50 Ways to Practice Self Care and Reduce Stress + FREE Printable Checklist
1. Get more sleep.
Prioritizing your sleep is not something that lazy people do. Making sure we get enough sleep is like making sure you drink enough body - you're treating your body right. You're giving yourself time to recharge. You allow your brain to take a rest and come back on a full battery. There is nothing wrong with that! Let yourself rest. You'll notice a huge change in your ability to function.
2. Eat food that makes you feel good.
Let's not drift into food shaming here. When I say food that makes you feel good, that's exactly what I mean! If you want that amazing smelling burger on the menu, get it! If the day feels more like a salad kind of meal, then go for it! The best thing to do for yourself is to do the thing that will make you feel happy, energized, and alive.
3. Indulge in a “guilty” pleasure.
I don't actually like the term guilty pleasure... but I'll use it so that you catch my drift. Do something that you usually feel guilty about doing, except replace your guilt with only pleasure! Love the fact that you are enjoying doing a particular thing. Tell yourself you don't need to experience shame for taking care of yourself.
4. Exercise in a fun or calming way.
I used to have such a difficult time exercising. The gym felt like prison... where I was completely incompetent and would leave in more pain than I felt was necessary. Running never worked out for me. And taking organized work out classes felt like summer camp on steroids. These activities simply weren't my thing. When I let myself practice yoga in my own way... my thoughts about exercise and being IN my body completely shifted. Find an exercise that makes you feel better when you're done with it... and you'll wish you would have started sooner.
5. Take a bath.
Baths are the be all end all of self-care, to me. Water is so healing. And to be completely submerged in it... Makes everything else seem insignificant in the moment. The steam, the scent, the sound, and the warmth truly help to calm the mind and rejuvenate the soul. Add your favorite bubble bath, body wash, candles, and essential oils to create your own sanctuary!
6. Relax and detox in a sauna.
This takes the bath idea to the next level. If you're a member of a commercial gym, you've got this at your fingertips. Let the toxins emerge from your skin, and you'll leave the sauna feeling like a new person!
7. Have a deep conversation with a supportive loved one.
There's nothing a beautiful conversation can't heal! Taking the time to talk about a deep and meaningful topic with someone special can light up your life.
8. Write about your thoughts and feelings in a journal.
If there are things in your life you're not ready to talk about with other people, not even those close to you, a journal can become your new best friend. If it doesn't make it to the BFF list, it will definitely become a wonderful source of peace and reflection for your life. Don't know how to journal or where to start? Need some self-love prompts to get your journaling practice going?
These journals will help you out!
9. Foam roll - release tension in your body.
Foam rolling is like giving yourself a massage without using your hands. You can get a cheap foam roller at Marshalls, Ross, or TJ Maxx.
10. Watch a movie alone.
Don't ask anyone else what they want to watch. Don't worry about anyone saying you can't get a bag of popcorn. Watch exactly what you want, when you want! Take yourself out.
11. Go to the beach or to a location near water by yourself.
This is like the bath option times ten. Sit by the water, or better yet, put your feet in! Enjoy the air, the scent of the ocean, the feeling of the sand...
12. Sit in silence and focus on your breathing from your core.
You can do this meditation anywhere. Empty your mind and focus on the movement of air into and out of your lungs.
13. Create a relaxation playlist or find a pre-made one online.
Listening to music is one of my favorite ways to relax. I've found my core "feel-good" genres: bossa nova, 90s R&B, light meditation music... But you have to find the music that works for you. Play the song, and pay attention to how it makes you feel. You'll know if it brings up happiness or relaxation or tension for you.
14. Close your eyes and rest for five minutes.
We forget that often times, all we need is five minutes to decompress. Closing our eyes eliminates so much information that we take in. By closing our eyes, we limit the amount of stimuli we can pay attention to.
15. Learn and perform acupressure on yourself.
If you suffer from headaches, performing acupressure on yourself is something you NEED to incorporate into your self-care routine! It made my life so much better. Knowing how to ease your pain and induce your relaxation is completely invaluable.
16. Get a massage.
When you don't want to take part in soothing yourself, getting a massage is the next best thing. Schedule an appointment and get on that table!
17. Go to acupuncture.
Acupuncture changed my life. I should write an entire post on that. But for now, here's the short version. Acupuncture helped me with issues western medicine had only made worse for me. And on top of healing some health issues, I always left my session feeling lighter and more at peace.
18. Take a walk in nature.
Walking my dog gives me so much happiness. But walking him in a chaotic place is not part of that pleasure. I love taking him to the park when it's empty. The trees and grass offer such connection, and watching my dog have a great time is an amazing feeling for me. Spending time in nature, and observing the energy around you can fuel the rest of your day.
19. Plan an evening of rest: no to-do’s or rushing around.
Make this as special of an event for yourself as possible. Turn it into a celebration. Count down the days to your evening of rest. Get yourself balloons... or some other celebratory decoration that you enjoy. And refuse to think about anything you have to do the next day. Be in the moment.
20. Take a class you’ve always wanted to take (cooking, martial arts, music…).
Do something new! Take a cooking class, join a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class, learn to play the flute... Surprise yourself. And don't feel the need to become an expert - take the class to enjoy the activity and to learn more about yourself while participating.
21. Dance in your underwear to a favorite song.
For freedom's sake.
22. Find something to be thankful for in the moment.
When we need to destress, sometimes all it takes is recognizing that there are amazing things in your life, right now. You don't have to worry about what isn't working because there is so much that you can express joy and gratitude for.
23. Watch your favorite movie (and turn off your distracting devices and social media).
I bet it's been a while since you've watched a movie without touching your phone! Stay away from social media, and actually watch the movie, minute by minute.
24. Stretch or practice yoga.
Move your body, and stretch the tension away. Look up relaxing, restorative yoga poses.
25. Sit in the sun and focus on how your body feels.
Most of us don't get enough vitamin D. Spend some time in the sun and absorb the vitamins we don't get enough of. Pay attention to the warmth on your skin, and smile knowing in that moment, the sun is all you need.
26. Spend time with your pets or with shelter animals who need love.
Giving love can be an amazing source of joy and relaxation. Giving that love to pets is even better! Witness the immediate joy your pet experiences when you give it love and attention.
27. Read inspirational quotes or listen to inspirational stories and speeches.
All it takes is a quick search on YouTube to find some amazing TED talks, keynote speeches, and commencement addresses that will have you feeling pumped up in no time! Listening to other people tell personal stories about how they've overcome obstacles and learned to deal with adversity shows us that anything is possible!
28. Hug someone or something special to you.
Physical touch is an important part of communicating care and love to others. Spend a couple of minutes of your day intentionally hugging when you might not have taken the time for it before.
29. Watch the sunset while drinking a nice beverage.
Because sometimes the pure beauty of a sunset is enough to make you remember how wonderful this planet is and how lucky we are to be around to experience it.
30. Sleep in, and feel good about it.
Why do we feel guilty when we sleep in? So often, we feel we have to make excuses and justify getting an extra hour or two of sleep... Let's move beyond just getting enough sleep, and let ourselves enjoy a little extra relaxation when we have the time!
31. Light incense.
Incense in a sacred space can elevate your emotions quickly. Find your favorite scent and light up! Maybe combine your incense with another self-care practice on this list. Light incense and take a bath. Yes! Do that!
32. Write a list of 10 things you love about yourself.
Let's not wait for other people to say sweet things to us. No one knows you better than you do, so take the time to appreciate the amazing things you do on a daily basis. Writing it down can add another layer of appreciation. When you read through the list at a later date, you can relive the feelings you experienced when writing it for the first time, and you'll know for sure that the love you have for yourself is unparalleled.
33. Take a drive to a beautiful place.
Research a beautiful location. Find a place to hike, a bridge to sit on, a lake to skip rocks at, or a hill where you can see the lights of a big city. Or maybe you think none of those suggestions are beautiful and you'd rather sit in a mall. It doesn't matter. The point is to find a place you think is beautiful, and spend some time there. The drive to get to this place should also be relaxing - because you know your intention once you've reached your destination is to enjoy the space.
34. Listen to a TED talk.
TED talks have given me so much joy and so many opportunities for contemplation over the years. Find a talk that sparks joy in your heart, motivates you to try something new, or exposes you to new information that helps you change your perspective.
35. Declutter your living space.
I wrote about what happened to me when I decluttered, here. Removing things that no longer serve you, truly does create space for better things to enter. Try it.
36. Go on a coffee (or tea) date with yourself.
Take yourself out to a coffee shop or create your own coffee shop atmosphere in your home. Play light jazz music, enjoy the scent of your coffee, and sip it while people-watching or reading.
37. Check in with yourself. Ask yourself: “What do I need today?” Then, go do that thing!
We can become so distracted by taking care of necessities for ourselves and other people, that we forget to fulfill our own seemingly insignificant needs. Ask yourself what you need to make your day feel worth it, and you'll find an answer. Don't let yourself down once you ask the question. Be sure you schedule time to do whatever that thing is. And don't create a cop out necessity - where you do something for someone else and say that it's also helping you. Really do something that YOU need for yourself. Move yourself from the bottom of the list to the top.
38. Bake your favorite treats for no reason other than the fact that you want to.
It doesn't have to be your birthday. Make some brownies!
39. Get dressed up and take selfies for fun. Don’t post them unless it makes you feel good to do it.
Because you don't need a reason to doll yourself up.
40. Watch or read something that makes you laugh.
Comedy cures even the most stressed soul.
41. Sing - by yourself or with your favorite duet partner.
Break out your happiness playlist and a microphone! Or a hairbrush...
42. Write yourself a love letter.
You always hear about couples asking each other "Why do you love me?" but how often do we ask ourselves this question? You might be surprised about what you find when you let yourself open up.
43. Experience little self pleasure.
Some things simply don't need any more explanation. ;)
44. Sketch, paint, or color.
Let your creativity take control. Don't worry about being "bad" or "good" at creating. Just do it because it's fun and (maybe) new.
45. Plant flowers, plants, or vegetables.
Nurturing your plants or vegetables or flowers - so that you can watch them grow can be so peaceful. And if you plant vegetables, you'll have an abundance of yummy things to eat as a result of taking time for yourself! Total win-win situation.
46. Light heavenly scented candles.
I. Love. Candles. To me, candle shift the energy of a room in seconds. Light candles when you're trying to get through a difficult task. The scent and the flame will offer some peace.
47. Take a shower with dim lighting and your relaxation playlist (that you created thanks to number 13).
Seriously, guys. Do it and thank me later.
48. Write a letter forgiving yourself for something you’ve been upset about.
Sometimes our stress can come from an internal space, and when this happens we might not want to spend time with ourselves. Take the time to write a letter forgiving yourself for anything that's been troubling you. Ask yourself why you've been punishing yourself for doing the best you could at the time. Release the negative energy and begin to focus on letting go of the heavy emotions. Realize that you're human. That you're allowed to make mistakes. And that you're evolving more and more every day. Allow yourself the space to grow.
Because the universe has answers to questions we haven't even thought of yet.
50. Visit an art museum.
Because art also has answers... but it offers many more questions. And because of the questions, you might begin to think about life in a new way.
Bonus: Organize a girl talk to get things off of your chest and pop bottles together! But only if it makes you feel good.
Surround yourself with friends who have your best interest in mind. Laugh. Talk. Watch funny things. Sing. Dance. Check off ten self-care activities at once, and have your friends do the same.
If you enjoyed this post, I'd be so thankful if you shared it with your loved ones! Love and gratitude to you! <3
Do you have a feeling that this list is cool and everything, but when you close out of this page, you're just going to go right back to your regular routine... which doesn't involve making time for yourself? Your daily life that doesn't have space in your memory for all the ways you can become self-care badass? Get the FREE checklist here! You can print it out, hang it on your wall, put it in your car, put in on your desk at work, or on your nightstand... Check off the activities you've done and track your self-care progress!
Let's make a commitment to caring for ourselves. Stop trying to save the world for a little while, and simply save a little love for yourself!