably.
8. Making a salad
If a healthy salad is taking you longer than 20 minutes to make, you’re probably doing it wrong. And the process can be so therapeutic. You can listen to music, podcast or my favorite: your own thoughts and ideas while doing this. And by the end of it you’ll have food. Add some vegetables to a bowl, cooked chicken, chickpeas or grains and enjoy it. I’m not one to eat healthy all the time, but I know a salad makes me feel cleaner, happier and more alive than a bowl of pasta. (although I do love creamy pasta a lot!)
9. The extra beauty routine
Manicure, pedicure, face or hair mask. I honestly can never tell whether a facial or hair mask has worked, but I like to take the time anyway because I find it relaxing. While doing that I like to take some magazines and just look at the pictures, I know…I know.
Move your body to your favorite songs! Jump, sing, do whatever it takes to make you happy. You can go to a dance class, clubbing with your friends (will this ever happen again?) or dance alone in the kitchen while you’re cooking.
Connect with others daily. Maybe you reach out to a friend you’ve been putting off to keep in touch with. Maybe instead of just saying hi and moving on with your day, you take 3-4 minutes for a friendly “small talk” with a neighbor or a stranger who seems like a non-psychopath. Being more social is one of the best things you can do for your happiness, your confidence and overall well-being – no candles or hair masks can change it.
12. Watch the sunrise
Find out what time the sun is up, get up early and find a place to watch the sunrise. It’s just as magical as gazing at stars.
13. Enjoy a cup of your favorite beverage in quiet
And if you wake up early, you can combine it with the sunrise thing. That’s been my favorite way to start my days last summer and I feel brand new and ready for the day after doing it.
I believe walking, sleep and drinking water are the fundamentals for good health and somehow we forgot how to do all of them. We’d rather go lifting 100 pounds in the gym than to walk 2 miles outside. But walking comes with more benefits than helping you maintain a healthy weight. Personally, it helps clear my mind, reduces stress and somehow helps me sleep better at night.
Stretching is another simple, yet forgotten habit we don’t do enough of. If it wasn’t for yoga, most days I admit, I’d probably never even think about stretching my tight muscles. Include 2-3 stretches every 1-2 hours at work and hold each for 5 breaths. You’ll feel amazing.
16. Thank you notes
Okay, so I got this idea from a course I’m doing at EDX. The professor mentioned writing thank you notes to the things and people you’re grateful for. This is an easy way to express gratitude for the simple things in life that make your life better. For example, he mentioned clean bed sheets. I know it sounds silly, but doesn’t it also sound kinda fun. Maybe I need to find the definition of fun in the dictionary as well.
It works for many people and I’ve got friends who swear that just a 5-minute meditation in the morning can help them focus better, work better and be overall more present and happier in life. So it might be something for you to try!
18. Allow yourself a quick nap
If you’re feeling kinda tired and aren’t feeling like your most efficient self + have the opportunity – allow yourself a quick nap. I find 15-20 minute naps around 3-4 pm super rejuvenating. They always help me sneak in a fresh start on the same day.
19. Listen to the radio
I feel like with social media, podcasts, audiobooks and music platforms we forgot about the good old radio. Radio gaga, radiooo someone still loves you. And that someone is me. Here’s something I love about the radio: when a song you’ve forgotten comes up and you feel like it fills your soul. It brings back memories, makes you want to dance in your car, kitchen or wherever you are. It’s like that song was exactly what you wanted to hear, you simply didn’t know it. The radio can remind you. Find a good station that plays more of your type of music and less ads and chatter.
Periodically getting rid of stuff in your life that don’t “spark joy” is so freeing. It very much feels like a weight has been lifted and you can fly. And I don’t think decluttering your home is all you can do – here are 9 things to declutter from your life.
And that is it. These are the 20 things that do make me feel like I’ve taken care of myself well enough, especially in stressful times. I hope you found some new ideas, make sure to share this post if it has helped you.
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