19 Ways to Practice Self-Care Right Now

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You are your own greatest resource, but nowadays, there’s a good chance your priorities don’t often reflect that. That’s unfortunate because self-care – that is, activities that allow us to attend to our own needs – is a critical component of both mental and physical health.

It’s easy to dismiss taking time for ourselves as selfish, but it’s worth reexamining that assumption. If you’re not functioning at 100% yourself, how can you be fully supportive of the other people in your life? Short answer: you can’t. There’s a reason flight attendants tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping fellow passengers.

Self-care doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. The easiest place to start is with what makes you happy or relaxed. Then, set aside time to re-energize and guard that time as you would any other commitment. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  1. Take a class. Learning something new is a great way to reinvigorate your creativity.
  2. Eliminate unnecessary tasks from your to-do list. Choose one – yes, ONE – thing that must get done and focus on that task. Anything else you accomplish becomes a bonus.
  3. Get a massage. Not only is it relaxing, but it comes with real health benefits.
  4. Spend time with an animal. Simply stroking or handling a pet has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce stress hormone levels.
  5. Read a book or watch your favorite feel-good movie. Lose yourself in a far-off land for a bit.
  6. Meditate or pray. Spiritual health is just as important as physical and mental health.
  7. Move. Get and up and stretch, walk, run, hike, or participate in your favorite sport.
  8. Call a trusted friend or relative. If something is weighing on your mind, sharing it with your support system can help you gain perspective.
  9. Write. If the written word is your thing, expressing yourself on paper can be cathartic and calming.
  10. Draw or paint. Again, self-expression is a great form of self-care.
  11. Listen to your favorite kind of music. Dancing is also highly encouraged.
  12. Be mindful of your self-talk. We tend to be less kind to ourselves than to other people. Work on replacing degrading thoughts about yourself with positive ones.
  13. Cook your favorite meal. Or have a meal with a friend (or two).
  14. Take a break or switch tasks. If you’re feeling stuck, stepping away from a project may be the most productive thing to do.
  15. Take a bath or shower. Wash off the dirt and stress of the day.
  16. Take a nap. Naps are the human equivalent of a reset button.
  17. Listen to a motivational speech. It might sound corny, but sometimes it helps to have an outside source jump-start a positive inner dialogue.
  18. Travel. You don’t have to go far – even a small change in your surroundings, like a trip around the block, can help relieve tension.
  19. Sit in the sun. Vitamin D is important for building strong bones, as well as regulating your mood.