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10 Unconventional Ways to Practice Self-Care

Your to-do list is piling up, your attention span is comparable to a squirrel’s, and for some reason, your heart just never seems to stop racing. Like millions of other people right now, you’re probably feeling burnt out, which yes, as cliché as it may sound, might mean it’s time to practice a little more self-care. 

We all know how important it is to implement self-care practices in our daily routines, buuuuut that’s just another thing to add to that ever-growing to-do list, making self-care sound more like a chore than a reward. Not to mention, when you think of self-care you might think of influencers using face masks made of 24 karat gold or going on extravagant spa trips to Bali. And, let’s be real, for most of us, those luxuries are not attainable.  

Self-care goes beyond those conventional examples; it doesn’t have to be so frivolous or time-consuming. Here are 10 unconventional (yet, realistic) ways to practice self-care: 

  1. Practice positive self-talk 
    For some, it’s easier to reflect on our personal mistakes or wrong-doings. We often forget to celebrate our wins, both big and small. One way to celebrate those wins is to take time to compliment yourself throughout the day. This can be easily achieved by setting reminders in your phone, prompting yourself to stop and think about something good you’ve done today. You can also write words of affirmation on Post-It notes and stick them around your home to help remind you of all of the good qualities about yourself. Believe it or not, positive self-talk has not only been proven to reduce stress, it’s also been proven to improve cardiovascular health and immune health over time. 

  2. Surround yourself with positive people 
    A great way to practice self-care is to surround yourself with people you just make you feel good. It’s been proven that surrounding yourself with positive energy reduces stress. Reach out to your loved ones and set up a coffee date, or go get drinks and have a fun night out. Whatever you do, do it with someone who radiates positivity. 

  3. Cook up some comfort food 
    We all have that one comfort meal... or maybe two or three of them. When you’re feeling emotional, maybe you can ask your mom for that special chicken noodle soup recipe, or bake those salted caramel brownies you love so much. Everything is ok in moderation, there’s no shame in indulging once in a while. Take some time to mindfully cook for yourself, sit down, relax, and enjoy a special treat. 

  4. Put your own needs first by setting personal boundaries 
    Whether it’s at work, with family, or with friends, many of us feel the need to say yes to every request. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, or just need some extra time to yourself, ask for an extension on that deadline, tell your mom you’re gonna have to reschedule that deep cleaning of her garage, don't respond to every incoming text message you get right away. Focus your time and energy on what best serves you, everything else can wait. Setting personal boundaries has been proven to improve relationships with friends and family. Setting boundaries also prevents emotional and physical fatigue. 

  5. Identify the people you can count on -- and ask for help when you need it 
    There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. Many people resist asking for help for fear that it shows a sign of weakness or incompetency, when that’s simply not the case. It’s great to identify a list of people you can turn to when you need a shoulder to lean on or somebody to vent to, doing this actually improves a person’s self-confidence and self-awareness. 

  6. Set small goals in order to reach larger goals 
    A lot of us tend to focus on huge goals that need to get accomplished. Typically, loftier goals take more time to complete, which can be overwhelming. It’s common to wonder, “where do I even begin?” Feeling this way can be discouraging. Instead of looking at the mountain you’re about to climb, so-to-speak, focus on each step you have to take to get there, one by one. This will help you stay focused and put your mind at ease. Look at it like this: Say you want to write a novel. That’s a pretty big goal, eh? Set a small goal of writing just one chapter, then, once you’re finished, set a goal of writing a second chapter and so on and so forth until your book is finished. Setting small goals will help you feel accomplished and proud of yourself more often; keeping you motivated and ready to take on the next day. 

  7. Go through your camera roll and reminisce on happy memories 
    One great thing about technology is that many of us can go through the camera roll on our phones and scroll right to a specific moment in time. Remember a day, a week, or a month that you did something you loved or just felt at ease. Scroll through all the photos from that day; think about what about that day made you so happy. Reminiscing creates a greater sense of self and a sense of meaning in life. 

  8. Prioritize your zzzz’s 
    If you’ve been staying up late to finish work projects or catch up on household chores, it might be time to call it an early night and get some much-needed shut-eye. In fact, working late is the opposite of productive, you increase your risk of making mistakes and decrease your ability to think creatively. Set an early bedtime for a week and see how you feel, or sleep in an extra hour or two on the weekends so you can feel ready to take on the week ahead.  

  9. Move. That. Body. 
    Another reason you may be feeling groggy or moody may be lack of physical activity. It’s important to get your body moving at least a few times a week. Don’t worry, this doesn’t have to be anything crazy like participating in a triathlon or even riding a Peloton. Moving your body can be as simple as going on a 20-minute walk, doing a guided yoga YouTube video, or just dancing to your favorite music. Moving your body daily promotes better sleep, better memory, and strengthens your heart and lungs. 

  10. Take in the great outdoors 
    It’s easy to stay cooped up at home for hours on end, especially when so many of us continue to work remotely. If anything, the last couple of years have shown many of us how important it is to spend time outdoors. In fact, spending more time in nature not only boosts your overall mood, it can also decrease your risk of developing psychiatric disorders, as well as improve your attention span. 

Next time you feel like you’re at your wit’s end, take a deep breath and try out some of these self-care practices.