31 Simple & Free Self-Care Activities

“Me-time” is one of the best things you can give yourself. A massage, pedicure, manicure or yoga/exercise class are all excellent ways to give yourself the much needed self-care that we all need. However, if time and money are keeping you from giving yourself a bit of respite from the busyness of life,  there are many FREE self-care activities that anyone can do in 10 minutes or less.

Self-care offers both emotional and physical health benefits. Webmd.com recognizes the benefits of “me time” and Mayo Clinic even published a book about self-care.

No matter if you’re a busy parent, a business executive, or a retired person in a new life adventure….you NEED a few minutes of self-care each day.

For the most part, “if it brings you joy” AND allows your mind to slow down, that activity probably qualifies as self-care. If you need to, schedule self-care time because it’s that important. You can read all these easy ideas for incorporating self-care into your life, but you must DO them to reap the benefits. You deserve it, so make it a priority for the next 10 days to do 10 minutes of self-care each day. After those 10 days, may it be your new health habit.

31 Free Self-Care Activities that You Can do in 10 Minutes

  1. Take Time for Self-CareSit in silence, preferably outside. Nature helps calm, so sit in your piece of green space. Unplug from all electronics so your mind can have some downtime. If being outside doesn’t work for you, find a cozy place.
  2. Read a book. In addition to enjoying a good story or learning about something new, reading helps keep your mind sharp as you age.
  3. Meditate. Don’t skip this one! Research shows that meditation can reduce stress and offer health benefits. Give it a try for just 10 days – you’ll love it. My favorite FREE smartphone apps are Headspace and Simple Habit.
  4. Do yoga. If time is limited, choose just 3 poses. Don’t know any yoga poses? Watch this video.
  5. Go for a walk. I love this one. (Read my post, The Joys of Walking.)
  6. March! If the kids are napping and you can’t get outside, march it out in your living room for 10 minutes. Exercise in general is linked to decreasing symptoms of depression and can put you in a better mood.
  7. Power nap (or at least close your eyes). Set your timer so you don’t need to worry about falling asleep. Just 10 minutes of resting your mind and body can help you feel better.
  8. Dance! Listen to music and dance like nobody is watching! Guaranteed to improve your mood. I used to do this with my kids quite often. I danced while holding my babies (actually helped calm crying babies), and I got the kids dancing which helped wear off energy and improve all our moods!
  9. Listen to music while resting with your feet up. Research shows that listening to music makes already positive emotions even more intense.
  10. Journal. Write your thoughts down or start a gratitude journal.
  11. Sketch. No artistic talent? Doesn’t matter. Get a notepad and sketch anything. Just start with lines and make a design. It will be interesting to look back at your sketches as time goes on.
  12. Knit, crochet or do counted cross-stitch.
  13. Pray or reflect on a bible verse.
  14. Sit with your pet. My dogs love the attention, and I benefit from the calming nature they provide.
  15. Go fishing. (My husband recommended this one.)
  16. Flip through a magazine or newspaper. (He recommended this one, too.)
  17. Talk to your angels.  Read my post What Are Angel Cards to learn more about angels.
  18. Call or Skype with a friend. It’s nice to take a few minutes to catch up with a friend. Or, call your mom because she always loves to hear your voice. <Hint for my kids. 🙂 >
  19.  Take a bike ride. Tootle around the neighborhood. Either get 10 minutes of exercise or enjoy a conversation with a neighbor you might bump into. Either way, your mental health will benefit.
  20. Count your blessings. My mom used to tell me to do this whenever I said I was bored. I didn’t appreciate her suggestion as a child, but I now find this to be very uplifting. Count how many big and little things you appreciate in your life. (Ex: my children, husband, pillow, quilt, good bottle of wine, chocolate, the view outside my window, favorite TV show, the sun, fresh air, neighbors, friends, tasty lunch, park, lake, fun phone app, anticipation of a trip or special event, my dogs, etc.) Read my post The Power of Positive Thinking to learn how this activity can really change your life.
  21. Focus on your breathing. When you realize your mind is wondering, simply let the thought go and focus back on your breathing.
  22. Relax with a cup of coffee, tea, or better yet – a glass of ice water that your body really needs.
  23. Work on a crossword puzzle. This helps keep your mind sharp and is self-satisfying. Seek-and-finds are another good similar activity.
  24. Take a shower or bubble bath. Wash your troubles away and enjoy that natural relaxation.
  25. Do some simple stretches.
  26. Color! Coloring is not just for kids anymore. There’s a huge selection of coloring books for adults. I find coloring to be very calming and therapeutic.
  27. Eat your favorite treat. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a great option. If you choose something that doesn’t qualify as healthy, enjoy it without feeling guilty!
  28. Painting is therapeutic as it helps me forget about my troubles!Paint. No artistic talent needed. Read how my friend Cheryl discovered that painting help calm her. I have a hard time drawing a stick man, but I bought some basic acrylic paints and painted this abstract painting one day. It’s no masterpiece but creating it was therapeutic – my entire focus was on painting and I forgot about the rest of the world.
  29. Work on a puzzle. Here again, it’s all about the focus and forgetting your troubles.
  30. Laugh! Laughter is great for whatever ails you. Youtube is a good source for funny stuff. I particularly like funny pet videos.
  31. Do nothing – whatever that means to you. This is one of my favorite free self-care activities. For me “doing nothing” means sitting in a chair with my feet up, enjoying  a cup of coffee and possibly watching a mindless TV show. The point is that my mind and body are resting.

Regularly practicing self-care activities has helped me become more relaxed and all-around happier. If you take time for yourself, everyone in your life will reap the benefits.

For more inspiration, read Self-Care: Take a Day For Yourself.

Make a self-care kit for yourself or as a gift:

Please leave a comment with your favorite self-care activities and how you fit them into your life.

No excuses! Self-care activities that anyone can do. You're worth 10 minutes per day!

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11 Replies to “31 Simple & Free Self-Care Activities”

  1. I love your article! It touches upon many activities that I turn to when need to relax and unwind. I have honestly done everyone of the things you have recommended in your blog. I think for me listening to music, drawing, writing, and sitting outside have to be my top go to activities. I am a mom and wife, so my schedule is hectic, but I find time after my son is sleep, early in the mornings–before he wakes and on the weekends when I don’t have as much to do. I have learned that it is important to take care of yourself, especially your mental health. So, I definitely agree with your article.

    1. Thank you so much for your nice comment! I believe I have also used each activity, although doing nothing is probably my favorite. Lol.

  2. This is a great list! Self-care doesn’t need to be expensive to be effective. I love that you included counting your blessings, that is an excellent way to practice self-care! Pinning this for later :).

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