Is it just me or does life have a way of just take – take – taking everything we’ve got, like all the time?! For me, I was job searching for the past 4 months and for the first couple months I was in this spastic state – writing and re-writing my resume, crafting dozens of unique cover letters, applying for dozens of jobs each day, attending meetups and networking events, participating in career fairs, calling my connections, and so on. I was doing everything I could possibly think of to get noticed. You know how it is, right?
About 2 months into my job search, I had a breakdown. I was giving so much of myself to my job search and getting NOTHING in return. I was completely depleted. One day, I was chatting with my next door neighbor about my job search (she went through a similar phase and was unemployed for 9 months), and she asked me what I was doing to take care of myself. I told her that I was making sure the apartment was kept clean, the laundry was done, and making sure my boyfriend and I had prepped food to eat. She looked at me and said, “Okay, but what are you doing to take care of YOU?” and I just kind of looked at her. And it hit me. I wasn’t taking care of myself or doing what I needed, at allll.
Who would’ve thought that taking care of yourself could be so hard? It seems like a no-brainer. For me, though, I think it stems from this tendency that I have as a people-pleaser and perfectionist. I want my resume to look perfect, all the dishes and laundry to be clean and put away, food to be cooked and ready to be eaten – I want ALL OF THE THINGS to be done, all the time, and so I was constantly taking the time to do them. Unsurprisingly, the little things that I appreciate and love to do were mostly overlooked or not thought about at all.
You can’t pour from an empty cup.
My Two Self-Care Priorities
After that conversation with my neighbor, I decided that I had to prioritize my well-being. I had to take a deep, hard look at myself and my priorities. Of course, securing a new job was incredibly important to me, but I realized that it wasn’t my biggest priority that I wanted in my life. I needed to prioritize my health – something that I could control and hadn’t been prioritizing at the utmost level. I know that when I exercise it makes me feel more clear-headed, productive, and focused, so prioritizing my health will positively impact other parts of my life, as well. My health = my number one priority in this season of my life.
Immediately, I decided that it was time to get off the couch that I’d been sitting and applying to jobs on and get my body moving! I signed up for a monthly unlimited pass to the group fitness studio right down the street from my apartment. I told myself that I would go as many days as possible and would evaluate how I felt after the month was over. In the past 30 days, I went to 21 classes (barre, hiit, spin, and fusion). I have to say, during the first few classes, I thought I might die – the instructors push you to a 10+ during the workouts. After about a week, however, I was so looking forward to the physical and mental challenges of the workouts and started believing more and more in myself and my capabilities after each tough class.
My second self-care priority is to be more intentional about how I get ready for bed. Instead of being on my phone mindlessly scrolling social media or Pinterest (it’s an addiction), I want to be in a relaxed and decompressed state of mind. In order to help me get there, I bought an essential oil diffuser (here’s the one I use) started stretching for a few minutes before climbing into bed, and once I’m in bed I’ve been listening to meditation music (the calm meditation station on Pandora) for 10-20 minutes while winding down for the evening. I want to incorporate reading for at least 15 minutes before listening to meditation music, but I haven’t been successful with fitting that into my wind-down routine just yet. This small action of putting away technology and practicing relaxation has made a huge improvement in turning off my mind at the end of the day and getting more rest.
It has felt (and continues to feel) so good saying yes to taking care of myself and doing whatever it is that’s going to decompress and rejuvenate my mind and body. Self-care comes in all different activities – it’s all about minimizing the stress in your life so you can function at full capacity. You can make the smallest or grandest gesture to help yourself decompress from life’s infinite stressors.
Giving in to self-care is a must-do, not a maybe.
Today I’m sharing a list of 95 activities that you can incorporate throughout your day to preserve your well-being and practice positive self-care.
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Morning Self-Care Activities
- Wake up 45 minutes to an hour earlier than you normally do to work on a passion project
- Chug a full glass of water right after you get out of bed (your body will thank you!)
- Do some light morning yoga for 10 minutes (download the free daily yoga app)
- Take 3 big, deep breaths when you wake up
- Indulge in using your favorite body care (body wash, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, perfume)
- Take a little extra time to make your hair look great for the day
- Wear an outfit that makes you feel good (I call this my Superwoman outfit)
- Eat a hearty breakfast (meal prep! my favorite option is egg muffins and roasted sweet potatoes with cinnamon and crushed pecans)
- Take a women’s multi-vitamin
- Take a moment to look at your goal tracker and to reflect on how far you’ve come and where you want to go
- Snuggle with your furbaby (or your human) for 5 minutes
- Strike and hold a power pose for 2 minutes (more here)
- Sing in the shower
- Have a few of your favorite inspirational quotes and photos posted where you get ready
- Delegate or eliminate unnecessary tasks when you have a busy day planned
- Listen to your favorite music station when getting ready
- Check your planner and make sure you are mentally prepped for what appointments, activities, events and to-do list items are planned for the day (if you don’t have one, I encourage you to try one out – I use the Uncalendar and there are many youtube videos showing how the planner functions)
- Make your bed
- Switch your alarm clock to a less piercing sound
- Stop watching the news – seriously, it’s always so incredibly negative and leaves me with a terrible feeling in my gut – and subscribe to theSkimm’s newsletter that arrives in your email inbox at 6am each weekday and offers objective, yet witty insights into the biggest stories of the previous day (it will NOT leave you feeling helpless and depressed about the state of the world and WILL educate you about real issues that matter, I promise)
Self-Care Activities for Your Commutes
- Mentally set goals for your day
- Give yourself positive affirmations
- Pray (or whatever your version of that is)
- Send a few good morning texts to your loved ones letting them know you’re thinking of them
- Listen to your favorite podcast (The Life Coach School by Brooke Castillo is my current go-to and is changing how I live my life!)
- Remind yourself why you are excited about the work that you’ll be doing today
- Think of your favorite memories and why they’re so special to you
- Take time to consider your top priorities for your life and how your days are spent – are your actions in line with your priorities or do you need to adjust them?
- Practice forgiveness and letting go of something that’s weighing you down (listen to The Life Coach podcast episode #25 about Emotional Adulthood)
- If you take public transit, solve different puzzles (crosswords, jigsaws, brain teasers, etc.)
- Enjoy the smell of your coffee
- Appreciate the great views your have on your way to work
- If you drive to work, use your Bluetooth to call a loved one and wish them a great day
At Work Self-Care Activities
- De-clutter your desk
- Bring your favorite coffee/tea mug to work
- Get a new set of your favorite pens and organization tools (pastel post-its, anyone?!)
- Input all deadlines and events into your calendar
- Create a daily to-do list (try the 1-3-5 method)
- Give one of your colleagues a genuine compliment
- Eat a wholesome lunch
- Drink a ton of water
- Set a few reminders throughout the day to get up and walk around (if you work mostly at a desk)
- Play the “Deep Focus” station on Spotify while doing heads-down work
- Send a client a thank you email
- Take a walk outside during lunch
- Take a moment to share something funny with a colleague (everyone needs a good laugh, right?)
- Make lunch plans to catch up with a friend
- Greet everyone you see with a smile and say hello
- Print and bring a few personal photos in to decorate your desk area
- Post inspirational quotes and client success stories on a bulletin board you can see
- Read a book or work on a passion project during your lunch hour
- Invest in a planner to outline upcoming work deadlines, events, holidays, projects, etc.
- Have a stash of wholesome snacks for when that 3 o’clock cravings kick in (mixed nuts, hard boiled eggs, almond butter + banana are a few of my favorite delicious options)
- Bring a small plant to work (greenery indoors is soothing)
Nighttime Self-Care Activities
- Focus on sharing what outcomes you were able to accomplish during the day when telling how your day went
- Research new productivity and organization apps and tools that can help you get things done
- Eat dinner at least a few hours before bed (this helps your body digest before you go to sleep)
- Say or think of 3 things that you are grateful for when washing your face or brushing your teeth
- Visually track your progress towards your priority goals
- Prepare your outfit and lunch for the next day (preparation is key for not triggering stressors)
- Unplug from technology
- Read a book
- Color (check out this adult coloring book: stress relieving animal designs)
- Enjoy a glass of your favorite wine
- Take your pet (or just yourself!) on a nice, long walk
- Indulge in creating an entire meal from scratch (there’s something so satisfying about making a great home cooked meal, isn’t there?)
- Do your favorite workout (try the 7-minute workout and daily yoga apps)
- Stretch for 10 minutes
- Spend an hour (or 2!) doing your favorite hobby
- Get intimate with your significant other
- Meditate for 10-20 minutes (listen to a meditation station on Pandora or Spotify)
- Diffuse some calming essential oils
- Journal for 5 minutes about your day
- Read for 15 minutes before going to bed
- Keep a regular schedule: go to bed at the same time each night
Weekend Self-Care Activities
- Organize your purse
- Go outside for a hike
- Buy yourself flowers
- Wear your favorite face mask
- Spend some time out in the sun
- Host game night
- Start a memory chest or a scrapbook
- Ask your partner for a massage (and give them one, too!)
- Pamper your feet with a pedicure
- Explore an unfamiliar neighborhood in your city
- Go to a green space to read or write
- Send a hand-written note to a loved one
- De-clutter your mail from the week
- Watch a mentally stimulating documentary and discuss it with someone
- Volunteer at an animal shelter
- De-clutter your cell phone apps and delete apps you’re not using or ones that don’t make you feel good
- Indulge in a warm bubble bath with Epsom salts
- Find a “sacred spot” nearby that has an amazing view and visit it as often as you can
- Take everything out, organize and de-clutter it, and put it back
- Light a candle, dim the lights, and wrap yourself up in your favorite blanket
No matter where you are in your self-care journey – just starting out or a seasoned veteran – I hope that you’ve gained a few ideas from this list to try out. Cheers to enriching your well-being and prioritizing your self-care routine!
What’s your favorite activity for practicing self-care? Share in the comments below.