When the world feels heavy, grounding yourself and taking care is crucial — but most self-care is centered around buying new stuff, whether that’s $100 serums or the latest loungewear set. So, here is a roundup of free self-care ideas that don’t involve shopping or spending money on anything.
There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with investing in yourself and purchasing something you really love and that will make you feel supported, healthy, or balanced.
But, this list was made to emphasize that self-care goes beyond consumerism. So with that, let’s dive in:
A List of Free Self-Care Ideas:
1. Pause and breathe. Just take a moment to close your eyes, inhale, and exhale. Even a few minutes of focusing on your breath can make a huge difference.
2. Listen to your favorite music. Do you have any go-to songs that never fail to make you feel good?
3. Go for a walk outside, as much in nature as you can.
4. Just sit outside. If you have a balcony or backyard, spend a little bit of time outside breathing in the fresh air.
5. Light a candle or run an essential oil diffuser. A relaxing scent can do wonders.
6. Go screen free. Whether it’s for an hour or an entire weekend, some digital-free time can be gamechanging.
7. Talk to a loved one who makes you feel good after you have a conversation with them.
8. Cook up a healthy meal — or just prepare a simple snack.
9. Bake some bread (even if it’s just a quick loaf) — the process can be incredibly satisfying.
10. Drink water! So simple, but most of us aren’t getting the recommended amount of water each day.
11. Go through photos of memories that make you happy.
12. Start journaling. Do a brain dump of everything that’s on your mind.
13. Make a list of 10 things you’re grateful for or happy about right now.
14. Think about your goals and dreams. Write them down and create a plan for reaching at least one of them.
15. Try a natural dyeing project.
16. Watch one of your favorite movies or TV shows.
17. Or watch something that you’ve been wanting to check out for a while.
18. Get lost in a great book that’s been on your shelf.
19. Or take a trip to the library and rent out a new book.
20. Stroll around an area in your town or city. Maybe you could even do some people watching?
21. Take a bubble bath or a hot shower.
22. Go through your skincare routine.
23. Make a DIY face mask using ingredients in your kitchen and bathroom.
24. Search online for “inspirational quotes” or “motivational quotes” and read through them.
25. Play a board game or card game.
26. Organize something in your space! Start small with a project that you can reasonably accomplish.
27. Try out new outfit combinations with the clothes already in your closet.
28. Listen to a podcast that uplifts you.
29. Or maybe try an audiobook! Many libraries now offer audiobooks to rent for free.
30. Take a nap. Sleep can do wonders for our emotional, mental, and physical health.
31. Plan out a fun trip or staycation.
32. Make a hot herbal tea.
33. Do an at-home manicure or pedicure.
34. Stretch or do some yoga.
35. Go for a bike ride.
36. Try a dance workout — or just dance around the house with some fun music!
37. Make a vision board with magazines or photos you find online.
38. Open your blinds if it’s daytime and let some sunlight in! If it’s warm enough, open the windows for some fresh air.
39. Watch online tutorials and learn a skill that you’ve been wanting to try your hand at.
40. Check some easy things off of your to-do list that you’ve been procrastinating.
41. Make a “ta-da” list, listing out everything you’ve accomplished today, this week, this month, or even this year so far.
42. Find a free online support group.
43. Volunteer at an organization with a mission that you strongly believe in.
44. Unfollow people on social media that bring you down.
45. See if the people you love to follow on social media also have podcasts or newsletters so that you can learn from them or read what they have to say off of social media.
46. Enjoy some moments of silence. If you can, step away and just take some time in the quiet to collect your thoughts and breath. Use noise cancelling headphones if needed and if you have them.
47. Get dressed up, even if you have nowhere to go. Take a selfie or set up a self-timer to document your chic outfit.
48. Similarly, if you find it relaxing… do your hair or makeup! Maybe you can even find a tutorial online for a new hairstyle or eyeshadow trick.
49. Take turns giving and getting massages with your partner or a friend.
50. Reach out to a loved one that you haven’t talked to in a while.
51. Download a free meditation app and do some guided meditations.
52. Are you feeling stretched thin? Take a moment to write down your boundaries on a sticky note and keep this at your desk or post it on your fridge.
53. Think about your upcoming week and if it makes you feel overwhelmed: are there things you can cancel or postpone? Is there something you can delegate? Are there things on your to do list that are self-imposed stressors that you could cut, delegate, or delay?
54. Could you ask someone for help? Could your parents watch your kids for the day if you need to step away? Is there a friend you could ask to help you out with a stressful situation? Do you have a neighbor that can lend a hand?
55. Do no chores (or as little as possible) for a day.
56. Or, if things have been piling up, set aside a “power hour”, where you play motivational music and get all that stuff done that you’ve been delaying.
57. Pause and listen to what your heart and body is telling you. Do you need to get moving? Do you need to rest? Do you need to get stuff done or do you nee to take a break? Do you need alone time or do you need to connect with others? You know yourself best.
58. Walk through a garden or farmer’s market.
59. Watch an educational documentary about something that you’ve always wanted to learn about.
60. Wear all of your coziest things (if it’s cold, of course!): think slippers, oversized sweaters, comfy fleece sweatpants, and your fluffiest blanket.
61. If it’s hot outside: drink a cool glass of flavored water and splash some cold water on your face.
62. Make a collage with any printed photos you have that you’ve been meaning to get around to. Or create a digital collage of your favorite photos online.
63. Plan a date night or a night out with your friends for the weekend or the following weekend.
64. Write a letter to someone who is currently long distance from you.
65. Exercise your brain and start learning a new language on an app like Duolingo.
66. Or if there’s a skill a friend of yours has (like sewing or making an amazing bean dip), see if they’d be willing to teach you!
67. Start a scrapbook using supplies you have laying around. Or play around in a free design tool like Canva.
68. Go to local estate sales or thrift shops and do some treasure hunting. You don’t have to buy something there if you don’t want to — just the act of being on the hunt can be fun!
69. Bike, drive, walk, or take a bus/train somewhere with a beautiful view.
70. Watch the sunset or sunrise — without multi-tasking.
71. If you have some time, cook up a challenging meal or bake something with several steps.
72. Look into zero waste cooking and find ways to use up food scraps creatively.
73. Make a playlist of calming music or sounds.
74. Go to bed early tonight.
75. Create a calming wind-down and nighttime ritual. Go screen free one to two hours before going to sleep, dim the lights in the evening, play calming music, journal or read a book, do a meditation, and ease into sleep to ensure a restful night and rejuvenated morning the following day.
And that wraps it up for free self-care ideas!
I hope that you’re able to use some of these free self-care ideas the next time you need a little bit of a pick-me-up.