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Self-care is growing in popularity because it is becoming more evident that it is crucial that we take care of ourselves physically and mentally.

However, there is this misconception that self-care has to be expensive. I’m here to tell you this is definitely not the case. While going to a spa could be self-care for someone else, there are free ways to practice self-care.

After all, we should be practicing self care every day. It’s a way to relax and recharge after (and before) a long day.

I’m going to give you 52 self-care ideas in this post that are free and easy to incorporate into your daily routine.

Because self-care should be a priority in all of our lives. If we are constantly running from one activity to the next, we aren’t caring for ourselves which leads to stress, depression, and burnout.

And no one wants that.

What is self-care?

Taking care of ourselves is essential to maintaining our physical and emotional health.

Self-care can be defined as anything that improves our quality of life, both mentally and physically. Self-care can range from simple things, like making your bed each morning or incorporating a nighttime routine, to more advanced self-care, like practicing mindful movements, skipping the latest fitness trend to listen to your body, or putting in the reps so you can move up in your career.

The act of prioritizing yourself…

Or taking care of yourself…

and showing yourself the same love and attention is critical for ourselves and the people who rely on us.

The good thing about self-care is that it isn’t about treating yourself by spending a ton of money, it is about taking the time to take care of yourself.

How Often Should I Practice Self Care?

Self-care is super important to your wellness, physical health, and emotional resilience.

In today’s hustle society, it requires a bit more effort since we’re constantly being pulled in a thousand different directions. That’s why it is so important to schedule self-care time on our calendars. Honor the commitment like you would with a meeting at work, plans with friends, or a doctor’s appointment.

This could be as simple as doing self-care Sundays.

Or taking some time to yourself in the morning or before bed.

Self-care doesn’t have to be extravagant. It just has to work for you and make you feel better emotionally and physically. The time can vary drastically. If you take just ten minutes every day for yourself then you’re practicing self-care.

I started waking up an hour earlier each morning and doing things I enjoy like reading a book, working on this blog, drinking a cup of tea, and watching the sunrise. All of these things are free but man do they make me feel more prepared for the day.

How can you practice self-care?

There are a million ways you can practice self-care and I think it’s important that we try new things in order to find what works for us. What works for one person, may not work the same for someone else.

Like with my morning routine, I’m still adjusting it and seeing what works and what doesn’t.

In order to get you started, I have compiled a list of free self-care ideas that are totally doable. I personally believe these are some of the best ways to show yourself some self love by practicing self-care. Some of these ideas come from my own personal experiences and others come from friends and family.

Technically since there are 52 ideas, you could try one every week for an entire year and see what works. Self care is a lifelong journey after all so there’s no need to rush to find your thing! Just keep doing what makes you feel good.

52 free self-care ideas

1. Bubble Bath

A bubble bath is a great way to relax and unwind after a long day.

Add some essential oils, maybe a bit of lavender to calm you down, or take an Epsom salt bath for extra stress relief.

2. Light Candles

Candles are a super-easy way to add a little mood lighting to your life. There’s something about candles that can just change the whole ambiance to a more cozy, relaxing vibe.

Find a scent that you love and light that baby up!

3. Face Masks

Just like bubble baths, face masks are great for relaxing and de-stressing. It’s also great for your skin so that’s an added bonus!

If you want to make some at home, try these easy and budget-friendly face masks.

4. Drink some tea (or hot chocolate, or coffee…)

I love drinking tea. It warms my soul and helps me mentally prepare for the day (or night or afternoon).

I drink a lot of tea…

The great thing about tea is that there are different varieties so I can drink sleepytime tea as part of my nighttime routine and some classic Lipton tea as part of my morning routine.

P.s. I love Lipton tea because that’s what my family had growing up! It brings back all the mems of drinking tea with my mom and my sisters.

5. Cozy up near the fire

This free self-care idea is more so for the colder months but that also makes it that much more special!

There’s something so calming about sitting by the fire, snuggled up in a blanket, and just enjoying the warmth of the fire. You could combine this self care activity with drinking your favorite hot drink!

This free self-care idea also brings me back to my childhood and all of the memories I have growing up when my dad made a fire especially up at our lake house. It’s the perfect way to spending a snowy day!

6. Nap Time

My dad is a HUGE napper. He takes a nap every day in the afternoon without a doubt. He is a very strict 20-minute napper but he’s able to crush the rest of the day.

I may not nap every day but if I’m feeling extra tired, I will set a timer and take a quick 20-minute nap like him. Since when I’m well-rested, I am much happier and more productive in my day-to-day life.

Sometimes you just need that reset to be able to be productive for the rest of the day.

7. Paint your own nails

I love getting my nails done and I feel like it’s a simple luxury that we all deserve.

That being said, sometimes the price tag is a little too high for the frequency in which I get manis/pedis. Now I know you have to go buy nail polish so this isn’t as free as some of the others but once you do, you can paint your nails so many times.

8. Read a Good Book

Reading is free and great for your mind. I’ve been trying to incorporate 20 minutes a day of reading before I go to sleep. It’s a great way to get away from the blue light of the screen and it is so much more beneficial than scrolling through social media.

I love reading because it’s another great free self-care idea that just loosens my entire body and lets me escape into a new world.

You could also join a book club to be able to meet more like-minded individuals.

9. Rearrange your space

You know that great feeling you get when you go into a hotel room or even just move into a new apartment?

That feeling of freshness. The ability to take something completely different and make it your own space, free from all the usual distractions.

The same principles apply to rearranging your space at home too! Whether you want to redecorate or rearrange your furniture, you’ll feel free and it may even inspire new ideas.

New space, new you! It could help you change your outlook after all.

10. Declutter your life

We all know how freeing it is when we get rid of the junk in our lives. From clothes to books, to knick-knacks– decluttering frees up space for new memories and freeing yourself from distractions.

It’s also a great free self-care idea because it can be so rewarding mentally and physically!

Check out my post on decluttering your space to read on.

11. Go Outside

We all know that we’re supposed to get at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week and guess what? If you’re outside, it doesn’t even feel like exercise!

Take a walk on your lunch break (I won’t go into the benefits of walking). Go for a hike or go geocaching with friends or family. It’s free and just being out in the sun makes me happy. Being outside is one of my favorite things to do. It’s just so relaxing and instantly makes me feel better breathing in some fresh air.

12. Call a friend or family member

Talking to someone you love is free and makes you feel so much better. Whether it’s calling your grandma or calling an old friend from high school, call someone who will make you laugh or cheer you up! It’s a bonus that it probably cheers them up too!

13. Set boundaries

Sometimes you just need to tell people “no” for your own sanity!

A free self-care idea that is all too necessary sometimes. When you set boundaries, it can free up time to enjoy other self-care activities because you know what you’re saying “yes” and what you’re saying “no” to.

14. Meditate

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Meditating is great for your mind. You can do this anywhere and all it takes is 10 minutes. There are so many different meditation practices out there that you can find one that works for you.

So many people rave about meditation. It’s one self care idea that I want to incorporate into my nighttime routine today.

15. Listen to your favorite songs

Music can take you to a whole new place. When I’m feeling bad, I like to blast my favorite songs and sing as loud as I can.

This free self-care idea has always lifted my spirits! Added bonus if you dance it out to your favorite music as well. Get some exercise in while you get pumped.

16. Journal

Writing your thoughts out frees you up from the mental clutter of your mind. Whether it is using journal prompts or just free writing, it opens up your mind and helps you let go of things that are weighing you down.

After a long day, it is good to get all of those thoughts in your head out and onto paper.

17. Volunteer

Volunteering opens your heart and frees you up from living in your own little bubble and lets you see the world for what it really is.

Giving your time to others will help you feel good and you’re doing good in the world. You can’t beat that.

18. Stretch

Stretching is good for you. There’s no denying that. I know I could benefit greatly from stretching more. After all, it loosens all of those muscles and releases any discomfort you may have.

Plus it feels good and that’s free self-care in my book!

If you need ideas on good stretches, I would practice yoga or find a guided routine on Youtube!

19. Unplug

In today’s society where it’s all about social media and showing up online, unplugging is SO important. This is one I think everyone should do.

Social media and watching TV are distractions after all. If you unplug for even an afternoon, you can free up a lot of time.

Turn off your phone and reap the benefits! You’ll be surprised how much better you’ll feel.

20. Hydrate

Ah, drinking water. It sounds so simple but it is something that many people struggle with. It gets rid of toxins in your body and there are so many more benefits to it than just that.

I always have my trusty water bottle with me so I can sip on water throughout the day.

All I gotta say is to make sure to drink water every day!

21. Clean

I know you don’t need free self-care ideas to tell you this but cleaning is always free.

When you have a clean space, it helps clear the mind because you aren’t looking around thinking about how you need to do the dishes or change the sheets. You can instead focus on the moment.

I recommend creating a chore checklist to make cleaning more manageable.

22. Write down what you love about yourself

Nothing makes you feel better than writing down all of the reasons why you think you’re great.

You’ll free yourself from negative self-talk and free yourself of the mental block of things you’re insecure about. I know this can be awkward at first but trust me, it is such an empowering self-love activity.

23. Binge your favorite TV show

Sometimes after a long week, all you want to do is relax and ‘turn your brain off’. So turning on your favorite show and escaping life for a few hours could be a great way to get your stress levels down.

24. Adult coloring books

Coloring books are a great way to unwind and get your creative juices flowing. So grab some colored pencils and release your inner child.

25. Exercise

We all know that exercising is a form of self-care. Moving our bodies has so many benefits physically and mentally. I would suggest finding a workout program that you truly enjoy and gets your heart rate up and adding it to your weekly routine!

I truly love strength training and I’ve found it is more helpful for my mental health than other forms of exercise for me. However, you gotta do what is best for you!

26. Remove All The Negativity From your Social Media Pages

If you are currently following a page or a person from high school that triggers negative emotions, then unfriend or unfollow them. You get to control whose content you want to see in your home feed.

I hate to break it to you but no one will notice if you unfollow them so don’t feel bad! You literally owe them nothing.

Social media can be such a powerful tool but it can also destroy our mental health if we aren’t careful. So Marie Kondo your way into a social media feed that brings you joy.

27. Shower

If baths aren’t your jam then showering is also a great way to practice self-care. So take your time and spend a little extra time with a hair mask or just enjoying the warm water.

28. Goal setting

This one may seem odd on a self-care list but it is important to know where we want to go. If you set goals, you are prioritizing yourself because you are working towards creating a life you’re obsessed with.

If you need some help with goal setting, you know I’ve got you covered girl!

Bonus points if you set some self-care goals. Some of my self-care goals include reading more, some fitness goals, and relationship goals.

29. Vision Board

I’m honestly obsessed with vision boards because they are a creative way to show your dream vision. They help you visualize what is important to you and keep your eye on the prize.

So get your butt on Pinterest and make one today! Feel free to share it with me so I can cheer you on!

30. Do Nothing

Sometimes we need to take a few minutes to just sit with ourselves and do absolutely nothing. There’s something so freeing about doing nothing.

To just lie there and forget the world for a few minutes. Really being present with yourself.

We are constantly being pulled in a million different directions so stopping for a minute can really help us regain our balance and be more centered.

31. Delegate where you can

Whether it’s hiring someone to clean your house or delegating tasks to a co-worker, free yourself up by letting other people help you.

You don’t have to do it all. Ask for help when you need it.

32. Read a magazine

Magazines are a great free self-care idea because they are filled with fun, interesting articles that can free your mind. Maybe you’ll even find some tips on perfecting the perfect DIY mask or other tips on how to relax.

I would recommend picking up a magazine you like and flipping through it. It can be anything from People to Homes and Gardens.

33. Do whatever made you happy as a kid

Sometimes we just need to release our inner child. My fiance and I went sledding with some of our friends the other day and it was honestly the most fun I’ve had in a long time.

It was so much fun being a kid again and just enjoying flying down the hill. I definitely forgot about the stressors of daily life for a little bit. I highly recommend partaking in an activity you enjoyed as a child.

34. Find a Hobby

Finding something that brings you joy is so important to your self-care. It’s a good way to recharge because you’re doing something that you love.

A hobby could be anything from running to knitting.

All that matters is that it is something that fills your heart up and makes you feel fulfilled.

35. Listen to a podcast

Similar to reading a book or flipping through a magazine, listening to a podcast can be a great way to escape the world for a little bit. It could even energize you to crush the day.

Or it could be a way to open your eyes to different perspectives and a way to learn something new. There are so many Podcast shows out there, you’re bound to find one you like.

I recommend checking out EmpowerHER from Kacia!

36. Scroll through Tik Tok

We all know that we can lose hours on Tik Tok. However, it is fun to do!

If I had a stressful day, I like to scroll through Tik Tok and get some comic relief since the videos are so short, I try to set a timer and watch them for 15 minutes before moving on to something else.

Because really, you can lose A LOT of time on that app.

37. Positive Affrimations

The next time you’re feeling down, free yourself up and say something positive out loud. Even if it’s just in the mirror, saying “I’m going to have a great day” about 20 times can be great for your mental health.

Here’s a whole list of self love affirmations that I highly recommend.

38. Practice Gratitude

The next time you’re having a rough day write down all the things you are grateful for. Sometimes it’s hard to see the good in the world, but by spending a little time practicing gratitude each day, it becomes easier and can have a big impact on your mental health.

I try to write down three things I was grateful for from the day before every morning.

A gratitude journal can really change your life for the better.

39. Plan a trip

Now, I get that going on a trip isn’t free but planning one is. I LOVE planning trips.

So pick a destination you’ve always wanted to go to and plan it all out. Then once you save up the money and have the time, the trip is already planned! It’s also a great way to have something to look forward to.

40. Make plans with friends

Sometimes a girls’ night is all that we need. So make some plans for drinks or dinner with your best friend.

For me, I love catching up with friends over a cup of tea or glass of wine. Just talking about life and whatever is on our minds. It can be really freeing.

41. Go on a date night at home

I have a whole blog post on date night ideas at home! Date nights don’t have to be expensive and they’re essential for any healthy relationship.

It’s all about connecting with your loved one. If you feel fulfilled in your relationships, it going to help you feel more empowered because your heart is full!

42. Cook your favorite meal

There’s something about eating your favorite meal that really hits home. It’s free, it’s fun to make (maybe), and it tastes so good.

So pick your favorite meal and eat it. My family made spaghetti pie growing up and it is by far my favorite meal. Everyone else is unimpressed by it but to me, it’s heaven in my mouth.

43. Eat something healthy

Nourishing our bodies with a healthy meal can be so rewarding. We all deserve to treat our bodies well. A small change to our diet can have a huge impact in the long run.

I hate to admit it because I love fries but if I eat junk food for a few days, I feel run down. If I eat a balanced meal, I feel much more energized and motivated to get sh!t done.

44. Get dressed up

Getting ready for the day can make you feel like a million bucks! Even just doing your makeup for fun can be relaxing and can feel good.

Since I work from home, I can definitely feel a difference in my mood when I actually get out of my PJs and get ready for the day. I feel more motivated and less tired, it is really beneficial and I highly recommend doing it at least some of the time.

45. Make your bed

Making your bed is such a simple task but it can put you in the right mindset for the rest of the day. You’ve accomplished something within the first few minutes of your day!

So make your bed before you do anything else.

46. Puzzle

I’ve honestly only done a puzzle when I’m away on vacation with my family but it is such a great bonding experience. Instead of watching TV or doing our own thing, it is a great way to come together and work on a common goal.

Others find doing a puzzle solo is relaxing.

But for everyone, it is such a great feeling when you finally finish it!

47. Dance

Dancing isn’t my thing but many people find it very freeing. So put on your favorite song or an upbeat playlist and dance it out.

It is a form of exercise after all so you’ll feel good after dancing your butt off.

48. Garden

I’m going to clump in an outdoor garden and houseplants (or an indoor garden) together on this one. Taking care of plants can be so rewarding! I’ll admit it can be frustrating if the plant is dying and you don’t know why but once you figure it out, it’s cool to see all the growth.

Plants literally bring life into your space and they’re great additions to anyone’s home decor!

49. Bake

Baking is a really therapeutic activity.. for some people.

For others, the best part is that you have a tasty treat after the fact to enjoy! Either way, it can make you feel good making it or eating it!

I love desserts so I would definitely rather bake than cook.

50. Take deep breaths

Taking deep breaths can be really grounding. Especially if you are feeling anxious it can make a big difference.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, take a minute to slowly take a deep breath in…

and a deep breath out…

51. Learn a new skill

Learning how to knit, cook, or paint, for example, can be really great for your health. It opens your mind to new experiences. As humans, we are constantly learning so why not channel that learning desire for good.

Find something that interests you and then go for it. If you don’t like it, no harm is done. You can try something else.

You can find free lessons online and YouTube tutorials to find something you love.

52. Snuggle with your pet

Last but certainly not least, you can enjoy your pets’ company. Your pet shows you unconditional love and it’s a great way to feel loved and see the joy in their eyes.

Other free ways to enjoy your pets’ company are taking photos of them, watching them play, cuddling with them, and even just playing with their toys.

All these free ways to enjoy your pet are free! And you’re spending time with your best buddy! What can beat that?

The free self-care ideas in this blog post are perfect for anyone who is looking to practice some simple, free methods of relaxation. These activities can help you feel more grounded and less anxious during your day. I hope these tips have given you the inspiration or motivation needed to start practicing self-care on a regular basis!

Let me know in the comments below what free self-care activities you do? Any ideas from this list you want to incorporate?

Do you have any free self care ideas that I didn’t mention? Let me know!

Until next time,

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