Self-care ideas for when your mental health could use a boost

written by Anna Harris

Buzzwords like “self-love” and “self-care” are thrown around these days without anyone really explaining what that looks like on a practical level. If you’re anything like me, you’ve likely read zillions (approximately) of articles about mental health and how to be kind to yourself, but maybe these methods have fallen flat for you.

Unfortunately, most of these articles don’t put up the disclaimer that everyone is different so their suggestions might not work for all people. But guess what: It’s OK if what works for others doesn’t work for you. It just means you have to try different things. I’m still figuring out what does and doesn’t work for me. As I sift through all the possibilities, my exploration is hindered by pressures to be a certain way and check all the boxes on the list of “things to do to be a successful and mentally healthy modern woman.”

In honor of our work to see past these pressures and find new ways to foster ourselves and, by extension, love others better, here is a list of ideas for practices you can experiment with on your own journey!

Drink a glass of water.

• Try out a group on

• Spend some time alone to reconnect with yourself.

• Take a walk.

Stop and say a quick prayer. You could even memorize a quick one you can pull out of your pocket on a moment’s notice.

Create set hours for working and stick to it. If your schedule says 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. is your workday, make it a priority to be done, physically and mentally, with work after 5.

Take a 15-minute cleaning break.

• Play a relaxing video game. Gris is a beautiful game, and I highly recommend it. Very soothing with a lovely story full of meaning.

• Pay attention to your five senses when you eat, walk, work, and play. Practice mindfulness.

Shut down and truly rest. Even when we’re vegging on Netflix, our brain is still doing something. Try to spend some time literally doing nothing.

• Take a siesta.

Sign up for a yoga or Pilates class. Or you can find good videos online, if you’d rather practice at home or save money. Yoga with Adriene is my favorite yoga channel.

• Sit down for some intentional time with God. This could look like focused reading and prayer time, or maybe you’re just sitting trying to listen.

• Plan your next vacation.

• Do a social media purge. Are there people you’ve only followed out of politeness? Are there accounts that deflate you or discourage you when you see them? Are there people who have hurt you without attempting to reconcile you’re still holding onto? Consider unfollowing or unfriending. Trust me, it feels good.

• Call a loved one for a short (or long) chat.

• Try a color walk! Basically, pick a color and follow it.

• Redecorate your space! You can get some inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest.

• Start a Pinterest board for inspiration.

• Celebrate a small accomplishment with a night out with friends, a spa day, or just treating yourself to some takeout.

• Journal for 15 minutes.

Open your Bible and read a random verse.

• Go on a photo shoot in your neighborhood. You could go with a friend and photograph each other, have a photo scavenger hunt, or just take photos of things around the area.

• Read a book.

• Sleep in.

• Take a shower or bath. Even when you’re busy, feeling tired, or maybe even feeling sad or empty, keeping yourself clean can go a long way, even if you’re not seeing anyone.

• If you’re not going to work or out, get dressed and ready for the day anyway.

• Make your bed.

• Paint or sketch a picture. Even if it’s not a masterpiece, it can feel good to get creative.

• Begin writing your memoir. Nobody has to read it, but it can be cool to look back on your life and find patterns, reflect on good and bad times, and see how you’ve grown.

• Try to solve a math problem.

• Research about something you’re interested in. Maybe it’s cryptids, theology, the secret to eternal youth, philosophy, science, or Harry Potter. The point is to learn something about a subject you like.

• Do nice things for future you. Make your lunch or put out your clothes for tomorrow the night before. It feels nice to know later that you were looking out for yourself.

• Practice your love language on yourself. If you’re words of affirmation, say something nice about yourself. Buy yourself a gift or make yourself a card. Make yourself dinner or do a chore now that you would have to do later. Give yourself a spa day. Spend some alone time with yourself doing something you enjoy.

• Allow yourself to be unproductive. We don’t have to fill every moment with something that leads to success. Sometimes we can just be.

Remind yourself that it’s natural for you to not feel excited all the time. We’re conditioned to quick hits and highs. The constant barrage of instant gratification can lead to frustration and restlessness but be patient with yourself. Life is about balance, including in our emotions. Equilibrium and statis can sometimes be good.

Feel free to try these out or not! If you do, feel free to comment on your experiences, or leave a note about what self-care rituals and practices have helped in your life!

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