Self-care is important for many reasons. It helps you relax and take care of your physical and mental health. Here we have compiled a list of our favorite self-care ideas.
From time to time we all feel a little overwhelmed by our work and commitments. When life gets hectic, it sometimes feels like there is little time to think, let alone relax. However, working without time off will only make you less productive and you may even burn out.
And it doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, many of the self-care ideas in the list below are free.
No matter how busy you are, you can always find time to unwind and do things that make you happy. Below are some beautiful self-care activities to help you breathe easier, de-stress, and feel like yourself again.
The best tips for self-care
Here are some simple, relaxing, and affordable self-care ideas:
Table of Contents
1. Go for a long walk
Breaking the day with a long walk will do wonders for your mental well-being. It’s one of the best free things you can do to improve your mood.
Staying in your room for too long (especially if you work from home a lot) can leave you feeling drained and trapped.
Try to set aside time each day to walk around your area. The fresh air clears your head and the change of scenery lets you come home refreshed.
Do you find it difficult to motivate yourself to go for a walk? A good technique for taking care of yourself is to challenge yourself to look for a specific color when you walk.
For example, you could search for yellow things. You might notice golden leaves on trees, a mustard-colored sweater, or a dog with a yellow leash. So the next day, you could look for blue things, then pink, and so on.
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2. Try a free meditation or mindfulness app
There are numerous free apps that offer tips for guided meditation and mindfulness.
They can educate you about breathing exercises and help you take time out to stop and ground yourself.
Calm and Headspace are two good meditation apps. Students with Spotify Premium can use Headspace for free.
3. Turn off phone notifications for an hour
For most of us, the phone is conveniently in our hands. Without thinking twice, we take a look and pick it up as soon as it buzzes and turns on. Being constantly connected can be great, but it can also be exhausting.
Sometimes the best thing you can do to feel better is paused your phone notifications. Even if it’s only for an hour or so, it can really help.
During this time, it doesn’t matter who said what on social media, what meme your friend sent you, or who you dated on Tinder. All of these things can wait. The most important thing is that you have time to rest.
If you’re having a hard time ignoring your phone, try an app like Hold. It rewards you for not picking up your phone for a set amount of time with great freebies like Costa Coffee and popcorn at the movies.
4. Watch your favorite movie
Is there a film that you often return to when you need a lift? This would be perfect for a self-care movie night.
And luckily, going to the cinema doesn’t have to be expensive. We have guides to help you save money on Netflix and find cheaper ways to stream TV shows and movies.
Make yourself comfortable on the sofa, grab your blanket or duvet, and treat yourself to a peaceful night’s sleep. They deserved it.
5. Make your own face mask
If you are looking for an inexpensive self-care idea, you can make a face mask yourself. Once you know how to make them, they’re really easy.
Check out our guide to homemade beauty treatments. It includes some wonderful face masks, such as a strawberry honey mask, and an avocado and pineapple mask.
Cut some cucumber slices for your eyes and put on some background music. Basically, it’s a complete wellness experience that you can enjoy in the comfort of your own home.
6. Lose yourself in a good book
At university, you will feel like you spend your life reading. But how often do you read just for the sake of reading?
Sometimes putting down academic papers and journals and picking up a book to really get lost in can make a world of difference.
This would be a free self-care activity if you already have a book you’d like to read. You could also see if one of your friends is interested in a book swap if you both have similar reading tastes.
If you do decide to buy a book, you should look for used books on websites like AbeBooks.
7. Exercise at home
General exercise has been shown to be good for mental health and well-being.
As mentioned, walking and yoga are good places to start. You can also try a slightly more intense workout at home.
There are numerous videos of HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workouts on YouTube.
As the name suggests, HIIT workouts can be pretty intense. But if you do them at home, you can pause or stop the workout at any time.
It’s cheaper than going to the gym (our guide to home gym ideas can help you stay on the budget). In addition, the pressure of training at home is less than in a gym. You don’t have to worry about what other people think.
If HIIT workouts aren’t for you, check out YouTube and try different exercise guides. There are so many videos that you are sure to find one that is perfect for you.
8. Have a clearout
When you’re stressed, it may seem like the last thing you want to do is clean up. But decluttering can actually be very therapeutic.
Try to turn your bedroom into a place where you can completely relax and unwind. If it’s full of clutter, it can affect your mood. It’s difficult to switch off when you’re surrounded by things.
Be inspired by Marie Kondo and find out what things no longer bring you joy. Get rid of everything you don’t need or want. This leaves more space for the things that are really important to you.
After choosing the items you want to get rid of, you can donate them to a charity or sell them online.
9. Do something good for others
How about a self-care idea that will help you and someone else? Doing a good deed is good for many reasons.
You have no idea what others are going through. Even if you do something that seems insignificant to you, it can mean the world to you. Sometimes you just need to show someone that you care and that you are there for them.
For example, if you know someone at college who is very shy, you could strike up a conversation with them and see how they deal with it. No doubt they will appreciate your dedication. It could also be the beginning of a wonderful friendship.
Helping others has the added benefit of giving you a little boost too. In this way, you will improve your self-esteem and your general mood. It’s good to be kind to others. And also think about the next point…
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10. Be nice to yourself
One of the most important self-care tips on this list is easy to forget: be kind to yourself.
We can all be hard on ourselves at times. It may seem like there is a lot of pressure to do well in college and always say and do the right thing. But the truth is that we all make mistakes, and that’s okay.
To help you feel happier and better, try not to compare yourself to other people you think are in control.
As previously mentioned, it’s impossible to know what others are going through. They might even compare themselves to you and have the same feeling!
Just try to be as kind and forgiving to yourself as you would be to those around you and you won’t go far wrong.
11. Try a new podcast
There are so many podcasts to choose from! It’s a real pleasure when you find a new book to delve into.
Many podcasts are about self-care and self-love. They should help you to feel better, calmer, and more satisfied with yourself. You might hear them while cleaning, traveling or just lying in bed with a cup of tea.
Some of our favorites are:
- The Happy Place by Fearne Cotton
- Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations
- How to fail with Elizabeth Day.
12. Learn a new job or hobby
If you’re looking for something to take your mind off your work at university, consider starting a new job or hobby.
You might discover a self-care activity that’s fun, productive, and positively impacts your mental well-being.
Try things that are challenging enough to keep your mind busy, but easy enough that you don’t feel like you’re working. Maybe get yourself a cross stitch kit, an adult coloring book, or maybe even a soap kit.
13. Listen to a relaxing playlist
Music streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music offer numerous predefined playlists for every mood. For a chilled playlist, you could try acoustic songs. Or maybe you can find classical music if you want to hear something more subtle and instrumental.
Alternatively, it can also be relaxing to create your own playlist. Browse your favorite songs and add them to a feel-good playlist.
Then relax while listening to your chosen playlist to take care of yourself. Maybe grab some snacks, make yourself a hot drink, and snuggle up in a blanket. It’s the perfect time to relax and think about nothing but music.
14. Start a diary entry
Keeping a journal is an excellent self-care activity. Writing down your thoughts, concerns, and feelings can help you organize your thoughts.
Keeping a journal of your general thoughts is a good first step. And it’s also a good idea to keep a gratitude journal. There you can focus on the things you are grateful for and the accomplishments you are proud of. It’s a great way to lighten the mood and appreciate the brighter side of each day.
If you don’t already have a blank notebook, it makes sense to get one that you only use as a journal. This way you can completely separate them from your work at the university. It will be a space dedicated to you and your feelings.
There are numerous self-care journals on sites like Etsy that have questions on each page. For example, they could ask you how you felt that day, what made you happy, and what challenges you had to overcome. These can give you a clear direction on what to write about.
These prompts can be helpful, but some may find that plain notebooks work better. If you need a lot of space, a blank journal gives you the opportunity to write on more pages.
To develop a good self-care routine, try to write in a journal every day. You can start by trying to write 10 minutes every night. This allows you to process how you’ve been feeling that day and switch off before bed.
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15. Call friends or family
Sometimes a phone call with your loved ones is just what you need.
Stay connected, talk about whatever’s on your mind, and have good, old-fashioned gossip.
If you have friends you haven’t spoken to in a long time, call them and ask how they are doing. We’re sure they’ll be happy to chat and it can be a good feeling to rekindle an old friendship.
16. Taking a bath or shower
There’s something very relaxing about a long bath or hot shower.
It’s a non-study part of the day. Actually, you don’t have to do anything. You can just relax.
A bath before bed has the added benefit of helping you fall asleep quickly.
If you have scented toiletries, a bath or shower for personal hygiene is the perfect time to use them. You’ll feel (and smell) wonderful.
17. Do a yoga challenge
Yoga is a great way to unwind after a long day. And the best part? You can make it at home for free.
YouTube is full of great yoga tutorials.
We recommend ‘Yoga with Adriene’. The channel is hosted by a woman named Adriene (as you might have guessed) who is full of energy and enthusiasm. Her yoga classes are suitable for both beginners and experienced yogis.
Your 30-Day Challenges are worth trying. They will help you get into the habit of doing yoga every day. But beware, they are more difficult than they look.
18. Start drawing or painting
If you’ve ever felt like you can’t draw, we promise you can. It just takes practice, patience, and a little confidence.
It’s really worth it if you try. Perhaps light a scented candle, put on relaxing music, and start drawing or painting. Try not to think too much about what you are doing. You’ll be absorbed in it very soon.
Remember that it is not necessary to create a masterpiece. Nobody needs to see your art unless they want to. You can draw or paint whatever you want and have fun.
Don’t know how to start? Look online for drawing tutorials or take an online drawing class. There are some great deals on Meetup.
19. Eat good food
Food is really good for the soul.
Warm dishes such as homemade soup are ideal for self-care. They’re cozy, delicious, cheap, and easy.
You could try making a meal that will remind you of your home. This is spot on if you’re feeling a little nostalgic and missing home-cooked food.
Did you know that spending time with dogs can improve your mood and your work at college? What wonderful animals.
Or you could bake something sweet. Baking is fun and afterward, you can eat freshly baked cakes, brownies, or whatever you like!
If you want to eat well but don’t feel like cooking, you can also treat yourself to a snack. But first, read our tips on how to save in the process.
Did you know that spending time with dogs can improve your mood and your work at college? What wonderful animals.