You can’t take care of the people you love if you aren’t taking care of yourself first. There are so many sources of stress both in our personal lives and out in the world, I could easily make a list of a hundred things I might stress out about on a daily basis. It is far too easy to drown in all the worries of day to day life, so it’s really important to take time to practice self care. To help us de-stress I’ve compiled a list of 30 self care ideas to reduce stress and anxiety.
Why Stress Can be Harmful
A little occasional stress is ok, but excessive stress can be extremely harmful to your physical and mental health. Here are just a few ways is bad for you.
- Weakens the immune system
- Causes high blood pressure
- Causes or increases anxiety and/or depression
- Premature aging
- Over eating/weight gain
- Reduced mental sharpness like memory loss
That’s just a few of the side effects of stress, yikes!
What is Self Care?
Self care is the act of caring for your physical, emotional, and mental health. People practice self care in many different ways and there is something for every one. For some self care is socializing with friends, for others it’s being alone. It can be an external physical action, or an inward mental action. Whichever way you do it is right, and you should approach self care the same way you’d care for the person you love most in the world.
The Benefits of Self Care
Just like there are many side effects of stress, there are many benefits of having a regular self care routine. A few are reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, improving your physical health, being more pleasant to be around, feeling HAPPY, be able to care for our loved ones better, and so much more.
In this list of 30 self care ideas I’ve included a variety of both physical and mental things you can do that will reduce stress levels and bring more happiness into your life.
Stress Reducing Self Care Ideas:
Think Kindly of Yourself
1. If you’re being hard on yourself for something, give yourself a break. We all need someone to be kind when we’re feeling down, so be that person for yourself. I know that I tend to get frustrated with myself when I feel overwhelmed or stressed, so I try to remember that I’m only human and it’s normal to feel that way. When I’m compassionate with myself that tight feeling in my chest starts to loosen.
2. Getting outside can clear the fog in your mind and give you a fresh perspective on whatever is stressing you out. If you can, go to a park or walk around in nature. Really focus on breathing in that fresh air in slow and steady breaths. Research has shown that being in nature is good for our mental health and slow breathing can calm our nervous systems.
Read a New Book
3. Sometimes you need a distraction and a new book can help you with that. If you enjoy self help books I have a list of the 9 best books for personal development. I’ve reread most of them several times and I always learn something new from them. Or you can just read any book in a genre you love. I also just shared My 2019 September and October Fall Reading List if you need ideas outside of personal development!
Reread Your Favorite Book
4. Returning to a favorite book can be really comforting. This summer I’ve been rereading the Harry Potter series for the first time in years, actually I’ve been listening to the audio books and it’s really lovely! I just finished Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire a few days ago.
Put Positive Notes Around Your House
5. Write yourself empowering quotes or affirmations on some post-its and put them around your house, in your car, and on your phone. Read them every day. It can be really beneficial to put them on your mirror and say them out loud to your reflection.
Some of my favorites are:
- I am worthy.
- There is always enough.
- I have the power to shape my reality.
- I am always doing the best I can with the tools I have.
Here is a list of 100 Powerful Affirmations that Will Change Your Life
Find a Quiet Place
6. If possible, find someplace quiet where you can unwind. That can be really hard if you have a noisy household, I do and some days I feel like pulling my hair out with all the noise. Try going to the park, library, or a coffee shop when you need to get out of the house.
Go to Bed Early
7. Sleep is such an important part of self care, one that many of us neglect. If you aren’t getting a full 8 hours and you feel run down try to go to bed earlier. Not getting enough sleep can make you irritable and more likely to feel stressed. Some nights I go to bed at 9pm, I feel a bit like my grandma but I feel so much better for it.
Watch Your Favorite Movie
8. Get cozy on your sofa with some snacks, turn off your phone, and watch your favorite movie. My favorite movie to watch when I’m sick, stressed, or sad is the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice. It’s such a beautiful and comforting film.
Color or Draw
9. There’s a reason coloring books for adults have become so popular, it’s great for stress release. It can be very therapeutic to turn off your brain and just tap into your creative side. If you have kids color with them, it’s great bonding time!
10. Say no to things you don’t want to do. It’s ok to stay home instead of going out. If someone asks for a favor but you’ve already got a lot on your plate tell them you’re overwhelmed and can’t help them right now, they’ll probably understand and if they don’t they aren’t your friend.
Related: HOW TO SAY NO WITH PERSONAL POLICIES
11. When you’ve got a million things on your mind get them out on paper. You can journal, write lists, brain dump, whatever you like.
Bake Your Favorite Treat
12. There’s something comforting about the smell of baked goods. Bake a favorite dessert and bask in the yummy smell. Then enjoy the heck out of eating it! Maybe share with someone else in your life that could use a treat.
Ditch Toxic Relationships
13. Sometimes the biggest source of stress can be someone you care about. If someone in your life isn’t adding anything of value and just causes you pain, maybe it’s time to let them go. It can be hard, especially if you have memories of a time when things were good, but sometimes people grow in different directions and a previously good relationship can turn sour.
I’ve been in that situation and looking back I have no regrets. That relationship would have only caused more hurt and drama. It’s ok to let those people go for the sake of your mental health.
Social Media Detox
14. Unfollow Instagram accounts that make you feel bad about yourself. Unfriend your racist relative on Facebook (I have with no regrets). Stay off your phone when you’re out with friends or at dinner with your partner. Unsubscribe from emails that you never open or that cause you to spend too much.
Plan a Vacation (or Staycation)
15. Sometimes we need something to look forward to. Plan a weekend trip, or if funds are tight, a staycation where you relax at home with good food and movies.
16. Meditation is becoming more popular for a reason and is one of the best self care ideas to reduce stress. Meditation is the practice of sitting or laying quietly and focusing on your breath. This deliberate breathing is found to calm the brain and nervous system, improve sleep, increase focus, and decrease stress and anxiety.
There are many meditation apps like Calm and Headspace that offer free content as well as paid subscriptions, but some of my favorites are free on youtube. I’ll link to a few below.
Try Something New
17. Try a new restaurant, go to a museum, or take a new type of class. Get a 7 day pass to a new gym or fitness studio. Take an art class. Go to a comedy show or play. Learn to knit or sew. Step out of your comfort zone!
18. Moving your body releases stress and produces chemicals that boost your mood. Also it’s just good for your physical health! Take a walk, run, do yoga, etc just get moving. I’ll let Elle Woods explain.
Don’t Try to Please Everyone
19. You’ll never make everyone else happy, so don’t try. Take care of yourself first. You can’t pour from an empty cup so fulfill your own needs before trying to take care of other people. Set boundaries when you need to, and if that upsets people that’s their problem, not yours.
20. Make a list of things you love about yourself. Write it down, tape it to your mirror, read it every day. You are worthy of love, especially from yourself. The ultimate form of self care is loving yourself and knowing your own worth.
Blast Your Favorite Music
21. Put on your favorite song or album and crank it up. Throw a dance party with your partner, friend, kids, or pet. If you’re alone and feel self conscious lower the lights and don’t dance near a mirror. Or just listen to music while you do something else. Just have fun!
Buy Yourself Flowers
22. Brighten up your home with fresh flowers! It seems small but flowers can really improve your mood.
Make a Gratitude Master List
23. Challenge yourself to write down as many things you’re grateful for as you can. There’s a saying that goes something like “depression is living in the past, anxiety is living in the future.” Feeling gratitude for the things you have right now is an amazing way to focus on the present moment and boost your mood.
Try writing down 50 things you’re grateful for on strips of paper and put them in a jar for those times when you feel down.
Here is a list of 60 Things to be Grateful for.
Clear Out Physical Clutter
24. Choose a room, category, or area to go through and discard anything that you don’t use or want anymore. Yesterday I took a bag of old clothes to H&M for their recycling program. I had been holding onto worn down clothes for such a long time because they weren’t good enough to donate to the thrift store and I didn’t want them to go to a landfill, and thankfully H&M will turn those old textiles into other products. It was such a relief to finally let that clutter go. You can also sell your unwanted items on places like ebay, poshmark, or facebook groups.
Take Yourself on a Date
25. Go to a cafe and then the bookstore. Dress up to take yourself to dinner and a movie (or make a fancy dinner and watch a movie at home). Spend the morning getting pampered at a spa. Have a picnic at the park. Get a decadent dessert from the bakery and savor every single bite.
Have a Pajamas Lazy Day
26. Stay in your pajamas all day. Or put on fresh pajamas, but just give yourself a day off from being put together. Lounge on the sofa, watch you favorite tv shows, and maybe do some gentle yoga.
Get Dressed Up
27. If every day tends to be pajama day for you, maybe do the opposite. Put on your non-pajama favorite outfit and do your hair and makeup really cute. Take some selfies to document your cuteness! You don’t even have to leave the house if you don’t want to, but you could also call up some friends and go out somewhere.
Put Away Your To Do List
28. Sometimes the best self care idea is just to take a day off from any plans you have. Just do what you feel like doing and don’t worry about anything else. We all tend to put high expectations on ourselves and that can cause a lot of stress without you even realizing it, so take a day to just go with the flow.
Be Around Positive People
29. If you have a person in your life that always makes you smile or see the brighter side of things, call them up for a chat or invite them over for dinner.
Accept What You Cannot Control
30. Sometimes things spiral out of our control. It’s normal to feel helpless and anxious. At times like that all we can do is take a deep breath and accept the situation as it is. It’s not easy at first but I’ve found that it is possible.
Try to change your perspective, realize that you can only control your reaction to the situation. All things are temporary, this struggle will pass. In time you’ll look back and see how much stronger you are because of that challenge.
Self care is such an effective way to reduce stress. I hope you use some of these self care ideas to take care of yourself! You’re just as important as anyone else and you deserve to be treated with love and compassion. Let me know what you do to take care of your well being!
Want 7 days of self-care? Join the Summer Glow Up Challenge.
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Love and light.