Taking some time out of our busy schedules to rest, recharge, and unwind is essential for both our physical and mental wellbeing. 

But, what should you do when you take that break? Here are a few examples of self care activities to inspire you. 

What is Self Care?

What exactly is self care? Put simply, it’s taking time for you. Pausing your current responsibilities, even for a short time, is one of the top methods that counselors and therapists recommend when you’re determining how to reduce stress. In fact, the World Health Organization recently recognized self care as an essential need in order for us to care for ourselves and our communities, prevent disease, and promote healthy lifestyles.

Examples of self care activities cover a variety of social, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pursuits, but what’s most important is to find what works for you. Self care should be worked into your daily life as much as possible, even if you only have a few minutes to spare. It’s about making intentional choices to enhance your mind, body, and soul in ways that feel good.

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13 Examples of Self Care

1. Move Your Body

Simple stretches and yoga are a great way to move your body every day when you don’t have time for more extensive exercise.
Simple stretches and yoga are a great way to move your body every day when you don’t have time for more extensive exercise.

Moving your body doesn’t always need to be about strenuous exercise. Something as simple as a short yoga routine or stretching can be just as beneficial, and there are plenty of classes online to help you get started. 

2. Write It Down

By writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal, you’re able to solve problems and process information more effectively. If your top priority is figuring out how to reduce stress, writing in a planner is a great way to keep on top of your responsibilities without needing to rely on memory. 

3. Calm Your Mind

When most people think of self care examples, the first that comes to mind is often meditation. This usually incorporates focusing on a specific object, mantra, or your breath in order to block out everything else, leaving your mind clear and calm. If you’re new to the practice, meditation apps—or even sitting quietly with your eyes closed—can be the perfect starting point.

4. Get Outside

Studies have proven that spending more than two hours outside every week is excellent for your wellbeing. Whether it’s playing with your dog, doing some exercise in the park, or simply taking a stroll through your city, spending time in nature is one of the easiest (and cheapest!) ways to take a break.

5. Flex Those Mental Muscles

Mind-focused activities like puzzles and chess help to keep your brain agile and alert.
Mind-focused activities like puzzles and chess help to keep your brain agile and alert.

Challenging your mind doesn’t necessarily sound like a relaxing activity, but it can be. Playing chess, reading a book, or working on a crossword puzzle can be the perfect opportunity to focus on what you’re doing in the here and now, rather than your to-do list. 

6. Create Something for Fun

Humans are creative creatures, but we’ve found ourselves at a point in time when many of us are constantly asking “what’s next?” Work on a new painting, a short story, or even a holiday ornament to get back in touch with your creative roots and have fun with no fixed goal in mind.

7. Explore Your Neighborhood

Galleries and museums can inspire your own creations and give you time to reflect as you move from room to room.
Galleries and museums can inspire your own creations and give you time to reflect as you move from room to room.

Exploring an art gallery or museum can be just as relaxing as working on your own creative project. If you’re not able to visit in person, many museums offer virtual tours of their exhibitions that you can view from your own living room.

8. Plan a Date Night

Make plans to have a night out with a significant other or a dear friend. There are plenty of activities that you can do with a partner, from life drawing classes to outdoor dining at your favorite restaurant. It’s also perfectly fine to have a solo date night! Take yourself off to a drive-in movie, complete with your favorite snacks. 

9. Rest and Recharge

Not getting enough sleep can have a negative impact on our emotional and physical wellbeing, along with causing a number of serious medical issues. Implement a nightly routine that helps you to unwind and create a sleeping environment that’s calming. Try to keep cellphones and laptops out of the bedroom and make sure that any window coverings keep the sunlight out in those early morning hours.

10. Call Your Loved Ones

When you have too much on your plate, the first activity that we usually say goodbye to is time with our friends and family. But maintaining these relationships is vital to our health. If you don’t have the time or live far from your loved ones, check in with them via text or call to continue building positive and nurturing connections. 

11. Connect With Yourself

Sitting quietly and focusing on your own breathing can help to reduce anxiety and bring a sense of calm to your day.
Sitting quietly and focusing on your own breathing can help to reduce anxiety and bring a sense of calm to your day.

Taking time to listen to your inner self through breathing exercises or self reflection can ease anxiety. Many of these activities are considered to be spiritual self care examples, but they don’t have to be religious if that isn’t a factor in your own life. The importance of these practices is thinking about something bigger than yourself, focusing on the world around you as you nurture your soul.

12. Try Something New

Be adventurous and try an activity you’ve been interested in but too nervous to explore, whether that is learning a new language, taking up a creative passion, or volunteering at your local animal shelter. There are plenty of classes to help you get started from the comfort of your own home!

13. Ask for Help

Seeking help, whether from loved ones or a mental health professional, is an important step to move forward positively with the support you need.
Seeking help, whether from loved ones or a mental health professional, is an important step to move forward positively with the support you need.

The goal of self care is to set you up for success in all aspects of your life. Acknowledging that you can’t achieve everything on your own and letting go of the perfectionism that comes with that is a sign of strength, so reach out to a trusted friend or mental health professional any time you’re in need of a helping hand.

What Isn’t Self Care

It can be difficult to draw the line between self care and extra work or unhealthy avoidance habits, so it’s important to be aware of how you’re feeling. Listen to how your body feels and understand the cues that might be signalling that you’re pushing yourself too hard or practicing habits that take away from genuine renewal. 

Activities that might seem like acts of self care, like lounging on the couch in front of the television all day, can actually cause more harm long-term than the initial benefits. Some spiritual self care examples, such as taking a class on meditation or personal growth, can quickly become additional responsibilities. Take some time to evaluate if these additions to your schedule are truly restful for you. 

Creating Your Own Self Care Plan

Start by creating a list of activities that you want to incorporate into your new routine, like the self care examples outlined above. It can be useful to break these into categories such as physical health, social and community involvement, creative arts, and mental health.

Identify any issues that you may have completing these activities—like finances, accessibility, or scheduling conflicts—and brainstorm how you could overcome these issues.  

If you live by your calendar, schedule in set times during your week for self care as if it were a meeting. Be sure to tell your partner or a friend about your new goals so that they can help keep you accountable, especially on weeks when you don’t want to stick to your plan. Soon, your new self care routine will become second nature!

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