49 Self-Care Activities to do alone, and with others..... (and how to confidently prioritise ourselves to serve our loved ones)
We hear about it everywhere these days… 'Self-Care' – it can mean very different things to different people and it comes with a wide range of connotations too, both positive and negative.
Many of us have been raised to learn the importance of putting others first, caring about their needs more than our own and aspiring to be continuously giving to our friends, families, companies and community. This way of being has often been celebrated across religious teaching, the media, literature and corporate culture, and has then trickled down into smaller communities where these expectations continue to exist.
The many cultural and societal pressures for adults to act selflessly/pay little attention to their own needs can at times also be gendered. Men can be criticised for recognising the times that they need to be nurtured both physically and mentally as if this is a sign of weakness or overindulgence. Women can be criticised if their self-care involves time away from their families, friends or communities. Questions about their status as a ‘good woman’ can be raised if they aren’t serving a purpose within one of these areas.
Putting others first can indeed be very good us for in a number of ways. It can increase your overall satisfaction with life, help with managing stress, give your life meaning and promote the development of your positive character traits that improve the quality of your relationships and life.
That being said, when putting others first is motivated by less healthy reasons and neglect of one’s own needs, the connection to positive life outcomes is lost. Instead what often materialises is greater stress and risk of depression, alongside neurotic tendencies that can promote negative outcomes. People find themselves unable to give to their family, friends, colleagues and community as they find themselves pouring from an empty cup.
A wonderful life skill is understanding what type of activities (and sometimes lack of activities) can be one’s own individual self-care. Many of these activities can be done alone and many can be done with friends, family, colleagues and community.
For one person their top self-care activity could be relaxing by watching Anime films, for another it could be experiencing the adrenaline rush of mountain biking, for another it would be taking the time to budget and look after their future finances and for another, saying no to a party that week in order to rest and feel refreshed for their other priorities that will require their energy and focus. Self-care is personal, nuanced and ever-changing – it requires constant decisions and weighing up of priorities, but with a little practice can become a consistent and loved part of life.
Sometimes your own self-care will involve nurturing and lifting up others, and sometimes helping those closest around you means putting yourself first, and taking time out so that you can show up as the best version of yourself in due course.
Below are 7 main categories of self-care – and example activities within them. We hope that you can use this list as a guide to book in time with yourself for a self-care appointment without any feelings of guilt – this will bring out the best in you, and consequently, the best in your wider circle.
- Scheduling alone time
- Talking to therapist/coach/mentor
- Using affirmations
- Gratitude practice
- Movement (walks, fitness classes, dancing to favourite music)
- Bubble Baths
- Using natural ingredient products
- Naps and early nights
- Using aromatherapy products such as oils, candles and soaps to uplift and shift mood
- Advocating for yourself and your physical health by booking in relevant appointments and tests where needed
- Prioritising health and wellbeing over work status and money/other societal pressures
- Reading a book
- Listening to podcasts
- Learning a new skill and improving on it with practice
- Going to a museum or art gallery to learn more about a specific topic or era
- Having discussions with friends/family about a range of topics, gaining a deeper understanding from their varied knowledge and differing views
- Time in nature, alone or as a shared experience
- Creating (art, music, writing)
- Walks or activities with friends or family
- Regular phone or video calls with those you can’t regularly see in person
- Game night/film night with friends
- Date night with partner
- Time playing with your own pets or pet sitting for others
- Sending letters or cards to loved ones
- Sending thoughtful gifts to loved ones that uplift them and create positive future experiences (see our guide to thoughtful gifts here)
- Removing relationships in your life that are not serving you
- Saying no to any social gatherings that you feel will make you uncomfortable/will negatively impact you
- Time spent with co-workers/clients after hours
- Taking lunch breaks
- Setting boundaries with emails and calls after work hours
- Taking part in relevant courses and conferences to develop skills and build up a supportive network
- Taking sick days for physical or mental health when needed
- Taking time out for rest, holidays and a change of scenery to refresh one’s mind and body
- Organising email inbox and phone apps to feel less overwhelmed
- Sorting all relevant systems for work life and home life to function optimally
- Limiting screen time
- Tidying your home
- Meeting with a financial advisor
- Meal prepping
- Organising clothes for the week
- Planning house chores with housemates/partner
Implementing even just 1 of these activities a week or 2 or 3 each month can make a huge impact on your life. We would love to hear how any of the above has helped you and your loved ones.