Build The Perfect Self-Care Day From These 13 Activities
Pick a few AND recharge or do them all and have the best day ever
Self-care is vital to your mental health. It’s about intentionally taking time for yourself and prioritizing your well-being. We compiled a list of 13 awesome ways to spend your next day of self-care and asked some IDONTMIND team members to chime in on what self-care activities work best for them.
Try to pick at least three activities that you think will work for you, and commit your day to some quality you-time. Better yet, take a personal day and try to do everything on the list. Your mind and body will thank you.
Exercise is like a mini jolt of energy to your brain. It gets your blood flowing and wakes up your whole body. That’s really important if you’ve spent the whole day at work or in class. Even a quick 20-minute workout can generate enough endorphins to turn your mood around and keep you on track for a good day. And remember: it's about moving, not about pushing yourself past your limits. Exercise is self-care when it’s about feeling good about yourself and staying healthy, not when you’re looking for a result or obsessing about burning calories.
My anxiety was getting really bad a few months ago, and I finally listened to everyone and worked exercise into my morning routine. Running wasn’t really for me, but I was a lifeguard and used to swim when I was in high school. I joined a local gym with a pool, and now I swim every morning. It was a little difficult to stay motivated at first, but now I’m in the habit of it. I feel like my whole day is off if I can’t go for a swim. It makes a huge difference.
We’ve talked a lot about meditation lately and how it can transform your mental health for the better. It can also be one of the best forms of self-care. We don’t give ourselves much time throughout the course of the day to just let our minds be. Meditation is the perfect way to focus inward and acknowledge all of the thoughts and feelings you’ve been neglecting.
3. Create something
Arts and crafts can be an amazing release of your creative energy, and it can really put you into a peaceful state of mind. The beauty of incorporating arts and crafts into your self-care routine is that it requires no skill level or artistic ability. Studies have shown that creating art can actually lower cortisol levels (your stress hormone). Whether you’re painting, drawing, making origami, knitting, or even coloring, you can fall into a creative trance and relax your mind.
When I was severely depressed a while ago, I decided to try Bob Ross painting. Seriously. It may sound ridiculous, but I was trying anything I could to get back on my feet. And you know what—it really worked for me. I had never painted before, but that didn’t matter. There’s an incredible release that comes with focusing on each brushstroke and taking a blank canvas and creating something. It’s like a fresh start. Plus, Bob reminds you that there are no mistakes, only ‘happy accidents’... and what could feel more therapeutic than painting ‘happy little clouds’?
4. Get outside
Head outside and take a deep breath of fresh air! Research has shown that being in nature can lead to reduced stress, anxiety, and even depression. Don’t worry, you don’t have to head into the wilderness for you to feel the benefits. Even just going to a nearby park, soccer field, or your backyard can really impact your mood. Go for a walk, pack a picnic, and soak up some Vitamin D.
Whenever my anxiety is at its worst, my immediate reaction is to go outside. As soon as I’m walking on a trail, my worries disappear. For me, being in nature really puts all of my problems into perspective, time slows down, and it feels like I’m hitting a reset button on my heightened emotions. I can’t help but feel better when I’m in a beautiful place, birds are chirping, and I’m breathing in the fresh air.
Normally, when we talk about mental health, it’s about taking the steps to get yourself out of bed in the morning. It’s just as important to make sure you’re getting the right amount of sleep at night, especially if your usual schedule keeps you up late and waking up early. Whether it’s finally getting 8 or 9 hours of sleep, or even just sneaking in a 20-minute nap, there’s no better way to take care of yourself than to get the sleep that your schedule doesn’t always allow for. So try settling into bed a little early and get some quality rest.
I’ve recently started to listen to podcasts when I get in bed. I know if I open Instagram or Twitter, I’ll be up for hours—and if I do nothing, some nights that will lead to a lot of late-night negative self-talk that I know isn’t good for me. Podcasts are great because I don’t need my eyes open for them, and I can set a timer for my phone to stop playing once I’ve fallen asleep. I like light-hearted comedy because it doesn’t grab my attention so much that it keeps me up, and it helps improve my mood if I’m having a bad day.
6. Eat a healthy diet
When we’re not feeling like the best version of ourselves, the last thing you probably want to do is slave over a home-cooked meal. But investing the time in making yourself a healthy, delicious meal can feel really rewarding. Whether meal prepping for your week, making a nutritious dinner, or cooking up some Sunday breakfast, it’s worth the time.
7. Read a book
Immersing yourself in a new book can feel like a temporary escape from the ‘real world.’ Carving out some time to separate yourself from life’s stressors and to connect to something outside of yourself can feel very freeing.
8. Take a bath
Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself after a long—maybe difficult—day is to take a nice warm bath. Make the space as relaxing as possible: light some candles, play some peaceful music, and throw in some detoxifying bath salts. This simple act of soaking in a bath can leave you feeling cleansed and like a brand new you.
It can be hard to get out of the house when you aren’t feeling 100% but making plans to get together with people that love you can sometimes be the best thing for your mood. This is a good chance for you to have some fun and connect with the things that make you happy. Make sure you’re surrounding yourself with all of the positive relationships in your life, and all the people that make you feel like the best version of yourself.
10. Spend time with a pet
If you’ve ever had a pet, you know how much unconditional love they provide. Take your dog on a walk or to the park. Borrow your friend’s dog if you need one. Or head to an animal shelter and volunteer to spend some time with all of the animals that need love there. After all that pet love, you can’t help but crack a smile at the end of the day.
It can be hard to remember to take care of myself, but the responsibility of being a dog owner requires me to adopt healthy habits like walking outside, socializing with people at the dog park, exercising, cleaning, and eating meals on a routine schedule. It helps that my little floof provides me lots of love!
11. Help someone else
It may sound strange but one of the best forms of self-care isn’t about you at all. Try doing something for someone else. Helping someone can mean volunteering with an organization, calling up a loved one, sending someone a text of encouragement, or even doing someone a favor—big or small. These acts can get you out of your own head and make someone’s day a little better.
How often do you find yourself just mindlessly scrolling through your phone? It’s so easy to get wrapped up in all of our electronics and to be weighed down with all of the negativity on social media. Turning off your phone and tucking it away for the day can really give you some peace of mind and clarity. Unplugging can give you a chance to reconnect with the things that really matter to you. Self-care doesn’t get much better than that.
When your mind feels cluttered, the last thing you want is for your home to be cluttered, too. Deep clean your kitchen or clear out all of those things that no longer ‘spark joy’. Clutter has a real impact on your mood. The actual process of decluttering or cleaning can feel therapeutic, and it can feel like you’re decluttering your mind in the process.
Now, build yourself the ultimate self-care day. Pick a few of these activities that really spoke to you and got you excited about taking care of yourself Even when you’re at your busiest, it’s important to take some time for you. With a little bit of self-care, you may find a healthier and happier version of you.