11 Everyday Self-Care Practices for a Happier You

Self-care is everywhere these days. You see it all over social media, but taking care of yourself isn’t just a trend; it’s a way to live a happier life.

I remember a day last winter when I felt completely overwhelmed. I had a to-do list a mile long and my mind was racing. But then I took a walk in the crisp air, without my phone or headphones. The crunch of leaves beneath my feet, the smell of wood smoke in the air – it all brought me back to the present moment. By the time I got home, I felt refreshed and ready to tackle my day. That’s the power of simple self-care.

The best part? Self-care doesn’t have to cost a penny. You don’t need fancy face masks or expensive bath products to feel good. To help us find simple ways to care for ourselves, I talked to Morgan Raphael, who started the Self-Care Society. Here are 11 self-care ideas you can start today – no credit card needed!

1. Write in a Journal Every Day

Many journals come with helpful prompts or quotes. I personally love Morgan’s journal. But even just writing down your thoughts on a blank page can make a big difference. It’s like a “brain dump” – getting all those worries out of your head and onto paper. You can write to your younger self, or even write down goals for the future. Spend a few minutes at the start or end of your day writing, and see how it makes you feel.

2. Make a Gratitude List

Being thankful is like a magnet for good things. And it’s free! Each day, write down 3-5 things you’re grateful for. Don’t just list the usual things like “family” or “health.” Go deeper. Are you thankful for your sister’s funny jokes? Or that your dog always knows how to cheer you up? The more you practice gratitude, the more you’ll find to appreciate.

3. Take a Walk, Unplugged

Walks are my saving grace. I love wandering without a plan, no phone to distract me. It’s time just for me to think and feel. Walking is great exercise, and being outdoors is good for your mind and body. Leaving the headphones behind helps you really listen to your thoughts and notice the world around you. Take 5-10 minutes to unplug and move – you’ll be surprised how much clearer your head feels.

4. Call a Friend Who Always Makes You Smile

We all have that one friend who always seems to know what to say to make us feel better. Maybe they tell great jokes or just listen really well. If you’re feeling down, don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend, family member, or even a coworker who lifts your spirits. Sometimes, self-care means letting someone else care for you a little. And remember, when you take time to connect with others, you’re also being the kind of friend that someone else might need someday.

5. Make a List of Your Wins and Dreams

This is such a simple thing, but we don’t do it enough! Write down all the things you’ve already done – big and small. Did you get a promotion at work? Did you finally bake that perfect loaf of bread? Write it down! And don’t forget to include your dreams for the future too. Having this list can give you a boost when you’re feeling down on yourself. Let’s celebrate all the awesome things we’ve done and all the amazing things we’re going to do.

6. Get Lost in a Good Book, Movie, or TV Show

Did you spend the weekend binge-watching your favorite show and then feel guilty about it? Don’t! Getting lost in a story is totally self-care. It’s a way to relax and recharge. For me, books are the ultimate escape. I can curl up on the couch with a good book and forget about everything else for a while. So go ahead and indulge in that movie marathon or read that book you’ve been meaning to get to. You deserve it!

7. Put Your Legs Up the Wall

I do this every single day for at least 10 minutes. It’s a simple yoga pose where you lie on your back with your legs straight up against the wall. It’s super relaxing and helps me de-stress. You can listen to a guided meditation, your favorite podcast, or even just close your eyes and breathe. It’s like a mini-vacation for your body and mind.

8. Listen to Music or a Podcast You Love

Music has this amazing power to match our mood. Sometimes I need a song to get me pumped up, other times I need something a little more mellow. Whatever you’re feeling, there’s a song or podcast out there for you. So put on your favorite playlist or tune into that podcast you’ve been meaning to try. It’s a simple way to shift your mood and give yourself a little boost.

9. Meditate

Meditation can look different for everyone. Some people like to sit or lie down quietly, others prefer guided meditations with an app. I personally love walking meditations. Whatever works for you, even a few minutes of meditation can help you feel less stressed. There are lots of free apps and tools out there to help you get started.

10. Light a Candle or Diffuse Essential Oils

This is one of my go-to self-care rituals. The warm glow of a candle or the calming scent of lavender oil can instantly make my home feel more cozy and relaxing. It’s a simple way to create a peaceful atmosphere and signal to my brain that it’s time to unwind.

11. Take a Break from Social Media

Let’s be honest, scrolling through social media can sometimes make us feel worse, not better. Comparing ourselves to others or getting caught up in the endless stream of information can be draining. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try taking a break from social media for a day, a weekend, or even longer. Use that time to connect with yourself and the people around you in real life. Read a book, go for a walk, or simply do nothing. You might be surprised at how refreshing it feels.