20 self-care ideas I’ve tried for you

These ideas are simple and affordable: otherwise, they wouldn’t be ‘self-care’

Are you desperately in need of vacation? Do you feel you’re on the verge of a breakdown? Do you have personal and professional responsibilities that are draining you out of your energy? And do you feel like like you will never be able to face them all?

If the answers to these question is yes, then I have good news for you: you have the power to change this. How?

By taking care of yourself. Because when you do, you build the strongest, the healthiest, the happiest version of yourselves. And this version is the one that will help you face your responsibilities and take care of the people you love.

Seems too easy to be true? Maybe. But you can trust me, I’ve tried it.

In December 2016, I have embarked in a self-care journey: 365 days, 365 acts of self-care. Everyday, I do one act of self-care to take care of my body, my soul, my mind or my heart.

Installing small daily habits and doing them mindfully granted me time for self-reflection. And now, I know for sure that I don’t need to do complicated stuff to feel great.

Dear new friends, here is for you a selection of 20 of the best self-care acts I’ve tried. They’re simple, affordable and I hope they help you build the strongest, the healthiest, the happiest version of yourselves too.

Physical self-care acts: be good to your body

  1. Walk barefoot. Time: as much as you like. Budget: $0

Walking barefoot is called Earthing or Grounding. It can help you regulate your sleep and improve your senses by stimulating highly sensitive pressure points on your soles. It also strengthens your ankles, feet and toes and allows a greater balance and improved posture. My advice: Have fun walking on different surfaces: rock, sand, dirt. My favorite so far: grass after gravels. And be careful, pay attention to where you step : you don’t want to hurt yourself.

2. Take a Nia dance class. Time: 1 h. Budget: $20

Nia is a dance class based in the martial arts and is a complete workout for the body and mind. It’s a really fun activityo take care of yourself and relieve stress. My advice: Don’t worry if you don’t know how to dance, set yourself free and follow the advice my teacher gave me: try to follow more advanced students and it you can’t, just dance. No pressure is the rule.

3. Work on a standing desk Time: 4–5 hours. Budget: $0

We sit for much more time than our bodies can handle. Sitting for long period of time increases the risks of heart disease, depression, obesity and colon, endometrial and lung cancers. More reasons than needed to start working on a standing desk. My advice: when you start, work for short time lengths and increase them progressively. Take advantage of the standing position to stretch at regular intervals and move in ways that feel right.

4. Massage your scalp. Time: 5–15 minutes. Budget: $0

This self-care act has one of the highest returns on investment ever: done in no time, at no cost with a deep feeling of relaxation at the end. Scalp massages improve your blood flow and help you maintain a healthy scalp. My advice: Close your eyes and let your hands run on your scalp and face. Don’t try to do anything professional: what feels right IS right. And don’t try to avoid getting messy hair: it’s impossible.

5. Take a cold shower Time: 15 minutes. Budget $0

I know the perspective of a cold shower is a bit violent but cold showers are great in many ways: they improve immunity and circulation. They increase alertness, refine your skin and help your hair be shiny and healthy. They can also prevent post workout injuries and speed up muscle soreness. Last, they help you ease stress. My advice: Take a cold shower when you feel brave or when you’re feeling hot: in the summer or after a workout. Before going to bed is a good time for a cold shower, it will help you fall asleep.

Psychological self-care acts: be good to your mind

  1. Sit under a flowery tree Time: 1 hour. Budget $0

Besides being relaxing and soothing, sitting under a flowery tree reminds you of the ephemeral aspect of life. Flowers don’t last, spring doesn’t last, life doesn’t last. Priceless, if you want to be reminded that you need to make the most out of it. My advice: this self-care act thought me one fundamental thing. Don’t wait for the perfect timing to do something you want to do. Just like flowers, life is not going to wait for you. So today is always the best day to do or plan something you really want to do.

2. Have a no-screen day Time: 1 day. Budget $0

Going screen-free for a day will spare you time to do cool stuff in real life: meet with friends, connect to nature, cook a great meal… Not to mention that too much screen time impacts negatively the quality of your sleep. My advice: Let your friends and family know about it in advance to feel free to live your day with as few constraints as you possibly can.

3. Go with the flow Time: on-going process. Budget $0

This self-care act can be practiced at any time. It’s an attitude more than an act. In life, plans change. Even though it’s frustrating, sometimes there is nothing you can do about it. That’s what going with the flow is about. Accepting what life brings you when you can’t change it, thus minimizing stress and anxiety. My advice: For this self-care act, there is nothing you need more than remind yourself that you can’t control everything. That’s just the way life is. If you can’t change something, name the emotion you’re experimenting (frustration, anger, worry) and tell yourself that there is nothing you can do about it. And last, keep in mind that no situation is permanent in life. Even bad feelings fade away.

4. Stop talking after 6 PM Time: Zero. Budget $0

Talking requires more energy than you think. It’s only when you stop that you fully realize it. Not talking will lead you to use other senses that the ones you usually do: your eyes, your ears, a pen and paper. My advice: If you don’t want to have to stop your self-care abruptly, inform your family and friends about it. Even if it seems weird at first, using all your senses is an effective way to communicate.,

5. Take a day off Time: 1 day. Budget $0

We all accept the idea that our devices need to charge their batteries to work. If they’re off battery, they can’t work. Same thing is valid for us. When we’re tired, we can’t work. Taking a day off is a way to charge our batteries and regenerate our physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual resources. My advice: The problem when we’re off is that we think of it as a good opportunity to take care of personal matters, like paying past due invoices, fixing a door or making laundry… This is a trap you don’t want to fall in: if you take a day off, you really take a day off. Do nothing but things you enjoy.

Emotional self-care acts: be good to your heart

  1. Introduce 2 friends to each other Time: 1–3 hours. Budget: depends on how many drinks you have

Connecting two friends to each other is a simple equation: A friend + a friend = more friends who are friends = more opportunities to have fun = more happiness. My advice: before the event, create a group message to so that your friends can connect and “talk” to each other before meeting. As the “introducer”, you’re responsible for keeping the conversation alive and bringing topics on the table. Don’t do all the talking. When you feel the conversation flows, step back. And be happy!

2. Call someone you love and give them undivided attention Time 15–30 minutes. Budget $0

We all know what it’s like to be talking to our mom, our brother, our friend and be driving or looking in the fridge to see what’s for dinner at the same time. You talk to someone but you’re not really in the conversation. When you hang up, you can’t “feel” the person you’ve been talking to. My advice: when you call someone, be in the moment. Connect with the person you’re talking to. Don’t do anything else. If you really want to do something while you’re talking, go for a walk.

3. Meet-up with a college friend Time 2–3 hours. Budget: $0

Meeting up with a college friend is like meeting up with the young you. It’s an opportunity to remember who you were and confront it with what you’ve become. And make the necessary readjustments if needed. My advice: Be yourself. If you’ve lost your hair, put some fat on your belly, ornamented your face with a couple wrinkles, it’s fine. You friend has changed too. Do not put judging socio-economical lenses on your eyes. External signs of success tell nothing about one’s happiness. On your way, connect with who you are and stick to it.

4. Have some grandma time Time: 1–2 hours. Budget: $0

Grandma time if important for all: kids, parents and grand parents. Many studies show that intergenerational interactions have health benefits on both the kids and the grandparents. My advice: If, like me, you have no family in town, know that there is always a grandma who’s missing her grandkids, ready to give love, affection and share her knowledge. It can be a neighbor, someone who’s met via in social media or future friends, in a nursing home.

5. Have a kitchen party Time: 4–6 hours. Budget : bring a dish and a drink

Kitchen is a place where the magic happens. It’s the place where every day, you bring different raw ingredients, combine them and create something new, tasty and unique. Same is valid for kitchen parties: bring friends, wine and foods and see how the magic happens. My advice: The best way to enjoy a party is to be stress-free and rested. Make things simple and don’t put too much energy in the preparation. A potluck is the easiest way to go. Don’t forget music: like salt in a dish, music is a necessary ingredient to a great party.

Spiritual self-care acts: be good to your soul

1. List all the blessings in your life Time: 1 hour. Budget: $0

Too often, we focus on what’s missing in our lives. Making a list of all the blessings in your life will act as a powerful reminder of the luck we all have. Ask yourself: what is right with me today? Health, food, shelter? My advice: ground yourself in the moment while you’re making your list. Take time to stop at every item of your list and see how you feel emotionally about it. You’re grateful for your health? Then try to feel your body and how lucky you are to be able to use your arms, legs, tongue, ears. Try also to imagine what life would be like if you were to lose any of them. The power of this act is that you cannot practice it without feeling thankful and happy about what you have, whatever it is.

2. Go forest bathing

Forest bathing -or Shirin-Yoku– is used as a preventive health care and healing medicine in Japan. It has scientifically proven benefits on both the body and the mind, including but not limited to: stronger immune system, reduced blood pressure, increased focus, improved sleep, etc. Forest bathing can also help you develop a deeper and clearer intuition and increase your overall sense of happiness. My advice: Go forest bathing on a day where you have plenty of time and can stay in the woods as long as you want. For your first time, I suggest that you walk on a familiar trail: you will feel more comfortable to let go and just be there. If you want to walk with someone, know that you don’t have to talk all the time. Don’t fear silence and rather, focus on the sounds of the forest.

3. Wake up before the birds Time: Zero. Budget: $0

Wake up early, make yourself a cup of tea, take a meditation break and if you can, try to sit outside. It’s a great way quiet your mind and start your day with focus, calm and balance. My advice: Try to wake up when it’s still dark. You will be able to witness three extraordinary things:

  • The subtle noises of the world in the dark,
  • The awakening of the birds. Being awake before them gives the impression that you’ve accomplished something great of your day already,
  • The unique colors of dawn. Who has already witnessed the daily morning miracle know what it feels like. All others, please don’t wait and schedule this self-care for tomorrow.

4. Shop gratefully Time: same as shopping ungratefully. Budget: $0

Grocery shopping is often seen as an annoying chore. Reminding ourselves that grocery shopping is a privilege is a fantastic way to increase our overall happiness. Not everyone has the luck to have a profusion of products around them nor money to buy them. My advice: this self-care act can be practiced with any chore that seems annoying. If you don’t like your boss or your colleagues, remember that you work. If making dinner bothers you, remember you can afford eating…If we change our perspective, almost any annoying thing can be seen as a gift.

5. Fold your clothes mindfully Time: 20–30 minutes. Budget: $0

I hate folding clothes. Actually I hate folding clothes and being in a hurry to finish to be able to do something more interesting or stimulating intellectually. But when done mindfully, folding clothes is an active meditation practice. It’s excellent for quieting your mind and getting ready for a calm and easy evening. My advice: Give your full attention to what you’re doing. Forget your watch and forget about the activities you want to do next. Sit in a comfortable position. Look closely at every item you’re folding. Feel the texture with your hands. Fold it deliberately, flattening the fabric with both hands. Be here and fold, like nothing else existed.

Dear reader, I hope these simple and affordable ideas brought some value to your life. If you try one of them, then I’d be happy. And in that case, it would be: #selfcareforyou = #selfcareforme

If you want more ideas to take care of yourself, please visit The Self-Care Journey.com

Love to all and thank you for reading.