Everyone tells you to take some time for self-care when you are feeling low. But what exactly do they mean by that? Let’s look at what self-care is, why it is important and then I’ll give you 75 simple self-care ideas you can try!
Disclosure: Some of the links below are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
What does self-care do for you?
Self-care is, like the word suggests, the act of taking care of yourself. It turns your focus away from all the things you feel you should do for others or for money. And it reminds you that your needs are important as well.
Self-care keeps you healthy, fit and mentally balanced. Through it, all your basic and not so basic needs get fulfilled.
No idea which things to do for self-care? Well, it includes seemingly simple things, like making sure that you get enough sleep. Or eating a balanced diet. But it can also mean planning some alone time into your schedule every day where you can meditate, journal, or simply follow your thoughts.
Why is self-care important?
But self-care is more than simply checking the necessities off a list. Self-care is the tool to make sure you can have a happy and balanced life.
By taking care of yourself you work on the relationship with yourself. You increase your self-esteem, confidence, and self-love – all super important parts of a fulfilled life!
As a grown-up, self-care also means taking a parent-role in your life. Think back to your childhood. Who told you to eat? Or to go to sleep? Or to do your homework so that you don’t get in trouble tomorrow? Probably some adult person, right?
Once you become a grown-up yourself, no one tells you that stuff anymore. Other people only tell you what they want from you. So the very important role of making sure you are alright needs to be filled by yourself.
75 self-care ideas
Alright. If you weren’t before, now you should be convinced that self-care is a crucial part of your life. Let’s finally get to those 75 ideas for self-care, shall we? I broke them down into the following lists:
- 10 self-care ideas when you simply need some fun
- 23 Mental self-care ideas
- 22 Physical self-care ideas
- 10 Self-care ideas for depression
- 10 Self-care ideas for anxiety
10 self-care ideas when you simply need some fun
Oftentimes self-care seems synonymous with relaxation. And don’t worry, I’ll give you plenty of relaxation ideas as well. But sometimes all you want is to have some fun. And you should!
So let’s get started with 10 ways in which you can take care of yourself by simply having some fun!
- Play a board game
- Try a new recipe
- Find some great new recipes and knock yourself out in the kitchen! Bonus points: You get to eat it afterward as well!
- Rearrange your furniture
- Rearranging your furniture can do wonders for the way you feel at home! Simply move a few chairs and plants. Or move everything. But then you’ll probably need some help.
- Do a jigsaw puzzle
- Jigsaw puzzles* are the perfect pastime for rainy days. And if you pick a real challenging one, you have quite a task ahead of you.
- Listen to an inspirational podcast
- Nothing better than getting cozy and let someone else take care of the inspiration! Find a Podcast about a hobby or topic you rarely find time for and soak in all that information. Or listen to the big library on Audible*. You can try it try it here for free now and get two free audiobooks!* If you are a pro, you can even combine the listening with the jigsaw puzzling!
- Create a vision board
- Go wild with all those ideas that are whizzing around your head and put them on paper! Find images and quotes online, print them out, and create a vision board with everything you want in your life!
- Go shopping or online shop
- No, I don’t mean for things you need anyway. I mean, go look for things you like. Browse around, dream of your perfect wardrobe, or those cute pillowcases. Or shop some of these beautiful balcony garden ideas! Enjoy looking at all the things and colors. And maybe you also find something you want to buy.
- Go for a photo walk
- Get outside and have your phone camera ready to document everything you usually walk by. See little wonders, funny things, and images that make you think.
- Learn belly dancing from Youtube
- Use your body in a way it usually doesn’t move: Try some beginner belly dancing lessons on Youtube. To me, this is definitely one of the best funny self-care ideas. In the worst case, you have the laugh of your life. In the best case, you found a new hobby!
- Do whatever you feel like
- Every now and then it can be a really good idea to not plan your self-care. Simply listen to yourself and how you feel and figure out what you want to do spontaneously. Then go for it!
23 Mental self-care ideas
Mental health and mental self-care are on the rise – luckily! More and more people become aware that not only our body but also our mind wants to be taken care of. So here are 23 mental self-care ideas for you to try!
- Do the “best version of yourself”- exercise
- Sit yourself down and take some time to imagine the best possible version of yourself you can imagine. Really go into detail and imagine what it feels and looks like. Imagine your skills and achievements. Research says this exercise is incredibly effective in “increasing and sustaining positive emotion“.
- Write a gratitude journal
- Start writing down what you are grateful for every day. Do it as part of your morning routine or before you go to bed. You can use a dedicated gratitude journal like this cute one* or simply into whatever planner you are using. The important thing is that you think about everything you are grateful for.
- Write down your goals
- Thinking about and writing down your goals is another treat for your mental wellbeing. First of all, thinking of the great things you want to achieve puts you in a better mood. And second of all, it helps you focus on what you actually want to do to achieve those goals. I keep track of my goals and to-dos with a bullet journal and I really recommend it.
- Draw or doodle
- If your brain is in overdrive and you feel like everything is just too much, whip out that pen and paper and put those feelings into shapes. It gives you something to focus on without putting any kind of stress. Doodle-Pros can even get themselves the Mindful Doodle Book* with 75 exercises to take their doodling to the next level.
- Write your thoughts
- Similar to the doodling, putting down your thoughts on paper can help you let go of them. Take some time alone and simply let it all out – no spellcheck or filter needed.
- Call a friend
- Talking to someone who knows and understands you is the perfect medicine for your mental wellbeing. Just pick up that phone and instead of scrolling through your feed, make that call!
- Read a book
- Drink a hot beverage
- Drinking something hot is more than a cliché. It is a so-called self-soothing activity. The warmth of the drink calms you down and makes you feel nurtured. Exactly what you want from a self-care activity! I like to combine this with some physical self-care. For example, drinking a hot spearmint tea – calms me down and also helps me fight off any hormonal acne! You can get some organic spearmint tea here!*
- Take some time out of your day to simply get lost in fantasy. Let your imagination go wild and use it to travel places you otherwise only see on a map. Or in a fantasy book. In your daydreams, you are a director with an immense budget!
- Make a list of recent accomplishments
- Most of us focus on all the things we should/would/could still do. But when was the last time you gave yourself a pat on the back? Sit down and make a list of all the things you accomplished recently. Smiled at the grumpy teller? Took a deep breath instead of snapping at your spouse? Put it all down there! And then read through it and enjoy that feeling of pride!
- There are few things as qualified as meditation when it comes to mental self-care. Quiet your mind, calm down anxiety, and casually do wonders for your blood-pressure along the way. If you need a beginner’s how-to, check out my Meditation 101 here!
- Read self-love quotes
- Sometimes you might not feel so active, but rather like taking in something calming and inspiring. Putting positive things into your head definitely falls under mental self-care! To get you started, here are 65 quotes about self-love!
- Make a list of things that make you smile
- If you are feeling a little low and need something to pick you up, make a list of all the things that (normally) make you smile. You can even enrich it with little doodles. And then go back to it whenever you need it.
- Use affirmations
- Whenever I feel a negative mindset creeping in and making itself comfortable in my brain, I make sure to schedule some time for positive affirmations.
- Watch your favorite movie/series
- Rain outside, low energy and not feeling like anything? Sounds like the perfect setup to catch up with your favorite series. Or watch your favorite movie again for the 100th time. (Wait, am I the only one who does that?)
- Listen to music
- Find some music that fits with your current mood or the mood you want to be in. Some Zen-like music while you sit on the couch with your tea? Or some upbeat music to shake it to?
- Take a break from the digital
- Make it a habit to turn off all your little digital helpers from time to time. No phone, no laptop, no emails, no notifications. If you are like me and live and work online most of the time, this self-care activity can do wonders for your mental health!
- Do something new
- If you are stuck in a rut, bored with your life or simply uninspired, you don’t have enough “new” in your life. And really, our brains crave new. This can be as simple as using the “wrong” hand for one day. Or you could go to a part of town you’ve never been in for some reason. Maybe you spontaneously start a conversation with a stranger on the street. Get creative!
- Yes, taking time for a good, body-shaking cry falls under self-care for me! Sometimes tension, frustrations or simply sensory overload can build up and need release.
- Write down all the things that help you deal with negative feelings
- This is similar to writing down everything that makes you happy, but not quite the same. If you are prone to depression and anxiety like me, it can be a great idea to look at all the things that help you deal with those moments. And then write them down, so that the next time you feel low, you can just look at the list and pick something from it. Taking care of your future self, so to say.
- Declutter your Social Media
- We all know the huge impact Social Media has on our lives if we want it or not. So do yourself a favor and declutter regularly who you follow. Really think about what you want to put into your head on a regular basis. And what kind of influence that can have on your mood and general wellbeing.
- Do some logic puzzles
- Couch, hot drink, cozy blanket, and some challenging brain teasers! Works your brain, but relaxes your mind. Also, who doesn’t love a good logic puzzle?
- Did she just say “sing”? Yep, she did. Singing is great for your physical and mental health and a huge mood booster. You don’t need to be a great singer either. Just turn up the volume of your favorite song and go for it!
22 Physical self-care ideas
Alright, having checked off just the fun and mental self-care ideas it’s time to get more physical. Ehm. You know what I mean.
- Do a face mask
- Eat something healthy
- Treat yourself to a day full of whole, fresh, and healthy ingredients. Or make a smoothie out of immune system-boosting fruit. Treat your body to something nourishing!
- Do a peeling
- Get a manicure
- Go for a walk
- When was the last time you went for a walk just for walking? No errands, just enjoying the air outside and the things you see. Go do it now!
- Oil your hair
- When I feel like really pampering myself I take some time to really thoroughly oil my hair. And I am not talking simply moisturizing the tips a little. I mean a full-on oil mask! With warm oil! It’s a great and relaxing feeling and works like a hot beverage. It’s a self-soothing activity. You can find some inspiration for the best hair oils here.
- Paint your toenails
- It doesn’t matter if it’s summer or winter. Painting your toenails just makes you feel more put together. Like you are taking care of yourself. Exactly what we are trying to achieve here.
- Put on some makeup
- Even if you stay home and no one will see you – put on some makeup. Maybe even try a new and daring look that you wouldn’t dare to wear outside. Make yourself pretty just for you!
- Shower and get dressed
- I know, I know. The stereotypical self-care Sunday means hanging out in your pajamas all day, right? But still, taking a hot shower and then dressing in some fresh clothes (even if it’s fresh loungewear!) does something to your mindset.
- All the stresses of daily life build up in your body. This makes your muscles tense – and you as well, in the process. So take some time for a few relaxing stretches. Especially release your psoas – that one is “the stress muscle”!
- Take a bath
- Sometimes showering is not enough. Sometimes you need a proper, foamy bubble-bath! Put on some relaxing music, dim down the light, and let the warm water melt all your worries away! And if you feel playful, find these colorful bath bombs here*.
- Not so much in a relaxing mood? Then opt for a workout instead. Whenever I feel like my brain is getting cabin fever and nothing can calm me down, I hop on my exercise bike and work it out!
- Go to bed early
- Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to simply let things be things and go to bed. Doesn’t matter if it’s only 8 in the evening. Put your sleep mask on (I love this one* because I can listen to something while falling asleep! You can get it here*.) and sink back into your fluffy pillows. Heaven!
- Clean your space
- Making sure that the space around you is clean and clear is one of the basics of self-care. You’ll feel much lighter once you are done. And if you need some help decluttering, check out my trick to clear a room super quickly here!
- Use aroma oils
- Smells influence our mood and wellbeing more than we usually notice. So to treat yourself to some nice vibes, use aroma oils with your favorite scent! I personally love citrus-y notes like orange and lemon. You can find a set of 18 different aromatherapy oils here.*
- Put on some music that always makes you dance and go for it! Shake it out, jump around, enjoy moving with the music!
- Get a massage
- Sometimes relaxing is not enough. And you need manual help from another person. Ask your partner or even treat yourself to a visit to the massage salon.
- Breathe deeply
- Not every self-care activity needs to involve going out or being in specific places. Just take a few moments to breathe deeply and enjoy the air filling your lungs. Amazing, isn’t it?
- Hug yourself
- Another self-soothing activity. It works on a sensory level and a mental one as well. Hug yourself and direct warm and caring thoughts towards yourself. Enjoy how that makes you feel.
- Drink a big glass of water
- Did you know that even mild dehydration can already cause irritability and sadness in females? Taking care of yourself includes drinking enough water. The next time you go for a mouthful, be mindful about it and appreciate that this, as simple as it is, is an act of self-care.
- Use a foam roller
- Take a power nap
- Taking 10 to 15 minutes out of your day to simply nap. So short, yet so effective.
10 Self-care ideas for depression
When you are depressed, self-care works completely differently. Things that usually come easy seem like a huge effort. So when you are depressed, please take that into account. Be gentle with yourself and applaud yourself for everything you do manage to do!
(With all of these self-care ideas for mental health, please keep in mind that they cannot replace professional help. These activities can only supplement treatment, not replace it!)
- If it’s one of those days where getting up is SO. HARD. and nothing seems to make sense and everything is useless – try to get yourself into the bathroom, take your toothbrush and clean your teeth. This small act will make you feel a little cleaner – physically and mentally.
- Do 10 jumping jacks
- I know, I know. You don’t even want to get up, let alone work out. But! If you feel miserable anyways, why not do something you don’t feel like doing? And doing a few jumping jacks will get your blood moving and alleviate some of the physical symptoms of depression.
- Open a window and take deep breaths
- A lack of oxygen will make everything seem additionally dim and sad. Open a window and take a few deep breaths.
- Drink half a liter of water
- This tip works in two ways. First of all, dehydration causes depressive symptoms as I already explained above. Nothing you want if you are already depressed. Second of all, it will force you to the bathroom a little more often. Movement is a sworn enemy of depression. So movement is our friend when battling those low moments!
- Take some Omega-3s
- Omega-3s* are the best supplements ever in my opinion. They can alleviate depressive symptoms in some people, help me deal with my hormonal acne, and do many other good things in your body. Also, taking something to make yourself feel better will make you feel like you are taking care of yourself. Which you are. You can get an Omega-3 supplement here*.
- Watch something that makes you laugh
- Even though you might really not feel like it, find some funny videos or a comedy to watch. Even if it’s only temporary, it will cheer you up.
- Do a body scan
- When your mind becomes unbearable, stop listening to it. Instead, to a body scan. Sense into every body part, limb, and organ. Become aware of how everything feels, what it touches, et cetera.
- Give yourself some credit
- Again: Be nice to yourself. Recognize that you are sick and applaud yourself for anything you do despite being so sick. If your (physical) heart was seriously sick, you wouldn’t expect yourself to run a marathon, right? You would be careful with yourself. This is the same. Be careful and loving with yourself.
- Order some healthy food
- It is very likely that shopping and cooking are not happening for you right now. If it is, awesome! Pat yourself on the shoulder! If it isn’t, why not order some healthy food to support your recovery?
- Keep a mood diary
- When you are stuck in depression it can feel like you are always depressed and nothing ever gets better. This is one of the typical cognitive biases of a depressive episode. To give yourself a reality check about this AND to help you recognize your triggers, consider starting a mood diary. Write down every day what you feel like, what has happened and how your mood developed.
10 Self-care ideas for anxiety
Having anxiety calls for a specific kind of self-care. You definitely need different kinds of self-care activities than someone who is slightly bored and simply wants to have themselves some fun, right?
- Give yourself a break
- If you have anxiety chances are that you are always trying to do everything right, in time, perfectly. Give yourself a break. Let go. Pretend to be someone who doesn’t care, at least for a few minutes. Otherwise, even your self-care activities might turn into a lot of stress.
- Use a heavy blanket
- Try mindfulness exercises for anxiety
- Mindfulness is as effective as medication for many types of anxiety. So when you take some time for self-care, make sure to do some mindfulness exercises. If you need some inspiration, you can find a few examples of mindfulness exercises for anxiety here.
- Do a caffeine-detox
- This one was a game-changer for me and eventually led to me swearing off caffeine for good. Not coffee though, I still drink crazy amounts. Decaf. Like this medium-roasted coffee*. Try it! Caffeine can increase anxiety immensely. And leaving it out for a while might do wonders for you!
- Find a moderate workout you enjoy
- If you have anxiety, you might feel like running it off or doing some crazy exhausting kind of sports. But a more moderate activity like Yoga might be more beneficial to calm your nervous system down. My favorite online Yoga teacher is Esther Ekhart. She has hundreds of videos on Youtube (here) or on her membership site ekhartyoga.com.
- Try a guided relaxation
- If Yoga isn’t your thing, but you are interested in something relaxing, maybe go for a guided relaxation. I’ve been using this video for many years and it still works for me.
- Tell someone about your anxiety and how they can help
- This self-care idea is a little more future-oriented. You know those moments when you get full-on anxiety, but no one around you knows what’s going on or how to help you? Take some time to tell people close to you about it. Explain to them what’s going on with you in those moments. And maybe even give them a few pointers as to how they can help you with it.
- Find an anchor thought
- Similarly to the tip above, this idea will help you longterm to deal better with your anxiety. But honestly, simply picking your anchor thought already will put you in a better mood. Who doesn’t like imagining something good? Anyways, I should explain what an anchor thought is. Or I let Mel do it, she does it way better.
- High-anxiety people usually see all the things that need to be done. And then they get easily overwhelmed. So one way to take care of yourself is to take a deep breath, sit yourself down and actually write down all the things swirling around your head. Every possible task, to-do, and idea. This will already take some stress off of you. Then go through that list and find out how much of it you actually really have to do. If you need some help prioritizing, try the Eisenhower-Matrix or Action Priority Matrix. I explain both of them here.
- Zentangle is an artistic way of doodling and the ideal activity for anxiety. You get to be creative while relying on structured patterns. Super relaxing! Check out the official Zentangle page to learn more about it.
*These links are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.