Most of us know how important it is to take care of ourselves. Whether you call it self care or not, we each take little steps every day to stay healthy and well. Take your self care habits one step further with a dedicated self care day. You’ll feel recharged, refreshed and ready to embrace the future.
In this article we’ll explore what self care is, why self care days matter, and how to make the most of them. I’ve also shared a list of self care activity ideas to help you plan the perfect day.
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What is self care and why is it important?
Self care covers all the things we do which help with our emotional, mental and physical health. If an activity helps you feel calm, confident or content you could call it self care.
Everyone approaches self care differently. For some people, self care means settling down on the sofa with a good book. For others it’s parkrun at the weekend. It can be everything from a daily shower to learning a new skill from scratch.
We all need to take care of ourselves with acts of self care, but sometimes that’s easier to say than do. Our lives are hectic, with so many competing demands on our time. Some weeks you have it together, and others you struggle to find time for anything except the basics. It’s times like these when we need our self care habits the most.
Self care is a powerful way to reset your life. When you’re busy and overwhelmed, these small self care activities can bring a sense of calm to the chaos. With a little every day, you can build a self care routine to help you stay balanced and comfortable.
Why should you have a self care day?
Most of us take time away from work and our normal routines every now and again. Sometimes it’s for seasonal events or holidays. Other times it’s due to illness. What we don’t often do is schedule in self care days.
We’ve all heard of duvet days or mental health days. Every now and then we need some time out to recharge. A self care day can help you reset, get organised and find a new perspective.
How often should you have a self care day?
It’s tempting to say “as often as possible!” but that’s not practical. Life is busy and a self care day can feel like an indulgence. Some people like to practice self care Sunday, where they’ll dedicate the day to more self care activities than usual. Others choose to have a self care day every month and use it to get focused for the weeks ahead.
It’s best to try and include some self care in every day, so in a way every day is a self care day. How often you schedule in a special self care day is up to you, your needs and your calendar. Try it once, then see how it could fit into your life.
New: see my guide on how to plan a Self Care Sunday.
How to make the most of your self care day
Once you’ve decided to have a self care day, it’s best to get prepared. Being in the right frame of mind can help you stay focused and really get the most out of your day.
Plan ahead and clear your schedule
I’ve found my self care days work best if I can plan them in advance. If you’d like to set a monthly self care day or a monthly reset day, make sure it’s in your calendar nice and early.
By planning the date for your self care day in advance you can prepare your self care activities. You can also schedule your commitments around the day, so you’re not under too much pressure that week.
Sometimes it’s not always possible to plan a self care day in advance, like if you need some time to recharge after a difficult week. If that’s the case, focus on clearing your schedule for the day. Move as much as possible to the following day or week. This will keep you free to focus on your health and wellbeing.
Tell people you’ll be unavailable
Unless your self care day involves getting together with friends and family, let them know you’re taking a day out.
Sometimes a lot of our anxiety and overwhelm comes from the needs and demands of others. The people close to us mean well, but it can become too much at times. Tell your loved ones you’re taking a self care day and you’ll be staying away from your phone. You can still take emergency calls and catch up with people every now and then, but you won’t feel tied to checking texts or notifications all day.
Wake up early
Make the most of your self care day by waking up early. There’s something very motivating about waking early with purpose, so use that to start your self care routine off the right way. Create the right environment for a slow morning routine and ease yourself into the day gently.
Set your alarm for an hour or two ahead of your usual waking time. This will give you extra time to make things happen without tiring you out too much. Make sure you head to bed slightly earlier the day before too. The goal is to get enough sleep and wake early enough to maximise your self care day, not to sacrifice one for the other.
Plan your self care day activities
Many of us feel lost and overwhelmed if we don’t have a plan for the day. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a rough plan of self care ideas and activities for your day before you start.
Decide what time you’d like to wake up and start your day. Plan in time for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Set a sensible end to your day, with plenty of winding down time before bed after your self care routines. If you like, stick with the theme, and create a self care menu for the day — filled with activities designed to help you feel rested and refreshed.
Once you’ve set a schedule for your self care day, think about how you’d like to fill it. Maybe you want to get outdoors and enjoy a long walk for half the day. Maybe you want to catch up on an episode of TV before practising a hobby.
If you’ve thought of some lovely self care activities but you don’t have the items in house, give yourself enough time to buy them in.
18 self care activity ideas for your self care day
You might have a list of ideas for your self care day all ready to go. If not, here are a few to get you started.
1. Catch the sunrise (or sunset)
If you’re up early enough, watching the sunrise can be a powerful way to start your day. It’s a very visual reminder of the beginning of something new. If the sun rises too early for you to catch it, see if you can stay up and enjoy the sunset instead. Let it mark the end of your self care day as you wind down before heading to bed.
2. Get comfy
You don’t need a better excuse than a self care day to get comfy. Spend the day in your cosiest loungewear. Let what you’re wearing feel effortless. I love putting on some cozy yoga pants, like these jogger pants* by Sijo. If you’re heading out, swap your loungewear for some comfortable athleticwear or your favourite pair of jeans.
3. Go for a walk
There’s something very calming and refreshing about going for a walk. Whether you go for a stroll around the neighbourhood or drive to wander along the coast, the fresh air can do wonders for how you feel. I personally love to get out for a walk close to the sea — I find it so relaxing.
4. Do some gentle stretching or yoga
Moving your body can really help with not only your physical wellbeing but your mental health too. Lots of people like to include gentle stretching or yoga as part of a daily self care routine. If you’re more active and into fitness, you could book one of your favourite exercise classes.
5. Bake your favourite dessert
There’s nothing better than the smell of delicious, warm baked goods. If you don’t bake often but it’s something you enjoy, include some baking in your self care day. Try a much-loved family recipe or learn how to bake one of your favourites. I adore this sugar cookie recipe — it’s one of my favorites!
6. Enjoy a longer bath or shower
It sounds cliché, but there’s a reason why so many of us enjoy a longer shower or a bath as part of a self care routine. If you usually shower quickly when you get a chance to, a longer shower can feel really refreshing. Let the water run over you for longer and exfoliate, moisturise and take care of your skin. If you want some ideas, I’ve written a guide to self care baths that you might enjoy.
7. Catch up on podcasts you love
It can be hard to make time to listen to podcasts. Most of us have a favourite show or two, but it’s not always practical to stay up to date with them. Put your favourite podcast on your phone or smart speaker, and enjoy it while you’re ticking off another self care activity.
8. Start a new book
Like podcasts, books are often left to the side until we get a chance to make a dent in them. Ask friends for recommendations and pick up or download a new book to read. Whether you sit down to read a few pages or a few chapters, it’s a great way to feel calm. At the moment I’m reading Atomic Habits by James Clear and The Minimalist Entrepreneur by Sahil Lavingia.
9. Light a candle
A light, fresh-smelling candle can help a space to feel calm and relaxing. It’s a lovely thing to feature in a self care routine. If you’re all about that hygge feeling, go for a warm, comforting scent to make your self care day feel like the ultimate cosy day. Ban.do’s self care collection* has tons of beautiful candles in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colors.
10. Learn something new
Your self care day is the perfect opportunity to learn something new. If there’s a skill you’ve always wanted to master or a technique you want to try, give it a go. This can be anything from a new skincare routine to learning to play an instrument. My favorite way to learn something new is by reading about it (hence the business and productivity books above!) or to watch YouTube videos.
11. Organise and declutter your home
If your home feels cluttered and crowded, it’s hard to feel calm and comfortable. Decluttering can have a really positive effect on the way you feel about your home and life in general. I often think that decluttering our spaces starts in our minds. Schedule in some time to declutter a drawer, corner or whole room and see the difference. If you want to declutter but can’t find the energy, try reading about how to find the motivation to declutter.
12. Watch a movie
With so many films being released all the time, there’s always something new to watch. If there’s something you’ve had your eye on, now’s a good time to watch it. Whether you curl up on the sofa with Netflix on or take a solo trip to the cinema, escape to another world for a few hours and come back feeling refreshed.
13. Cook or order in your favourite meal
It’s easy to get stuck into a routine when it comes to eating, especially if you have family around. You end up cooking the same things, or focusing on the practical things like budget, preferences and how long a meal takes to prepare. Instead, cook or order in your favourite meal as a treat and really enjoy it.
14. Read blogs
Social media platforms like Instagram may have taken the focus away from them, but blogs are still very much a thing. If you used to spend hours reading your favourite blogs and learning something new, return to it on your self care day. Catch up with bloggers you love and explore new blogs in areas that interest you.
15. Buy flowers or a new house plant
You don’t need to spend any money on a self care day. If you want to, fresh flowers or a touch of greenery can brighten up your space and make it feel more like home. Take a trip to your local florist if you have one, or head to the nearest supermarket to pick up some flowers. If flowers aren’t your thing, bring home a new house plant from a garden centre instead.
16. Listen to music and sing along
Music can really change your mood and how you reflect on what’s happening in life. Create a playlist for your self care day or listen to your favourite songs on a smart speaker, radio, or record player. Lots of us are afraid of singing out loud. Embrace it if you can, and enjoy the carefree feeling that comes with singing along to songs you love.
17. Explore a museum or art gallery
If you want to spend your day outdoors, a day of culture is a great way to feel reconnected and inspired. Head to your local museum or explore an art gallery somewhere new. Most museums and art galleries are free to enjoy, so it’s just the cost of travel to consider.
18. Write a gratitude list
Not only is it the last self care activity idea on our list, but it’s a great way to end your day. Take some time out to reflect on your week, month or year. Then, write a gratitude list which gives thanks to everything you’ve enjoyed, celebrated or benefitted from. It’ll help you stay grounded and realise how much there is to be thankful for. If you’re looking for new stationery by the way, I adore Talking Out of Turn’s collection of notebooks*!
NEW! Download my printable list of self care ideas
Self Care Day FAQs
Have an unanswered question about self care days? I’ve rounded up the most-asked questions here, so you can get a quick answer to that thing you’ve been wondering about!
How do I start a self care day?
You can start your self care day however you like! Wake up early and watch the sunrise, or stay in bed a little longer and read more of your book. Think about what you want to achieve with your self care day, and start as you mean to go on — whether you want to relax, get organized, try a new hobby, embrace positivity, or something else.
How do you celebrate self care day?
Self care day is all about making time for you and the things you love, so it makes sense to celebrate it doing the activities that bring you joy. Go for a walk, meet up with friends, go for a spa day, re-organize your home, try a ballet class — anything that’s on your “would love to do” list works well.
When should you take a break for self care?
This is completely up to you, your wants and needs, and your schedule. Some people like to schedule a self care day every year, while for others it’s a monthly day they plan for. Other people have daily or weekly self care routines that they follow. Think about your needs, your priorities, and how often you want to fit in a self care day. Personally, I’d love to do a self care day every month!
Is it okay to take a self care day from work?
Absolutely. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. If you feel run down, burnt out, or in need of a day to rest and recover, try and take the day off from work if you can. Check in with your policies and what’s expected in your workplace, but in general — if you feel you need it, do it.
How much should I spend on self care?
This is a big question, and there’s no one right answer. When you’re on a budget, it’s hard to budget anything for self care. For others, they like to assign 5-10% of their monthly budget for self care activities. Sit down and review your budget, find a figure that works for you, and set this as your monthly self care budget.
How can I practice self care without spending money?
If you’re on a tight budget, self care often falls down the list of priorities. Sometimes it feels impossible. Luckily, it’s not! In fact, I’ve put together a list of affordable self care ideas that features lots of free or inexpensive ways you can take time out for yourself.
When’s your next self care day?
Most of us take our physical health and wellbeing seriously, but our emotional and mental health can take a backseat. I hope you’ve been inspired to plan a self care day to reset the balance and take care of yourself.
Why not plan your self care day for a Sunday? See my new guide all about Self Care Sunday for plenty of self care activities, ideas, and inspiration.
If you’re looking for more healthy habits to include in your everyday life, try my list of affordable self care ideas.
I’ve also put together a guide featuring some lovely self care boxes and how to make your own.