50 free and Easy ideas for Self-Care
Ideas for self-care do not have to be complicated and expensive. The simplest and most effective self-care routine ideas can be found in your own home (or in your own head!). Are you looking for free and easy ideas for self-care? If so, then you are in the right place!
What is Self-Care and Why is it Important?
Maria Baratta describes self-care as the “mindful taking of time to pay attention to you, not in a narcissistic way, but in a way that ensures that you are being cared for by you“.
It is hard to find time in our busy lives to pay attention to ourselves. Our jobs, our children, and our commitments all demand that we pay attention to them, sometimes at the cost of our own wellbeing. When we get busy, it is hard to even identify what self-care looks like in our lives.
If you’re questioning whether self-care is right for you, believe me when I tell you that it is! Effective self-care can energize you so that you are more productive in your work and happier in your relationships. Self-care isn’t just for the weak, and it is not just for the broken. Self-care is for everyone, even those who think they are invincible and can conquer the world without any ‘me time’.
Daily exercise and eating healthy are important aspects of self-care that you should incorporate into your everyday routine, but that’s not all! Your emotional, mental, physical, and social health are all key components to your overall self-care.
How to Use This List
As you read through this list, take note of any ideas that jump out at you as something you can see yourself doing. Then, use this free Weekly Self-Care Routine printable to build a ‘self-care routine ideas’ planner. Place your favourite ideas throughout the days of the week to keep yourself accountable to your self-care. Note that Sunday is left off of this planner on purpose. Remember to take each and every Sunday for rest – whatever rest looks like for you!
Regardless of the ideas for self-care that you choose to use, you need to intentionally make time for self-care. This means not just when it is convenient. Take 5 minutes to try a few of the ideas on this list. Compare how you feel after 5 minutes of meditation to how you feel after spending 5 minutes on a work related email. When you find an idea that works for you, add it to your weekly self-care routine to make it a habit!
The hardest part about starting a new routine is being consistent. Printing this planner and sticking it in a high traffic area will help you stay on track with your self-care!
Let’s dig into these 50 free and easy ideas for self-care now!
Mental Health Ideas for Self-Care
Making meditation and mindful breathing part of your regular self-care routine is a simple and effective idea for your self-care. Many people know about meditation but are apprehensive to try it. Being afraid of meditating wrong, or not having the time to meditate are two common reasons people don’t try meditation. However, in just 5 minutes, you can complete a free mindful breathing meditation exercise that will reduce stress and anxiety.
The trick is to focus on your breathing. When I am stressed, I inhale and pull my breath to the tight spots in my chest. I then hold my breath and focus on that spot and how it feels to have fresh air circulating there. When I exhale, I pay specific attention to how it feels to release all of the tension in my chest.
#2. Set a SMART and Value-Driven Goal
Setting goals is one way to keep us motivated and engaged in our passions. Goals give us a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives and are important for practicing self-care. Like any other new routine, it can be difficult to stay on track while working toward achieving a goal. Setting a goal that is SMART and value-driven will help you find a goal that is important to you and your lifestyle and keep you on track.
#3. Write a Gratitude List
Writing a gratitude list is a very good self-care routine idea that you can engage in every day. Taking time each day to write down 3 – 5 things you are grateful for can totally change your mindset and your outlook on the day. The things you are grateful for don’t have to be big or important. Taking the time to reflect on simple things like hot coffee or clean clothes goes a long way.
#4. Say ‘no’ to something you don’t want to do
Compared to the other ideas for self-care on this list, ‘saying no to something you don’t want to do’ is a bit trickier to plan for. To do this, wake up one day and declare that you are going to stand up for yourself at some point today. Maybe it is standing up to something that has been happening a lot at work, or something that comes up more spontaneously. Saying ‘no’ to someone or something will give you a sense of control over yourself. This will show your mind that you are prioritizing yourself. Just remember that saying no doesn’t mean that you are being rude. There are ways to politely say no :).
#5. Set up a Budget
If you haven’t already, set up a budget to get control of your finances. Financial stress can have a major impact on wellbeing. Draw up a budget that separates your wants from your needs. Living a simpler and financially free lifestyle is an excellent ongoing idea for self-care.
#6. Practice Positive Self-Talk
Take a moment to tell yourself (out loud) something about you that you are proud of or that you really like. Our brains are often very good at reminding us of all of our faults. Telling yourself what your strengths are out loud will remind you that you are more than your faults.
#7. Enjoy the silence
Next time you notice that it is silent (there will be a time, I promise!), stop and take note. Whether we mean to or not, we often fill silence with noise. Take a moment to just soak in how it feels to have a quiet moment to yourself!
#8. Connect with Yourself
During all of the chaos of life, it is easy to get lost and forget who you are. Take some time to remember your goals and passions. Reflect on what drives you and reconnect with yourself!
#9. Go Screen-Free for an Entire Day
While it is difficult to do these days, disconnecting entirely from technology is important. When was the last time you went an entire day without touching a device? Disconnecting helps us realize how many problems we take on that are not immediately in front of us.
#10. Write in a Journal
Journaling every night is an effective way to help you unwind and decompress after a hard day. Use nightly journal prompts to clear your mind and enjoy a good night’s rest!
#11. Watch a Motivational Video
Subscribe to a good YouTube channel or search for videos on a weekly basis to keep yourself motivated!
#12. Clean Your House
Feeling comfortable in our homes is important for our wellbeing. However, with a busy lifestyle, it can be hard to keep our house clean. Pick a room (or a closet) in your house and clean/organize it. Plan to clean your entire house over a few weekends. Your goal isn’t to finish the task, but rather to enjoy the small victories of cleaning one room at a time!
#13. Clear some Space on Your Devices
In all the chaos of life, our phones, computers, and other devices accumulate a lot of clutter. Pictures we don’t need, music we don’t listen to, etc. Take some time to clear the digital clutter on your devices and enjoy the feeling of a clean slate!
#14. Prioritize Joy
Choose a day (maybe Sunday) to commit to only focusing on the things in your life that bring you joy.
Outdoor Ideas for Self-Care
#15. Watch the Sunset or Sunrise
Check a weather app on your phone to plan ahead if you aren’t sure when the sun will be rising or setting. Depending on the time of year (and whether or not you have young children!) you may find you are awake before the Sun rises! If you are a parent with young children that have little regard for your sleep routines, take them out early in the morning or late at night and show them the beauty of a sunrise or sunset! Nothing turns a grumpy morning around like a beautiful sunrise!
#16. Go for a walk
Find a route you can use to take a 15 – 20 minute walk. Start your morning or finish your day with your walk while enjoying the sunrise or sunset!
#17. Get Outside in Nature
Taking some time to reconnect with the outdoors and nature is another easy and highly effective idea for self-care. Our reliance on smart phones and laptops make it difficult to disconnect entirely from technology. However, unplugging and remembering what it is like to be outside with fresh air is an excellent way to clear your head and reorient yourself.
Take a moment to research a few outdoor parks or trails close to where you live. Try to find one as close as you can to your home. If it is too far, you may find it hard to make it one of the regular self-care routine ideas that you use.
#18. Sit on Your Porch and Enjoy the Quiet
Take a few minutes to sit on your front porch or your back deck and enjoy the view (even if there isn’t much of one!). The yards of our homes aren’t always a place where we spend much time. Taking a minute to enjoy the outside space of our homes is a good reminder that we are fortunate to have a space for a cozy house in this hectic world.
Entertainment Ideas for Self-Care
#19. Go For a Drive with No Destination in Mind
Grab your partner (or just go alone for some quiet time) and just drive! When we were dating, my wife and I used to bring coffee and flip a coin; heads meant turn right, tails meant turn left. We ended up in some really nice areas of our city that we would have never otherwise explored!
#20. Dance it Out
Carving out 5 minutes a day to put on some music that you just can’t sit still to is another way that you can prioritize your self-care. Dancing is not only great exercise, but it also helps us connect with our fun and silly sides. This helps boost your mood and makes the stresses of the day feel smaller.
#21. Read a Book
While it can be tricky to find time during the day for reading, even 5 – 10 minutes a day can make a big difference in your self-care routine. Find a genre that you like, grab something you are interested in, and let yourself get lost in a good story!
#22. Wander Through a Library
Look for a hidden treasure in your local library. You would be surprised what grabs your attention with a clear head and the silence of a library!
#23. Listen to an Audiobook
If the idea of finding 5 – 10 minutes to stare at a book is laughable, consider an audiobook! Whether you are on the way to work or doing chores around the house, audiobooks are one of the greatest tools to help prioritize self-care in a busy life!
#24. Listen to a Podcast
If an entire novel is too big of a commitment (I get it!), track down a good podcast that will expose you to new ideas. You will be surprised how refreshing it feels to learn something new!
#25. Watch a movie or a show
Taking a night off to kick back with a bowl of popcorn and a good show is definitely one way to be kind to yourself. The trick is to not make it a regular self-care routine idea. Remember, maintaining good health is an important part of self-care, so try not to watch too much TV or eat too much junk food! Balance is key!
#26. Plan a Vacation
Even if you don’t end up going, the possibility of a vacation full of exciting adventures can be invigorating!
Yes. Color. As in the children’s activity. You would be surprised how relaxing it can be to work away at putting color to a blank page. Find a good adult coloring book (yes, these are a thing!), or connect with your inner child and find one of your kid’s old coloring books! Enjoy the sense of accomplishment you get from finishing your work of art! Hang it on your fridge with pride to remind yourself that it is okay to do silly things every once in a while!
#28. Do a Craft
This can be something big that you will display as a decoration around your house, or something small that will end up in the garbage within a week. Find something neat and enjoy being creative while focusing on creating something!
Find a new hobby, or pick up one you haven’t had the time for lately. Clear your schedule and remind yourself of why your hobby is something you enjoy!
#30. Learn a New Skill
We live in a time where it has never been easier to learn new things. Pick up an instrument, learn to sew, the possibilities are endless! You can learn anything with the Internet and a little patience!
Food and Drink Ideas for Self-Care
#31. Have a Healthy Snack
This is a tricky one, because chomping down on a carrot doesn’t always feel good. However, there are plenty of yummy and healthy snacks out there that are good for your mind and body. Find one that fits your lifestyle and make it part of your self-care routine!
#32. Cook a Healthy Meal
One reason we don’t always eat healthy meals is because of the time it takes to prepare them. Children, jobs, and other lifestyle commitments make ordering in so much more appealing! However, scheduling one day a week to prepare a healthy family favourite is a fun idea for self-care that will leave you feeling proud of something that you created for yourself and your family!
#33. Order In
The complete opposite of the previous idea! Just like TV and movies, treating yourself and your family to a little bit of fast food every once in a while can help with your self-care. Again, the key here is balance!
Find a simple recipe and bake something from scratch, even if you aren’t a baker! This is particularly fun if you have children. Let them help measure and mix the ingredients and enjoy making a big crazy mess in your kitchen!
#35. Get dressed up, get out the fancy China, and have a tea party… by yourself
It sounds silly, but this is an activity that is designed just for you. Remember, this is the purpose of self-care! You don’t have to worry about getting dressed for anyone else, or what you will talk about with anyone else. Instead, just enjoy how it feels to do something nice and relaxing for you.
Social Ideas for Self-Care
#36. Snuggle a Loved One
Slow down with your partner, child, or pet and enjoy a good snuggle. Meaningful social relationships are an essential aspect of wellbeing. Taking the time to enjoy the company of our loved ones is a simple idea for self-care that we often overlook amongst all of the chaos.
#37. Call a Friend
As in call a friend. When was the last time you picked up your phone and, you know, phoned a friend just to talk? Check in and see how they are doing. Maintaining our relationships is an important part of our wellbeing.
#38. Set Boundaries in Your Relationships
The way in which we interact with our closest relationships plays an important role in our overall wellbeing. Take a moment to think about your relationships and the boundaries you have set. Are there any relationships you feel are negatively affecting your wellbeing?
Often times, a lack of boundaries in our relationships can lead to stressful and unhealthy relationships. Having the courage to set boundaries, communicate them to our friends and loved ones, and be consistent with maintaining them is one idea for self-care that will make a major difference in your overall wellbeing.
#39. Spend Some Quality Time with Your Loved Ones
Put the screens away and spend some good quality time with the people closest to you. This can be as simple as sitting around a nice meal and talking, or playing a good cooperative board game with your family.
Relaxing Ideas for Self-Care
#40. Plant and Care for a Garden
Planting a garden is an easy hobby that isn’t overly time consuming. The work required to maintain a garden is relaxing and can take your mind away from the cares of your day. It is also a great feeling to see something grow that you started yourself!
#41. Have a Bath
Sometimes life feels so busy that it is hard to even find the time to have a bath. However, taking 20 minutes to rest and relax in a warm bath always feels rejuvenating after a hard day.
#42. Take a Shower
If you find yourself with less time, a shower is another essential self-care strategy. Baths and showers are excellent for forcing us to stop and focus on one screen-free task.
#43. Listen to some music
Music has the ability to inspire and energize us. Sitting down and connecting with a good playlist full of motivational music is a very effective idea for self-care. Pick out a few of your favourite tracks, mix them up, and sit back and enjoy!
#44. Light a Candle
This idea for self-care involves very little effort at all! Grab your favourite scented candle and sit back and enjoy where it takes you. My favourite thing to do is light candles that have Autumn scents. The Fall is my favourite season, and I instantly feel like I am prioritizing my happiness when I take in these scents.
#45. Kick Your Feet Up and Relax
Whether it is in front of a good movie, or just for 5 minutes in the middle of the day, take note of how good it feels to get off your feet.
#46. Take a Nap
The idea of sleeping in the middle of the day may seem impossible (especially if you have children). However, asking for help from a trusted friend or family member so that you can have an hour to catch up on some sleep can be a powerful way to recharge in the middle of the day!
#47. Go to bed early
Another seemingly impossible idea. I remember being a child and being excited by the idea of staying up until midnight. Nowadays, it seems that getting to bed by midnight is a luxury! However, it is important to prioritize your self-care. Schedule a day or two during the week where you commit to sleeping earlier than normal. Wake up feeling rested and ready to take on the day.
#48. Get Up Early
After a day where you have planned to get enough rest, wake up early and do something just for you. Read a book, make a healthy breakfast, or go for a jog. Enjoy all of the potential a new morning has to offer!
There are plenty of YouTube channels out there that share Yoga routine videos. Find one for your skill level and enjoy the rest and relaxation that comes with aligning your physical, mental, and spiritual selves.
While it may seem like a cop-out, identifying what rest looks like for you and being intentional about resting is the best idea for self-care on this list! There are times when you will find yourself with free time, and the way you choose to spend it will directly impact your wellbeing! Choose your favourite restful ideas for self-care from this list and be intentional with your downtime!
Take Care of Yourself!
When used right, the ideas for self-care on this list will help you establish an effective self-care routine that will help you prioritize and take care of yourself in your busy life. If you don’t take care of yourself, you will end up exhausted, depleted, and with very little energy to care for yourself and those who depend on you.
Getting into a self-care routine is just like any other routine you have. It takes time and it takes practice, but once you get used to it, it becomes second nature. Soon you will find yourself making decisions that show care for not only others, but yourself as well.
We can do hard things when we prioritize our self-care. To stay strong, healthy, and present in our lives, we need to remember to pay attention to what we need for ourselves. Be intentional with your time and enjoy how it feels to live a carefree lifestyle full of self-care!
Don’t forget to share this post with your friends and family on social media! If you know of someone who is in need of some self-care ideas, this could be the list they need to make a major lifestyle change!