Self-care ideas for stress?
Like many of us, I used to think of self-care as having a random spa day, getting a massage or treating myself to a Mani/Pedi.
Thanks to the media, self-care has become a cliche marketing tool to sell beauty, travel other luxury products.
No wonder self-care seems to be synonymous with spas, trips, and anything self-indulgent. As much as those things are great (I love spa days!) and can help us destress, there is much more to self-care than that.
Daily self-care has nothing to do with being selfish or splurging on yourself. It’s essential for emotional and physical well-being and the best way to reduce stress.
I’m excited to share these 70 budget-friendly and simple self-care ideas for stress, many of which will work to reduce how stressed you’re feeling instantly.
BONUS: I created this package, The Instant Self-Care Fix: Feel Calmer + Reduce Stress, for new subscribers with 25 additional self-care ideas & 25 positive self-care affirmations when you need quick ideas–type your email in the box below to receive it now.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase, at no cost to you. See my disclaimer for more info.
Table of Contents
Definition of Self-Care
The World Health Organization defines self-care as:
‘Self-Care is what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health and to prevent and deal with illness. It is a broad concept encompassing hygiene (general and personal), nutrition (type and quality of food eaten), lifestyle (sporting activities, leisure etc.), environmental factors (living conditions, social habits, etc.), socio-economic factors (income level, cultural beliefs, etc.) and self-medication.’ (1)
What Exactly Is Self-Care Then?
Self-care is tending to your needs in all areas of your life. It’s what you do to take care of yourself and your overall well-being. Eating, sleeping and taking care of our physical needs are the most basic forms of self-care.
But let’s face it, many women struggle to do these three things well because of all of our competing demands and responsibilities. That’s why stress and mental health issues are prevalent, and that’s precisely why we need to prioritize self-care.
Having a holistic approach to self-care is a great way to break things down and ensure you’re focussing on the right areas. I’ll cover the eight areas of wellness and have self-care ideas under each category to get you going.
Self-care can be lots of fun, and you know I’m a big fan of fun and laughter to live our best lives.
What Are The Eight Dimensions of Wellness?
When it comes to health, we often think of physical fitness and whether someone has a chronic illness or not.
Health and overall wellness are more than that, and Dr. Peggy Swarbrick created the eight wellness dimensions model. It’s a strength-based approach that focuses on building and strengthening people’s habits and routines. (2)
These Are The Eight Dimensions of Wellness:
Please know there’s no pressure to focus or try to squeeze in self-care activities for all of these areas because, let’s be honest, that’s not realistic when you’re already overwhelmed.
Plus, having a self-care routine or plan needs to be individual and focus on what you need.
If you can incorporate even one or two of the ideas into your daily routine, they’ll become healthy habits that you do without much effort.
What Are Some Benefits of Self-Care
Aside from the obvious benefit of improving your health, there are many benefits to practicing daily self-care, even for a few minutes a day. Although, setting aside more time or even having a self-care Sunday a couple of times a month is beneficial too!
Some benefits of self-care:
- Reducing stress
- Reducing anxiety and depression
- Feeling more confident
- Being more productive
- Increasing your level of happiness
- Feeling calmer
- Being more present
70 Best Self-Care Ideas For Stress In All Areas Of Your Life
Remember, it’s not about trying to do all of these self-care ideas for stress. Start by focusing on the area you struggle with most or need to improve on.
Physical self-care refers to your physical health, sleep pattern, healthy diet, and personal hygiene. The main goal of physical self-care is eating healthier and getting your body moving.
Do your best to get rest and quality sleep so that you have energy for each day too.
Physical Self-Care Ideas:
1. Go for a leisurely bike ride.
3. Do a mini yoga or pilates session.
4. Take your pet for a walk
5. Have a set sleep and wake-up time. Our bodies and minds thrive when we have a healthy and regular sleep pattern.
6. Make your favourite fruit and veggie smoothie. Check out these top-rated blenders and smoothie recipe books for creating your own.
7. Go for a nature walk during sunrise or sunset.
8. Go to an organic health food store and buy some tasty and healthy snacks.
9. Get a massage.
10. Eat clean for one day or a week and drink lots of water. Do your best to stay away from processed foods, refined sugar, alcohol, etc. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a healthier lifestyle if you struggle in this area.
11. Do a 10-minute workout video like the one below.
12. Take the stairs when you can.
13. If you are able to invest, get a Peloton and have daily biking sessions.
Emotional self-care refers to your thoughts and how you feel. It’s essential to tend to your emotional needs and process your feelings.
It’s easy to overlook but if you build in tiny habits for emotional well-being it helps you avoid developing or worsening mental health issues, emotional exhaustion, and burnout.
My simple routine includes repeating some positive affirmations and listing a few things I’m thankful for each morning.☀️These self-care ideas for stress take me no more than a few minutes and start off my day on the right foot.
Emotional Self-Care Ideas:
14. Take up journaling. This proven technique is a great way to get your feelings out. Keep it simple, there’s no need to overthink or write like an author. Be honest and write how you want whether that’s in point form, writing a letter to yourself or someone else, doing a brain dump, or writing a couple of sentences.
15. Give your loved ones bear hugs and savour those moments.
16. Finish these empowering sentences, “My superpowers are________________.” “I am really proud of_______________.” List two for each and celebrate your strengths and accomplishments. Your superpowers refer to your qualities and strengths, some examples: are kindness, compassion, bravery, humour, creativity, patience, being a good listener, and so forth.
17. Dress up for no reason and wear your best special occasion jewelry. We save our “best” clothes, shoes, and jewelry for those special occasions, but every day is a gift, so go for it!
18. Create a gratitude list or jar. Be as creative as you want and have fun with it, use markers, stickers, or highlighters to decorate your list.
19. Cuddle or play with your pet.
20. Use a light therapy lamp to help with winter blues, depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. I have one and during the winter months or dark rainy days, my therapy light makes a difference in my mood. Always remember to consult with your doctor if you have any mental health concerns as some strategies may help and others may not.
21. Watch your favourite feel-good comedy movie for some good belly laughs.
22. Be kinder to yourself. Self-compassion is the most important element of emotional self-care without it our harsh inner critic tends to take control and we get caught up in negative thinking. Forgive yourself for mistakes and be intentional about speaking to yourself as you would loved ones. Give yourself at least 1-2 compliments every single day.
23. Look at old pictures or videos. Remembering and reminiscing about happy memories is an easy way to lift your spirits and helps put things into perspective.
24. Go on a solo date and do what makes your heart happy. Watch a movie solo, sit at your favourite cafe with a good book, go on a hike, or check out a local museum or art gallery. The most important relationship we have is the one we have with ourselves so learning to enjoy our own company and feeling comfortable on our own is empowering.
Spiritual self-care will look different for everyone depending on your beliefs. It doesn’t necessarily mean religious self-care, although, for some people, it might. It’s about the meaning and your purpose in life, having a connection to divine power and service to others.
For myself, spiritual self-care is a priority and gives me a sense of peace. I practice spiritual self-care through daily prayer, morning devotionals, listening to gospel music, and attending church. For others, it might be meditation, yoga or connecting with nature.
Spiritual Self-Care Ideas For Stress:
25. Do some deep breathing in a quiet place and relax for 15 minutes.
26. If you’re comfortable with it make prayer time a habit, even a few minutes a day.
27. Make a sentimental care package for a friend or loved one in need. Being of service to others is one of the greatest things we can do to live a more satisfied and joyful life.
28. Read a morning devotional or inspirational quote.
29. Go for a relaxing walk in a local forest or hiking trail to connect with the environment. Nature is an awe-inspiring creation of God and is meant to be enjoyed and cared for. Sit in the grass or walk barefoot, hug a tree, collect some leaves or rocks, take some pics, and take in the beauty. Nature, sunshine, and fresh air all have healing power. ☀️🌲🌈
30. Clearly define your core values. Take time to think about and determine your core values. Not only for self-care but for living your most authentic life and being true to what matters most. I wrote more about the importance of core values here.
31. Create a meaningful personal mantra.
32. Attend church. Having a sense of community and belonging to a group of people with similar beliefs and values adds to a more fulfilled life.
Humans are social beings by nature. Our need and desire to connect with others and create meaningful relationships is an essential part of our overall well-being and level of contentment. Social self-care is the connections and relationships we have with others.
Social Self-Care Ideas:
33. Call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while.
34. Join a social group that shares the same interests you. Try a book club, knitting club, cooking class, kickboxing club, etc.
35. Do random acts of kindness for strangers. Any act of kindness no matter how small can make a huge impact on someone’s life (pay for their order, smile, let them go ahead of you in line, ask how they are, or chat about the good weather).
Side Note: When I got my first job, I remember being excited about my first paycheque, and naturally, as a teen, I headed to the mall. I wanted to treat myself to perfume, so I went to a department store and was rudely snubbed by salespeople who weren’t interested in serving a casually dressed teen. But one saleswoman finally approached and greeted me and spent 20 minutes helping me choose the right fragrance. She was kind, patient, and caring, and decades later, I still remember her face. Even though this was a small trivial thing, at the time it meant a lot and made me feel seen–so never underestimate the power of your kindness. ❤️
36. Text someone a random uplifting message.
37. Go for a coffee or tea with someone and enjoy a great conversation.
38. Organize an annual family reunion.
39. Have a monthly girls’ night with a friend or two.
Occupational self-care is your overall satisfaction and connection to your work environment. Or whatever you do for a living, whether it’s paid or unpaid.
Occupational Self-Care Ideas:
40. Declutter and organize your work desk.
41. Drink lots of water during the day to stay hydrated and reduce the chance of headaches. I love all of these pretty and practical water bottle options:
42. Volunteer at an organization that you care about.
43 Get involved in committees and social events.
44. Build meaningful relationships with co-workers.
45. Create healthy work habits such as starting slow and not obsessively checking your emails all day.
Intellectual self-care is engaging in activities that add to our learning and development. It’s using different parts of your brain to continue to grow and evolve.
Intellectual Self-Care Ideas For Stress:
46. Start reading a non-fiction book on a topic of interest.
47. Watch an inspirational TedTalk.
48 Enrol in an online course at Udemy.
49. Head to your local library and pick up uplifting books or a documentary.
50. Start writing…anything, whether journaling, a brain dump, an article or a book.
51. Try learning a new language online.
52. Make it a habit to read 5-10 pages a day of a book.
53. Join a group for a social cause you care about.
54. Join a Toast Master’s Club. This is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills.
This is our relationship and satisfaction with our physical environment and how it impacts us, such as our home and neighborhood.
Environmental Self-Care Ideas:
55. Take a drive through the country for no reason other than to take in the beautiful scenery.
56. Walk to a local park.
57. Clean out and organize some drawers. You never know what little treasures you may find.
58. Organize an area in your home that you’ve been putting off. Having a clean home adds to our level of peace and contentment.
59. Start reading Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”
60. Have a basket or hamper in your room to avoid leaving clothes and other belongings on the floor. Try this top-rated minimalist and stylish hamper.
61. Add some calming plants around your home. Succulents are a great option especially if you don’t have a green thumb since they are easy to care for and look lovely.
62. Open the blinds in your home or at the office. Even a few minutes of sunshine will boost your vitamin D level and balance your stress levels (cortisol).
63. Place special family photos around the house.
64. Go on daily walks in your community and greet people you pass by.
This refers to our overall satisfaction with our finances and our economic future, such as having retirement savings, an emergency fund, investments, and so forth.
Financial Self-Care Ideas:
65. Create a budget with free apps like Mint.
66. Pack your lunch.
67. Cut off unnecessary spending. Such as daily coffee, sugary treats, late fees, memberships you don’t use, fast food, lottery tickets, brand names, overly expensive beauty products, and more.
68. Start a travel fund (or a fund for anything extravagant you love to do that you need to budget for). This takes off the stress of not knowing how to pay for something, using credit cards, or going into debt.
69. Sell items you no longer use on Craiglist, eBay, or your local community buy and sell group.
70. Set up an appointment to talk to a financial advisor at your bank. You can talk about your future goals, investments, dependents, and the best ways to save for these and build a healthy financial portfolio. Being prepared and planning also gives you peace of mind and reduces uncertainty about the future.
Create A Self-Care Plan or Schedule
Creating an easy self-care plan is a strategy to help you stay on track with these self-care ideas for stress.
Here are five simple steps you can go through to create your self-care plan:
1. Identify The Area(s) You Most Need Help With and Understand Why.
It’s helpful to identify where you need the most improvement and why. When you’re intentional and understand how neglecting self-care in that area(s) is negatively impacting you, it’ll keep you motivated and help cultivate discipline.
For example, if you barely drink water staying hydrated is an important self-care activity. If you’re lonely, joining a club or calling friends are good self-care activities to focus on. If you’re feeling lost or without purpose, connecting with a faith community or strengthening your relationship with God are great places to start.
2. Jot It Down.
Did you know that according to a study by psychologist Dr. Gail Matthews, you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goals when you write them down? (3)
This simple action gives you a higher chance of successfully sticking to a self-care plan.
3. Now Choose the Self-Care Activities You’ll Try.
After you’ve figured out what area(s) you need to focus on and have written it down comes the fun part: choose a couple of activities above.
It may take some trial and error, but once you figure out what works and what doesn’t you’re on your way to a less stressful life. Yay.🎉
4. One Small Step at a Time.
There’s no need to pressure yourself to tackle it all at once. One small step at a time is all that’s needed. Show yourself grace and celebrate even if you start with 5 minutes.
5. Block It Off.
Schedule and prioritize self-care just as you would appointments or meetings. It doesn’t have to be an hour; start with 5-10 minutes first thing in the morning. Then add as you go along.
70 Best Self-Care Ideas For Stress: You Hold The Power
Self-care ideas for stress reduction are an effective way to improve your life, but you hold the real power to make positive change. Creating a simple self-care plan is a game-changer and will make a difference in your stress levels.
I’m excited and hopeful for your journey of being kinder to yourself through self-care and know that it’s going to take you from merely surviving the rat race of life to thriving! That’s the beauty of being kinder to yourself.
Let’s Get Through This Together
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BONUS: When you sign up for my newsletter I’ll send you this FREE package with 25 additional self-care ideas & 25 positive affirmations for quick reference:
The Instant Self-Care Fix: Feel Calmer + Reduce Stress.
Disclaimer: Please note this post is not medical advice. Always connect with a professional doctor or therapist if you are struggling with any mental or physical health concerns. See our disclaimer page.
Linking up here.
1 What is Self-Care? – ISF
2 Mapping Mental Health: Dr. Swarbrick & The Eight Wellness Dimensions | Center of Alcohol & Substance Use Studies