50 Self-Care Tips to Help You Live Your Best Life

UPDATED: May 21, 2024
PUBLISHED: June 25, 2023
Happy older couple outdoors doing their self care routine

Let’s start by noting a few things self-care is not. A self-care routine isn’t:

  1. An excuse to continually be unhealthy. An occasional cheat or reward is fine (encouraged even, because: balance), but you can’t use “self-care” to justify poor habits.
  2. Spending excess money on yourself that you don’t have. Debt has never done a body good. #TreatYoSelfResponsibly
  3. Selfish.

Maybe we should repeat that last one, because we want it to sink in. Self-care isn’t selfish, nor is it a waste of time. The world spins deceptively fast; if you don’t step aside and check in with yourself every now and then, you might wake up to find that you’re standing in a very different place than where you intended. (Cue those drives home when you look up and realize you don’t remember passing through the last three stoplights.)

Worthwhile self-care requires a two-pronged approach: assessing your mental, emotional and physical health (On a scale of one to 10, how am I doing?) and selecting an activity that will inch you closer to 10. Despite what some people argue, there are bad days, so don’t shoot yourself in the foot if some days you’re stuck at a 6.5. (Note: Shooting your own foot would likely slide you down to a negative three, so it is unadvised nonetheless.)

Self-care isn’t about perfection or tricking yourself. It’s an honest internal dialogue, which is where the challenge lies, as most of us aren’t accustomed to giving a truthful answer to the “how are you?” questions at the water cooler. The other hurdle to self-care is that to be effective, it’s going to be a little different for everyone. While some may like to go on sunset runs to clear their mind, for others the thought of running causes stress.

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Here are 50 ways to upgrade your weekly self-care routine

While saying some Hallmark-worthy phrases to yourself may not beget immediate benefits, that doesn’t mean it’s not working. Growth—in any form—is never easy. It takes patience, persistence and self-compassion—a reminder we may need more than once per day.

Being kind to yourself isn’t just about making yourself feel good. After all, doing what feels good isn’t always what’s best for us. But taking the time to compliment yourself, to nurture your self-compassion—no matter how annoying it may seem in the moment—sends a message to future you that you, in all your imperfect glory, matter. That’s a gift worth giving.

Here are some ideas for different types of self-care to add to your self-care routine. We recommend these self-care tips for those who overwork or need to heal in all aspects of life. 

Physical self-care ideas

  • Do yoga or general stretching, even for just 10 minutes each morning or night. 
  • Do deep belly breathing.
  • Sign up for boxing classes. Matt Lindner
  • Take a 10 to 15-minute walk during the workday. Charlotte Moore
  • Get more sleep—there are several studies that support this one!
  • Get into nature/do something outside.
  • Exercise in any way for 20 minutes. Replace “I have to” with “I get to.”
  • Take a guilt-free nap.
  • Cook yourself a nice meal. “Eating = self-care.” Tamara Van Horne
  • Wake up naturally one day this week without using an alarm clock.
  • Floss.

Mental self-care ideas

  • Don’t check your email or social media channels within one hour of waking. 
  • Set yourself a reminder on your phone (or Alexa device) saying, “You’re amazing!” Pamela Sommers
  • Take a long ride on your bike or motorcycle. Erik Huckleberry
  • Note every instance of negative self-talk. Replace with positive words.
  • Don’t go home right after work. Go to the library, the park or to a solo dinner.
  • Say, “I am enough.”
  • Journal about any dream or goal, no matter how unrealistic. Get descriptive.
  • Consider integrating therapy into your routine. It can really help when you feel stuck in a rut. —Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors
  • Clean and declutter your desk—a polished desk is a polished mind.Kalina Halatcheva
  • Read one book chapter for pleasure.
  • Take a bath. Adabela Seuss
  • Put your phone out of reach for one hour.
  • Do nothing for 10 minutes.
  • Organize one small part of your home/apartment.
  • Listen to an audiobook.Courtney Rose
  • Watch one funny video and let yourself laugh and recharge.
  • Color.
  • Watch a nature documentary.
  • Create a safe space at home that’s meant only for pure relaxation. Shaina V. Destine
  • Take a selfie to keep, not share.
  • Make your bed.
  • List three things you appreciate about yourself.
  • Imagine what an uplifting friend would say to you and say that to yourself.
  • Write down a mistake and verbally forgive yourself.

Emotional self-care ideas

  • Cuddle with your dog or cat—or play with your friends’ pets. Rachel De Jesus 
  • Reconnect with an old friend.
  • Light a candle in your favorite scent. Extra points if you do this while at your desk to make your workspace more inviting.
  • Write a love letter to yourself.
  • Listen to one new uplifting song. Focus on the words, and don’t multitask.
  • Change your screensaver to something that makes you feel joyful.
  • Before you go to sleep, write down the three best things that happened that day. Then ask yourself how you could have improved the day to map out your goals for the next day. —Krish Chopra, NPHub 
  • Write yourself a “well-done” list at the end of the day to celebrate your achievements, however big or small they may be. Natalie Costa
  • Do one thing to further your career, even if it’s something small.
  • Schedule self-care time like you would block out dinner plans with friends. Carly Boatwright
  • Learn one new thing.
  • Afford yourself a personal reward from time to time, especially after you’ve done a great job on a tough project or gotten your business through a rough patch. It’s not going to kill your budget, and a fresher, happier you will reap significant rewards. —Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
  • Say no to something you don’t want to do.
  • Get up to watch the sun rise.
  • When you start to experience burnout at work, take the time to do something creative. Whether it’s painting, creative writing or designing something for fun, it will allow you to relax a little, and it has the ability to inspire fresh ideas.Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

What did you think about these self-care tips?

All of these suggestions remind us that there are almost endless ways to extend compassion to ourselves. Oftentimes we put such immense pressure on our own shoulders to be great, that we forget to leave time to just be with ourselves. Your self-care routine doesn’t have to be lavish. Instead, look at self-care as a way to help you be present in the moment and not however many miles away your mind carries you. Recognize that the present has a sneaky way of recharging you so you’re fulfilled for whatever life sends you next.

Try to leave room for the really good things that land in your path unexpectedly, and also the acceptance to sit during life’s not-so-good moments to catch your breath. Flexibility is the cornerstone to self-care, which brings us to the final suggestion in the list of ideas for your self-care:

Leave room to have fun.

Searching for the best self-care gifts?

Want to upgrade your weekly self-care routine by incorporating the best self-care products? Take a look at these articles:

This article was updated May 2024. Photo By Harbucks/Shutterstock.com

Megan Nicole O’Neal is a writer with a passion for storytelling, traveling and whenever possible, mixing the two. The UCLA alum lives in Los Angeles; more specifically westside coffee shops with equally strong wifi and dark roasts. Connect with Megan on Twitter at @megan_n_onealor her website mnoneal.com.

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