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20 'Offbeat' Self-Care Ideas You Probably Haven't Tried

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We can’t function properly if we aren’t taking care of ourselves, which is why it is important to practice self-care. Whether that looks like treating yourself to a bubble bath or doing the “un-fun” but necessary acts of self-care like laundry, it’s important to figure out what methods work best for you and your well-being.

Sometimes self-care is going to look a little bit different from what we typically think of as “self-care” — and that’s OK. We’re all unique so it makes sense that some of the things that help us through a tough time might seem “offbeat” to others.

Maybe for you that means playing live-action roleplaying games or laughing at memes for an hour. Whatever it looks like for you, we’re proud of you for finding something that works! We wanted to know what “offbeat” self-care tips people have, so we turned to our mental health community to share their experiences.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. Writing “Permission Slips”

“I learned this from Brene Brown. I write myself permissions slips. I give myself permission to enjoy this event. I give myself permission to relax tonight. I give myself permission to leave this party if it is too much. Something about writing it down and giving myself permission makes things easier and better. Then I don’t feel bad for resting when I need to or leaving an event if I am not enjoying it. I write myself permissions daily for things. Sometimes it is little, sometimes big, but it reminds me that I am the only one with authority over me… I don’t have to feel guilty for doing things that are good for me, or eating junk food I enjoy or whatever else.” — Jessica S.

2. Caring for Plants

“I have little succulent house plants. Every day I turn on their lamps and touch the leaves. I got some fuzzy little ones that are ridiculously soft. Plus it forces me to open my windows and have the sun in my life. It’s great seeing them grow and stay alive.” — Lily M.

3. Getting a Tattoo

“It’s expensive, but getting tattoos is very therapeutic when I’ve hit a ravine of low moods. I find something meaningful and focus on the pain while getting tattooed. Then the art heals and the pain has turned into a beautiful piece of art.” — Suzanne W.

4. Collecting Stones

“I take out my stones, I remind myself of their names, the spelling of their names, where they come from and what I want them to do. I carry groups of stones from room to room, I leave them out under the full moon and I spend hours and hours on many, many different sites selecting my next purchases. I, also, hunt for minerals outdoors with my husband, attend rock shows and visit metaphysical stores.” — Melinda M.

5. Sleeping With an Extra Pillow

“I bought an extra pillow specifically to hold when I sleep. It helps me feel more secure and comfortable, and it feels like I’m being hugged. It’s the single best thing I’ve done for self-care in the last year.” — Jacinta M.

6. Using a “Rewards System”

“I use a bribe system with myself. Like if I do something productive like clean, do dishes, etc. I can do something like read, draw, write, watch my favorite movie or TV show when I am done or home. It really helps me.” — Megan H.

“I’ve had to formulate a reward system for myself. For example, If I take a shower and wash my hair at least five days out of the week I get to buy a new paint color for my art room. Or if I straighten up the bathroom I get to buy new soap from Bath and Body Works. I’ve learned that upgrading small things in a room it gives me a spark to keep it clean for a bit. A new candle or new tablecloth, etc.” — Brittany H.

7. Redecorating

“I recently redid everything. I cleaned out most of my room, threw out a ton of my clothes and items. I stripped the bed and threw out my curtains. I went to Ikea and got all white/cream bedding, and pale teal curtains (to match my teal dresser). I changed my wardrobe, I bought a ton of new clothes, I have a new motto: if you don’t feel beautiful in it, and like you can conquer the world, don’t buy it. I went from band tees and jeans to ‘fancy casual’ clothes.” — Tiffany L.

8. Leaving Notes of Appreciation for Others

“I also used to have a little paper mailbox right by my old roommate’s doors, so when I felt bad about myself, I would write a note with something I admired or appreciated them for and left it for them. They complained when I didn’t have a mailbox for myself, and they left me notes as well.” — Ariel A.

9. Cosplaying

“Cosplay. Sometimes it’s helpful to get out of your head and become someone else for a bit. And it doesn’t have to be all-out or convention-worthy. Even if it’s just as simple as wearing a pin or doing your hair a certain way, it’ll work. I do the same thing with a vintage dress. Deciding what to wear and how to do my hair and makeup gets me out of my head. I always feel more confident and sure of myself when I’m all dolled up in my vintage garb.” — Mary N.

10. Screaming Curse Words

“A good old fashioned existential scream and throwing all the curse words I know at the sea often helps me! Then I go and do something I wouldn’t normally do, just for the pleasure. Doesn’t matter what it is as long as it isn’t maladaptive or destructive. Blowing bubbles, painting, walking, baking, anything that you feel like doing, the more infantile the better though! Get it all out of your system and nurture some childlike appreciation of the simple things.” — Sophie W.

11. Watching ASMR videos

“ASMR videos for me sometimes. Life is stressful and I end up feeling very relaxed and sleepy when I watch them. Hair brushing videos, in particular, are nice.” — Marisa P.

12. Masturbating

“To be 100% honest and not to give too much information or sound vulgar, masturbation is a very healthy stress reliever for me and I think talking about it can be helpful, fun and educational!” — Karen K.

13. Watching Horror Movies

“When I’m really anxious at night and unable to sleep, I watch horror movies on Netflix. I have no clue how it helps, but it does!” — Amy B.

14. Squeezing Ice Cubes

“Instead of self-harming, try squeezing ice cubes as hard as you can, it creates the painful sensation, but not the lasting effects.” — Jim B.

15. Powerlifting

I powerlift. Sounds really out there, but in the last five months my anxiety has reduced, my self-confidence soared and I lift all kinds of heavy things and get all my anger out. The community is great, and I can go and block out all the junk of the world and get stronger.” — Cassie B.

16. Playing With the Sound Volume

“Move the volume of a video or song. Up two clicks, down three. Up three, down two. repeat. It’s a way to physically interact with counting without just counting to help you calm down or distract yourself. I use it sometimes when I keep dissociating as a grounding method and forcing me to cognitively count the numbers out to stay at the same volume range.” — Cheyenne L.

17. Carefully Balancing on an Object

“I climb on a fence post, balance on one foot and align myself in a straight line with the center of the Earth. I feel grounded and at peace for a while. I know it sounds weird, but it works for me.” — Carol G.

18. Using a Punching Bag to Get Out Your Frustrations

“When my parents were going through their divorce, I bought a used punching bag and gloves for $50. I would exhaust myself hitting it, kicking it and sobbing. I could focus all my anger at the bag.” — Emily H.

19. Staying Overnight at a Nearby Hotel

“Take a day or two off work, check in the nearest hotel, take a long shower and sleep peacefully (let the body relax and enjoy the nice hotel room) and order food delivery to the hotel room.” — Crimson L.

20. Learning How to Code

“I like learning math or coding. I use kids workbooks that break everything down into easy steps and they usually make it more fun. Learning new things helps me.” — Tina C.

If you’re having a bad mental health day or you just need a little break, we hope you can keep these ideas with you as little reminders of how to care for yourself. We’re rooting for you!

Do you have an offbeat self-care idea you want to share with us? Let us know in the comments.

Originally published: May 16, 2019
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