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21 Easy Self-Care Techniques for Stress

Updated: Dec 21, 2022

Feeling stressed? Try these easy and effective self-care tips.

Self-care includes fun, relaxation, and everyday physical needs.

What is self-care, and how does it impact your life? Many people would like to prioritize their own wellness, but aren’t sure how to begin. The stress of everyday life can make it difficult to even imaging taking care of yourself.

Self-care is a set of intentional practices that help you rest, energize, and live a healthier and more enjoyable life.

It refers to practices that maintain and enhance one’s energy, mental wellbeing, happiness, and physical health. It’s not an indulgence, but rather a necessitymuch like keeping a car fueled and tuned up.

If you'd like to create your personalized self-care plan, check out this self-care journal kit.

A thorough self-care plan covers the following areas:

  • Mental health and wellness

  • Physical health (nutrition and activity)

  • Social self (family and connection)

  • Spiritual self, or higher meaning

Individual practices, such as physical activity or mindfulness, help you fulfill these important areas. Self-care is also known as self-love, self-help, wellness, and me-time.

Mental Wellness

These self-care tips and ideas cover areas that involve your brain, mental health, and overall wellness. Taking care of your thoughts and feelings, resting your brain, and creating fun in your life, are all important to overall wellness. So, let's get started!

1. Take breaks

Taking a break might feel like one more thing you have to add to your to-do list and then feel guilty about. But being too busy and distracted all of the time is often the lynch pin in the whole shebang of self-care.

In order to do all of the other self-care practices, you have to find a way to make it just as important as everything else in your life. If you get stuck on the idea that focusing on yourself is selfish, think of the oh-so-cliché airplane example. You know that one? You have to secure your own life vest first, so you don’t drown trying to save everyone else.

I also like this car metaphor. What if you made it a point to go around taking care of everyone’s car? You changed their oil for them, filled up their gas, and changed their tires when they needed it.

During all of that time, you did nothing to maintain your own car. Eventually your car would be unusable, or at least considerably less efficient, when it came to getting around to help everyone else.

Reframe the idea that self-care is selfish, and think of it as a necessity. If you’re reading this, you already have some sense of that.

2. Check in with your feelings

Once you have a little bit of me-time that’s not filled with 1,000 other responsibilities, you’ll have more opportunities to simply recognize what you’re feeling. If you’re not a touchy-feely person, don’t worry. This doesn’t have to be akin to having a good cry with Oprah.

Just notice that you’ve been feeling more stressed than usual, that you’re pretty fed up with your boss, or that you’re feeling resentful of some key people taking advantage of you.

Once you recognize these feelings you can simply acknowledge and accept them, or you can take action on them to change things. Either way, you’re checking in for a bit, rather than running on autopilot.

3. Challenge negative thoughts

I’m sure you know your inner critic. It’s the narrator in your head that thinks you should do everything better. It’s paranoid sometimes, and nothing’s ever good enough for it.

This negative self-talk serves a purposeto protect you. It’s there to keep you from trusting that guy in the next cave that keeps taking your stuff, or to prevent you from falling off a cliff.

However, your negative voice is always looking for the worst in things. And rather than protecting you, these days it’s more often just making you grumpy and unhappy.

Start challenging these negative thoughts by first questioning them, then replacing them. In that process, you can still accept and validate your feelings.

4. Pick a mindfulness practice

I know, sitting and thinking about nothing is not your thing. Who has time for that? Actually, it’s a misnomer that mindfulness, sometimes synonymous with meditating, is about clearing your mind. It’s really the opposite. Rather than tuning out, you’re tuning in.

Mindfulness is the practice of noticing your experience, in the moment, without judging or trying to change it. It can be as simple as stopping to enjoy the breeze on your face, or as advanced as sitting on a hill and meditating for two hours. Any amount of mindfulness helps, and a regular practice can change your brain structure.

To get started, pick a simple practice. You might find a local trail and make a point to walk it slowly every day, noticing the leaves and sounds around you. You can take a local yoga class, or try some online tai chi videos. You can also try grounding activities, such as this mindfulness activity.

5. Find a way to play

Responsible adults don’t have time to play, right? That’s probably true, but it might be worthwhile to do it anyway. Research shows that adult playfulness helps decrease stress, improves life satisfaction, and in some cases may even contribute to better physical health.

Play includes things that bring a sense of fun and pleasure. This is unique to each person, so could be as varied as joining a softball team to running around with the kids to taking a painting class.

Find what play is enjoyable and renewing to you, and work it into your day.

6. Learn new things

Like play, learning something new can help increase life satisfaction. It may even decrease the chance to develop dementia. And, it might just give you something exciting to focus on besides daily stressors.