The buzzword “self-care” is certainly having a moment, but the concept of caring for your mind and body is not going anywhere. It’s easy to get swept up in work, friends, relationships, and to-do lists. Often, our own well-being gets put on the back burner. Most of us are more comfortable prioritizing other people over ourselves. We forget that self-care helps put us in a better state to provide for the other people in our life. We cannot be the best versions of ourselves if we are not practicing regular self-care and attending to our own needs.
But self-care looks different for everyone. What makes me feel good may not be so relaxing to you, and vice versa. The great thing about self-care methods is that there is no shortage of options. The potential downside is that many of these options come with a price tag. (We’re looking at you, pricey bath salts and candles.) To help us all add a little self-care into our lives without breaking the bank, I caught up with Morgan Raphael, creator of the Self-Care Society. Read on for 12 self-care practices you can start today—and not one of them requires your credit card.
1. Start a daily journaling practice
There are so many great options out there when it comes to a daily journal with prompts, affirmations, and quotes. Raphael has her own version, which I love and highly recommend. However, it can be just as impactful to simply put pen to paper on your own. Set aside a few minutes at the start or end of your day to do a “brain dump” and release those pent-up emotions that may otherwise stay locked in your head.
2. Make a daily gratitude list
Practicing gratitude is huge when it comes to manifesting more good things into your life. It’s an extremely beneficial method of self-care that costs absolutely nothing. Start small by simply listing out 3-5 different things that you’re grateful for each day. But don’t just scribble out the basics. Take time to appreciate each thing on your list and why you are grateful for it. The more gratitude you practice, the more you will find to be grateful for.
3. Go for a walk (without headphones)
For me, walks are crucial. I love stepping outside with no destination and no scrolling. I take this time to myself—without any music or distractions—so I can tune into my thoughts and feelings. You will be so surprised with the clarity you gain when you take just 5-10 minutes to unplug, get outside, and move your body.
4. Call a friend who always lifts your mood
Is there someone in your life who always seems to know what to say? Or maybe they always make you laugh, even when you’re in a bad mood? Sometimes the best form of self-care is knowing that you need a friend. Don’t take those friendships for granted, and don’t hesitate to lean on the people in your life when you need them. Set aside some time in your busy week to connect with a friend, family member, or coworker who will lift your mood. Bonus: Taking this time for yourself will help you be that person for someone else too.
5. Write a list of your accomplishments and goals
Why don’t we do this more often? Goal setting is huge for me, but so is acknowledging what I’ve achieved. If you are ever feeling down about something in your life or you’re comparing yourself to other people, take a moment to list out everything you have accomplished—both big and small. Hold onto that list to come back to the next time you’re questioning yourself. Let’s all celebrate our wins a little more.
6. Donate 10 items you no longer need
Hello, Marie Kondo! Having moved nine times in the past 10 years, let’s just say I have perfected the art of tidying up. I have no issue saying goodbye to items that no longer serve me. Whether that means a Zara top you bought three years ago and never wore or an old stack of books collecting dust under your bed, never underestimate the power of releasing things you don’t need in your life. Plus, bonus points if you give them to someone who does.
7. Indulge in a book, movie, or TV show that makes you feel good
Did you spend your Sunday lounging in front of the TV watching old rom-coms and then feeling guilty about your lack of productivity? Lose the guilt! TV binging totally counts as self-care. Losing yourself in a feel-good show or movie can be a great way to turn off for a bit and recharge. For me, books are the ultimate self-care because it is one thing I know I won’t be multitasking (AKA, scrolling) during. Check out these 20 new books to add to your bookshelf ASAP.
8. Stretch your legs up the wall
I do this for at least 10 minutes a day, every day, without fail. Legs-up-the-wall is one of the simplest yoga poses and is considered a restorative yoga posture that offers many benefits. It can help the body relax and reduce stress. To try for yourself, lie flat on your back with your legs stretched straight up the wall, set your timer for 10-20 minutes, and simply relax. Try a guided meditation, listen to a podcast, or even read your favorite book while letting your body be still.
9. Listen to a favorite playlist or podcast
Personally, I thrive on building playlists on Apple and Spotify, knowing just what song I need to hear for my current mood. Sometimes that’s a Kygo pump-up song, and other times, it’s a break-up ballad to get those tears out. No matter what your mood is, music can provide that much-needed release. If you’re more of a podcast fan, choose one based on your mood—whether you need something light-hearted or something to motivate you. Click here for podcasts based on any mood, and click here for 10 of our favorite women-run podcasts.
This is one of those self-care practices that looks different for everyone. I personally prefer a walking guided meditation, but many people prefer to do their meditations sitting or lying down, reading or journaling, or without any music or prompts at all. No matter your meditation form of choice, there are many free apps and trackers you can download to start your meditation practice. Even just a few minutes a day can be extremely beneficial in relieving stress.
11. Clean up your space
Recently, as soon as my schedule got busier and I left my room in a mess every night, I started having trouble sleeping. Once I straightened things up, my sleeping patterns went back to normal. Coincidence? Perhaps, but clutter in your space directly correlates to clutter in the mind. The cleanliness of your home really does impact your headspace, and you should always aim to keep your home the same you would want it to look for visitors. (If visitors can enjoy it in tip-top shape, why shouldn’t you?) Take 15 minutes before bed to put away laundry, wipe off counters, and do the dishes.
12. Detox your social media
Yes, social media can be a great place to discover new people, brands, and products or to catch up with friends and family. But we also can absorb negative content or get caught in comparison traps. Take time to regularly go through your accounts and mute or unfollow anyone whose energy does not serve you. Your goal should be to make social media a place that provides you with nothing but joy and inspiration rather than comparison and negativity.