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25 Self-Care Ideas for a Healthy Mind and Body

Coffee, candle, croissants, book, reading glasses and flowers

Self-care is the ultimate expression of self-love. By prioritizing self-care, you are investing in your physical, mental and emotional well-being.

 

Putting yourself first on your “people to care for” list is not selfish; it’s necessary. How can you care for others if you are running on empty? How can you care for others when your own resources–time, energy, emotional and mental health, and physical health–are depleted? It’s like trying to pour from an empty cup; there’s nothing left to give. This can lead to burnout, feelings of resentment towards self and others, feelings of discontentment, physical pain, as well as emotional pain.


Replenishing your inner resources is a compassionate gift to yourself and those around you.


Engaging in self-care practices offers nourishment and rejuvenation to your mind and body.


Self-care is fundamentally about self-respect, prompting you to consider, “What action can I do to honor and nurture me in this moment?”

 

Self-care doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, like a luxurious spa day or a round of golf, although it could be. It could be something as simple as daydreaming, taking a body break while at work, sleeping in, smelling flowers, drinking a glass of water, a social media detox, and so on.

 

Self-care doesn’t have to break the bank or take up hours of your time. It’s really any act, big or small, that fills you with nourishment, compassion and love.


Here are 25 self-care ideas and activities to inspire you. Take your time exploring these suggestions, and select the ones that resonate with you the most.


25 Self-care Ideas and Activities


1. Join a movement class


Explore different types of movement that feel good in your body.

 

Bring the gym to your home. You can participate in online movement classes, such as yoga, Pilates, somatic yoga, HIIT, Feldenkrais, aerobics or dance. 


Being physically active releases feel-good hormones into your body, such as endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. 


These hormones can improve your mood, elicit feelings of relaxation, and can relieve pain.


somatic yoga shake and release

2. Take a lunchtime stroll


Give yourself permission to step away from your work for 15 minutes.

 

Go for a walk during your lunch break.

 

Explore present moment awareness by activating your 5 senses - see, hear, touch, taste and smell.

 

Feel the sun shining down on your face. Take in the smells of coffee and freshly baked goods. Notice how the ground feels beneath your feet. Hear people laughing and engaging in conversation.

 

A midday stroll can boost concentration, energy and improve blood flow.

  

3. Spend time in nature


Connecting to nature can be a healing and therapeutic practice.

 

You can go on a hike, visit your local park, exercise outside, check out a new trail, read a book under a tree, dance in the rain, listen to birds on your patio or balcony, and so on.

 

Immersing yourself in the great outdoors invites you to slow down and be in the moment.

 

Spending time in nature is said to lower cortisol levels, boost concentration and creativity, and promote heart health.


4. Breathwork practices


Breathwork practices can help you shift from a “fight or flight” state to a “rest and digest” state. 


Alternate nostril breathing promotes nervous system regulation by stimulating the vagus nerve and regulating the amygdala (your brain’s fear center). 


Explore this calming breathwork practice here: How to do Alternate Nostril Breathing.


Two people practicing alternate nostril breathing on yoga mats

5. Meditation practices


Meditation is a great way to practice mindfulness.

 

Meditation practices invite you to be a curious observer of your thoughts, feelings, impulses and sensations. 


This mind-body practice is a great way to get to know yourself better.

 

Meditation practices can help anchor you to the present moment, slow racing thoughts, and cultivate feelings of calm and relaxation.

 


6. Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation


The progressive muscle relaxation technique guides you to gently contract muscle groups during inhalation, and then gradually release these tense muscles as you exhale.

 

This technique can promote feelings of calm and relaxation.

 

Send love and nourishment to your nervous system by exploring progressive muscle relaxation at home!

   

7. Tend to your garden


Dig into the numerous health benefits by tending to your garden. This could be tending to your indoor plants, a community garden, or a garden in your backyard.

 

Gardening encourages movement and can improve your fine motor skills.

 

Tending to an outdoor garden boosts vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is the “sunshine” vitamin that is connected to immune system health and mood.

 

Gardening can evoke feelings of connectedness; cultivating a greater sense of connection to yourself, others and the environment.


A person planting a snake plant

8. Read for pleasure


Pick up a book and read!

 

Curl up with a book in a cozy chair by a window, or venture to your local library or bookstore to find your next read.

 

Enjoy the ambiance of a coffee shop as you dive into the pages of your chosen book!


9. Listen to a podcast


Listen to your favorite podcast! 


If podcasts are new to you, look up a podcast that speaks to a topic that you are interested in and would like to learn more about. You could choose to explore comedy podcasts if you’re looking for a good belly laugh. Laughter is yet another way to stimulate the vagus nerve. 


Listening to a podcast gives you a break away from your screen, and stimulates your imagination as you listen to the stories shared by the podcasters.


10. Play


Sprinkling play into your life is an act of self-care. Take a moment to ponder what brings out your playful side. What activities ‘fill your cup’ or bring you joy?

 

Here’s some ideas: play retro games at your local arcade, unleash your creativity with a silly painting, play a game of charades, play your favorite sport, create a scrapbook of memories, dance like nobody’s watching, play with your pet, immerse yourself in sand play, play an instrument, relive childhood fun on a playground, roll down a grassy hill, sing along to your favorite songs, have a balloon fight on a hot summer day, and much more.


Play can alleviate stress, spark creativity, improve blood circulation, support heart health, and can improve communication, leadership and problem-solving skills.

 

Engaging in play can trigger the release of oxytocin, endorphins, serotonin and dopamine, known to provide relief from chronic pain.


A person playing guitar and singing joyfully

11. Take an Epsom salt bath


Soothe your body, mind and soul with a relaxing Epsom salt bath.


Stress often depletes the body of magnesium, contributing to muscular tension. Epsom salt, when it is dissolved in water, is absorbed through the skin, replenishing magnesium levels in your body. Magnesium can aid in the production of serotonin, which is a mood-enhancing chemical that can promote feelings of calm and relaxation.


As your muscles unwind and relax, so can your mind. 


You can choose unscented or scented Epsom salts. When deciding upon a fragrance, select one that feels soothing and comforting to you. 


12. Say kind words to yourself


Your words have power! What you think and say about yourself matters. It can affect your self-worth and confidence.


If you are new to this practice, affirmations offer a wonderful starting point.


Affirmations are positive phrases that you say to yourself either in your head or out loud. “I am enough,” “I am worthy,” “I love and accept myself,” “I take up space in this world,” and “I am safe and supported,” are a few examples of positive affirmations.


 

Using positive affirmations is an act of self-care. Treat yourself with the kindness and compassion that you would extend to a friend. You deserve it!


13. Give yourself a hug


Wrap yourself up in a warm embrace with a gentle self-hug.


A self-hug acts as a loving reminder that you are there for yourself. 


A self-hug can evoke feelings of comfort, love, compassion, connection and safety.

Engaging in soothing self-touch, such as a self-hug, prompts the release of oxytocin (the happiness hormone) into your body. This can improve your mood and provide pain relief.


A self-hug

14. Eat a delicious and nutritious meal


What you eat can affect how you feel physically, cognitively, energetically and emotionally.


Consuming nutrient-rich foods nourishes your mind and body, allowing them to function optimally.


To enhance your dining experience, consider trying a new recipe. Share the joy of food by inviting a friend over. Light a candle, play some dinner music, and savor each and every bite of food.

 

15. Spend time alone


Spending time alone invites you to turn your attention inward. This quiet time encourages you to tune into your inner dialogue, feelings and sensations from a place of curiosity. 


This time spent alone encourages you to get to know yourself better.


Alone time serves as a valuable tool for enhancing overall well-being. It is known to improve sleep quality, stimulate creativity, reduce stress, strengthen your relationship with yourself and others, promote better emotional regulation, and it encourages mindfulness.


These same benefits are also found in Restorative Yoga Classes. Consider blending moments of solitude with a nurturing restorative yoga practice.


16. Explore your town or city like a tourist


Rediscover your town or city with fresh eyes. 


Take pictures, chat with the locals and revisit your beloved spots. Allow curiosity and awe to flow through you. 


This refreshing practice invites you to see your community from a different perspective.

This can generate feelings of appreciation and gratitude for the place you call home.


17. Take a cooking class


Explore cooking by enrolling in a cooking class.


Cooking is not just about preparing delicious meals; it provides an opportunity for creative expression.


Cooking is a mindful practice, inviting you to take in the sights, smells and tastes of the culinary process. 


It serves as a wonderful way to build confidence and a sense of accomplishment as you try new recipes and techniques.


Plus, you get to eat your delicious meal afterwards!

 

18. Try a pottery class


Clay play is an act of self-care. 


Playing with clay has become a popular form of self-expression, serving as a creative outlet for many.


It is said to be a “meditative” practice, requiring quiet focus, concentration, and attention to detail.


Joining a pottery class is not just about tapping into your creativity; it’s also an opportunity to build a deeper connection with yourself and others.


A person using their hands to make a pottery creation

19. Connect with others


As social creatures, human connection is essential to our well-being. 


Interacting with like-minded individuals can uplift our spirits and enhance our sense of belonging.


Consider meeting a friend or a family member for a soothing beverage, joining a sports team or club, or connecting virtually through online platforms like FaceTime.


You could give back to your community through volunteer work. This is a great way to build meaningful connections with others.


Explore what feels good for you as you connect with others!


20. Explore creative expressions


Tap into your creative essence with art!

 

The beauty of art is that there is no right or wrong way of doing it, and there are no mistakes. It serves as a canvas for your inner voice, emotions and feelings.


If you haven’t already, consider reading “The Dot” by Peter H. Reynolds. It is a children’s book with a profound message.


Let your creativity flow as you experience the many benefits of this nurturing self-care practice.


21. Sing 


Add singing to your self-care toolbox!

 

Singing is one way to stimulate the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve can help you shift from a “fight or flight” state to a “rest and digest” state. This means that singing can induce the relaxation response.


Singing is a powerful tool for expressing powerful emotions such as rage, fear and grief. It can also help you tap into feelings of happiness and joy.


Try closing your eyes while singing, allowing yourself to fully immerse in the words, sounds, and vibrations resonating throughout your body.


Through singing, you have the opportunity to awaken different somatic sensations within your body.


22. Write in a journal


Writing in a journal can be beneficial to your physical, mental and emotional health.

 

You might jot down what you feel grateful for, delve into thoughts weighing on your mind, or explore your innermost feelings and secrets.

  

Journaling is a powerful way to release thoughts and feelings onto paper, freeing yourself from anything that is not serving you well in the present moment.

 

Journaling is an act of self-care as it provides space for you to understand and process your emotions from a place of compassionate curiosity.


A person writing in their journal

23. Book a massage or give yourself a massage


As emotional beings, our feelings and emotions can become stored and trapped within the body when they are not acknowledged, felt or expressed. This often manifests in our tissues, particularly within the fascia.


A gentle massage can encourage the release of emotional tension. During a massage, you may feel an urge to laugh, sigh or cry. These responses can indicate the release of emotions, such as fear, anger, resentment, grief, sadness, and so on.


As these emotions are allowed to surface and be expressed, you will likely notice the release of physical tension.


If it feels safer for you, consider trying a self-massage. Massage the arches of your feet, toes, ankles and your shins. Gently massage your hands, wrists, fingers and forearms. Massage your trapezius muscles, neck and jaw. With each breath you take, feel the tension melting away beneath your fingertips.

 

24. Sip on your favorite beverage


Enjoy your favorite beverage on your balcony, patio, a sunny corner in your home, at a restaurant, or your local coffee shop.


Engage your senses as you sip on your beverage of choice. Take note of its taste - what flavors do you detect? Consider the aroma - does it remind you of a past memory? Feel the temperature of your drink as it touches your tongue. Observe the color and the subtle nuances.


Have you tried matcha? Watch this video to learn about the health benefits of matcha green tea powder.

  

25. Take your shoes off and step on grass


Explore your connection to the earth by walking barefoot on lush grassy terrain. Run through an open field or meadow. Spin in a circle if that feels good.


Experience what it feels like to be in your body as you explore intuitive movement.


A person running and spinning through a field with the sun in the background

Final Thoughts


In conclusion, self-care is a necessity for your overall health and well-being. When you ‘fill your cup,’ you have more to give to yourself and others. Carving out time for self-care practices is a beautiful expression of self-love.


Consider scheduling regular self-care sessions into your calendar. Even dedicating 5 minutes each day to self-care can have a profound impact on how you feel physically, mentally, emotionally and energetically.

 

Show love, compassion, respect and kindness to your mind and body through self-care practices!


What would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!


References


BetterHelp Editorial Team. “Cooking Can Be Therapeutic: How Culinary Arts May Improve Mental Health and Self-Care | Betterhelp.” Betterhelp.com, BetterHelp, 20 Sept. 2023, www.betterhelp.com/advice/therapy/cooking-can-be-therapeutic-how-culinary-arts-may-improve-mental-health-and-self-care/.


Cherry, Kendra. “The Psychological Benefits of Being Alone.” Verywell Mind, 17 Sept. 2020, www.verywellmind.com/the-benefits-of-being-by-yourself-4769939.


Price, Annie. “Epsom Salt: The Detoxifying Pain Reliever.” Dr. Axe, 31 Jan. 2023, draxe.com/nutrition/epsom-salt/.


“Top 10 Health Benefits of Pottery.” ClayGround Studio & Gallery, 17 Mar. 2017, claygroundonline.com/health-benefits-of-pottery/.

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1 Comment


Guest
Mar 03

Awesome ideas Rachel! I’ll be sure to give these a try this week! :)

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