We all know that self-care is important. But how often do you actually take time to practice it? When I can, I love to make Sunday an entire day for self-care. I have a routine I follow that covers a few different ways to make me feel better. Today I’d like to share 25 ideas that you can implement for your next self-care Sunday!
I’ve divided these ideas into three categories: physical, emotional/mental, and lifestyle self-care. I know there are more official ways to classify types of self-care, but as I was coming up with these activities, these were the categories they fell into as I was writing. They’re all things that I enjoy as an introvert. I feel like my energy gets restored the most when I’m doing something calming by myself.
You may not always be able to manage on your own. If you are struggling with your mental health, please seek help from a doctor or mental health professional.
Physical Self-Care Ideas
Most of the typical self-care suggestions fall into this category. These are activities that improve your physical health.
They are certainly helpful and important to practice regularly, but it probably shouldn’t be the only kind of self-care you do. You may already have a few ideas for physical self-care in mind, but here are some suggestions to help you get started.
- Do a face mask – One of THE MOST recommended self-care activities. Don’t expect this to be the one thing that changes your mood, but it can be a nice thing to do. I like to put on a mask and then do something else like a yoga video or some reading as a way of self-care multitasking.
- Take a relaxing shower or bath – Another classic, and for good reason. I don’t love baths personally, but hot showers are lovely. Use your favorite scented products (my go-to is lavender) and take your time. Play some good music and make sure to moisturize your skin afterward.
- Paint your nails – This may not be a fun activity for you, but if it is, go for it! It especially makes a difference in my mood painting my nails after having them bare for a few weeks. I think part of the benefit is the act of it – sitting down for half an hour or so and focusing on a physical task can be very calming.
- Make your favorite meal – It does NOT have to be healthy, but it can be! I’ve found that food can be really comforting. Obviously, there should be a healthy balance, but you’re having a self-care day. Eat something that you know you’re going to enjoy.
- Tend your plants – Your plants need some love too! This can be any plant-related activity like watering, repotting, dusting, fertilizing, or trimming. Taking care of a plant can be meditative, and it helps ground you in the present. It’s a great activity for mindfulness.
- Move your body – In any way you want. Again, this should be something that makes you feel good. Whether it’s a walk, a spin class, a yoga flow, or (my new favorite) a dance class video; any movement is good movement. The goal here is not to punish yourself but to put a smile on your face.
- Personal grooming or hygiene – Whatever this means to you. Maybe it’s been too long since you’ve plucked your eyebrows. Working from home, I’ve been guilty of this. Take some time to shave, exfoliate, or moisturize; and find a way to make it luxurious.
- Buy something to treat yourself – If it’s not going to be a purchase you regret later. Self-sabotage is kind of the opposite of self-care, so it’s important to consider short- versus long-term gratification. If it’s something you’ve genuinely been wanting, then go ahead, but try to avoid impulse shopping as a way to feel better.
Emotional and Mental Self-Care Ideas
If you’re upset/dealing with or trying to process something, just putting on a face mask won’t make that problem go away. Sometimes self-care involves reflecting and doing the work to understand how you feel about something. You’re giving yourself time and space to do so, and that’s what I would call emotional self-care.
Mental self-care focuses on activities that stimulate or challenge your mind. It can be easy to spend the majority of your time mindlessly scrolling, watching things, and consuming content. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it’s good to challenge yourself sometimes. Here are some ways to take care of your feelings and your brain:
- Read for enjoyment – I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. Set aside some time to read something just for the fun of it. It could be a new book or an old favorite. It could also be some funny essays, articles, or tweets. Reading is a great way to separate yourself from your current situation and live in someone else’s shoes for a while. This can be especially helpful if you’re dealing with any kind of negative emotions. I’ve shared some books I’ve been reading if you’re looking for recommendations.
- Write in a journal – There is a reason that journaling is recommended so often. If you’re like me, you process things more thoroughly by writing them down. It forces you to reflect and think about how you’re feeling. There are many resources available for learning how to journal. You can find some here, here, and here. It may seem overwhelming if you’ve never done it before, but just find something that seems doable and try it. When you’re done, notice how it made you feel. I usually feel lighter when I finish writing as if the weight has been transferred off of me and onto the pages.
- Make a new playlist – Music can be a great way to boost your mood. Spend some time listening to or creating a playlist with your favorite happy songs. You could turn this time into a way to feel better while being productive, or have a little dance party. To be more mindful, try listening to a few songs without any distractions. Pay attention to the layers of the music or the way you react to it.
- Spend time with pets – I am such an animal person. I honestly believe that having a pet is an important part of my mental health. Animals help us focus on the present and reduce stress with their cuteness. Hang out with your pets for a while, and show them some love. Don’t have a pet? Visit a friend who does, or find some pet Instagram accounts to follow.
- Watch your favorite tv show or movie – Or something you’ve been meaning to make time to watch. I prefer re-watching shows when I’m trying to relax. I think I like the predictability of it, and I like already knowing that I’m going to enjoy it. (Can any fellow HSPs relate?) Get cozy and relax in front of the tv, just make sure to avoid a super intense or stimulating show right before bedtime.
- Play a (relaxing) video game – The keyword here is relaxing. The game you play should make you happy, or at least not make you angry. Most of the games I play anyway are chill (think Animal Crossing and The Sims), but this might be different for you. As an introvert, I love single-player games, but it could also be a good time to socialize and play a game with a friend.
- Do a puzzle – I think a lot of us had a jig-saw puzzle phase of quarantine. My puzzle days are over for now because the guinea pig cage took over the puzzle spot, but it was so much fun! Something is calming about focusing on the pieces, and finishing a puzzle is super satisfying. There’s also plenty of puzzle apps for jig-saw puzzles as well as other kinds like sudoku, crossword puzzles, and other games like that.
- Read for information/learn something – This is in the realm of mental self-care. If you’re not taking classes, it may take some effort to continue learning things regularly. The good thing is that you can learn anything you want! Do some research or pick up a book about a topic you’re interested in and let your curiosity guide you.
- Connect with someone you love – Something that may look different during a pandemic. Whether you’re meeting in person or virtually, spend some time talking with a loved one. Just hearing their voice can be enough to lift your mood for the rest of the day.
- Do a spiritual practice – You get to decide what this looks like for you. It may be reading a devotional or religious text, praying, meditating, or something totally different! The important part is that you’re present and participating in a nourishing practice. Reminding yourself of your beliefs can help you deal with life’s challenges in a healthier way.
Lifestyle Self-Care Ideas
I think I might be making this one up, but this category is supposed to help you feel more put together or make your life easier in some way. It’s caring for yourself in the sense that you’re taking care of a responsibility instead of letting it become something that drains you or takes up mental energy. Maybe do some of these things earlier in the day to feel productive. For me, that makes it easier to relax later without feeling guilty or like I’ve wasted the day. (Self-care is not a waste of time! And you should not feel guilty about it! But sometimes I do anyway, and I need to work on that.) Anyway, here are some ideas for making your life a little bit better:
- Plan your outfits for the week – In a pre-pandemic world, this meant picking out my work clothes for the whole week on Sunday night. Now I wing it every morning, but it really does save time as it’s one less decision to make. I would choose cute outfits, and it helped me to rotate through pieces and make sure I was actually wearing most of the clothes in my closet.
- Unsubscribe from unwanted promotional emails – If there are emails from brands or companies that you consistently delete without opening, it’s time to unsubscribe. Instead of deleting them every time, just stop them from coming. This will save you time, energy, and potentially money if you’re buying unnecessary things because of these emails. Stay subscribed to newsletters that provide value, but take the time to get off lists that aren’t serving you.
- Organize something – You get to decide what that something is! It could be a physical space like a drawer, a shelf, or your closet. It could also be a digital thing such as your email inbox, the files on your computer, or the accounts you follow on a social media platform. There is some work involved here, but I consider it self-care in the sense that you will probably feel better afterward.
- Research something you’d love to do/have/are passionate about – Similar to reading for information, spend some time getting lost in an internet rabbit hole (if that’s something that will make you feel better and not worse). Research a new product, a dream vacation, or anything that makes you excited!
- Plan for the upcoming week – Of course things can pop up at any time, but planning your week ahead of time can make your life easier. If you’re not normally a planner, try thinking about how you’d like your week to be structured. What do you want to spend time on? How can you break up a goal or task and make it more manageable?
- Set a timer for tidying up – This is especially useful if you’re not in the habit of tidying up every day. Set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes, choose a space to clean, and get going! It’s awesome how much you can get done in a short amount of time when you’re focused. Do what you can, and when the timer goes off, you’re done. Don’t feel pressured to keep going, even if there’s still more stuff you could put away.
- Do one thing you’ve been putting off – It might be an appointment, something you need to fix around the house, an item to return, or anything like that. Maybe you’re dragging your feet because you think it’s going to be uncomfortable. In the moment, this might not feel like self-care, but part of caring for yourself is just doing the damn thing instead of letting it hang over your head indefinitely. (And then reward yourself when the big scary thing is done.)
How To Structure Your Self-Care Day
Here’s how I would do it, sort of assuming that you have most or all of the day to devote to it. Feel free to adjust and do as many or as few activities as you’d like. I would start with a slow, cozy morning. Do your normal morning routine but slower, and really enjoy each step. I like to do some lifestyle stuff during the day and do all of my productive tasks early. If it requires some time or focus, I prefer to get it done before dinner time. After dinner, I try to do some physical self-care, like a workout video followed by a shower and my skincare routine. Finally, I’ll journal and read for some emotional self-care to unwind before bed. I love to make the time before bed as relaxing as possible.
Try some combo moves, such as putting on a face mask and reading while you wait for it to dry. Sometimes it’s possible to do several of these at the same time, and I love to do it that way. It’s efficient and allows me to get more out of my self-care nights. If multitasking self-care was a Pokemon move, it’d be super effective!
Of course, you should structure your day in a way that makes the most sense and feels best for you. That’s what a self-care day is all about! It may take some trial and error to decide what you like. The most appropriate self-care activity can also depend on your mood, your stress level, and your mental health at the time. The more you practice, the more you’ll get a feel for what you need at any given time.
So there it is! 25 ideas to incorporate into your next self-care Sunday, or any day really.
I hope you’re feeling inspired to treat yourself and relax. Let me know your favorite self-care activity by leaving a comment!