There’s a misconception that self-care has to be some sort of self-indulgent luxury — like you’re doing it wrong if you’re not taking some expensive spa vacation or going on a shopping spree. But self-care — especially the self-care often necessary for taking care of your mental health — doesn’t have to be some fancy, expensive venture. In reality, self-care can be simply taking a second to make sure you’re taking care of you, and it looks different for everyone.
To get some unique self-care ideas for people who may turned off by the idea of “self-care,” we asked our community to share some ways they try to take care of themselves.
Here’s what they shared with us:
1. “Honestly, helping other people really helps me, so I consider it self-care. Mostly just talking to people with similar pain as I have or even lending an ear! It helps me as much as it helps them I think. I also do a lot of animal-related charity work.” — Morticia A.
2. “Twenty minutes a day doing anything… just for me. Whether I get my camera out and take pictures of whatever in my yard, string beads for jewelry or play in the dirt with my plants. Twenty minutes dedicated to just me and my sanity.” — Jennifer T.
3. “I go rock climbing. I’ve had panic attacks on the walls before, but I keep returning. It is one thing that helps manage my anxiety because it shows me just how much I am capable of when I reach the top. It just requires so much focus that it helps me forget about my anxiety for awhile.” — Madeleine D.
4. “Jigsaw puzzles are amazing for self-care. They are great for concentration and distraction and are some achievement once you complete them! (I’ve framed some for around my walls.)” — Christine C.
5. “I crochet! It is fantastic for keeping your mind and hands occupied, and it also lets you feel the accomplishment of having made something either for yourself or someone you care about. I’m currently working on a blanket for my niece.” — Jenny B.
6. “I enjoy trash TV. It’s my favorite stress-reliever. I lay in bed and allow myself to relax, to color and to watch whatever TLC has on or whatever Housewives are playing on Bravo. Sometimes you need to escape into a life that isn’t yours, especially on bad days.” — Jaclyn R.
7. “It’s has to be sitting in the sun (when we get some)! No matter how terrible I feel, sitting outside and letting the warm sunshine down on my face is calming. When my thoughts are racing and I feel like I might explode, it grounds me and helps clear my mind. When I feel empty it comforts me and reconnects me to the world around me. I guess it recharges my batteries just enough to keep me going.” — Phillippa C.
8. “Sometimes it’s just getting out of bed, putting my hair up and sitting on the couch doing something other than laying in bed all day. Other times I like to go for a quick drive somewhere even if it’s just a 10-minute drive and straight back home… it helps get me out the house and clears my head a little bit.” — Catherine V.
9. “Martial arts. I can switch off the outside world and just focus on the activity at hand. Either as a student or instructor this always works for me. Plus a great outlet for pent-up frustration. And after I get all the benefits of endorphins. I feel calmer after every class.” — Penny U.
10. “I go and feed my pet cows. They are so affectionate and appreciative that it always cheers me up.” — Kat S.
11. “Things like exercise/social outings don’t really work for me, so I try and do things like play video games, hang out with my pets and really invest in my own growth.” — Aliçia R.
12. “Larping. Pretending to be someone else for a weekend. Allowing to show a wide range of emotions depending on the character you are playing.” — Sarah L.
13. “I have plants I take care of. If I feel too sad or anxious to take care of myself, I use them as a way to motivate myself to do so. If I don’t take care of myself, how will my plants get water or sun?” — Kasey C.
14. “Music is where I can lose myself within lyrics and notes. Gaming is where I can live as someone else. Just stopping and breathing allows me to calm down and remind myself that my anxious thoughts are not real. They’re there to make me panic more. I try to not allow myself to be consumed by anxiety and depression.” — Bree N.
15. “I paint. It’s really one of the few things that make me feel anything. My eating, sleeping, socializing can all go out the window, but I rarely let a day go by without making art.” — Jen L.
16. “I put on my headphones and roller skate. It quiets my mind and exhausts my body. I can let go and just move. I do have to be aware of the music I listen to and make specific up-beat playlists for skating.” — Lisa L.
17. “Lay on the floor and listen to Sherlock Holmes audiobooks. It’s weird, but something about focusing on the crime in the dark is relaxing.” — Lauryn G.
18. “Blowing bubbles. It helps to breathe. It helps to move and maybe go outside (on a really bad day). Bubbles are beautiful — watching them is like watching a globe rainbow. It there’s a cat or dog companion animal, they will probably chase the bubbles and act foolishly. This causes anything from a heart burst of love, or a smile, a laugh or eventually, laughing and crying. Laughing makes me feel that I’m part of the world again. Not separate. Carrying a small ziplock bag with the bubble mixture and the wand is easy. I take them out with me. Great distraction.” — Lynda K.
19. “I talk to myself. I tell myself I’ve survived another day and I’m doing an amazing job at recovery.” — Megan E.
20. “I dance and sing around the house when I’m feeling really bad — sometimes it’s nicer to imagine I am rock star rather than who I am.” — Isobel T.
21. “Over-analyzing movies! I really enjoy finding strange symbolism in the strangest of places in films.” — Charity F.
22. “Dog training – it brings me joy when my service dog learns a new task and gets really excited!” — Adele E.
23. “I draw cartoons! It calms the finger tapping associated with my obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and it allows each alter to have a creative outlet.” — Kallie C.
24. “I make a list of things I’ve done each day. Even if I just woke up and took a shower, it helps me cope with my depression.” — Rebecca W.
25. “I write a letter to myself.” — Rida M.
What would you add? Tell us in the comments below.