Self-care is often talked up to be this coveted thing that so many women start to feel like it’s either unattainable or just another chore to add to our never-ending list of things that need to get done.
If I could change the idea around ‘self-care’ to actually be called ‘maintenance’ then I would, but for now, we’ll run with self-care.
The thing with this practice is that it needs to be done regularly. Self-care habits need to be so ingrained in what you do that they are second nature. Because if we think about them, or if we make them optional, then they’re going to be the first thing we scratch off our to-do list.
These are some of the self-care habits all women should practice, they shouldn’t be considered a luxury upgrade to our lives, or make us feel like we are being selfish. They are simple habits that will help us to live our best, most healthy, and joyful lives.
What Self-Care Means
The first step in creating self-care habits is understanding what self-care actually means. There are two distinct aspects of self-care, both of which are required as crucial parts of maintaining your mental and physical health.
The first is maintenance. These are the things that are required in order to maintain our minds, bodies, and life. This can include things like eating healthy foods, moving our body and exercising regularly, sleeping enough, and having time alone.
They’re necessary functions in order to look after ourselves in the most basic way (sadly a lot of women don’t even meet these needs).
Next is the layer of self-care that includes things that bring you joy, that fill your energetic cup, and that make you feel happy, relaxed, or fulfilled. This can include things like reading, painting, gentle walks on the beach, catching up with friends, or day naps (who doesn’t love a day nap).
Unfortunately, there is a big confusion between maintenance and self-care, and most women are encouraged to seek self-care tasks that only fulfill maintenance, but in order to really care for yourself, you need to include elements of each.
Most importantly, self-care means being mindful of your thoughts and emotions, and taking steps to manage them in a healthy way.
When you practice self-care, you are investing in your own wellbeing. By taking care of yourself, you are better able to cope with the challenges of daily life. As a result, self-care is an essential part of living a happy and healthy
Keep in mind, there are many different types of self-care activities and just because one person deems something as self-care, this doesn’t mean you will see it in the same way.
For example, bubble baths may be a great way for one person to unwind from their daily life, but the idea of sitting in warm water with nothing to do could increase the stress of another person.
When you create your own self care-plan, be sure to include self-care tasks that YOU love and leave you feeling energized and fulfilled.
How To Include New Self Care Habits
A self-care routine is one of the simplest and most effective ways to improve your health and wellbeing.
By taking a few minutes each day to focus on your physical and emotional needs, you can dramatically increase your overall sense of wellbeing.
The best way to incorporate new self-care habits into your life is to start small. Choose one or two new habits that you can easily integrate into your daily routine.
Once you have established these new habits, you can gradually add additional self-care activities as you have time and energy.
Remember, the most important thing is to be gentle with yourself and give yourself permission to focus on your own wellbeing. By taking care of yourself, you will be better able to take care of those around you.
One of the most simple ways to include a new self-care habit is to find something you already do on a daily basis, a habit you already have, and then find a way to add a self-care component to this.
For example, you might already make yourself a coffee every morning, but you might be able to add a self-care component by drinking your coffee outside on the back porch, enjoying the morning sun, and breathing in the fresh air.
There are some pretty simple self-care habits all women should practice in order to look after themselves, empower themselves, and help themselves to live their best life.
Self Care Habits All Women Should Practice
Whether you add just one of these self-care habits to your day, or simply read this for ideas and self-care tips, this list can give you ideas and inspiration for how you can start putting yourself first, and making yourself a priority in your own life.
1. Get Enough Restful Sleep
This is so important, especially when you are feeling run down, stressed or unhappy within your body.
I’m not going to tell you that you need to get your 8 hours a night, because for some people that’s just not possible. AND, if we focus too much on the hours of sleep, we lose focus on what’s really important – restful sleep.
Some people (like myself) find that 6-7 hours is enough sleep, others need 10 hours. The number is arbitrary if the sleep you’re getting is poor quality.
Be sure to have a good sleep area, enough downtime before bed, and limit interruptions where possible.
I have kids, I’ve worked on-call and shift work, I get it… we can only control so much, but we can probably control a lot more than we give ourselves credit for – such as no phones before bed etc.
2 – Hydrate Your Body
It’s frequently said that around 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. While this hasn’t yet been proven statistically, it’s not an absurd number considering dehydration is a frequent cause for hospital admission, and can be linked to a wide number of health conditions including migraines, cardiovascular issues, skin conditions, and even digestive issues.
The point is, we don’t drink enough water.
You might not consider drinking more water to be an act of self-care, but hydrating yourself, looking after your body, and making sure it is functioning properly is certainly an important maintenance habit.
3 – Fuel Your Body
We’ve talked about hydrating your body, now you need to focus on the fuel you give it.
If you had one car for the rest of your life – one amazing car, your dream car, would you put the cheap cruddy gas in it, or would you put the most expensive, premium gas in it?
Your body is your car – you have one, for your life.
And while a cruddy tank of gas won’t cause big damage in the long run, using only cruddy gas will cause BIG issues.
The same goes for food.
Are you fueling your body with cruddy food with little to no nutritional value, or are you treating your body like an incredibly powerful machine and fueling it with the best you can (which also helps with your immune system and a whole host of other physical and mental health issues)?
You certainly don’t have to eat perfectly all the time, a balanced diet often includes indulgences, but just think about the fuel you’re putting into your body and ask yourself ‘is this cruddy gas or premium?’
It can be quite overwhelming to switch to a healthy diet, but this is often because we overcomplicate things.
To start, simply add one more healthy meal to your week.
You might make it that every Sunday night is a healthy meal, no matter what.
Another thing you can do is cut down on the amount of processed fast food you eat and simply replace it with healthier options. There are tons of great healthy take-out options – all it takes is a little time and effort to find them.
4 – Create Routines That HELP You
My absolutely favorite self-care habit is creating routines that actually make your day easier. I know it might not seem like self-care, but trust me when I say it will make life easier, you will have more time for things you love, and your mind will be so grateful for it.
Creating routines may seem like more work and this may seem counterintuitive at first, but hear me out.
When you have a set routine, it frees up your mental energy to focus on other things.
For instance, if you always take a shower in the morning, you don’t have to waste time and energy trying to decide when would be the best time for you to shower. That’s already been decided as part of your morning routine!
Having routines can also help you to stick to healthy habits, like eating breakfast every day or going for a walk after dinner.
And while it’s important to have some flexibility in your life, too much can actually lead to more of a chaos mindset and lead to more frustrations.
You don’t have to be incredibly rigid with your routines by outlining everything to specific times – that’s more along the lines of a schedule. Routines are more a series of events that happen in the same order that can be repeated in almost any environment (such as if you were to go away on vacation).
You can make these routines even more self-care-focused by doing simple things like getting up a half-hour before everyone else and drinking your cup of coffee or cup of tea in the quiet of the morning.
A simple and small change like this can play a big part in how well you cope with your day.
5 – Move Your Body
One of the best things you can do for your self-care routine is to make sure you’re getting enough exercise.
Physical activity has been shown to have a plethora of benefits, including lower blood pressure, lower stress levels, and improved overall health.
Exercise is also great for your emotional health, providing an outlet for pent-up frustrations and helping to improve your mood.
You don’t have to go to the gym every day or run a marathon to get these benefits – simply making time for some daily exercise will go a long way towards taking care of your body and mind.
So get moving – your body will thank you!
6 – Take Time To Work On Your Mental Health
When it comes to self-care, women often focus on their physical health but paying attention to our mental health can have a significant impact on our overall wellbeing, and a few little tweaks to how we approach mental health can make a huge difference to how we feel in our daily lives.
One of the common mental health concerns is increased feelings of anxiety. This often comes when we have run ourselves down so far that we have no reserves. We’ve spent so much time taking care of others, that we have put taking care of ourselves on the back burner.
When you start to look at paying attention to your mental health as a preventative measure rather than a ‘fix it when it’s broken’ approach, you will start to see significant changes in all areas of your life.
Fortunately, there are many simple self-care practices that can help to improve your mental well-being.
For starters, make sure to set aside time each day for yourself. This can be used for things like reading, meditating, or simply spending time in nature.
In addition, it is important to create healthy habits around sleep and nutrition. Eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep is crucial for maintaining mental health.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed. Talking to a therapist or counselor can be an extremely effective way to work through mental health issues.
We see a professional to help fix our car when we are having problems, seeing a professional to help fix our minds when we are having problems should be just as commonplace.
7 – Connect With Others
One important self-care habit for women is to connect with others in person, rather than relying on social media.
While social media can be a great way to stay in touch with friends and family, it’s no substitute for face-to-face interaction. We’ve all felt this, particularly over the last few years.
When you’re feeling low, reaching out to a close friend or family member can make a world of difference.
Just having someone to talk to can help you feel better, and they may be able to offer practical advice or support.
If you don’t have anyone you feel comfortable talking to, consider joining a support group or a mother’s group in your area, and there are even great specialist interest groups around too (I’m part of a few crochet groups because deep inside I’m an old Granny).
Talking to others who are going through similar experiences or who have similar interests to you can be incredibly helpful and can provide a sense of community.
8 – Do Something You Love Every Day
Another act of self-care that all women should include in their day is to do something you love every day.
It doesn’t have to be something big or time-consuming, just something that brings you joy.
For example, maybe you take a few minutes to read your favorite book during your lunch break, or go for a walk in the park after work. Maybe you spend some time each day working on a hobby or project that you’re passionate about (for me, it’s crochet – I make time to crochet every single day).
Whatever it is, making time for things that make you happy can help reduce stress and improve your overall well-being, and allow you to connect with something that is just for you and no one else.
So if you’re looking for ways to reduce stress in your life, start by doing something you love every day. It’s a simple self-care habit that can make a big difference.
9 – Give Back/Help Others
It’s easy to get caught up in our own lives and forget about the people around us. However, helping others can have a surprisingly positive effect on our own wellbeing.
When we give back, we not only make a difference in someone else’s life, but we also feel a sense of satisfaction and purpose.
Furthermore, research has shown that helping others can lower stress levels, improve our moods, boost our immunity, and may even help you to live longer.
So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember that giving back can be good for both your body and your mind.
Whether you volunteer at a local charity or simply lend a helping hand to a friend in need, you’re sure to reap the benefits of your acts of kindness.
10 – Practice Gratitude
One of the best things you can do for your mental health is to develop a habit of practicing gratitude.
Studies have shown that gratitude can increase our overall happiness, improve our relationships, and even lead to better physical health.
But what exactly is gratitude?
Gratitude is the feeling of appreciation for the good things in our lives.
It can be as simple as acknowledging the sun shining on a beautiful day, or feeling thankful for a friend who is always there for us.
When we take the time to focus on the positive aspects of our lives, it can help us to cope with stress and hardship.
So how can you start incorporating gratitude into your life? First, make a conscious effort to notice the good things that happen each day.
Second, keep a gratitude journal and write down a few things you’re grateful for each day.
And finally, take some time each week to reflect on the things in your life that you’re most thankful for.
Practicing gratitude may seem like a small and trivial self-care habit but its positive effects on your happiness can be felt in all areas of your life.
11 – Have Fun and Play
When we were kids we spent so much time in a state of fun and play. Somewhere along the line, we lost that skill, but having fun, and making time for play are actually really great self-care habits.
This doesn’t mean you have to go out and spend a ton of money on activities or toys, but it does mean that you should find ways to enjoy yourself on a regular basis.
One easy way to do this is to set aside some time each week to do something that you enjoy without any obligations or expectations. Or, you can get even more creative and silly with things and unleash your inner child.
This could be something as simple as going a play in the park (when was the last time you went down a slide?), doing cartwheels on the beach, or playing with your kids or pets.
Whatever it is that brings a smile to your face, make sure you’re making time for it in your schedule. You deserve it!
12 – Connect With Nature
It can be easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life and forget to take time for yourself.
However, making self-care a priority is essential for maintaining your health and well-being.
One way to incorporate self-care into your routine is by connecting with nature on a regular basis.
Taking a break to breathe in some fresh air and soak up some vitamin D can do wonders for your mental health.
While you’re there, take your shoes off and feel the grass under your feet, or walk on the beach and feel the sand between your toes. Take a walk and put your hand on a tree, take time to smell flowers, and watch the birds fly around.
You can even step out of your comfort zone and explore new hiking trails or picnic spots that can also help you to appreciate the world around you. And if you’re looking for a way to add some regular exercise into your life, what better way than by enjoying a leisurely stroll in nature?
So next time you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, remember to take some time for yourself and connect with nature.
13 – Be Creative
One important but often overlooked self-care habit for women is to be creative.
It’s a common misconception that there are creative people and non-creative people, when really, everyone is creative in their own way.
It doesn’t matter what form of creativity you choose- whether it’s painting, writing, gardening, photography, technical drawing, movement, or any other creative form, the important thing is that you make time for it in your life.
Many women neglect their creative side in favor of more practical pursuits, but the truth is that being creative can be very good for your mental and emotional health.
It can help you to relax and to express yourself in a safe and healthy way.
If you’re not sure where to start, jump on YouTube or Google and search ‘creative ways to…’. You’ll be amazed at what comes up. So don’t be afraid to explore your creative side- it just might be the best self-care decision you ever make.
14 – Spend Time Outdoors
While we’ve mentioned previously different ways to spend time outdoors (like connecting with nature and getting some fresh air) the simple act of being outdoors cannot be overlooked as one of the most powerful daily self-care habits.
Whether you drink your coffee outside in the morning, or simply walk outside to take some big deep breaths in the middle of the day, the change in environment, the fresh air, and the mood boost you’ll get from being outdoors is perhaps the most simple act of self-care you can do.
I use this as a tool with my kids too – if they’re having a particularly rough time getting to sleep, or are quite upset, we go outside and just sit or stand and hug. It always amazed me how quickly they would settle, even as babies, by simply being outdoors.
We can learn a lot from kids, and I challenge everyone to try this simple self-care habit today (do it, right now, before you forget).
15 – Set Limits and Boundaries
It’s important to set limits and boundaries in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. One way to do this is to schedule time for yourself and stick to it.
This can be difficult, especially if you’re used to putting everyone else’s needs before your own, but it’s essential for your wellbeing.
Make sure to schedule time for activities that you enjoy and make you feel good. This can be anything from reading, going for walks, listening to music, or taking a yoga class.
Then treat this scheduled time in the same way you’d treat an appointment for your kids or for someone else – you wouldn’t miss it, you wouldn’t back out of it, so hold the same amount of importance for yourself.
It’s also important to say no when you need to. This can be tough, but it’s important to nurture your own mental and physical health.
Setting boundaries may also look like letting go of friendships or people in your life that drain your energy, or even simply spending less time with people or doing things that leave you feeling depleted.
Remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup – take care of yourself first so that you can be there for others when they need you.
16 – Simplify Your Life
One of the best ways to practice self-care is to simplify your life. This doesn’t necessarily mean getting rid of all your possessions or moving to a remote location.
Instead, it means taking a close look at your daily tasks and identifying areas where you can cut back or eliminate unnecessary activities.
For instance, do you really need to check your email every hour? Can you streamline your morning routine by laying out your clothes the night before?
When you simplify your life, you reduce stress and create more time for activities that bring you joy.
As a result, you’ll be more productive, happier, and better able to care for yourself.
17 – Listen to Your Body
Most people need to take better care of their bodies, but they don’t know what they need to do because they don’t spend time listening to their bodies.
Paying attention to your body is crucial for maintaining your health and well-being.
After all, your body is always giving you information about what it needs, whether it’s a need for rest, nourishment, or movement. Yet so often, we ignore these cues and push our bodies beyond their limits.
As a result, we end up feeling tired, stressed, and rundown.
To avoid this, it’s important to listen to your body and give it what it needs.
This may mean saying no to plans when you’re feeling exhausted, or taking a break from work to go for a walk. It may also mean eating when you’re hungry, even if it’s not mealtime yet.
18 – Respect Your Time
One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to respect your time.
That means setting aside time each day to do the things that are important to you, and not letting other people or obligations steal your time away. It’s also important to learn to say no.
You don’t have to do everything that someone asks you to do, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about saying no. If you don’t respect your own time, then no one else will.
So make a commitment to respect your time as part of your self-care plan.
19 – Invest In Yourself Regularly
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to invest in yourself regularly.
That means taking care of your education, health, and mindset – anything that helps you become a better version of yourself, helps you to grow, and helps you to evolve.
When you invest in your education, you’re giving yourself the gift of knowledge. You’re learning new things and expanding your horizons. Life is all about learning and there are so many amazing ways to learn, for free, right at our fingertips.
Take a class, read a book, watch a YouTube video, ask questions, ask your grandma to teach you how to cook her most favorite dish… take in all the knowledge you can.
Investing in your health means taking care of your body and mind. Eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep are all important components of self-care.
Investments give you returns – you can make good investments like exercise and eating well, and get good returns. Or you can choose to make poor investments, not treating your body so well, and get poor returns.
And finally, investing in your mindset means taking care of your mental and emotional health. This includes things like managing stress, maintaining healthy relationships, and learning how to understand your brain, your mind, and how it plays a role in every aspect of your life.
When you take care of yourself, you’re setting yourself up for success in all areas of life. So make sure to invest in yourself regularly!
This means taking the time to do things that make you feel good, both physically and mentally. It can be something as simple as getting a massage or going for a walk in nature. Or it could be something more significant, like taking a yoga class or going on a retreat.
The important thing is to make self-care a priority in your life. When you invest in your own wellbeing, you are saying that you are worth caring for.
You are also setting the foundation for a healthy, happy, and productive life. So make the commitment to yourself today to invest in your wellbeing on a regular basis.
Your future self will thank you for it.
20 – Take Regular Breaks
For those of us who are in a constant state of ‘doing’ and struggle to have any downtime, the idea of taking a break can seem daunting. How can we get things done if we are taking a break? Won’t that mean we are less productive? And our to-do list won’t get done?
The opposite is actually true.
Taking regular breaks, from work, from your day-to-day life, from people, from the household chores, can help you rest, reset, and actually be more productive in the long run.
This might be as simple as sitting down in the middle of the day to watch an episode (or two) of your current favorite TV show.
Or it might mean that you hire a cleaner once a month so you can take a break from household chores (and before you say you can’t afford one, check the prices of people in your area and then find a way to budget each week to cover the cost… it’s more possible than you may think).
Or it could mean that you need to say no to a gathering with other people so you can take some time out.
Or (and this is my favorite) it might mean that you schedule in a night of the week where you go to bed early and someone else takes care of the kid’s dinner & bedtime routine (noise-canceling headphones are very helpful for this).
Ask yourself what you need a break from, and then find a way to make it happen.
21 – Check-In With Your Physical Health Regularly
One of the things that always surprises me as I get older is that my physical health changes faster than my brain can catch up. In my mind, I always felt like I could still do cartwheels and tumbles as I did in my early twenties, but my thirty-something body has a different idea.
Checking in with your physical health regularly can help you understand your body better, and give you ideas of what you need to or want to work on.
I no longer want to be skinny or toned – I just want to be strong. And checking in with my physical strength has helped me identify areas I want to be stronger in.
This is the same for all areas of physical health too.
Regular check-ups like Pap Smear Tests, getting seen when something doesn’t feel right (like lumps in the breast or any other causes for concern) or even simple regular dental checkups can help you identify problems or potential problems early.
Again, we would do this for our kids and for the people we love, so we need to do it for ourselves too.
Taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do. It’s not selfish – it’s essential.
When you make time for yourself, you’re able to recharge and renew your energy. This allows you to show up as your best self in all areas of your life. There are many different self-care activities you can do, but it’s important to find what works best for you.
For you, this might mean taking a yoga class once a week or going for a walk every day, or even simply taking some time each evening to reflect on your day and journal about your thoughts and feelings.
Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you enjoy and that you can realistically fit into your schedule. Making small changes in your daily routine and taking small steps to refocus on your own self-care can help you live your best life and help you to become the best version of yourself.