50 Self-Care Ideas and Activities

photo of woman sitting on a couch listening to music on headphones

Making time for self-care is so important, particularly during hectic seasons. It may seem like you can't possibly spare another 5 or 10 minutes in your day but prioritizing self-care will reward you with improved focus, increased productivity, reduced stress and overall better mental health. It's a worthwhile investment, for sure.

Whether you've got 5 minutes or an hour, we've got a range of ideas just for you. Work through this list or just highlight your favorites and start scheduling self-care into your day. You'll be amazed by the difference it can make in your health, mood and mindset! 

If You Have 5 Minutes

  1. Do Some Breathing Exercises - Just focus on breathing slowly in and out or use a breathing app to guide you.
  2. Listen to Your Favorite Song - Dancing is encouraged.
  3. Sit and Just Enjoy Your Coffee, Tea or Morning Beverage - How many of us rush through our mornings or don't even get to drink our coffee until it's cold? Time to change that. Take five minutes to sit near a window, on the porch or patio and sip your morning cup without looking at your phone.
  4. Meditate - Enjoy a short meditation with a free meditation app.
  5. Stretch for Five Minutes - You can follow a free tutorial from YouTube if you need guidance.
  6. Write in a Gratitude Journal - A daily gratitude practice packs a ton of benefits that might surprise you.
  7. Turn Off Your Phone - Give yourself a break from messages, calls and social media.
  8. Dance Party - Put on a favorite song and dance like no one is watching!
  9. Water Your Plants - Bonus points for talking to them, too. Some plants can detoxify the environment and studies have also shown that they can boost your mood.
  10. Open Your Blinds - Then, just take a few moments to breathe and look outside. How often do we spin our wheels so fast that we start to miss things like changes in the weather or what's happening in our neighborhood?
  11. Light Your Favorite Candle - They're not just for looks. Many candles have great aromatherapy properties that can improve our moods.

If You Have 15 Minutes

  1. Color or Paint - Use an adult coloring book or paint-by-numbers. Art therapy is so simple, yet very relaxing.
  2. Do an Act of Kindness - It's incredible how serving others actually gives back to us. Genius Tip: Try one of these 100 random acts of kindness.
  3. Journal - Take time to just write what's on your mind.
  4. Read or Listen to an Audiobook - If you're too tired to hold a book, play a book on Audible or check an audiobook out from your library through Hoopla or Libby.
  5. Do a Yoga Flow - Look for a short routine on YouTube that targets areas you need to destress or addresses any particular health ailments, such as yoga for back pain or yoga for digestion.
  6. Do a Face Mask - Take time once a week to detox your pores and soak in some moisture with a face mask.
  7. Use a Diffuser - Check out aromatherapy blends designed to boost your mood, improve your energy, clear out your sinuses, or whatever else you'd like to improve in that moment.
  8. Eat a Treat - It's perfectly alright to have a stash of your favorites. Spend a few minutes savoring a treat just for you.
  9. Try a New Hairstyle - Give yourself time to choose a new hairstyle. YouTube offers tons of free hair tutorials for all hair types and lengths.
  10. Put on Lotion - This may sound silly, but how often do we forget things like this when we are in a hurry? Spend time putting on your favorite lotion or skin oil. Your skin will thank you!
  11. Cuddle - Spend a few minutes cuddling with your pet, your favorite person and your favorite blanket and pillow.
  12. Read Funny Memes - Memes are easy to find and so funny. But, if memes aren't your thing, look up positive or inspirational quotes and find some new favorites.

If You Have 30 Minutes

  1. Tackle a Short Project - Is there something around the house that has been bothering you? Maybe it's time to turn off any distractions and focus yourself on that task for 30 minutes. Imagine how great it will feel to have that junk drawer organized or that problem area resolved! Genius Tip: Try one of these organization hacks for moms and dads to get started.
  2. Go for a Walk - Get some fresh air, walk your furry friend, or just take a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood. You can mix up your walk locations to keep your mind and body engaged.
  3. Call a Friend - It's easy to stay in touch with family and friends by text or email. But, hearing the voices of the people we love is important, too. Schedule time to enjoy a friend's company and see how it improves your mood.
  4. Listen to a Podcast - Slip on some headphones, lean back, close your eyes, and enjoy an episode of your favorite podcast.
  5. Read a Magazine - Sure, all those email newsletters are convenient, but they don't offer the same space to read and relax like sitting down with your favorite magazine.
  6. Do Your Nails - It doesn't have to be fancy. Some cuticle oil, nail files and maybe some quick dry paint is all it takes to transform your nails from drab to glam.
  7. Take a Detox Bath - Light a candle, drop in a bath bomb, get your favorite drink and take a nice soak. Baths aren't just for kids!
  8. Work on a Puzzle - Get a new one if you don't have one. There are a ton of puzzles of famous art pieces and beautiful scenery.
  9. Ride a Bike - Here's another one that can make you feel like a kid again. Going out for a bike ride is just as relaxing and good for our bodies now as it was when we were young.
  10. Drive Through a Car Wash - A clean car can do wonders for our mindset. Set aside some time to drive through a car wash and vacuum out the interior. Or pay someone else to do it for you and read a magazine while they work!
  11. Do a Pilates Routine - Look up a Pilates routine on YouTube and enjoy the strengthening and stretching.
  12. Take a Nap - Sometimes a little sleep is all you need.
  13. Watch Your Favorite Show - Find a quiet area where you are comfortable, bring your favorite snacks, and soak in your favorite show.
  14. Enjoy Breakfast in Bed - Even better if you don't have to make it!
  15. Get a Pedicure - Such an easy way to treat yourself.
  16. Watch a Comedy Routine - There are a ton of great comedy routines on Netflix, such as Jim Gaffigan, Ali Wong and Sebastian Maniscaco. Laughter really is the best medicine!
  17. Dress Up - It's easy to get into the habit of wearing comfy clothes all the time, but sometimes we need a little pick-me-up. Sometimes spending a few extra minutes getting ready and feeling good about how you look can make all the difference.

If You Have an Hour

  1. Get a Massage - It is amazing how relaxing an hour of massage can be.
  2. Get a Facial - Our skin is happy to tell us how we've been treating ourselves. Spend some time showing some love to yours.
  3. Go to a Fitness Class - Sign up for a yoga class, Pilates, or even a heart-pumping cycling class and gift that hour to yourself and your health.
  4. Make Your Favorite Dinner - It can be easy to always think about what is best for everyone else. Every once in a while, make what you want for dinner and enjoy it.
  5. Walk Around a Store - What stores did you used to love wandering around aimlessly? Make a list and pick one when you have time to just walk around, browse, and enjoy the shopping experience.
  6. Visit a Neighbor or Friend - Is there someone on your street you've been meaning to visit? A friend or relative who would enjoy your company? Take a coffee to a friend you know is exhausted with small kids. These moments are the ones we remember and cherish.
  7. Pick Up Some Fresh Flowers - Get your favorite blooms and spend some time putting them in a special vase. Every time you look at them, you'll think of that act of love and care for yourself.
  8. Go for a Drive - Sometimes changing our view can be the fresh perspective we need.
  9. Take an Online Class - Learn how to make flower arrangements or sign up for a membership to something like Masterclass and enjoy a session with a pro. Learning something new can be very invigorating!
  10. Visit a Museum Online - Many museums offer video tours, so you may not be able to go to France, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the Louvre!
Hopefully this list will inspire you to think of the different acts of self-care that will be most meaningful for you.

One way to make more time for self-care is to put your list of favorites in a visible place to remind you or schedule it into your daily planner. Take time for yourself, so you're at your best for everyone around you. You're worth it!

Erica Jabali is a freelance writer and blogs over at ispyfabulous.com.