Self-care often gets a bad rap. For some, the phrase conjures images of so-called “selfish” pleasures. Think: eating chocolates and drinking a glass of wine while soaking in a bubble-filled tub; jetting off to a tropical island to bask in the sun and sip fruity cocktails; indulging in weekly massages and manicures. For others, self-care feels more like a marketing term, designed to entice you to buy into the latest wellness trend or fitness craze.
We aren’t here to tell you that those activities are bad, or even that they aren’t valid forms of self-care. But if that’s your only definition of self-care, you’re missing the bigger picture. In its purest form, self-care is simply what we do to care for ourselves — physically, mentally and emotionally. And there’s nothing selfish about that!
Of course, every person is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all standard when it comes to self-care. Just make sure to cut yourself some slack — these are self-care ideas, not a self-care to-do list! To start, here are 10 ways to practice self-care at home.
1. Clean sweep
It can be tough to care for yourself when your surroundings are chaotic. So, it makes sense that self-care at home would start with caring for your home itself. As Marie Kondo, author of the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” explains, “Tidying your physical space allows you to tend to your psychological space.” If that sounds a little out there, consider this: researchers at UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families found a direct link between the stress hormone cortisol and clutter. And a study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests that people who view their homes as dirty or cluttered experience an increase in depression.
Treat yourself: Once your home is clean and tidy, reward yourself for all your hard work. This can be as simple as curling up in a comfy armchair with a book (you know — the chair you were using to store all your clean laundry?) or ordering some new home decor for your newly clean abode.
2. Get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep is vital for both your physical and mental health. Researchers at the National Sleep Foundation say that adults (18–64) need an average of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Older adults may need slightly less, and children and teenagers slightly more. Have trouble remembering to unplug and get to bed at a reasonable hour? Try setting a “bedtime alarm.” For example, if you want to get eight hours of sleep and you need to get up at 7 a.m., set a bedtime alarm for 11 p.m. (or a little earlier if you need time to wind down before bed).
Treat yourself: Sleeping in on the weekends won’t make up for getting too little sleep during the week. But snagging some extra shuteye on Saturday morning or taking a Sunday afternoon nap can be a great way to recharge after an especially hectic week.
Think you need a gym membership to get fit? Think again! You can get moving in and around your home: do yoga or an at-home workout in your living room, go for a walk or jog around the neighborhood, or just dance it out in your kitchen. The Mayo Clinic recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week (or a combination of the two), as well as full-body strength training at least twice a week. If you’re in a workout rut, spend some time searching YouTube for new routines, or try a fitness app like Aaptiv, which offers unlimited access to thousands of audio-based workouts.
Treat Yourself: Just because you’re working out at home doesn’t mean you can’t get fit in style. Up your fitness motivation with a new pair of sneakers or workout outfit.
4. Get outside
Okay, so you’ll technically need to leave the house for this one, but you don’t have to roam far. Numerous studies have shown a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety and depression, as well as reduced blood pressure and cortisol levels. So, get outside! Drink your morning coffee outside on the patio, plant a backyard garden or take a walk around your neighborhood. A 2017 study showed that even listening to nature sounds or looking at images of nature (online, in a book or magazine, or simply through the window) can have a positive impact on your mental health.
5. Nourish yourself
We’re not telling you anything you don’t already know here: one of the most important forms of self-care is a healthy diet. Two of our favorite ways to eat healthy at home are pre-packaged make-at-home meal kits and grocery-delivery services, which will bring everything you need right to your door.
Treat Yourself: That said, there are some days when self-care means treating yourself to something that will soothe your spirit, whether it’s a slice of pizza, a scoop of ice cream, or a glass of wine. There’s even a name for this method of eating: the 80/20 rule, if 80 percent of your diet is healthy, you can let loose a little with the other 20 percent — without the guilt.
Staying home doesn’t have to mean feeling lonely. If you live with a partner or roommate, set aside time to share a meal, play a board game or go for a walk. If you live by yourself, connect with friends and family via text, social media, video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Google Hangouts or even — gasp! — an old-school phone call.
“Wait, didn’t you just tell me to connect?” Let us explain: while connecting with loved ones is critical for self-care, connecting with negativity or information overload isn’t. Whether it’s an influencer whose Instagram posts always leave you feeling less-than, an acquaintance whose Facebook posts make you uneasy, or a seemingly non-stop onslaught of bad news on TV or Twitter, if the media you’re consuming makes you feel worse instead of better, unplug, unfollow, disconnect.
Treat Yourself: Swap screen time that brings you down for screen time that makes you smile! While we don’t recommend binge-watching your entire weekend away, a few episodes of your favorite TV show or a gut-busting comedy when you’re feeling down definitely counts as self-care. Or spend a couple hours with your favorite book, video game, craft project, or other hobby.
8. Pamper yourself
This is what many people think of when they think of self-care. And for good reason! A hot bath, a sheet mask, an at-home manicure or pedicure — whether you indulge in a full-on spa day or just spend a few minutes giving yourself a little extra love, pampering is good for body and soul.
If you’ve never given meditation a try, now is the time. Experts tout it as the ultimate self-care tool, as it’s been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression while it improves blood pressure, memory, and sleep. Research shows that it can even help control both chronic and intermittent pain. If you need help getting started, check out Mindful.org’s How to Meditate guide, or download the free Headspace meditation app.
Journaling pairs perfectly with meditation when it comes to self-care. Spend a few minutes before or after meditating recording your thoughts, dreams, or goals. There are lots of different types of journals, from gratitude journals (where you write down things you’re thankful for) to bullet journals (perfect for list-lovers). Gretchen Rubin, author of the bestselling book “The Happiness Project,” recommends what she calls a one-sentence journal: “The idea of keeping a proper journal was far too daunting, so I decided instead to keep a one-sentence journal. Each night, I write one sentence about what happened that day. Keeping this journal adds to my happiness in all of these ways: it helps keep happy memories vivid; it gives me a reason to think lovingly about my family; it’s manageable, so it doesn’t make me feel burdened; and it gives me a feeling of accomplishment and progress.”
Save on self-care
One of the best things about practicing self-care at home is that it doesn’t have to come with a huge price tag. But if you do find yourself needing to purchase some self-care essentials, you’ll earn cash back by starting your online shopping in the Ibotta mobile app! Here are a few ways to save money on self-care when you shop through Ibotta:
- Buy eco-friendly cleaning supplies at The Honest Company, Target.com, and Kmart.com.
- Browse home decor and accessories at BedBathandBeyond.com, WorldMarket.com, and Kohls.com.
- Save on new bedding or even a new mattress at Casper or BedBathandBeyond.com.
- Get cash back when you subscribe to the Aaptiv workout app.
- Shop new workout clothes from UnderArmour.com, Academy Sports + Outdoors, Champs Sports, and adidas.com.
- Find outdoor furniture, gardening supplies, and more at HomeDepot.com, Houzz, and Lowes.com.
- Eat healthy at home with Home Chef and Sun Basket meal kits and Instacart grocery delivery service.
- Treat yourself to Domino’s, Grubhub, Seamless, and Uber Eats food deliveries or Drizly one-hour alcohol delivery.
- Enjoy some screen time with a subscription to streaming video service Hulu, or try Sling for live TV.
- Order bestselling books from Target.com.
- Gamers can earn cash back on new and used video games and gear from GameStop.
- Stock up on crafting supplies from JOANN.com.
- Pamper yourself with skin and body-care from The Body Shop, Sephora.com, Flamingo, Foreo, HSN, and QVC.