“Self-care” can look like a lot of different things depending on the person and what they really need at that moment. From face masks to breathwork to journaling, we rounded up 37 nourishing self-care ideas, plus got the lowdown on how self-care actually works—and why it’s essential.
So, how does self-care really work?
While we may all do different things to get a dose of self-care, the objective is pretty universal: offering yourself a chance to do something that makes you feel good, just for the sake of caring for yourself.
As psychotherapist Megan Bruneau, M.A. explains to mbg, self-care is important and helpful both psychologically and physiologically. “Psychologically,” Bruneau explains, “it’s an opportunity for us to nurture our relationship to self and become more comfortable in solitude.”
She notes that this is especially important during moments when we feel self-critical, which leads to shame, anxiousness, guilt, loneliness, and so on. “For those who struggle to be verbally kind to themselves and have self-compassion, self-care can offer a more direct avenue to expressions of self-love,” she adds.
You can think of it like expressing a love language—but turned inward, Bruneau adds. Which of the five love languages do you like most? Be it with words of affirmation or gifts, practicing self-care is a chance to give yourself the love you want to receive.
“Self-care can also help us feel more confident and at ease, and can offer a space to reflect and process,” says Bruneau. And physiologically, she adds, certain self-care practices can help to lower cortisol, a stress hormone, and increase levels of “feel good” hormones.
“Not only does this positively impact our health, mood, sleep, and relationships, it allows us to feel more present and connected to ourselves and others,” Bruneau explains.
Looking for a self-care practice to try today (and every day)? This lit has something for everybody.
We all need regular self-care practices to keep us nourished on a physical, mental, and spiritual level. Whether you prefer a walk in nature or a movie night in, be sure to take a moment to support and care for yourself today.