The Art of Self-Care: Ideas to Inspire, Empower, and Heal the Soul


California Coalition for Youth

Illustration depicting common self-care activities.

Bailey Darbro, Jr. Editor

The COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed the way we live, from our work to our learning to our social lives. Now more than ever, practicing self-care is essential when it comes to taking care of ourselves and our well-being. 

Self-care is the intentional act of caring for ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally. Making self-care part of your routine is not only vital for your mental health, but research suggests that the more we practice self-care, the more confident, creative, and productive we are. We also experience more joy, make better decisions, build stronger relationships, and communicate more effectively. When you prioritize yourself, you not only ensure you are the best “you” possible, but you also reinvigorate yourself. You have more energy and joy to give to other areas in your life. 

Whether you need self-care ideas for a bad day, or just need a little reboot, read these simple self-care tips for stress and be ready to implement them whenever you need to. And remember: self-care isn’t selfish; it’s actually one of the most selfless things you can do right now. 


Sensory self-care helps calm your mind. When you are able to tune into the details of the sensations all around you, it’s easier to live in the present moment. And when you’re in the present, you can more effectively let go of resentments related to the past or anxieties about the future. When you think about practicing sensory self-care, consider your senses: touch, smell, sound, taste, and sight. 

Sensory Self-Care Ideas: 

  • Cuddling up under a soft blanket
  • Watching the flames of a candle or a fire
  • Feeling the water under your skin during a hot bath or shower 
  • Focusing on the movements of your own breathing 
  • Walking barefoot in the grass
  • Lying down and listening to music with your eyes closed 
  • Holding a pet in your arms 


When it comes to your emotional health, one of the best self-care tips is to make sure you fully engage with your emotions. When you face them head-on, this actually helps with stress. Remember that emotions are not “good” or “bad” in themselves. You are not blameworthy for the emotions you feel; only how you behave in response to them. 

Emotional Self-Care Ideas: 

  • Keep a daily journal, and be completely honest about your feelings 
  • Let yourself cry when you need to 
  • Belt out to a song that best expresses your current emotions 
  • Deliberately encourage yourself to laugh with old memories or funny videos 
  • Make time to be with a friend or family member who truly understands you 


Spiritual self-care isn’t just about believing in a deity. It’s about getting in touch with your values and what really matters to you. 

Spiritual Self-Care Ideas: 

  • Keep up a daily meditation or mindfulness practice 
  • Read poetry 
  • Walk in nature and reflect on the beauty around you 
  • Make a daily list of 5-10 things you are grateful for 
  • Be creative, whether through art, music, writing, or something else entirely 
  • Say affirmations that ground your sense of self and purpose 
  • Go on a trip with the sole purpose of photographing things that inspire you 
  • Make a list of 5-10 things that make you feel alive, and then ask yourself how you can better incorporate these things into your life


Physical activity is not only for your bodily well-being but also for helping you let off steam. Physical self-care goes beyond making trips to the gym; it involves anything that gets your body moving and your heart rate up. 

Physical Self-Care Ideas:

  • Dance to your favorite songs 
  • Go for a walk 
  • Go running with your dog
  • Learn a new sport 
  • Do yoga 


Connecting with other people helps you understand that you’re not alone. It gives us a sense of being fully “seen” by others. Maintaining our relationships can help us combat isolation and loneliness. Social self-care isn’t about just doing things with others for the sake of it, but about choosing to do things with people who really make you feel good. 

Social Self-Care Ideas: 

  • Reach out to someone you haven’t seen in a while 
  • Consider joining a group of people who share your interests 
  • Join a support group for people who struggle with the same things you do 
  • Sign up for a class to learn something and meet new people at the same time 
  • Make a date to have lunch or dinner with a great friend 

Benefits of Self-Care 

  • Better productivity: When you learn to say “no” to things that overextend you and start making time for things that matter more, you slow life down in a wonderful way. This brings your goals into sharper focus and helps you to concentrate on what really matters. 
  • Better physical health: Less stress and a better immune system can help you feel more physically able and strong inside and out. 
  • Enhanced self-esteem: When you regularly carve out time to meet your own needs, you send a positive message to your subconscious. You treat yourself like you matter and have intrinsic value. This can go a long way towards discouraging negative self-talk and your inner critical voice. 
  • Increased self-knowledge: Practicing self-care requires thinking about what you really love to do. The exercise of figuring out what makes you feel passionate and inspired can help you understand yourself a lot better. 
  • More to give: Self-care gives you the resources you need to be compassionate to others. Giving compassion is a bit like filling a bucket; you can’t fill someone else’s if you don’t have enough of your own.  

Self-Love Affirmations 

Affirm your self-worth and love with these spoken affirmations. 

  • My presence is my power. 
  • I deserve the best and I accept the best now. 
  • I can do all the things. 
  • I let go of all that no longer serves me. 
  • I have the power to create change. 
  • I am whole. 
  • I am enough. 
  • I am choosing and not waiting to be chosen. 
  • I can and I will. 
  • I have the inner strength to face life head-on.