Updated: Feb 19, 2019
People often put off self-care because they feel it takes too much time. But, did you know there are many different types of self-care? And many of them you can easily implement in your daily life without needing a lot of planning or time. The trick is finding something you genuinely enjoy and making it a part of your daily habits.
Here are five different types of self-care with explanations of how they can help you. And, to help you brainstorm ideas for some self-care activities, we’ll include specific examples to get you started.
Taking care of your body is an important part of self-care and might be one of the easiest activities to incorporate into your daily life. Being active not only helps to maintain your body’s physical health, it also give you a chance to let off some steam and boost your endorphins (happy hormones).
You might not think going to the gym is fun or has anything to do with self-compassion, but you don’t have to limit yourself to just the gym for physical self-care! There are many other activities to consider for physical self-care. Broaden your thoughts beyond the traditional concepts of exercise or physicality.
Here are a few ideas to start:
Physical Self-Care Ideas
Start or end your day with some yoga. It can be as relaxing or as physically challenging as you want it to be.
Turn the music up and have an impromptu dance party in your living room. If no one is around, you don’t need to worry how you look, just get your groove on and MOVE! You’ll find yourself laughing and having a blast in no time.
Take your dog for a jog or run. They’ll love the chance for some fresh air and you’ll have a running partner to challenge your pace.
Go for a nice bike ride through the country or a scenic part of town. If you’re meeting a friend for brunch nearby, try riding your bike there and back instead of taking a vehicle.
Join a class or learn a new sport. Many community centers and gyms offer a variety of classes and activities to choose from. Try that Zumba class you’ve always be interested in or go for that tai chi practice if you want something a little more low-key.
Or, simply go for a walk and just enjoy that fresh air.
Sensory self-care is all about using tactile sensations to calm your mind and your body. It is all about mindfulness and focusing on the feeling of the world around you.
When you learn how to focus on the sensations that surround you, you learn how to live more fully in the present moment. When you live in the present moment, it is easier to let go of past resentment or future anxiety.
If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present. –Lao Tzu
As you learn to practice sensory self-care, consider all of your senses: touch, smell, sound, sight, taste… You will probably be drawn to one of these senses more than the others, so feel free to focus on the sense that soothes your mind and body the most.
Here are a few sensory self-care ideas, some involving more than one sense. Clear your mind and just focus on these simple sensations.
Sensory Self-Care Ideas
Go outside in the fresh air and take a deep breath. Notice the smells around you and focus on the scent that gives you a sense of joy.
Light a candle or a small fire (in a fireplace or outside). Watch the flicker of the flames and listen to the crackle of the logs.
Focus on the movement of your own breathing.
Lie down somewhere you find relaxing and listen to music.
Walk barefoot along the beach or in the grass and just feel the sensation of the ground beneath and between your toes.
Cuddle with a beloved animal and pet their fur/scales/skin. Feel the sensation of their coat or skin under your fingers, feel their chest rise and fall as they breathe, feel how they lean into you when they want to express their love for you.
Eat your favorite treat and savor the taste on you tongue.
Emotional self-care is the category most people associate self-care with, which makes sense. Your emotions belong to YOU alone. Learning how to fully engage with and process your emotions allows you to create a healthier mental space.
It can be tempting to push away feelings like sadness or anger, but it is much healthier to allow yourself to feel them, accept them, and, finally, move on. Emotions are not inherently “good” or “bad” and there is nothing wrong with how you feel. It’s ok to feel “bad” or “negative” emotions, but don’t dwell on them. You cannot control your emotions, but you can control how you respond to them.
If you want to improve your emotional self-care, try one of these ideas:
Emotional Self-Care Ideas
Keep a journal and allow yourself to be completely honest with your feelings when writing. This journal is for you, and no one else so write what you feel and allow yourself to process your emotions.
Write a list of “feeling words” to help you expand your emotional vocabulary and better understand your feelings.
Let yourself cry when you need to.
Listen to and sing along with music that expresses how you are feeling.
See a therapist, even if it is just for a few sessions focused on general personal development.
If you’re not a religious person, it might be easy to simply overlook this area of self-care. However, spiritual self-care is more than going to church or believing in a specific deity. It applies to everyone, atheists and agnostics included.
Spiritual self-care is all about looking within yourself and defining what really matters to you. Your values and moral standards, finding a sense of purpose.
For those who suffer from depression, an important aspect of recovery is to find your purpose. Developing a spiritual self-care practice will help you in this journey.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
Spiritual Self-Care Ideas
Start a daily meditation or daily gratitude practice.
Attend a spiritual service, religious or humanistic.
Read poetry or fine literature.
Go on a nature walk and reflect on the beauty around you.
Do something creative. Art, music, writing, dance, whatever sets your soul on fire. Experiment with different creative outlets until you find the one that speaks to you.
Lastly, social self-care is an important category for everyone. The catch here is that social self-care will look different for everyone.
For an introvert, social self-care might be taking time away from your social circle to recharge while an extrovert may need to schedule a special event with their closest friends in order to refill their sense of social worth.
Social self-care isn’t just about doing things with other people just because. More importantly, it’s about choosing meaningful things to do with people who make you feel good.
Here are a few ideas to help you improve your social self-care:
Social Self-Care Ideas
Write a letter to a long-distance friend who you miss. People always appreciate the effort that goes into a hand-written letter.
Join a community that shares the same interests as you.
Cut out the negative people in your life. You do not need to surround yourself with people who make you feel bad about yourself.
Start a conversation with an acquaintance you find interesting.
Make a lunch date with a great friend.
Sign up for a class to learn something new and meet new people at the same time.
These are all just a few ideas to help you get started in developing your own self-care routine. Try one or try all of these ideas until you figure out what works best for you.
Which idea do you want to try first? Share your favorites in the comments below!
Stay tuned for the next article in our Self-Care Series!
Want to learn more? Read about the 10 Ways Self Care Can Improve Your Life HERE.