Self-Care Idea List: 366 Activities for a Beautiful Life

8 Dimensions of Self-Care

Having trouble coming up with fun and interesting self-care ideas?

Last year, I took on a self-care challenge. For each of the 366 days in 2016, I experimented with a new self-care activity and then blogged about it.

What would you add to the list? Be creative and come up with your own bucket list of activities that reflect your personal style, needs and priorities.

  1. Enjoy a fermented food (or learn to ferment something yourself)
  2. Set intentions for the next day, week, month or year
  3. Express gratitude
  4. Take a walk in the woods
  5. Bake whole grain bread
  6. Include strength training exercises at least 2 days each week
  7. Get a haircut
  8. Get vaccinated
  9. Give blood
  10. Buy nothing (give something instead)
  11. Use a pressure cooker
  12. Get equipped for fitness
  13. Tidy up
  14. Drink enough water
  15. Get a pedicure
  16. Travel (without stress)
  17. Enjoy a sunset
  18. Listen to the ocean
  19. Go fishing
  20. Visit a fruit stand
  21. Meet new people
  22. Enjoy the sunshine (and then apply sunscreen)
  23. Overcome a fear
  24. Give yourself a break
  25. Sleep in
  26. Get a massage
  27. Cook with garlic
  28. Journal
  29. Walk and work
  30. Pay taxes
  31. Do “The Work”
  32. Relax by a fire
  33. Peruse the bookstore
  34. Fold laundry
  35. Drink tea
  36. Write a haiku
  37. Take a road trip
  38. Play in the snow
  39. Spend time with friends
  40. Floss
  41. Join (or start) a book club
  42. Eat local
  43. Meditate
  44. Continue education
  45. Use affirmations
  46. Receive gifts
  47. Relax with aromatherapy
  48. Eat colorfully
  49. Accept what is
  50. Volunteer at the food bank
  51. Snuggle with pets
  52. Taste
  53. Shop for groceries
  54. Zentangle
  55. Learn CPR
  56. Reminisce
  57. Garden
  58. Explore new possibilities
  59. Go out for breakfast
  60. Define your “enough”
  61. Change your mind
  62. Chase good weather
  63. Love the middle seat
  64. Cool off with shave ice
  65. Explore new places
  66. Smell the roses
  67. Go to the beach
  68. See the bigger picture
  69. Be a tourist
  70. Think in traffic
  71. Get a mammogram
  72. Read scripture
  73. Make a contribution
  74. Lounge
  75. Be part of a community
  76. Cry
  77. Practice good skin care
  78. Get certified
  79. Prune what’s no longer useful
  80. Press the pause button
  81. Listen
  82. Be quiet
  83. Eat green
  84. Celebrate
  85. Meander
  86. Notice nature
  87. Make the holidays healthier
  88. Plan
  89. Go cycling
  90. Reflect
  91. Recover
  92. Try fermented dairy
  93. Walk the dog
  94. Take a nap
  95. Build a support system
  96. Write a book
  97. Calm down
  98. Be vulnerable
  99. Set boundaries
  100. Laugh
  101. Play games
  102. Dine alone
  103. Walk (in the airport or elsewhere)
  104. Plan a menu
  105. Ask for help
  106. Cook for yourself
  107. Hug a pet
  108. Give gifts of gratitude
  109. Find inspiring spaces
  110. Talk yourself into fitness
  111. Listen to an audio book
  112. Be inspired
  113. Stay in
  114. Understand your impact
  115. Set weekly goals
  116. Use an iron skillet
  117. Stay in touch with friends
  118. Do the dishes
  119. Forgive yourself
  120. Let the oven do it
  121. Go to the doctor
  122. Work in the yard
  123. Savor something
  124. Make new friends
  125. Plant some herbs
  126. Build new skills
  127. Assemble (or reassemble) a first-aid kit
  128. Make a toast to a memory
  129. Shop the farmers’ market
  130. Say thank you
  131. Give feedback
  132. Hug a tree
  133. Take a hike
  134. Read the (entire) Affordable Care Act
  135. Make broth cubes
  136. Bake a cheesecake
  137. Make a breakfast bowl
  138. Use a foam roller
  139. Change your sheets
  140. Eat 5 (to 9) servings of fruits and vegetables each day
  141. Network
  142. Entertain
  143. Sit in stillness
  144. Think positively
  145. Make chicken noodle soup
  146. Do something you don’t want to do
  147. Don’t worry (be happy)
  148. Self-direct your care
  149. Admire art
  150. Eat some cherries (or another in season fruit)
  151. Watch a game
  152. Love lentils
  153. Cultivate awareness
  154. Review your finances
  155. Fuel up for a workout
  156. Celebrate success
  157. Work to physical exhaustion
  158. Take the day off
  159. Eat a big salad
  160. Apologize
  161. Spend time with family
  162. Go sightseeing
  163. Visit a museum
  164. Marvel
  165. Color
  166. Start a bullet journal
  167. Count your blessings
  168. Bake a spaghetti squash
  169. Work in bursts
  170. Drink coffee
  171. Go to the gym
  172. Pick berries
  173. Go to the dentist
  174. Take a yoga class
  175. Track your goals
  176. Lean into discomfort
  177. Stretch
  178. Give gifts
  179. Make yourself a bouquet
  180. Take shorter showers
  181. Test your day for flow
  182. Buy new exercise clothes
  183. Get an eye exam
  184. Set boundaries
  185. Clean your yoga mat
  186. Blend a smoothie bowl
  187. Ferment pickles
  188. Volunteer at a community garden
  189. Take a home-canning class
  190. Bake zucchini bread
  191. Get (and stay) connected
  192. Learn self-defense
  193. Attend a virtual retreat
  194. Envision
  195. Care for your feet
  196. Breathe deeply
  197. Make chicken salad
  198. Go camping
  199. Listen to music
  200. Use a sugar scrub
  201. Window shop
  202. Buy yourself a gift
  203. Make a Thai salad
  204. Organize your recipes
  205. Bake blueberry muffins
  206. Make a (healthy) Waldorf salad
  207. Study
  208. Try a new recipe
  209. Organize your mind
  210. Eat lunch at the park
  211. Do some gratitude journaling
  212. Be proactive
  213. Try again
  214. Brew beer
  215. Rest
  216. Learn from others
  217. Research
  218. Get a scalp massage
  219. Stop
  220. Stargaze
  221. Go floating
  222. Take a moment
  223. Get a manicure
  224. Weigh the pros and cons
  225. Share your story
  226. Travel back in time
  227. Snack
  228. Walk with a friend
  229. Savor salmon
  230. Admire apples
  231. Enjoy a mocktail
  232. Go meatless
  233. Ask for a Box
  234. Indulge in an Acai Bowl
  235. Understand the Science of Happiness
  236. Rediscover Old Recipes
  237. Experiment with Eggplant
  238. Eat (or at least try) Sushi
  239. Carry an EpiPen (if you have been advised to)
  240. Work Outside
  241. Crack Fresh Eggs
  242. Eat Tomatoes (off the vine)
  243. Say No
  244. Buy a New Pillow
  245. Talk About Ideas
  246. Monitor Your Performance
  247. Clean Your Refrigerator
  248. Treat a Minor Injury
  249. Change the Air Filter
  250. Make Moroccan Meatballs
  251. Choose My Circles Wisely
  252. Begin Again
  253. Get Acupuncture
  254. Plan a Vacation
  255. Remember
  256. Try Matcha Tea
  257. Get New Socks
  258. Commit
  259. Speak Up
  260. Prepare a Snack Board
  261. Update Your Wardrobe
  262. Sort & Purge
  263. Tour a Food Forest
  264. Be True To Yourself
  265. Donate to Charity
  266. Coordinate a Walking Meeting
  267. Ask Questions
  268. Get Your Hands Dirty
  269. Pack a Mobile Emergency Kit
  270. Plant a Tribute
  271. Enjoy a Sweet Treat
  272. Connect Dots
  273. Sip Bubbles
  274. Eat Fresh Figs
  275. Celebrate
  276. Melt
  277. Moisturize
  278. Catch Up
  279. Evaluate Your Social Media Activity
  280. Be Negative
  281. Understand Your Personality
  282. Hire a Coach
  283. Read a Book
  284. Spend Quality Time
  285. Create a Manifestation Space
  286. Reconnect with a Friend
  287. Stay Open
  288. Prepare for Emergencies
  289. Set a Deadline
  290. Do Something for Love
  291. Make Space
  292. Cook with rosemary (or other culinary herbs)
  293. Arrive (rather than impose)
  294. Buy coffee for a stranger
  295. Make a vegan dish
  296. Learn more about your body
  297. Just be
  298. Establish a morning ritual
  299. Give a random gift
  300. Try reflexology
  301. Try new exercises
  302. Vote
  303. Experiment with a sourdough starter (or other cultured food)
  304. Organize your personal space
  305. Collaborate
  306. Write down your soul
  307. Learn bonsai
  308. Create an afternoon of self-care
  309. Island (s)hop with a friend
  310. Crochet (or create something)
  311. Rake leaves
  312. Live vicariously
  313. Sit with ambivalence
  314. Gain an understanding of politics
  315. Evaluate what’s essential
  316. Clear your calendar
  317. Ask for what you need
  318. Practice something that’s difficult for you
  319. Maintain financial harmony
  320. Have a kind disagreement
  321. Support a friend
  322. Brainstorm
  323. Learn something new
  324. Rearrange furniture
  325. Decorate
  326. See your favorite band live
  327. Try reiki
  328. Bake a pie
  329. Prepare a special meal
  330. Watch a funny movie
  331. Look up
  332. Do chores early
  333. Make a list
  334. Email yourself ideas
  335. Arrive early
  336. Warm up
  337. Learn to knit (or some other form of art)
  338. Notice the little things
  339. Watch it snow
  340. Drive slowly
  341. Choose theme words
  342. Stay open
  343. Move forward
  344. Have faith
  345. Don’t make plans
  346. Stay in your jammies
  347. Stay in touch with mentors
  348. Relax at the spa
  349. Learn about gun safety
  350. Get a fluoride treatment
  351. Call in a professional
  352. Go to the symphony
  353. Challenge yourself
  354. Listen to an inspiring audio book
  355. Read old journals
  356. Be a caregiver
  357. Have coffee with a friend
  358. Find a “plan B”
  359. Enjoy a holiday tradition
  360. Feel grateful
  361. Binge watch a series
  362. Have breakfast in bed
  363. Discover your core desired feelings
  364. Go Snowshoeing
  365. Whiten your teeth
  366. Reflect on your year

Ready to start your own challenge? Download a free self-care planning worksheet here.

Need some help developing your own self-care practice?

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Self-Care Challenge (Day 319): Maintaining Financial Harmony

A white piggy bank

Change is one certainty that we simply cannot avoid. No amount of resisting, complaining about, or ignoring it will change the reality, which is why it’s essential to have a trusted financial adviser, someone who can guide us through it.

Quite honestly, I’ve had some less than desirable experiences with financial advisers over the years, but I only blame myself for not doing more research and asking more questions. So when I finally found a firm and adviser that I trust–someone who I view as a partner to make informed decisions with–life got a lot easier.

We hire financial advisers for the same reason we hire attorneys and accountants–the laws and rules have become so complicated, and they change so quickly, that unless our jobs somehow intersect with these professions, it’s nearly impossible to stay up to date. That’s why most of us stick with a single profession instead of becoming a doctor-attorney-accountant-engineer.

Yesterday, my self-care practice was to meet with my financial adviser to discuss some questions related to not just the election, but also to the recent DOL rules change regarding retirement accounts.

Being proactive is almost always less expensive in the long run, and it certainly reduces stress. While we can’t predict our future entirely, we plan ahead to reduce the risks.

How do you maintain financial harmony?

Self-Care Challenge (Day 282): Hiring a Coach

Two smiling ladies at an inspiring event

As a self-care coach myself, I understand the value that coaches bring to the table. They listen objectively, ask insightful questions to help us gain clarity around our desires, and help us design goals that achieve those desires. Whether your goals are related to health, relationships or business, working with an impartial third party can be the difference between thinking about what you want and actually doing something to make it a reality.

Just as doctors consult with other doctors, smart coaches also consult with other coaches.

Why? Because it works.

The things that may not be obvious to you often stick out like a sore thumb to an intuitive coach. Great coaches can hear the hidden message behind spoken words.

Equipped with a new perspective on my personality type, I realized that it was time for me to hire a coach of my own. I’ve made a great deal of progress toward my goals over the past year, but I need a little help with building and sustaining momentum.

Successful people understand that they can’t achieve their dreams alone; they need a tribe of supporters who are encouraging, motivating and inspiring.

Part of the reason it took me so long to get to this point is that choosing the right coach can be difficult. It’s important to find someone who fits your personality, and has a style that makes you feel both comfortable and challenged at the same time.

I’m excited to see what happens next!

Self-Care Challenge (Day 267): Asking Questions

Epipen injector

It pays to ask a lot of questions.

The truth is that things aren’t always as they seem on the surface, and sometimes you have to dig deeper to uncover all of your options.

Fortunately, asking questions has always come pretty easily for me. As an only child, I notoriously asked a LOT of questions. The adults in my life would probably say that I was incessant. Each question was usually followed by another classic question: Why?  

I’m sure it was frustrating for them, but asking lots of questions has paid off for me over the years.

After recently learning that there was a generic version of the EpiPen available, I found myself trying to navigate the system to understand my options.

First, I contacted my doctor to obtain a prescription refill for the “generic” version. Next, I obtained quotes from my insurance company to determine what my out-of-pocket expenses should be. And finally, I called the pharmacy to verify the cost and determine whether they had the generic version in stock.

As it turns out, my out-of-pocket cost for the generic epinephrine auto-injector totaled just $5 with insurance ($449.99 if I didn’t have insurance), compared to the $100 copay (or $735.09 without insurance) that they would have charged me for the Mylan-branded EpiPen.

(Does anyone else see a problem with this variance, by the way?)

Had it not been for a post on Facebook, I wouldn’t have even known the generic version existed. I had been considering the syringe option–which I am fully aware comes with its own set of risks.

Asking questions helps us make informed decisions that often support multiple dimensions of our health.

Self-Care Challenge (Day 262): Sorting and Purging

folded clothes in a drawer

In the process of updating my wardrobe, I’ve simultaneously been sorting and purging items that no longer serve me. Clothes, shoes, coats, outdoor gear, and accessories that have either already served their purpose or no longer “fit” me, for whatever reason, have been sorted and reclassified as donation items.

And I must say, it has created an amazing sense of calm for me.

Letting go of what no longer serves us is an act of self-care.

In order to make room for new things or opportunities, we have to be willing to give up some of the things that are familiar to us.

Decluttering reduces distractions, allowing us to focus on our highest priorities. While I know that not everyone is a fan of Marie Kondo, I’ve found a great deal of value in a number of her ideas. Asking myself the simple question “Does this spark joy?” has been a wonderful tool for helping me learn to let go.

After all, letting go also opens our hearts to giving. What no longer serves me may very well serve someone else.

What are you ready to let go of?

Self-Care Challenge (Day 254): Planning a Vacation

view from a campsite in Rolle, Switzerland

Next year I turn 40.

I’m not exactly thrilled about it, but there doesn’t seem to be another option.

Turning 30 was nothing short of traumatic for me. It came at an interesting time in my life when I was experiencing a lot of life changes–which is probably more common than not, actually. I was forced to accept that my 20’s were over, along with a lot of other life plans that didn’t quite work out the way I thought they would.

I remember spending six hours at the spa, getting every treatment I could possibly cram into the day. It was an attempt to escape without turning to drugs or alcohol–and it worked quite well.

But as I prepare to embark on my 5th decade of life, I have a different outlook. It’s amazing the insights another 10 years of life can bring. I feel optimistic, blessed…and perhaps even a bit more confident. I’ve heard from many people that age brings a unique sense of quiet confidence, that we progressively become less interested in–and influenced by–what other people think.

I have to say, I’m really loving that.

Nevertheless, as this momentous occasion draws nearer, a vacation is required. While we still haven’t finalized any plans, we at least have a few fun possibilities on the table.

Planning time away to celebrate life’s milestones is an act of self-care. It forces us to pause and appreciate what is.

How will you be celebrating your next life milestone?

Self-Care Challenge (Day 201): Window Shopping

Back in my college days, a friend and I used to make trips to Target on a fairly regular basis. Instead of hitting the bars to blow off steam, we shopped. On most occasions, we would spend a couple of hours filling our carts with beautiful things as if money were no object. Then, just before we were ready to check out, we’d select just one item and put the rest back.

window shoppingMoney was scarce back then. What I earned at my part-time job generally went straight to books, food, and gas money. But I did sock a little away for our random shopping excursions. Somehow we figured out that shopping and purchasing were two separate activities. Our method allowed us to experience the thrill of shopping without breaking the bank (or using a credit card as many others did).

Yesterday, my self-care practice was reminiscent of those days: window shopping. Instead of buying anything, I was content to window-shop alongside a friend.

I did see some nice things–I even tried a few things on–but, ultimately, I realized that I didn’t need anything. I already have enough. Even so, the shopping trip was an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon with a friend. 

Window shopping didn’t cost a thing (unless you count the gas we used to get there, anyway). And, unlike surfing the web from home, it provided an opportunity to work in some physical activity.

Self-Care Challenge (Day 184): Setting Boundaries

This post relates to one of the more difficult topics I’ve written about to date–mostly because it has taken quite a bit of effort for me to find the silver lining.  

the northern shore of mauiFor the most part, I do my best to avoid focusing on the not-so-great things that happen in my life–not because I’m oblivious to them, but because it doesn’t serve me to dwell on my negative experiences.

Focusing on life’s adverse moments, sometimes referred to as ruminating, not only prolongs our bad moods, but it can also have a negative impact on our heath. 

When we deal with negative experiences in a healthy way, we can move through them more quickly. For me, that process includes assessing the problem, identifying possible actions that either solve the problem or prevent the problem from recurring in the future, reflecting on my lessons learned, and letting go.

Okay, here’s the scenario: Recently, I hired a professional firm to help me with a business-related project.

The problemo?

The final bill was nearly twice what I was expecting. (To say that I was shocked is an understatement.)

Before I continue further, though, it’s important to point out that I am taking complete ownership of this experience. Had I been more clear about my expectations at the outset of the project, ensuring that those expectations were formally outlined in the contract, this situation could have been avoided altogether.

Instead, I learned the value of setting boundaries–the hard way.

This experience helped me realize that I need to be more diligent about minimizing ambiguity–asking more questions, conducting more research, reading the fine details more carefully. (In hindsight, a “not to exceed” line item in the contract would have made all the difference.)

But despite the sticker shock, the overall experience was actually quite good (here’s where the silver lining comes in). I would say there were at least three positive takeaways:

  1. I must admit that I was pleased with the outcome of the project. The firm delivered what they said they would. They delivered it on time. And the final product was solid.  
  2. The experience allowed me an opportunity to express myself in an honest, kind, yet constructive way. This kind of expression isn’t always an easy thing to do. In fact, it was pretty uncomfortable. But it was important to me that I conveyed my concerns, especially since it’s unlikely that I will ever use them again in the future.
  3. It taught me the importance of setting boundaries. 

The truth is, these kinds of life lessons are messy, and while none of us really want to learn the hard way, the intensity of those lessons are usually strong enough to last a lifetime. 

What life lessons have you learned about setting boundaries?

Self-Care Challenge (Day 154): Reviewing Finances

white piggy bankAt least once a year, my husband and I meet with our financial adviser to review the health of our finances. But it’s bigger than that because financial health is one of the eight dimensions of self-care–and it can cause significant amounts of stress when it’s out of balance.

Taking time to evaluate our current and future needs forces us to look beyond today and make adjustments as needed. Of course, there’s no way to predict precisely what challenges we may face as we enter retirement, nor can we predict the shifts within our political or cultural environments, but we can make smart decisions base on what we know today. 

Finding a balance between spending and saving isn’t easy, but that’s why it’s so important to take time to regularly review our habits. Periodic check-ups prevent unhealthy spending behaviors from continuing, and it helps us make better decisions about how to plan for future needs. Likewise, it helps determine when (and if) we should make purchases, as well as how we can best give back to our community. 

How do you monitor the health of your finances?

Self-Care Challenge (Day 148): Self-Directing My Care

two green Adirondack chairs on a deckWhile there is still quite a bit of disagreement as to the best definition of self-care, it’s clear that it exists on several levels. 

On one end, there is exclusive self-care, with no input or guidance from a medical professional. In fact, it’s been suggested that the majority of health-related care falls into this category, since most people attempt to treat ailments at home first. Exclusive self-care involves things like treating minor scrapes and bruises, self-medicating for seasonal allergies, and seeking advice from friends and family.

And on the other end of the spectrum, there is exclusive medical-care. In this scenario, care-related decisions are made only after consulting with a professional, and sometimes the final treatment decision is even left up to the provider.

But somewhere in the middle lies the concept of “shared-care,” where individuals seek out professional information and consultation before coming to a decision on their own.

To me, this makes the most sense. Self-care is cheaper, easier to navigate, more convenient, and creates the least burden on the health care system as a whole. (Plus, I don’t like the idea of needlessly booking an appointment when there are others with greater needs waiting.)

But sometimes self-care just isn’t enough.

So in line with my intention this year to develop a comprehensive self-care practice of my own, I chose the “shared-care” route, and consulted with a medical professional to help navigate a health-related matter.

After all, a solid self-care plan includes knowing when to seek the guidance of a professional.