52 Self-Care activities that make an impact

Self-care is an integral part of our mental and physical health so I’m jumping up and down with excitement that it’s been getting a lot of attention. What is off track though is that the focus has been on pampering and luxury rather than actual self-care. Getting your eyebrows done, buying a cute dress, and Instagramming your smashed avo might be considered fun and feel-good, however they are not what health professionals mean when we refer to self-care. In this post I outline what self-care is, and share a bunch of self-care tools that will really make an impact on your wellbeing.

What is self-care?

Self-care refers to the intentional helpful actions we take to protect, maintain and restore our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.

52 Self-care suggestions that are not manicures and bubble baths

This is not an exhaustive list, and not all suggestions will resonate with every individual. I encourage you to build your own list as you discover what works well for you.


Rest & Recovery

Going to bed earlier & Sleeping in


Taking a day of work when sick

Allowing yourself to rest when you need it

Taking time off exercise when you’re injured or unwell

Having time out from social media


Cognitive skills

Reducing black & white thinking

Learning tools to deal with your inner critic

Developing assertiveness skills

Practicing self-compassion

Learning to tolerate distress effectively

Recognising and reducing avoidant coping

Building active coping tools

Learning to recognise and express your own needs

Understanding and letting go of perfectionism

Learning Intuitive Eating


Mindfulness & grounding

Breathing exercises

Grounding exercises

Guided meditation apps

Progressive muscle relaxation

Walking meditation



movement & Outdoors

Spending time in nature

Enjoying a safe amount of sunshine


Doing movement you enjoy

Dancing around to music

Gardening or keeping indoor plants


Reducing Busyness

Scheduling free time in your week

Saying “No”

Asking for help


Allowing yourself to quit what’s not working for you

Getting more comfortable with not ‘doing’ all the time


Help seeking

Reaching out to a trusted friend to talk

Admitting “I’m not doing well” to those close to you

Seeking out reputable wellbeing resources

Calling Lifeline, 1800 RESPECT, or other hotlines when in crisis

Establishing a safety plan

Talking to your GP

Getting professional help from a therapist


Connection & Affection

Patting an animal


Sharing a joke and laughing

Expressing gratitude to someone

Listening (really truly listening)

Encouraging others to participate in their own self-care


Creativity & fun

Participating in activities that bring you joy

Creating something whether it’s art, baking, sewing, woodwork, anything!

Doing something silly that makes you laugh

Playing a board game with friends or family

Doing a jigsaw puzzle, crossword or sudoku


Important note: This article focuses on the individual approach to self-care, but our wellbeing also needs a community approach including looking out for others when we have the energy and resources for it, and encouraging and supporting others to do what they need to take care of themselves. Our wellbeing also requires changes to social systems that prevent our wellness or access to care in the first place.

You might be interested in enhancing your quality of life, making the most of your potential, and becoming more comfortable in your own skin. Counselling can increase self-awareness, emotional skills, and coping tools so that you can be the best version of you. If you would like a supportive and confidential space to work through your concerns without judgement, I’d love to work with you.


by Jodie Arnot

Jodie is a registered counsellor with a Masters in Counselling from Monash University. She provides counselling in Melbourne or via telephone and Skype, and is passionate about supporting women to no longer be at war with themselves.


Self-careJodie Arnot