Does anyone really know what “self-care” actually means? I used to picture self-care in a very specific way. I pictured a bubble bath and a facemask, which are great but far from the only forms of self care.
I now understand that self-care is an outfit that looks different on everyone, and varies depending on the day. Sometimes it’s coloring in an adult coloring book, sometimes it’s Netflix and snacks in bed, other times it’s a glass of wine by the fire, and occasionally it’s a green smoothie and a run. None of these are better or worse. An introvert’s idea of self-care might be a night in, while an extravert feels nourished by a night out. The defining factor for self-care to me is that the activity never feels like a “should” — it’s something you want to do, and you’re not just doing it to tick a box on your to-do list. It’s basically any activity that nourishes you in some physical, emotional, or spiritual way.
However we define self-care, the bottom line is that we all crave it, require it, and deserve it. In theory, that seems simple — however, feeling deserving of taking care of yourself in the same way you take care of others can be a challenge, especially for women. We often put our own self-care behind taking care of others, which leaves nothing for ourselves. Prioritizing self-care is important. Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish — in fact, it will allow you to show up the people you love from a more nourished place.
To get you started with your own self-care, here are several creative ideas — see what works for you.
1. Go on a walk with a long distance bestie.
This idea cost nothing and is as simple as tossing on some headphones and calling a friend that lives far away for a long catch up session. And if your friend doesn’t answer just listen to this podcast & listen to two other besties catch up.
2. Write in your journal.
Journaling can be like free solo therapy if you can allow yourself to be vulnerable and let out your worries, fears, or insecurities. I always feel way lighter after I allow myself to process things by writing them out.
3. People-watch sans phone at a cafe.
Take yourself out to your favorite coffee shop on a solo date. Here’s the catch though — leave your phone at home. Bring a book, magazine, or journal if you want, or better yet, fly completely solo. Use all of your senses fully by smelling your tea, tasting your food, eavesdropping on conversations, and people-watching as you enjoy some disconnected time. Notice how you feel on your mini digital detox.
Nothing feels more nourishing to me than shaking things up. Getting out of my normal day-to-day surroundings forces me to be more present and truly take in my environment. Another benefit for travel is that it may even invoke a greater appreciation of your home when you return.
5. Declutter your space.
Having a clean, organized, and beautiful space can be one of the most nourishing things you can do for yourself. If you spend just a little time getting organized you’ll feel amazing for a long time afterward.
6. Get a blow-out for no reason.
Nothing makes me feel better about myself than a great hair day. I feel like a million bucks when I leave the salon after a fresh blow-out. Treat yourself to a blow-out just because, no fancy event required.
7. Have a take out picnic.
Simple, but oh-so-nourishing. Grab takeout from your favorite restaurant or deli and head to the park with a blanket and your journal, friend, or pet.
Simply allow yourself to dream. Some call it visualizing. Some call it just sitting and using your imagination like you did when you were a child.
9. Cloud watch.
Nothing is more relaxing to me than staring at the clouds, watching them move, and deciding if they look like anything silly.
10. Get upside down.
Do a handstand against the wall, stand on your head, or even let yourself lay off the edge of your bed. Getting fresh blood flow to your head is so beneficial and can literally flip your perspective on things. I do this whenever I’m overwhelmed or trying to make a big decision. It always gives me the clarity I need.
11. Give yourself a facial.
Have a relaxing spa night in the privacy of your own home. Simply whip out all those skin care products you never have time to use or watch a YouTube video about all the DIY face masks you can make in your kitchen.
12. Have an adult sleepover.
Why is visiting out of town friends the only socially acceptable way to have adult friend sleepovers? Spend the night at your friend’s house or have them over to yours. Have a night in or a night out but for sure have pillow talk before bed and make pancakes in the morning.
13. Make a craft.
A good art project can get you into the present moment and help you let go of some of your stress of the day simply by getting you feeling creative and helping you stop staring at a screen for a while.
14. Send a card.
Snail mail is super underrated. Instead of reaching out to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while via text, ask them for their address and send them a card, instead. If you can, make them one (see #13).
15. Listen to a podcast.
Sometimes when you’re feeling lonely simply listening to other people have a conversation can do the trick of making you feel a little less isolated when you’re unable to be around humans IRL right away.
16. Reach out.
Who can you reach out to? Meet a friend for coffee, send a loving text or write a card (see 14).
17. Buy a plant.
Nothing will make your space feel a bit more fresh than bringing something alive into it. Taking care of a plant will help you remember you’re a part of nature even when you forget to leave the house and fall into lazy recluse mode.
Baking ignites all senses as you use your hands, taste your creation, share it with a friend, and make your kitchen and entire apartment smell amazing.
19. Make a task you hate a little more pleasurable.
Can you make a monotonous task like answering emails slightly better by putting on a sweater you love, listening to some background music, lighting a candle, pouring yourself some tea, and taking the entire set up to your couch instead of your desk? Could you work from outside? Could you make your desk feel more cozy in some way? Try it!
Katie Dalebout is a writer and host of the podcast WWRadio. Her first book Let It Out: A Journey Through Journaling was published with Hay House in 2016. Sign up for her weekly newsletter and receive her curated ‘Favorite Things Guide’ here or visit her on her blog, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube where she’s @katiedalebout and a kind of a social media butterfly.