When I think of self-care, the first thing I envision is a dimly lit bubble bath. And while that is a form of self-care for some, it’s definitely not a complete picture of what it actually is, or why it’s important.
Because self-care is about more than just relaxing and taking “me” time. It’s about taking care of all aspects of yourself as the multi-faceted human being that you are.
So how exactly do you practice self-care? Not to worry, we’ve put together an ultimate self-care checklist with over 50 ideas for improving your mental and physical wellbeing.
Why Bother with Self-Care?
Lately, I’ve seen several articles balking at the concept of self-care, declaring that it’s not the answer to all your problems. And you know what?
Self-care is not a panacea for all that ails you. And it’s not a replacement for medical help if you are suffering from depression and anxiety. (See your doctor if you are.)
But while self-care is not a cure-all, it’s not something you can neglect either. Failing to take time to look after yourself affects your stress levels, energy, confidence, productivity, and mood. In short, it impacts your quality of life and your ability to bring your best self to the table each day.
It isn’t just critical to your overall well-being, but to those around you, too – especially where close friends and family are concerned.
But what are some actually effective ways to practice self-care aside from bath bombs and candles?
Here is the ultimate self-care checklist to ensure you are addressing all areas of your wellness.
Physical Self Care Checklist
Our bodies need a lot of maintenance! It’s easy to push aside your physical needs when things get hectic, so take some time out now and see if you need to address any of these areas of your health:
Exercise is non-negotiable, it just has too many benefits! Get your heart pumping to release endorphins, strengthen your muscles, and increase your longevity.
You don’t have to be a gym rat and there are almost limitless activities to choose from that will do the trick. For example:
- Going for a daily walk during your lunch break
- Taking up a dance or group fitness class
- Rolling out your yoga mat every morning and doing a few sun salutations
- Registering for a 5k walk or run for charity
- Exercising at home with a fitness app
Pick something that you enjoy and get your body moving!
Fuel your body with foods that will support your health. If your dietary habits are hot mess, start with simple, positive changes like:
- Making one healthy food swap each week. For example, apple slices for a snack instead of chips
- Trying a new recipe featuring a fruit or vegetable
- Getting one serving of veggies in with your breakfast
- Using a calorie tracker to stay within your daily calorie budget
- Taking a vitamin D supplement in the fall and winter
Most of us need at least 6-8 hours of sleep. Make sure you are getting enough sleep by creating a nightly routine. Get the best sleep by adopting a few new habits like:
- Going to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual
- Reading a book for 15-30 minutes before lights out (instead of staring at the sleep-inhibiting blue light from your cell phone)
- Trying a relaxation ritual that prepares your body for sleep like meditation, some evening stretches, or a hot bath (You knew the bubble bath had to crop up somewhere!)
- Using a lavender pillow spray at night or an eye pillow
- Taking a 10 minute power nap in the afternoon
Perhaps the most fun way to practice self-care is to pamper yourself a bit! Doing things that feel good boosts endorphins and can improve your outlook on life. A few ideas you can try are:
- Treating yourself to a spa day (you can even make your own home-spa!)
- Getting your hair done
- Slowly eating your favorite dessert (hello mindful eating!)
- Putting on your most comfortable pjs and curling up on the couch with some hot chocolate
- Going to routine doctor appointments and screenings
- Getting yourself to a dentist if you haven’t been in the past six months
- Investing in an ergonomic work-station
- Seeing a naturopath to address nagging or chronic issues
Mental Self Care Checklist
Mental health is easily neglected because it’s not a tangible thing like our bodies are. Yet, it’s just as critical as your physical health. Make time to check in with each of these aspects of your cognitive state:
Emotions can feel like a nuisance sometimes but they are an integral part of being human. Try to bottle them up or shove them away for too long and you’re setting yourself for a trip to meltdown city. Manage your emotions in a healthy way by:
- Seeing a therapist (I’m of the opinion that everyone could use a therapy session now and then!)
- Meditating for 10 minutes
- Watching your favorite feel-good movie (or a new one!)
- Letting yourself cry, if you need to
- Watching something funny and laughing until you cry
- Journaling about how you feel
- Asking for help with something if you need it
- Saying “no” to things you don’t really want to do
- Cuddling with your pet (cuddle therapy is real!)
- Taking a week (or a month) off from social media
Keep your brain stimulated and sharp by challenging it intellectually with these ideas:
- Learning a new skill
- Taking up a new hobby that challenges you, like learning a new musical instrument
- Picking up a newspaper and doing all the crosswords and Sudoku puzzles
- Downloading Duolingo and learning a new language
- Downloading an app that teaches you a new word every day
- Watching an educational documentary
- Listening to a podcast
When life gets busy, your relationships might fall to the wayside a bit. But we are social creatures and are meant to interact with other people. You can nurture yourself by nurturing your relationships in simple but meaningful ways. For example:
- Having lunch or coffee with a friend
- Hosting a small social gathering at your home (or a large one if you prefer!)
- Using a platform like com to find a group that interests you and meet some new people
- Calling an old friend you haven’t spoken to in forever
- Performing a small, random act of kindness to a stranger
Experiencing the world can broaden your mind and create some of your most cherished memories. Your life experiences are what helps you keep growing as a person!
You can try:
- Traveling somewhere you’ve never been before (even if it’s just a new park or nearby town)
- Volunteering at a charity
- Going to see a live concert
- Attending the ballet or a musical
- Becoming someone’s mentor, or finding a mentor
- Taking a road trip
What’s on Your Self Care Checklist?
Not every one of these ideas may work as acts of self-care for you personally, and that is totally okay. The takeaway is that you need to take time out of your day to look after yourself on multiple levels.
The options for self-care are limitless, and they don’t need to be complicated, either! All you need to do is carve out time for yourself each day, and treat that time as a sacred priority.
If it helps you become a healthier, happier, more well-rounded person, then its something you should make time for!