In part one and two of this five part self-care series have focussed on larger acts of self-care, that you might need to set aside a special time for, or may need to factor into your schedule in order to get the most benefit. But as I said towards the end of my last post, self-care doesn’t need to be a big thing. Sometimes, when everything feels really tough, when getting out of bed and just getting on with things is a struggle, the small, daily, subtle acts of self care are really what is most important. The things that can sometimes slip when our brains tell us there are more important things to focus on, than our own health and well-being.
The aim of this list is to provide some resources, ideas and perhaps a starting place for integrating self-care into daily life. Some of these things require very little effort or preparation, some don’t require any equipment or specific objects, whereas some of the others do. Hopefully, amidst this huge list there are some ideas that you can jot down and have ready for a moment when you are feeling in need of some TLC, but you just aren’t sure what to do.
I personally have a list of about 15 things on my phone, of sure fire things that make me feel loved and taken care of. Often when I am at my most tired/anxious/demotivated/poorly, I don’t have the headspace to think about what I want, so this list can sometimes take that need to think and be inspired away. It’s all in front of me and I can just look and see what feels good, and go with it!
So here it is, my ultimate list of daily (or ‘small’) acts of self-care:
- Take a new route or a different mode of transport – maybe walk part of your journey and take in the scenery, or maybe get a different bus that takes you a different way so you can see another part of town.
- Stretch – take a couple of minutes to stretch, whether it’s first thing in the morning, at your desk during the day or before bed after a long day. Your body will thank you for the attention, especially if you can be really mindful and connected whilst you do it.
- Moisturise – grab a bottle of your favourite moisturises and massage your whole body with it. Taking time and treating yourself in a loving and tender way.
- Lie on your back on the grass and watch the clouds go by – easier in warmer climates of course, but equally as beautifully when you’re bundled up in a warm cosy coat on a cold crisp autumn day.
- Have a ‘self-date’ – book yourself in for a date with yourself. Cook your favourite meal, drink your favourite drink, do something that you love doing, watch your favourite movie, have a bath, read your favourite book, light some candles, get an early night. Treat yourself!
- Plan your next holiday – even if it’s not going to be an option for a while, whether that be to finances or schedules. Give yourself an hour to dream, go crazy on Pinterest and travel blogs. Find your top 5 destinations or explore a destination in depth to start making notes about your itinerary.
- Set phone reminders – NOT to remind you to do something on your chores, but to remind you of something you forget or need to know. ‘You’ve got this’ three times a day popping up on my phone got me through the last two months of my masters!
- Dance around your bedroom – choose your top three songs, close the curtains and dance your heart out. Get your heart rate up and sing your favourite lyrics.
- Do something in a really mindful way – particularly interesting to do with things that are quite mundane like doing the dishes or getting dressed. Bring yourself into the present moment for a little while before your worries or to-do’s take over for the day.
- Give yourself a home facial – get out your favourite products (or pop to your local make up store and get some samples) and give yourself a lovely facial, rest those tired eyes with some cucumber slices and apply products that make you feel great.
- Take a quick nap – put a timer on, put your head down and rest your eyes.
- Colour – the number of adult colouring books out there is crazy, you’re bound to find one on the cheap somewhere. If not, have a look online for printable colouring pages and colour until your heart’s content.
- Exercise – a brisk walk, jog, run, cycle, swim – get your heart rate up and sweat for a bit. This can reenergise you instantly and blast out cobwebs. Exercise is such a tonic.
- Reduce dressing decision fatigue – make a list of your top five outfits ready for the working week. Things you know that you feel good in, are comfortable and fit. When you’re in a pickle and don’t have the headspace to think about what to wear, consult your list and have it ready and waiting for you.
- Be honest about how you’re really feeling – if you aren’t feeling great, and someone you know well asks ‘how are you?’ be honest, tell them how you feel and just voice it. You might want some advice, a hug or you might just want to say ‘I don’t feel great, I’ll be ok, but I just wanted to say that’.
- Do a box breath – breathe in for five seconds, hold for five seconds, breathe out for five seconds, pause for five seconds and repeat at least four times. Helps with anxiety and panic.
- Schedule in transition time – if you’ve got a busy schedule, sometimes it’s easy to jump from thing to thing without a break. Give yourself a five to ten-minute break in between, to transition between appointments or commitments and to remind yourself that you don’t always have to be in a rush.
- Self-appreciation – look in the mirror and tell yourself five things you like about yourself, physical or otherwise.
- Declutter – whether it be a drawer in your desk, your car, your bag or an entire room. Decluttering can make you feel much better, especially if your life is feeling a bit chaotic.
- Give yourself a manicure or pedicure – find your favourite nail polish and give yourself a fresh look.
- Meal prep – it can sometimes feel like such a chore, but future you will be so happy you did it! Particularly if you pop some prepared meals in the freezer for low energy/mood days.
- Have an early night – move your phone/laptop out of your room. Switch the TV off and aim to go to sleep at a ridiculously early time. This usually means you’ll actually make it to bed at a decent time (at least that’s my experience!).
- Find a ‘sit spot’ – this involves finding a spot in nature and sitting for set period of time to observe all that is going on around you – the animals, the plants, the weather, the people – take it all in and look at everything going about its day. Marvel at the creatures around you, the patterns, textures, smells and sounds.
- Have a social media break – delete social media apps from your phone, set yourself a time and have a break. Remind yourself that you can always download the apps again whenever you want to.
- Take a long hot bath – enough said!
- Watch the sunset!
- Have a slow morning – clear your schedule, set your alarm for a little later and have a leisurely morning. Breakfast in bed, a long luxurious shower, some meditation or yoga, or maybe just some time to read your book in bed before the day starts. Imagine you’re on holiday just for a few hours.
- Watch your favourite movie or your favourite episode of a TV series.
- Ask for help – think of any small way that someone could help you out and reach out to someone who can do that for you. Be brave. People generally like to help when they are asked from a place that is genuine and loving.
- Have a spa evening – gather all the things you’d like for a spa (bubble bath, oils, moisturiser, soft warm towels, a good book, delicious tea) and treat yourself for the evening.
- Get some sun – if you’re in the right location for it, get outside and soak up some vitamin D, fantastic for the mood and
- Watch a funny video on YouTube – whatever floats your boat and makes you smile. Set yourself a timer and do your best to not fall down a black hole of funny cat videos!
- Get outdoors – spend a few minutes on your lunch break outdoors, whatever the weather. Breath in the fresh air, walk or sit outside.
- Be grateful – write down a list of all the things you are grateful for in this moment. Share it with a friend or do the process with them, taking it in turns to say what you are grateful for.
- Have breakfast in bed – even better, have someone bring you breakfast in bed!
- Read for pleasure – find a book that’s easy to read and dive in for a few minutes everyday.
- Play with an animal – whether it be your own, a friends or your neighbours. Maybe even just volunteer at the local animal shelter. Animals are such great soothers!
- Turn off notifications on your phone – whether this be for all your apps, or just your email. Have a break from those angry red notifications and distractions.
- Edit your social media feed – if you have someone (or more than one person) who makes you feel down, negative or that you just don’t gel with, mute them, hide them, unfriend them or if you really want to, block or delete them.
- Free write – write for ten minutes, without stopping, whatever comes into your head. A fantastic way to clear your mind.
- Create a bucket list – make a list of all the things you’d like to do in your life. Dream the imaginable! It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how it will happen, if you want to do it – put it on there!
- Sing – pop your favourite song on (ideally a power ballad!) and sing your heart out. It can be a great way to clear out the cobwebs and shake up low energy.
- Do some gardening – if you’re lucky enough to have your own garden get outside and put your hands in the earth. Or maybe a friend would love some help in their garden?
- Skype/Call a loved one – sometimes we just need to touch base with family or friends. Schedule in a time to catch up and make it a special time with no distractions so that you can fully focus on that shared time.
- Conscious complain – yes, this is a thing. Set a timer for five minutes and complain as much as you like, about whatever you like. Give yourself permission to be pedantic, to have first world problems – get it all out of your system and then move on!
- Bake – there is something therapeutic about choosing, preparing and cooking ingredients and then getting to delight in the efforts of your labour. Perhaps if you aren’t a dab hand at baking, and you aren’t feeling great, choose a recipe that is straightforward to up your chances of success!
- Create a vision board – sit down with some magazines and cut out pictures of things you’d like to bring into your life, spend time creating things in a way that feels and looks good to you. Forget about what other people might think, dream big and visualise all that you’d love to see in your life, whatever that might be.
- Spend time with kids – if you have kids in your family great, if not and babysitting is your thing, try it out. Kids know how to live in the moment and can be great at putting things into perspective.
- Pray – if that’s your thing and it brings you comfort, pray. Visit a place of worship or create one in your home or bedroom.
- Reduce food decision fatigue – make a list (on your phone is useful) of your top three breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. Have some in the freezer if you are able to, particularly useful for those ‘I can’t be bothered’ or ‘am not well enough’ to cook moments.
So there we go, fifty ideas for ‘small’ acts of self-care. But really, when it comes to looking after yourself, I truly believe there are no small or insignificant acts of self-care, they all count and they all important and often in our most difficult moments, it is the ‘small’ acts of self-care that can make all the difference.
How can you integrate some of these things into your daily routine? Can you think of any more to add to the list?
Next time, I’ll be talking about what I believe to be the most important form of self-care, and it doesn’t involve doing anything physical!
Until next time 🙂