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When was the last time you allowed yourself to do something you truly enjoy? Prioritizing self care activities can help you stay physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy—and minimize the possibility of burnout, anxiety, stress, and frustration.
What is self care, why is it important, and what are some of the best examples of self care activities? Continue reading for a complete guide.
As its name implies, self care is the practice of taking care of yourself, including your physical, mental, and emotional health. Self care is not simply adopting a “treat yourself” mindset. Rather, it involves intentional activities that fortify all aspects of your health and enhance your overall well-being. When you practice self care, you are better able to cope with stress, perform your job or daily duties, and live a meaningful, fulfilling life.
8 Types of Self Care
You can practice self care in nearly every aspect of your life. The eight areas of self care are:
- Mental: Stimulating your mind by learning new things or practicing mindfulness
- Physical: Contributing to your physical health through diet, exercise, and hygiene
- Social: Establishing and deepening relationships with others
- Emotional: Enhancing your ability to reflect upon and connect with your emotions
- Spiritual: Honing in on beliefs and values (religious or not) that guide your life
- Professional: Using your strengths and talents within your career
- Environmental: Creating a neat, functional environment at work and at home
- Financial: Creating a conscious and intentional relationship with your money
Self Care Benefits
Self care offers many proven benefits, including:
- Enhanced sleep quality
- Improved focus
- Strengthened relationships with others
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Boosted immune system
- More productivity
- Enhanced self-confidence
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Self care looks different for everyone. No matter how you prefer to stay healthy—by yourself or with a group; through physical activity or a beauty routine—this list of self care activities will inspire you to take time to prioritize yourself.
Physical Self Care Ideas
Physical self care involves maintaining the health of your body through diet, exercise, and hygiene practices. When you use these physical self care ideas to take care of your body, your emotional and mental health will benefit, too.
- Take a nature walk (or run): Even a brief sweat session is good for your cardiovascular health. Plus, getting out in the sun can be an instant mood-lifter.
- Take a bath: Swap your shower for a relaxing soak in the tub. Add Epsom salts if you want to soothe sore muscles!
- Prepare a healthy meal: Your mind and body can perform better when you fuel them with nutritious foods.
- Go to bed early to ensure a full night’s sleep: But don’t stop there—set your sights on bigger goals, like establishing a healthy sleep routine for every night.
Self Care Group Ideas
Engaging in self care activities for groups—whether with just one other friend or a large gathering of people—can help you connect with others and nurture relationships.
- Call or FaceTime a friend: Take time to connect with a friend or family member.
- Take a group exercise class: You don’t even have to talk—simply engaging in physical activity alongside other people can be motivational.
- Watch a movie or show with friends: Bingeing a Netflix show can certainly be an individual self care activity, but watching with friends adds a fun social element.
- Start a club: Whether you bond over books, wine, or another shared interest, creating a club allows you to carve out dedicated time to do what you love.
Emotional Self Care Ideas
Through emotional self care activities, you can learn to regulate and cope with your emotions, which can impact your mood and overall happiness. Use these self care ideas for anxiety, stress, or simply to deal with everyday frustrations.
- Talk to a therapist or counselor: Nearly everyone can benefit from talking to someone about their emotions and experiences.
- Journal about your feelings: Make sure to include what you’re currently experiencing, what you’re scared of, and what you’re hopeful for.
- Practice meditation: Meditation combines emotional self care with physical and spiritual self care—and offers a wealth of benefits, including reduced stress and anxiety.
- Develop and display positive affirmations or mantras: Empower yourself by displaying positive statements, such as “I am excellent at what I do,” or “I am happy and grateful for my friends and family.”
Self Care Activities for Adults
As an adult, self care can look much different than it did in your teens, with an increased focus on your professional and financial success.
- Organize an area of your home: Whether you tackle a single cabinet or an entire room, this self care activity can engage your mind, and the end result will allow you to feel more relaxed and at home in your space.
- Take yourself out to eat: It’s not as scary as it sounds! Indulge in a nice meal and enjoy a book (or simply people watching) while you dine.
- Invest in your professional development: Attend a conference, take a course, or register for a webinar that will help you advance your professional skills.
- Create a realistic financial goal: Clearly define what you want to achieve—then pursue it with confidence.
Self Care Activities for Kids
Kids may need some extra guidance when it comes to self care. Use these activities to help your children maintain their emotional, physical, and mental well-being.
- Rock breathing: Have your child lay down and place a rock on his or her belly. Instruct the child to breathe deeply, feeling the rock move up and down. This teaches deep breathing, which can help even the youngest kids overcome stress and reduce anxiety.
- Have a dance party: Ask your child to pick out a favorite song, and tell him or her to let loose! Your child will get his or her heart pumping and experience a mood boost, as well.
- Go for a family bike ride or walk: Your kids will get the benefits of exercise—but you may also strike up a good conversation, which can act as a second form of self care.
- Draw or paint: Let your child illustrate his or her feelings. This can be a great child-friendly alternative to journaling.
Self Care Beauty Routine Ideas
A beauty ritual can double as a physical self care activity—benefiting your skin and hair—but it can also be an important part of maintaining your mental health by helping you feel your best.
- Indulge in a face or hair mask: Whether DIY or store-bought, a mask can benefit your hair or skin—and while it works its magic, you get time to lay quietly and relax.
- Get a manicure or pedicure: Or, if a nail salon isn’t your thing, break out your own nail polish and do it yourself.
- Take time to apply makeup: Even if you’re still working from home—or simply don’t plan to leave the house—taking the time to apply makeup can be a calming process that helps you transition into the day.
- Apply your skincare routine: Rather than rushing to get to bed, take a few extra minutes to savor your nighttime skincare routine and pamper your skin.
- Detox and massage your scalp: Use a scalp brush to give yourself a salon-quality head massage. It’s not only great for your scalp; it can also relieve tension and stress.
Whether you try one of these activities or combine several into an entire self care day routine, you will be on your way to experiencing multiple self care benefits.
When it comes to self care and depression, anxiety, or other mental health struggles, keep in mind that these activities aren’t a cure-all and can’t take the place of therapy and other treatments. (And if you are struggling with these, we highly recommend working with a professional.) However, they can make an improvement in your ability to cope with stress, demonstrate self-compassion, and live an overall healthier life.
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