50 Simple Self-Care Ideas That’ll Change Your Life


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Nope, it’s not just you: We live in extra-stressful times. That’s why a solid self-care routine is critical to keeping your you-know-what together (at least most of the time — it’s totally normal to have the occasional anxiety explosion.) And what taking care of yourself means is different depending not just on who you are, but on what you’re going through, how much time you have, what you find makes you feel less stressed and what you can afford. Whatever your self-care routine winds up being for you, the important thing is that it gives you life, rather than sucking the life out of you.

“It’s sort of like a car driving 100 miles an hour is eventually going to wear down. When it’s go-go-go all the time, it’s just not sustainable over the long haul,” says Debra Kissen, Ph.D., MHSA, a psychologist and CEO and Clinical Director of the Light on Anxiety Center CBT Treatment Center. “There’s eventually going to be wear and tear to keep up that level of momentum of doing and giving,” she says.

What you’re looking for in a self-care routine, says Kissen, is a feeling of rejuvenation during or after the activity you choose. “It should be charging your battery in some way, versus depleting it,” she says. You want it to be energy-neutral or energy giving, she says, as opposed to you expending emotional energy.

Which is why self-care might not look like getting your nails done or soaking in the tub, although these are both viable options. Sometimes they’re about getting out for a walk, organizing your house so you feel calm when you’re home, or taking the time to figure out how to set some new boundaries with your partner so you feel safe and happy in your relationship. Even healthy meal prep (especially if you get into the meditative aspects of chopping veggies) can be self-care, especially because it sets you up for a nutritious week ahead.

Another thing to keep in mind is that self-care — as important as it is — may not feel easy or comfortable, especially if you’re not used to it. “People should feel like they should want to do it, when sometimes there are feelings of guilt and shame around it,” says Kissen. “It should feel good, but that’s not always the case right away.” If this sounds like you, expose yourself to it a little at a time, and it will start to feel good eventually, she says. “It’s important for your brain and your body, having that pause, so it is something to work on.”

One thing you don’t want to do, however, is make self-care a chore. Eating less sugary food can be self-care; obsessively cutting it out so you feel deprived is not. Meditation is amazing self-care … unless you sit cross-legged telling yourself you suck at it. When it starts to feel punishing — even if on the surface it’s “good for you” — that’s when it stops being self-care.

And that’s fine! Pick something else — there are loads of options. Need some inspiration? Here are 50 best self-care ideas and activities to try

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