You probably already know that it’s essential to take care of yourself. However, you may not know precisely how to do it. If you want to know how best to take care of yourself, this article is for you.
Below, we’ll offer some practical advice on how to have a self-care day and how to turn that into a self-care week, month, year, and even life. Once you know how to really take care of yourself, you never have to stop.
Before we tell you how you give yourself the right amount of self-care, let’s first understand what self-care is.
What is Self-Care?
‘Self-care’ refers to the actions we take to help us optimize our physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being. Anything that helps you feel more grounded, motivated, or simply happy is a type of self-care.
Oxford Languages defines self-care as ‘the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.’ It also offers a second, more elaborate definition – ‘the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.’
Self-care looks different for everybody. There are some common approaches to self-care, such as exercises, a healthy diet, and practicing mindfulness, but the specific approach you take is based on what works best for you as an individual.
For example, an hour of lifting heavyweights in the gym might work wonders for one person, while another person would achieve the same sense of well-being after a light jog or a nutritious breakfast.
For one person, a self-care practice might involve running 10 miles, while for another, it’s writing down one’s thoughts in a journal for twenty minutes.
Why is Self-Care Important?
Having a self-care routine is essential for staying healthy and happy. The term self-care is used a lot these days, from Instagram posts in a bubble bath to Facebook check-ins at someone’s favorite restaurant.
Sometimes it looks like all our friends are having a self-care day every other day, but we struggle to find the time. However, self-care is your responsibility to yourself and deserves time in your life just as much as work, family, and other responsibilities.
Life can be stressful
Taking care of yourself is often easier said done. Life can be hectic, and it can be hard to find time for ourselves among the sea of daily duties and responsibilities we live with.
You may notice that you want to have a self-care day. But you keep putting it off because you have too much else to do. These are the times when caring for ourselves is most important because if we neglect our well-being, we might suffer from a lot of unnecessary stress.
Self-care is a skill
When you find yourself overwhelmed, busy, or under a lot of stress, the simple act of self-care can make a world of difference.
You don’t have to do something drastic – simply taking a few minutes to reset your breathing is an act of self-care. With a few small acts of self-care every day, you will gain momentum and eventually learn how to care for yourself in every moment.
How to Have a Self-Care Day With These Strategic Activities
Below we have compiled a list of self-care activities to add to your self-care day plan. If you can do at least one of these activities every day, you’ll be giving yourself a great chance to rest, relax, reduce stress, and stay mentally healthy.
Remember that a self-care activity is anything that makes you feel good about yourself and doesn’t harm your well-being in any way. So, if there is something you know is good for and that you love doing, but it’s not on the list, go for it anyway!
This list is not ordered from best to worst, but meditation would still be number one if it were. Meditation offers so many profound benefits for both your physical and mental health that it’s impossible not to include it on a list of self-care activities.
Scientific research on the effects of meditation points to a wide variety of physical, mental, emotional, behavioral, and spiritual benefits of taking up a meditation practice.
According to research, meditation is proven to reduce stress, increase compassion to oneself and others, increase self-awareness, elicit self-discovery, improve sleep, and improve your overall mood.
All of these benefits are something we aim to achieve through a self-care routine, which makes mediation the ultimate self-care tool. Furthermore, mediation is known to boost mental clarity, making it easier to figure out what we need to take care of ourselves as unique individuals.
How to start meditating
If you’ve never meditated before, or you’re a beginner, and you’re finding it tricky to relax, we’ve outlined an essential step-by-step guide below to help you get started.
- Find a place where you can sit or lie comfortably. Try to settle somewhere where that you won’t be disturbed.
- Set a timer for five minutes.
- Close your eyes (if you’re comfortable with that – you can keep them open if you prefer).
- Bring your attention to your breath. Notice it enter your body and notice it leave.
- Notice any thoughts that arise, but don’t focus on them. Simply notice that you’re thinking, then bring your attention back to the movement of your breath.
- When the timer is up, open your eyes, gently move your body by starting with your fingers or toes and take all the time you need to get back up.
It’s as simple as that! All you need to begin is five minutes a day, just two to three times per week, and once you notice the benefits, you might want to meditate more often!
Some people find it helpful to use mantras and affirmations while they meditate to achieve a certain state.
For example, you could repeat the phrase ‘I am enough, I have enough’ or ‘I am loving awareness’ to affirm love and compassion and carry that with you throughout the day.
Exercise is undoubtedly one of the most effective ways to take care of yourself. Extensive research proves that even light exercise improves mood, reduces stress, boosts energy, increases happiness, and improves focus and concentration.
How much should you exercise?
You don’t need to spend hours in the gym every day or run a marathon once a week to reap the benefits of exercise.
Simply engaging in 30-60 minutes of aerobic activity such as walking, running, swimming, dancing, or yoga can have a profound positive impact on your well-being.
Go for a walk or a run at least three times a week, stretch when you wake up and before bed, and dance around your living room with your favorite music to give your mind and body some tender loving care.
3. Forget About Social Media
Many of us spend hours of our day mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, reading posts and seeing content that we don’t really care about.
Imagine how many hours you could save and put into something else if you were to cut down on your social media use.
How to use less social media
At least one day a week, stay off social media. Don’t open the apps on your phone, or if you think you’ll be tempted, delete them. You can always reinstall them later. Take some time to unplug from your phone and focus on being in the here and now.
4. Get Out and Enjoy Nature
If you can, get outside in nature. Go for a walk in a local park or cycle out to the countryside. Breathe in the fresh air and remind yourself of what it feels like to take a break from the distractions of our daily lives.
Why you should get fresh air
Getting outside for some fresh air works wonders for your mental health. Taking time to be out in nature promotes mental clarity, creating space for new ideas and inspiration to greet you.
Remember to bring a pen and paper to write down any ideas about how you can have a self-care day!
5. Get Some Sleep
If you stay up all night watching tv, playing video games, looking at your phone, or anything else that keeps you awake, consider how your nighttime habits affect your daytime well-being.
How much should you sleep?
Getting enough sleep is a crucial step in achieving and maintaining good mental health, so make sure you’re treating your mind and body well with the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
Is it ok to take a nap?
Even if you’re sleeping enough, but you still feel tired during the day, take a nap! Taking a short nap for 30-45 minutes in the afternoon can help you relax, improve your mood, and give you enough energy to go about the rest of your day.
6. Nourish Your Body
The food you eat has a significant influence on how you feel. Some foods make us feel great. While others provide only a short burst of energy and make us feel worse in the long run. Watch the food you eat and consider if it’s serving your mental and physical health.
Stay hydrated. Dehydration makes it harder to concentrate, making it harder to take care of yourself effectively. Try to drink water when you wake up, with each meal, and before bed to stay hydrated.
Best self-care foods
Eat nutrient-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables with each meal instead of sugary snacks and refined carbs.
It’s ok to have some snacks every now and again, and eating your favorite snack is a form of self-care, but for your long-term well-being, make sure that the majority of the food you eat is natural, healthy, and whole.
7. Have a Spa Day
Run a bath, put on a face mask, and make some green tea. Set yourself up for an at-home spa day away from life’s distractions.
A warm cup of tea and a bubble bath might not always fix your problems, but they can go a long way in helping you feel relaxed. No matter how your day or week has been, it’s essential to set aside some time to treat yourself!
How to Plan Your Self-Care Day
Once you’ve figured out what you want to do for your self-care day, the next step is to make a plan and put it into action. Set aside a specific day when you know you’ll have some free time.
Trying to fit in too many self-care moments when you have a busy day might make you feel guilty for neglecting your responsibilities. Fulfill your commitment to yourself by scheduling your self-care day and letting others know that you might not be available.
If you can, wake up early to get the most out of your day. Even if you’re a late sleeper, give yourself one day to wake up earlier than usual and do all the activities you added to your self-care day list (or as many as you can!).