How was your weekend? If you’ve been feeling a little 😵💫 lately, it’s not just you. I feel like having squirrel-brain is more the norm than not these days. To be honest while there were so many wonderful parts of this weekend, I am feeling really fried today. We are knee-deep in the toddler mood swing life and the past 24 hours have been a lot.
I was browsing through some of my old posts and found this one and thought it was time to update and re-circulate it, because maybe I need it more than anyone. 😂 But also who couldn’t use a little grounding and a reminder to prioritize our mental health going into the week?
I originally posted this roundup a couple years back, but now that I’m knee-deep into balancing that mom/career struggle/ full-swing busy social schedule again, I find I’m still needing these tips just as much. You too? (Let’s be honest, have always needed ways to slow down, even way before I became a mom!)
Below, I’ve rounded up a list of simple, practical ideas to inspire your at-home self-care menu. These things are simple, don’t often take up a lot of time, but they can really make a world of difference in your mental and emotional wellbeing! (Not to mention, most don’t even involve leaving your house!)
Tip: Get out a piece of paper and jot down your favorites from the list below, and stick it somewhere you’ll always see it, so you always have reminders of ways you can take time out of your day for yourself!
Self Care Benefits
First, let’s talk about why this is so important, because I know the term “self-care” is SO easy to roll your eyes at. (I know from experience.) But as cliché as it is, it’s the difference between living a stress, frazzled life where you feel like you’re drowning vs. a lighter, happier, more manageable one. (Again…that’s the experience talking here.)
As a mom, my self-care time is my required reset time. It feels damn near impossible to carve out that time during the week, but you must find it. You cannot pour from an empty cup. Mom or not, your loved ones need you, and you can’t show up from them if you have nothing left to give!
When I practice self-care on a regular basis, I find that I really do have more energy and I really am more productive. When you feel better, you preform better – at least that’s what I’ve learned along the way. I’ve also noticed my mood is more positive when I’ve taken time for self-care. I’m happier and I just feel better. Stress can add up so quickly, but when I take the time to actually practice self-care, I’m able to relieve that stress (empty the stress tank, so to speak)- rather than it piling and piling up.
I hope this helps you incorporate some “me time” into your schedule each week. You can read more about the benefits of self-care HERE. Remember, even the smallest amounts of self-care can really add up and make a big difference.
Now, let’s get into our giant list of self-care ideas!
30+ At-Home Self Care Ideas
Actually take a lunch break
When so many of us shifted to working from home, I feel like “lunch hour” completely disappeared. But remember no matter where you work, that you are always entitled to a lunch break! Be protective of your lunch hour and don’t take meetings during that time (proactively block it off so nobody even tries to schedule meetings with you) and put your “do not disturb” notification on your work chat.
Take that time to not just eat lunch (obviously) but indulge in something just for you–do an at-home workout or go to a workout class, watch your favorite show while eating your lunch (Gilmore Girls is my go-to), listen to a podcast, paint your nails, or, like I said above, dive into your book for a half-hour! You’ll be amazed at how refreshed you feel! When I’ve taken a mid-day break, I am so much more productive the rest of the day.
Go out of your way to give someone a compliment
It’s hard not to feel great after giving someone a compliment–it’s a proven fact! Complimenting doesn’t just benefit the receiver of the compliment, it boosts the happiness of the complimenter, too! Whether it’s a coworker, someone you pass on the street on your morning walk, taking the time to thank a city worker for the work they’re doing, the Barista at Starbucks–whatever!
Plan SOMETHING to look forward to!
Whether it’s snagging concert tickets, booking a lake house getaway, a trivia night with friends, planning a vacation, or something as simple as a coffee date, prioritizing what you want and having something to truly look forward to is an incredible form of self-care. In fact, I never don’t have something planned in the future to look forward to–it really keeps me going!
Be proactive about scheduling time with friends
The older I get, the more of a “practice” this becomes. As our lives become busier with kids, travel, etc, scheduling friend-time requires being a lot more proactive. Finding the time and scheduling the time is hard, but it’s so necessary. Nothing recharges me like time with my friends. Sometimes I think we make it harder than it needs to be. Things like morning walks, evening walks, late night Target runs, weekday lunches–these are all great things to do with your friends. Yes, Saturday night dinners are fun too, but as you likely know, there aren’t many weekends in a month! 😂 Find moments to steal throughout the week–they’re always there if you look for them!
Get lost in a good book
When you need an escape but have nowhere to go, there’s nothing like getting lost in a great book. Even if you just book 20 minutes of your lunch break to read, or commit to going to bed 20 minutes earlier–reading always helps me decompress so much! (In ways that Netflix really can’t!) Looking for recs? Check out some of my favorite books right here!
Take a bath
Cliché? Yes. But there’s a reason why “bubble bath” is on every “self care ideas” list ever created. They work!! So, embrace them! Light a candle, throw on some calming music and relax in the tub while your blood pressure instantly drops! (Even better, get yourself a CBD bath bomb or mineral soak!)
Give yourself a colorful manicure
A self-care act that’s both creative and therapeutic. Bright, joyful colors can lift your mood each time you look at your nails! Give yourself some fresh polish in a fun shade–bonus points if you mix it up from your go-to color! Pear Nova is a non-toxic, cruelty-free, and Black woman owned nail polish brand that makes SO many fun colors, if you are shopping for a new polish! Another polish company I’ve been loving is Olive and June! (Also non-toxic and woman-owned!)
Jot down three things you like about yourself over your morning coffee
A great practice to do each morning if you are working on your confidence or need a a self-esteem boost. Before you rush into work or dive into the news, take a second at the start of your day to write down three things you like about yourself. Show yourself some gratitude and self-love to start your day off on a positive note. Keep a journal on your nightstand so you can make it a habit.
Keep a gratitude journal
I LOVE the 5 minute journal. It really does help put things into perspective. It seems crazy that just a few minutes per day of filling in prompts can shift your entire mindset, but it works. If you’ve been wanting to become a more positive, grateful, and mindful person, I can’t recommend it enough.
Just say no
If you’re feeling emotionally drained and the thought of committing to anything this week sounds awful–then don’t! Remember that “no” is a complete sentence. Whether it’s taking on that extra project at work, attending another kids birthday party or rescheduling dinner with a friend because you just don’t have the energy to give. Learning to say no (or “not right now”) to things that don’t serve you or aren’t on your priority list right now helps open you up for the things that do bring you joy and fulfillment! More on enforcing boundaries here.
Go to bed earlier
Easier said than done, I know. It’s really easy to keep yourself up late doom scrolling or just mindlessly flipping through TikTok. Do your best to get in bed early, even if you aren’t tired yet. If you can, try to get in bed 30 minutes to an hour earlier so you can read and unwind sans screens! Overstimulation is what causes a lot of stress and fatigue, and winding down before bedtime will help immensely with your stress and sleep levels.
Wake up earlier
When you go to bed earlier, you can wake up earlier! Waking up even 30 minutes earlier gives you the freedom to start your day off on the right foot and not feel rushed, behind or sluggish. Even more, it gives you more time for your morning routine. Use the time to get in a quick workout, go for a walk, be alone with your thoughts, or actually enjoy your morning coffee in peace rather than chugging it between Zoom calls.
Pick a meal and take it outside! The change of scenery can be rejuvenating and force you to slow down, be in the present moment and enjoy your meal! (Even if it’s cold out, bundling up and taking your morning coffee on a walk totally counts!) One of my favorite things to do when the weather warms up is to take myself to the park for a solo lunch date.
Get crafty and do something creative just for you
Do something crafty for the sole purpose of getting your creative juices flowing, like an adult coloring book, taking an online calligraphy or lettering class, or personalize something that’s already on your to-do list, like making a handmade birthday card for a family member. Anything that involves using a creative part of your brain and gets you off of your phone will be restorative! (For me, it’s playing my ukulele!) This is another great thing to do with your lunch break, by the way!
Whether you’re a mom spread thin or your “me time” has been swapped for spending time with roommates or a significant other, we all need alone time. Don’t feel guilty about needing time to yourself to recharge — whether that’s going for a run, taking a walk in nature, watching your favorite show or doing absolutely nothing at all! There’s nothing wrong with asking for some space!
Make time for your full skincare routine
We all have our “in a rush” skincare routine and the extended version we only get around to every once in a while — you know, the works! Indulge in your full skincare routine and give your mind and skin the TLC it deserves — exfoliate, soak, use a face mask, moisturize and ice roll (check out my post on ice roller benefits). Fully immersing yourself in a ritual can be very calming!
Download an app to keep you motivated
Need a daily motivational boost or a reminder to take deep breaths? There’s an app for that! Download Shine to help you reach your self-care goals. The app lets you learn a new self-care strategy every day, explore a meditation audio library, and even play calming sounds to shift your mindset or mood.
Send a letter to someone who means a lot to you
Calls and texts are great, but nothing beats the old-fashioned sentiment of a handwritten letter. Whether it’s checking in on a family member, telling a new mom friend that she’s doing a great job or letting someone who is going through a hard time know you’re thinking of them, put pen to paper and give someone a good mail day!
Go for a photo walk
We all know that walking and getting outside are good for both our mental and physical health, but your daily route can feel stale from time to time. Grab your camera (or iPhone!) and mix things up with a photo walk — which is exactly what it sounds like. Set out to photograph something interesting on your walk around the neighborhood. This will help you see your surroundings in a new way and appreciate all the beauty within walking distance. (See my photos from my Spring in Wicker Park photo walk here!) You can even frame them and hang them on your wall!
Travel or do something new
There’s nothing like the thrill of something completely new. Whether it’s an activity, outing to a different neighborhood or just a new restaurant to get takeout from, plan to try something new this week! Not only does it make things more interesting, but you’ll feel accomplished, too.
Take a small action on your goals
Break down a lofty goal into manageable steps and commit to tackling one small to-do that will help you achieve that larger goal one day. Then, revisit the list of steps and mindfully chip away at them. This is especially helpful when you’re feeling stuck on your progress!
Update something in your home
Our space and the things we surround ourselves with can play a huge role in our mood and motivation levels — especially when we’re spending so much time in the same space lately. Pick a corner, shelf or room that you’re not loving and give it a little update. Whether it’s simply rearranging your bookshelf or finally hanging art, investing in your space is always a mood booster. I always get inspiration from Apartment Therapy!
Make a new recipe and enjoy the process
Stuck in a kitchen rut or overdoing it on the take-out lately? Carve out some time to make a new recipe and enjoy the process of creating a new dish. We all have our go-to quick dinners, but making a new meal from time to time can be creative and restorative. (Not to mention, it requires more of your attention, so you can’t let your mind wander!)
Light a candle
Create some ambiance and light your favorite candle! You don’t need to wait for a special occasion or company to use candles if they bring you joy- they are a simple way to add something special to the everyday! (You know my obsession with this crackling maple candle! So cozy and comforting!)
Feeling stuck or have too many jumbled thoughts? Try journaling without any expectations and simply see what comes out- could be simply acknowledging your emotions, making a list, noting things you’re grateful for, or even a fictional story. You might be surprised to learn what you’re holding on to! (Again, highly recommend the 5-minute journal to help practice gratitude!)
Buy a plant
Plant love is self-care! Whether you have a houseplant collection or are completely new to plants, taking care of a living thing can be very therapeutic. Plus, plants are gifts that keep on giving by purifying the air, lowering the stress hormone cortisol and even helping you sleep better at night. (See Kendall’s healthy house plant tips here!)
Make a fresh playlist
Everyone needs a new pump-up playlist from time to time. Make a playlist for this season of life that’ll inspire and make you happy. (See this awesome Spotify playlist roundup here!)
Shut it down!
Turn off the news, shut off your work email, close Twitter and Instagram and all other social media–whatever you need to do, don’t feel guilty tuning it out. Better yet, put your phone on do not disturb mode for several hours, or go for a walk and leave it at home!
Listen to an inspirational podcast
Whether you’re folding laundry, getting through your work to-do list or just resting on the couch enjoying a cup of tea, having an inspirational podcast on in the background is a great way to sneak in a little self-care. Check out my Real Women Approved post on 30+ podcasts to binge!
Drink more water
No matter how much water you’re drinking each day, chances are it’s not enough! Commit to upping your water intake and reap the many mental and physical benefits! Check out my post on 5 easy tips to help you drink more water here!
Pick up fresh flowers
So simple, yet so decadent. Make a point to pick up flowers and place them somewhere that’ll brighten your day every time you enter the room. Even better, take a long walk to get the flowers!
Move your body
Speaking of walks, choose any activity that feels good to you — stretch, lift weights, run, walk or a mind-body activity like yoga. Every time we move our bodies, our mental health benefits, too. Getting outside for a walk every day as my minimum viable activity for the day has been a game-changer. It brightens my mood and makes such a difference! (Wearing my Apple Watch as motivation to get moving has also been really helpful!)
Celebrate small wins
A great way to show yourself self-care and be in the moment is celebrating everyday wins, no matter how big or how small! (Checking off ANY one of the above calls for celebration, too!) Did you finally get around to finishing ALLL the laundry? Pop some bubbly! Did you hit a monthly savings goal? Share the news with a friend, or treat yourself to a cookie at your favorite bakery! Celebrating small wins makes you feel good physically, mentally, and emotionally. So, take time to reflect on your little wins, and acknowledge and celebrate your success every day, even if it’s just getting through a tough day (or week) relatively unscathed!
I hope this was helpful! Now, go get your self-care on — you deserve it! ❤️
You might also like: