If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, these 26 tips can help you start feeling better right now. Even more importantly, they’re easy parts of a healthy self-care routine.
Try a few and see what works best for you.
1. Set boundaries. One of the keys to emotional intelligence is knowing where to set healthy boundaries. There are times when saying no to someone is necessary to say yes to yourself.
2. Be grateful. Look around and see if there is one thing you can be thankful for. Often, one negative thought leads to another. Gratitude is a way to break that pattern and see beyond ourselves.
3. Do something new. Our brains love trying something new! If you’re not feeling well emotionally, a change of pace can be the mental self-care you need. Even something simple like trying a unique flavor of ice cream or taking a different way home can add a spark to our day.
5. Eliminate something that stresses you. Most stress and anxiety build up from our daily environment. See if there’s a way you can remove those stressors.
6. Meditate. Mindfulness exercises are one of the best ways to practice spiritual self-care. But meditation also works even if you aren't religious or spiritual. Just focus on your breath or the present moment.
7. Find your emotional triggers. When we don’t feel well, it usually comes from a few uncomfortable emotions. Next time you feel emotional distress, try to pinpoint the cause. It can help you understand why you feel the way you do.
8. Refocus your thoughts. Negative self-talk is overwhelming. The next time you catch yourself thinking something negative, refocus on something positive. Gratitude is a great option!
9. Find a support system. Did you know that social self-care is just as important as spending time on our own? Find loved ones or people you respect and ask if you can come to them for help.
10. Ask for help. Once you have a support system, ask them for help. It’s part of a healthy relationship. Have a list of numbers you can call as part of your self-care plan.
11. Cook something healthy. You don’t have to be a great cook to have a little fun in the kitchen. Find a new recipe online, collect the ingredients you need, and enjoy a healthy way to have some fun!
12. Schedule me time. You’ve probably heard of this self-care strategy before, and that’s because it works. Set aside time each week to forget about life's challenges and focus on yourself.
13. Be creative. Learning how to express yourself is one of the best ways to melt away negative emotions. Paint, draw, write, or play an instrument.
14. Have fun. Most of us forget what it’s like to have fun—we get stuck in grown-up routines. Even if you don’t feel like a young person, try something you always wanted to do when you were little!
15. Accept you aren’t perfect. None of us has an ideal life, but our emotional self forgets that. Accept that you make mistakes, and it’s okay.
16. Stop apologizing. We often catch ourselves apologizing to others for minor things. If that describes you, work on being more confident as an emotional self-care practice.
17. Find or create a calm playlist. One of our favorite self-care ideas is finding or making a playlist of music that you love. We all have a powerful emotional response to music!
18. Read a book. One of the best self-care items you can own is a great book. Reading a book is a way to escape from daily life.
19. Ground yourself. This self-care practice is one of the most effective ways to help release tension wherever you are. Connect with something in the present moment, like the sensation of your clothes or how your hair feels in the wind.
20. Exercise. Physical self-care is just as important as emotional self-care. Find some kind of exercise you like and practice it regularly. You’ll boost your emotional and physical health at the same time!
21. Analyze your thoughts. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is built around the idea that all emotions come from thoughts. If you gain an understanding of how you think, you can change the way you feel.
22. Take time to rest. It’s easy to forget that rest is one of our most crucial self-care needs. Set aside time for a nap or deep relaxation in the evening or when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
23. Forgive yourself. When you’re feeling guilty or ashamed, the answer to better emotional health may be self-care compassion. You must forgive yourself first.
24. Talk to a professional. A mental health expert can provide better care for intense distress or trauma. It’s a good idea to find a therapist who can help you process emotions and suggest even more self-care activities.