Life is busy. You’re busy. Self-care can seem like a selfish luxury when there’s so much on your to-do list and less time every day to get it done. Setting aside time to focus on yourself and figuring out how to relax can be difficult thoughts to entertain. To practice self-care and self-love is not selfish! It’s an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, work-life balance and being your all-around best self—for yourself, your loved ones and for others. There’s a good reason for putting on your own oxygen mask first. Stay with us to explore some self-care activities and get ready to unwind. 

10 Self-Care Ideas

1. Enjoy the silence

The science on silence is compelling. According to Marie Pedersen, epidemiologist at the University of Copenhagen, “noise is a known psychological and physiological stressor,” which can affect concentration, problem-solving and a host of other cognitive abilities. It’s no surprise that relentless noise has been found to impact our health and well-being in many ways, including “low sleep quality and high blood pressure, as well as increased risk of heart attack or stroke, diabetes and even cancer.”

Yet more research has shown that “when you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.”  

Treat yourself to a space sans notifications, alerts, alarms and any other audible interruptions. If you live in a place where noisy neighbors or street traffic are ever-present, try earplugs or noise-canceling headphones to at least keep the space inside your skull as serene as possible. Take a break from screens and social media, too. Sometimes the most damaging noise comes in through your eyes.

2. Turn your skincare into a self-care ritual

Take the time to pamper yourself with a spa day. Be in the present moment and get Zen with your skincare routine, from cleansers to face masks to makeup. Don’t forget your manicure! Take a bubble bath with your favorite bath bomb, diffuse essential oils and listen to relaxing music, your favorite playlist, podcast or audiobook. And there’s always golden silence.

3. Indulge in your favorite snacks and comfort food

Sometimes self-care looks a little bit like spoiling yourself. Think great coffee, pasta, pizza, chocolate, ice cream—or our preferred option of all the above

Splurge on snacks. Binge something on Netflix. Feel zero guilt.

4. Take the edge off with some wine

To be clear, we’re not advocating getting too tipsy, drinking if you’re not of legal age to drink alcohol, or putting your recovery at risk. But if this is a safe and legal option for you, then enjoying some of your favorite wine along with any of the other self-care ideas is one to keep in mind.

5. Create a regular self-care routine

It’s been said that you’re never going to find the time for anything, you have to make the time. Intentionally set it aside. It’s a choice, and sometimes a sacrifice. But it’s worth making. Maybe it’s a morning routine or something you do at lunchtime. Studies have shown that “solitude could lead to relaxation and reduced stress when individuals actively chose to be alone.” Remember, self-care is not selfish!

6. Take an online class

All the kids are doing it! The benefits of learning something new are probably obvious, but here’s some science about improving neuroplasticity, memory and problem-solving skills. Plus, learning is just fun. The wonders of the internet make it really easy and affordable to learn something you’ve always been interested in. What’s your flavor? Pick one below and go for it:

Or, you know, Google can probably deliver a million other options.

7. Plan a staycation or mini-retreat

Many of the items in this post overlap with our posts on healthy lifestyle, how to relax, and this item, the staycation. Whether you make it a single-day retreat or a full-blown, week-long checkout, a staycation is a solid way to recharge and reconnect—with yourself and/or with family members.

8. Catch up with good friends

Spending some time alone intentionally is healthy, and so is getting together with good friends. That may be a Zoom call for now, but it’ll do until it’s safe to meet in-person and when you’re comfortable doing so. Maybe start slowly with an outside social distancing hangout with your best friend. Connecting with friends—especially laughing together—has been shown to release endorphins, a hormone that makes you feel good. “Social contacts are vital to humans.” You probably didn’t need research to tell you that. But it’s easy to forget when you’re busy and start feeling disconnected and burned out.

9. Start a journal

Journaling is a healthy way to articulate what you’re thinking and feeling—positive or negative. It’s also a great way to see what you’ve accomplished and how you’ve grown. Set your goals. Keep a journal. Hold yourself accountable. And celebrate your achievements!

10. Start detecting your small wins

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or burned out, motivation can be hard to muster. However, sometimes only a few small wins can restore your sense of optimism and self-confidence and improve your mood and self-esteem. The “progress principle” recognizes that making progress toward any number of valued goals can spur the motivation to see larger goals realized. Although typically discussed in a business context, it applies to your everyday life, too. Set small, realistic goals along the way to major milestones. Harvard Business School prof Teresa Amabile recommends keeping track of your small wins in a journal, which “helps us to reflect on our days and keep track of all those little achievements that normally go unnoticed.” That could be saving money one spending choice at a time, decluttering your house one room at a time, or establishing good habits through small changes. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right?