10 Self-Care Ideas that Will Surprisingly Reduce Stress

10 Self-Care Ideas that Will Surprisingly Reduce Stress

Reduce burnout and focus on being your best this year with these 10 self-care ideas that can fold easily into your everyday life.

How often do you set aside time for some legitimate self-care?

Often in an increasingly busy (and stressful) world, we prioritize just about everything over our own personal well-being. It’s not that we don’t care about ourselves, but everything else in our lives seems to take priority. Before we know it, we’ve run ourselves ragged with barely enough energy to brush our teeth.

Self-care is an act of love and appreciation toward ourselves that ensures our current and future well-being.

Taking the time to care for yourself makes you better able to handle a demanding world because your needs are met. Instead of slapping on a face mask or diving into a bubble bath (unless that’s your thing), consider what your needs truly are and how you can meet them. Things that may seem excessive to one person may be someone else’s most-needed ritual, and that’s ok.

10 Self-Care Ideas

While basic self-care might seem pretty obvious, taking the best care of ourselves goes far beyond showering and brushing our teeth. In fact, it’s the practice of diligently understanding our needs and doing our best to address them so that we can set ourselves up for happiness everyday.

If you’re unsure where to start, try asking yourself these broad questions:

  1. Is there anything important that I have been putting off that relates to my personal health or well-being?
  2. What is a constant source of irritation that I can solve?
  3. Is there a chore or responsibility that I have been putting off doing that I know will make me feel better?
  4. What is something small that I can add to my daily routine that is solely focused on my needs and makes me feel my best?
  5. Is there anything that always makes me feel worse after I’m exposed to it? How can I work to remove that from my life?
  6. What would I love to do if I had time for it every day? What can I do to make time for that thing?

In this list, I’ve detailed 10 self-care ideas that are a little different. Some of these things are uncomfortable or hard, but in my experience those are the practices that are most rewarding in the long-term.

Also check out: 12 Simple & Relaxing Additions to Your Cozy Morning Routine

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information.

Schedule that Appointment

Going to a doctor’s appointment isn’t exactly a glamorous use of your self-care time. However, when we put off basic care for ourselves it builds over time. At first it’s just a missed dentist appointment, but a few months later there’s a funky mole on your back and now your knee is clicking all funny.

With healthcare finally catching up to the technology age, your next doctor’s appointment might be easier than you think. I’ve had urgent care appointments that have me scheduled, seen by a doctor (virtually), and prescription in hand within the hour.

If you have the means, healthcare, and ability to take time off work, this is one of the best things you can do for yourself currently and long-term. Add in your favorite Starbuck’s beverage or breakfast sandwich before or after your appointment as a little gift to yourself for taking such great care of you.

Clean Out an Often-Used, Cluttered Space

Looking at you, junk drawers and pantries.

Clutter creates stress when we’re constantly looking for things. It also doesn’t do us any good to be bombarded with unnecessary items that should have already been thrown away.

If you’re like the majority of us, some of the often utilized spaces in your house get the most cluttered. Instead of opting for a Netflix binge session, put on an audiobook or podcast to spend 15-20 minutes organizing a cluttered space. Every time you use it in the future, you will be grateful you took the time to clean it. You will probably find one or two things you’ve been looking for, and you’ll have a clean and organized space for at least the next couple of months.

Of all the self-care ideas on this list, I’m always surprised by how much better I feel after cleaning a cluttered space. This is one of my easier self-care go-to’s that always improves my mood.

Pantry Organizers

Drawer Organizers

Top-Rated Brother Label Maker

Distance from Toxic Friends

Toxic friends can make healthy habits and growth incredibly difficult. Not only that, but spending time consistently with people that make you feel less than amazing can really take a toll on your mental health. Taking action to protect yourself from toxic people can be pretty challenging, but it’s worth it in the long term.

In my experience, the biggest signifier of toxic people in my life are:

  1. These people make me feel bad about myself, whether that’s making fun of my interests or beliefs, preferences, or lifestyle.
  2. They lie to me.
  3. They pressure me into doing things I don’t want to do.
  4. I stop being honest about myself and hide things for fear of ridicule and judgement.
  5. They make fun of me for things that they know I’m sensitive about and play it off as “just a joke.”
  6. They reveal sensitive information about me (weight, salary) to other people without my consent.

Of the all the self-care ideas on this list, this one will likely be the most challenging. Demanding to be treated with kindness and fairness is not asking too much of the people around you. If anything, creating and maintaining these boundaries will lead you to gravitate toward people that are interested in seeing you grow and flourish. Anyone who wants anything less than this for you is not your friend.

Not Nice by Dr. Aziz Gazipura

Take a Day (or a Few) Off Social Media and the News

Sometimes with so much going on we can be overwhelmed by the amount of information we’re being fed. One of the best self-care ideas is to take a break from the loud voices of others on social media and the news.

While it’s good to stay updated on current events and your friends, the apps that feed us this information are determined to keep our attention as long as possible. Typically, we fall victim to algorithms designed to keep us on the apps – and often – away from ourselves. Taking a day to mindfully step away from these apps and outlets will give you an opportunity to check in with yourself.

Unfollow People that Trigger You

Giving yourself the freedom to unfollow people will allow you to be more mindful about how social media messages make you feel. Jameela Jamil says she unfollows anyone who triggers her. This means that if they make her feel bad about herself (even if they mean well) she doesn’t open herself up to that negativity.

“There’s only so many hot models in bikinis on like, really nice balconies at really nice hotels eating a giant slice of pizza (that they definitely didn’t finish) that one can handle in this world.”

Jameela Jamil, YouTube

All too often we follow accounts that seem inspirational in one aspect of our lives or another. In reality, these accounts can make us feel worse about ourselves in comparison.

So if you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through your feeds, take a moment to check in. If you see a photo that makes you feel ugly, like you don’t make enough money, or your vacations aren’t nice enough, you may need to reconsider following that person. Even if it’s only for a short time, this practice will allow you to observe how you’re impacted by outside forces and protect yourself accordingly.

Start Planning to Leave Your Miserable Job

I would just say quit your miserable job but in reality, planning for a move that big takes time. If you allow yourself to stay in a self-pity spiral, you will find yourself wistfully watching a coworker follow their dream job while you’re stuck without a plan. This is one of the self-care ideas on this list that will help set you up for happiness in the future. I’ve listed five things below that you can do to start planning for your next job now.

  1. Write down your dream job, or the qualities you would like in your next job/boss/company.
  2. Start polishing your resume.
  3. Look at other jobs. If you’re ready and want to go for it, you can apply to them. If you still have a ways to go, write down the skills you need to cultivate to make yourself more marketable for that position.
  4. Set a date to quit. This is what I did for my corporate job, and it gave me motivation to work harder in other areas and lessened the fear and anxiety I had before leaving.
  5. Start saving money. While money doesn’t buy happiness, it certainly can buy freedom from a job you loathe. Before quitting my corporate job, Evan and I moved into a tiny studio that cost $560/month. This allowed us to travel more and save money so that I could quit without additional financial stress.
  6. Search and connect with people in your industry on LinkedIn. You can also reach out to these people and ask directly what qualities and skills are especially helpful in this field.

Make Yourself a Nice, Healthy Meal

If 2020 taught me anything, it’s that taking time to cultivate my culinary skills makes cooking feel like less of a chore. Setting aside a few hours to prepare a delicious meal for yourself will sharpen your cooking skills, make your stomach happy, and make you feel accomplished for not eating out.

If your not sure where to start, pick a meal from your childhood that always made you feel warm and loved. If it’s decadent and not the healthiest option, you can likely find a healthy version online. For me, this is a pasta dish like vegan baked ziti or a hearty soup.

Choose a dish that you’re excited to cook, but doesn’t push your cooking skills too far. You might find that what you cook becomes your favorite dish, and you already know how to make it!

Try a few of my favorite healthy recipes: A Warm, Delicious, and Savory Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (Vegan), Savory Vegan Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos, Quick Brown Butter Pasta with Grape Tomatoes & Broccoli

My favorite food blogs: Pick Up Limes, Rainbow Plant Life, Gimme Some Oven

Read That Book on Your Shelf

Reading more is on pretty much everyone’s to-do list, but how often do you make time to settle into a book you love? Leave your phone in another room and and dive into that juicy page-turner that’s been sitting on your shelf. Reading helps your brain learn and form new neural connections, and this neuroplasticity will keep your brain healthy over time. Plus, nothing helps distract you from your own stress better than diving into the crazy world of a fiction novel.

Here are some books that I’ve had trouble putting down:

Related: My Favorite Cinnamon Roll Recipe + 5 Spooky Mysteries to Read this Fall

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

A rear-window inspired, slow-burn novel with a delicious mystery.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Dark, captivating, and twisted, this is my favorite Gillian Flynn novel to date.

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy

An impulse purchase that truly wow’d me. Perfect for nature lovers and those who like a little mystery, poetic prose and imagery. This book will stay etched in my mind forever.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

A fantastic mystery with a twist that I never saw coming!

Go to Bed Early

If you’re constantly tired and agitated in the morning, you probably need more sleep. Whether you need to plan an early self-care night, or forego your (insert bad evening habit here), make it a priority. You may find that the standard 8 hours per night doesn’t work for you (9 is my sweet spot) and you can make plans to better care for yourself in the future.

If going to bed early is a challenge for you, try to make it comfortable and enticing. Set an evening alarm, make a cup of chamomile tea, grab a novel, and slide into bed. Whatever you need to do to make bedtime a little sweeter.


Journaling is a simple way to lay out what you’re feeling so you can bring more attention and awareness to your inner world. Try writing a stream-of-consciousness style entry about what’s going on in your life. Don’t worry about paragraphs, or whether what you’re writing actually makes sense. There’s no rules around journaling, especially when it comes to reading what you wrote (I don’t reread my journal entries). Just write what’s going on in your mind.

You’ll find that when you get it all down, it’s less likely to bounce around your mind throughout the day. Your journal can be a place to turn and vent, write out your anxieties, and emphasize your dreams.

Moleskine Classic Notebook Hard Cover

My personal journal favorite for free hand journaling and writing. I just love the yellow lined paper and the way my pen slides neatly across it.

The Next Right Thing Guided Journal: A Decision Making Companion

A top-rated guided journal for those who never know what to write.

The Five Minute Journal

Another top-rated guided journal with quick prompts that will keep you writing every day.

10 Self-Care Ideas

  1. Schedule that appointment
  2. Clean a cluttered space
  3. Distance from toxic friends
  4. Take a day off social media and the news
  5. Unfollow people that trigger you
  6. Start planning to leave your miserable job
  7. Make yourself a healthy, home cooked meal
  8. Read
  9. Go to bed early
  10. Journal

I hope you now have a few self-care ideas that you can employ to lessen stress, care for yourself, and get a little closer to that happiness we all seek everyday. Self-care looks different for everyone, and understanding what truly helps you is the first step in long term wellness. Be flexible with yourself, try different things, and don’t be afraid to take time for things that you feel will benefit you.

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