35 Self-Care Activity Ideas to Lower Your Stress
Relax and destress with these 35 self-care activity ideas. Stress can completely wreck havoc on your health so incorporate one or two of these self-care activities to lower stress, relax, and find joy in the everyday.
What is self-care?
Self-care means doing something good for your body, soul, and mind. It is defined as “1. the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health. 2. the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.” –Source
Self-care doesn’t have to be day spas or lavish vacations–it can be little things like a face wash you lovingly apply each morning or turning on a playlist you love as you drive your kids to preschool.
Create small moments of joy and kindness for yourself! Incorporate little self-care moments in your daily routine.
Use these self-care activity ideas to create a list of things you can easily incorporate when you’re having a bad day. Save it in a note in your phone or email it to yourself so you can have easy access to this list whenever you need it.
35 Self Care Ideas and Activities
Here’s the big list with all of the self care ideas and activities. From zero cost to more expensive options–you’ll find an idea to incorporate that you will love!
20 Free Self-Care Ideas
Here’s an amazing list of 20 completely free ways to relax and implement self-care in your life! There are plenty of self-care ideas you can do completely for free!
1. 4-7-8 Breathing
Take a full, deep breath in and hold for four seconds, let it out slowly for seven seconds. Breathe normally for 8 seconds, then begin again. Repeat this cycle of deep breaths for 1-2 minutes to calm down and decrease stress levels.
2. Social Media Detox
It’s totally free to take a break from social media and it may even save you money!! Seeing less ads from influencers and brands will help you stay in the present moment, find more contentment in what you already have, and break free from comparison.
3. Go outside
Fresh air and sunshine have long been prescribed to help with mood disorders. Getting outside even just to walk around your yard or block can be a small form of self-care you repeat as often as needed throughout your day. I often find going outside helps my kids reset when they are struggling with big feelings and getting along.
4. Mood-lifting music
Listen to your favorite song or playlist to boost your spirits! Sometimes playing your favorite music from a simpler time in your life (high school favorites or songs you loved as a kid) can be a great way to go back in time and recapture the joy and simplicity of that season of life.
5. Talk to a family member or close friend.
Find a safe person to vent to who won’t judge you and can offer helpful advice and feedback. A truthful and loving friend is a great support system to lean on during a hard time.
6. Foot Soak
Soak your feet in a bath of Epsom salts or just plain water; give them a good rub down and a fresh coat of nail polish when you’re finished if you want.
7. Eat healthy foods
While pounding a sleeve of oreos may trigger your dopamine in a moment of stress, filling your plate with nutritious foods is actually the self-care your body needs. Consider finding healthy food you love as an adventure. Try a jackfruit! Learn how to grill vegetables! Shop at a farmer’s market!
8. Develop a morning routine
Create a routine you love to start your day. Your morning routine doesn’t have to be elaborate. It can be as simple as stretch for 10 minutes, prepare coffee, shower, and drink coffee while reading the Bible or a devotional or self-help book.
RELATED: CREATING A MORNING ROUTINE YOU LOVE
9. Learn a new skill
As adults we don’t spend much time learning new things. Challenge yourself to be a beginner again! Try painting or clay modeling or learning to code a website!
Walking is so beneficial for your mind and body. Walking for just 30 minutes a day can reduce blood pressure and diabetes risks according to Mayo Clinic research. Instead of working through your lunch break at your desk, use your break to actually take a break. Drive to a park and walk around for a bit or just stretch your legs walking around the office.
11. Read a good book
Getting lost in a stirring fiction book is one of my favorite forms of self care. You may prefer memoir or non-fiction or poetry or even reading through cookbooks!
12. Get a good night’s sleep
Rest is most definitely a form of self care! Prioritizing 8 hours of sleep at night is a wonderful form of self care.
RELATED: 7 ZEN WAYS TO SLEEP BETTER TONIGHT
13. Start a gratitude journal
“Studies have found that giving thanks and counting blessings can help people sleep better, lower stress and improve interpersonal relationships” according to an NPR article on the benefits of gratitude.
14. Relax with a cup of tea
Make yourself a cup of tea—any flavor you like–hot or cold and savor it.
15. Journal about your day
Write about your day, both what happened and your feelings about it. This is one of the best ways to process emotions and take good care of your soul. Often times we stuff our feelings inside of use, but journaling allows them to emerge in a non-judgemental space.
16. Take a nap
Taking a nap can reset your body for the rest of the day and increase your energy levels. I prefer a power nap of about 20 minutes to not feel sluggish.
17. Drink water
Drinking water keeps you hydrated and your body functioning well. It’s a simple way to take good care of your body. I love this water bottle!
18. Laugh out loud
Youtube your favorite comedian and laugh till your stomach hurts. Or look at videos of babies laughing. Nothing will bring joy like laughing together.
19. Cuddle something
Snuggle up with your husband, your child, hug a friend, pet a cat or dog, or squeeze and hold a stuffed animal.
Meditation is an awesome way to practice self-care. You can use meditation to clear your mind completely or to focus on a Bible verse or characteristic of God. Start with a short amount of time — 1 or 2 minutes and then work up to doing more meditation.
15 Best Self-Care Ideas
These ideas may cost a little bit more, but they are great ways to relax and take good care of yourself!
1. Relax with a face mask
You can make your own or pick up a cheap one at Walmart or any drug store. Lay down or do something relaxing while you let it soak in.
2. Bike ride
Riding your bike outside is a great way to get outside, exercise, and explore your area! Take your time–enjoy the breeze in your hair and the feelings you loved about bike riding as a kid.
3. Find a new hobby
Take up dancing, try a pottery class, join a bowling league, learn to paint with watercolors or bake sourdough bread. The possibilities are endless to mix and match with your interests! Don’t feel disappointed if the first thing you try you don’t love. Keep trying new things that you love and that light you up!
4. Diffuse essential oils
I love diffusing lavender and eucalyptus for a calming vibe. This is my diffuser and the kind of essential oils I love!
5. See a comedy show
Pay to see a live comedian. Seeing your favorite comedian live is a fun experience–feeding off the energy in the room and laughing with a crowd is really powerful.
6. Take a spa day
If you have the ability taking a whole day to relax and be pampered at the spa is a great self-care practice! A hot stone massage is my personal favorite spa service.
7. Join yoga classes
Making a regular practice of attending a yoga class will help you connect with your body. I love yoga and pilates because they are both challenging and relaxing at the same time thanks to pairing deep breathing with movement.
8. Window shop
Visit your favorite store or a new boutique and browse around. Set a budget for what you want to spend (don’t just shop your feelings!) and stick to it. Or just window shop and enjoy the experience of being in a beautiful environment.
9. Go to a concert
If turning on a playlist of your favorite artist always brings a smile to your face you will probably love seeing them live in concert! Gather some friends together for an even better time. If you don’t want to pay for a big venue ticket, google local bands who often play at local bars, wineries, fairs and festivals.
10. Take a day trip
Taking a whole day off as a mental health day can be huge for your emotional and physical health! Find a location a couple hours a way, drive there, and start exploring! I love to find both indoor and outdoor things to do in the area. Be sure to make time to journal and reflect on what’s going on in your life–don’t just treat the day as a temporary escape.
11. Take a bath.
Soak in a bubble bath or use Epson salts or a bath bomb to make it luxurious. Don’t forget to add candles and some music to complete your ambience.
12. Get a manicure or pedicure
Nail places are a great way to relax and pamper yourself. It feels like it’s a special treat more than an at-home mani, but isn’t as pricey as a spa day or massage!
13. Go see a movie
As a mom self-care is hard–one of my favorite ways is to sneak away by myself and see a movie no one else in my family would enjoy. Musicals and chick flicks are just better this way.
14. Go to an inspiring conference or event
There are a lot of one-night conferences or full weekends where you can focus on your own personal and spiritual growth. I loved going to the Annie F. Downs live podcast show and also annual retreats with my women’s group at church.
15. Go to therapy
People say “walking is my therapy” or “shopping is my therapy” or “my friends are my therapy” but there is no therapy like actual therapy. Spending the time and money to unpack past trauma, current anxieties and just have a place to seek extra help is invaluable to your well-being.
There are many creative and easy ways to practice self-care and relaxation. As a mom who works from home it’s so important for me to take care of myself so I’m not pouring from an empty cup.
And it’s not just caregivers who need self care–it’s all of us!
What self care idea are you going to try today?
I actually love all of those ideas. 🙂 And I didn’t know about yogadownload — thanks for sharing that!
Browsing Pinterest is another top relaxer for me, haha. 🙂
Yes! YogaDownload is great for that. And Pinterest for sure! I just look at baby animals whenever I’m feeling down! Lol! Love me some cute puppies!!
These are great! I love drinking a cup of tea and reading in the evening before bed. (Reading = the current book and catching up on other blogs. I try not to work on my own stuff at this time – no work, just reading for the pleasure of it!)
Oh me too! Reading is definitely high up there–and reading “fluff” too. I really enjoyed reading Young House Love’s DIY home decor book. Gorgeous pictures, funny quips, and great little home projects you feel like you’d actually do–I highly recommend it!
Love love love these ideas! Even without the stress of work, I can use a lot of relaxation. There is the stress of NOT working that is getting to me.
I completely agree not working can be completely stressful and really taxing. Hope you can take some you-time this weekend!