The buzzword “self-care” is certainly trending on social media (#selfcare is currently at over 55 billion views on TikTok), but the concept of caring for your mind and body is not a trend; it’s a way of life. However, self-care looks different for everyone. What makes me feel good may not be so relaxing to you, and vice versa. The great thing about self-care methods is that there is no shortage of options, and (even more good news), true self-care doesn’t come with a price tag (expensive face masks and bath salts may feel luxurious and make your skin glow, but they’re not essential for truly taking care of your Self). To help us all add a little self-care into our lives without breaking the bank, I caught up with Morgan Raphael, creator of the Self-Care Society. Read on for 11 self-care practices you can start today—and not one of them requires your credit card.
Morgan Raphael is a wellness blogger, entrepreneur, and creator of the Self-Care Society, a community and resource for women to prioritize their mental health.
1. Start a daily journaling practice
There are so many great options when it comes to a daily journal with prompts, affirmations, and quotes (click here for our favorites). Raphael has her own version, which I personally love and highly recommend. However, it can be just as impactful to simply put pen to paper on your own. If you want a list of new prompts to spice up your regular journal routine, click here. You can also care for your past self by writing to your inner child, or care for your future self by writing goals you want to manifest. No matter what journal method calls to you, set aside a few minutes at the start or end of your day to do a “brain dump” and release those pent-up emotions that may otherwise stay locked in your head.
2. Make a daily gratitude list
Practicing gratitude is huge when it comes to manifesting more good things in your life. It’s an extremely beneficial method of self-care that costs absolutely nothing. Start small by simply listing out 3-5 different things that you’re grateful for each day. But don’t just scribble out the basics–of course, you’re grateful for friends, family, health, pets, etc., but what is it that you’re grateful about them today? Your friend making you laugh, that your mom lets you vent whenever you need, how your pet gets so excited to see you when you come home? Take time to appreciate each thing on your list and why you are grateful for it. The more gratitude you practice, the more you will find to be grateful for.
3. Go for a walk (without headphones)
For me, walks are crucial. I love stepping outside with no destination and no scrolling. I take this time to be by myself—without any music or distractions—so I can tune into my thoughts and feelings. Walking is one of the healthiest activities you can do, and getting outside is healing, making a daily walk an activity good for your mood, energy, and body. Plus, taking a walk without headphones allows you to be alone with your thoughts and mindful of what you notice on the walk. You may be surprised by the clarity you gain when you take just 5-10 minutes to unplug, get outside, and move your body.
4. Call a friend who always lifts your mood
Is there someone in your life who always seems to know what to say? Or maybe they always make you laugh, even when you’re in a bad mood? Sometimes the best form of self-care is knowing that you need a friend. Don’t take those friendships for granted, and don’t hesitate to lean on the people in your life when you need them. Set aside some time in your busy week to connect with a friend, family member, or coworker who will lift your mood. Bonus: Taking this time for yourself will help you be that person for someone else too.
5. Write a list of your accomplishments and goals
Why don’t we do this more often? You already know that goal setting is so important, but so is acknowledging what you’ve already achieved. If you are ever feeling down about something in your life or you’re comparing yourself to other people, take a moment to list out everything you have accomplished—both big and small. Hold onto that list to come back to the next time you’re questioning yourself. Let’s all celebrate our wins a little more.
6. Indulge in a book, movie, or TV show that makes you feel good
Did you spend your Sunday lounging in front of the TV watching old rom-coms and then feeling guilty about your lack of productivity? Lose the guilt! TV binging totally counts as self-care. Losing yourself in a feel-good show or movie can be a great way to turn off for a bit and recharge. For me, books are the ultimate self-care because it is one thing I know I won’t be multitasking (AKA, scrolling) during. Check out these 20 new books to add to your bookshelf ASAP.
7. Stretch your legs up the wall
I do this for at least 10 minutes a day, every day, without fail. Legs-up-the-wall is one of the simplest yoga poses and is considered a restorative yoga posture that offers many benefits. It can help the body relax and reduce stress. To try for yourself, lie flat on your back with your legs stretched straight up the wall, set your timer for 10-20 minutes, and simply relax. Try a guided meditation, listen to a podcast, or even read your favorite book while letting your body be still.
8. Listen to a favorite playlist or podcast
Personally, I thrive on building playlists on Apple and Spotify, knowing just what song I need to hear for my current mood. Sometimes that’s a pump-up song, and other times, it’s a break-up ballad to get those tears out. No matter what your mood is, music can provide that much-needed release. If you’re more of a podcast fan, choose one based on your mood—whether you need something light-hearted or something to motivate you (we may be biased but The Everygirl Podcast is the best self-care podcast of all time, whether you need motivating, light-hearted and fun, or comforting).
This is one of those self-care practices that looks different for everyone. I personally prefer a walking guided meditation, but many people prefer to do their meditations sitting or lying down, reading or journaling, or without any music or prompts at all. No matter your meditation form of choice, there are many free apps and trackers you can download to start your meditation practice. Even just a few minutes a day can be extremely beneficial in relieving stress.
10. Clean up your space
Recently, as soon as my schedule got busier and I left my room in a mess every night, I started having trouble sleeping. Once I straightened things up, my sleeping patterns went back to normal. Coincidence? Perhaps, but clutter in your space directly correlates to clutter in the mind. The cleanliness of your home really does impact your headspace, and you should always aim to keep your home the same you would want it to look for visitors. (If visitors can enjoy it in tip-top shape, why shouldn’t you?) Take 15 minutes before bed to put away laundry, wipe off counters, and do the dishes.
11. Detox your social media
Yes, social media can be a great place to discover new people, brands, and products or to catch up with friends and family. But we also can absorb negative content or get caught in comparison traps. Take time to regularly go through your accounts and mute or unfollow anyone whose energy does not serve you. Your goal should be to make social media a place that provides you with nothing but joy and inspiration rather than comparison and negativity.