20 self-care suggestions for when life gets tough


Everyone has stressful moments or days when things go downhill quickly. However, sometimes those days can turn into weeks—and stress can have a serious negative impact on your health. A study by the American Psychological Association found that 80 percent of Americans experience at least one symptom of stress a month.

Whether you are feeling chronically overwhelmed or just experiencing an especially rotten day, taking time out to care for yourself is essential. Learn some simple yet significant ways to destress, calm down and get a handle on life once more.

1. Just Breathe

People tend to hold their breath when they’re stressed, causing them to become even more tense. Practice some deep breathing exercises to begin relaxing.

Pixabay | makunin

2. Give Yourself Some Space

Solitude can relieve stress and help you be more productive, which is beneficial when you feel overwhelmed.

woman bed photo
Flickr | Infinity Studio

3. Get Out Of The House

While time by yourself is good, too much isolation can actually increase stress hormones. After you’ve had a break, go do something enjoyable. A couple of hours spent watching a new movie and munching on buttery popcorn never fails to lift the spirits!

movie popcorn photo
Flickr | DaveCrosby

4. Tackle A Small Task

As they say, you eat the elephant one bite at a time. Find something you can complete quickly, such as sending an email or washing the dishes to feel more empowered and energetic.

Pixabay | Unsplash

5. Put Aside Responsibilities For A While

Chances are good the world won’t end if you put away your lengthy to-do list for just a bit. Do something carefree, even just for an hour. Play with your dog, read a magazine or call a friend who always makes you laugh.

Pixabay | Greyerbaby

6. Do Something That Relaxes You

Relaxation is beneficial to your health and can improve your coping skills, but it takes practice. Find a technique that works for you.

Pixabay | Katrina_S

7. Do Something That Energizes You

If being calm and quiet makes you even tenser, try an opposite activity. Doing something stimulating can help you release that nervous energy.

jogging trail photo
Flickr | 7D 🙂

8. Take A Nap

Everything seems harder when you’re tired. A 20- 30-minute siesta can give you the boost you need to take on the remainder of the day.

Pixabay | Extremis

9. Work Out

Exercise helps the brain and the body’s physiological systems respond to stress. Pick a workout you enjoy and get moving.

workout photo
Getty Images | Ilia Yefimovich

10. Go Somewhere Familiar

The sights, scents and sounds of a familiar place, such as your mother’s kitchen or your favorite coffee shop, can trigger fond memories that instantly put you at ease.

Pixabay | Pexels

11. Go Somewhere New

Traveling to a place you have never been engages your brain in a new way. Your stress levels will nosedive and your happiness increase. Can’t go far? Try visiting a nearby town or even a new-to-you restaurant.

travel photo
Flickr | Hamxa Butt

12. Lounge On The Beach

Listening to the soothing waves is calming, but vitamin D from the sun’s rays can also help fight depression. Aim for 10 to 15 minutes of sun on your arms and legs a few days each week.

Pixabay | Skeeze

13. Splash In The Water

When you’re done sunbathing, take a dip and have some fun. Playing like you did as a child releases stress-relieving endorphins and can help you feel more connected with others.

splashing pool photo
Flickr | ErinKhoo

14. Go Shopping

Indulge in some retail therapy. As long as you exercise some restraint, picking up something new can also pick you up.

Pixabay | webandi

15. Clean Out A Closet

Clutter can lead to depression, so spend a day organizing a single closet. Giving away the stuff you don’t need will help you feel terrific, as well.

closet photo
Flickr | Rubbermaid Products

16. Indulge In Some Comfort Food

There is science behind your cravings for mashed potatoes or grandma’s apple pie. They trigger relationship-related perceptions and can help you feel like you belong, so dig in.

Pixabay | greekfood-tamystika

17. Try Out A New Recipe

Doing something you’ve never done, such as preparing a new dish or learning a different language, can boost your confidence and self-esteem. You might really enjoy it, as well!


18. Make Time For You

Whether it’s a spa day with the works or a quiet, candlelit bath at home, treating yourself to a bit of “me time” will help you be more productive. Take time for yourself every day.

Pixabay | KRiemer

 19. Ask For Help

You don’t have to do it all alone. Whether you need a hand with the housework, with a project or with feeling overwhelmed about life in general, there are people who care and want to help. You need only ask.

Pixabay | sasint

Check out even more great self-care ideas on The Mighty.

Health, Life

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About the Author
Tricia Goss
Tricia Goss is a Texas-based writer and editor with nearly two decades of experience. She is passionate about helping readers improve their skills, gain knowledge and attain more happiness in life. When she’s not working, Tricia enjoys traveling with her husband and their dog, especially to visit their five grandchildren.

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