50 Self-Care Ideas For Stressed Out People Pleasers
“In case of the loss of cabin pressure, put on your own oxygen mask first before assisting others.”
If you fly on commercial planes, you've heard this statement from a flight attendant many times, instructing you to take care of your safety first so you have the ability to help someone else.
This is necessary for survival on a flight, but it's also an essential practice for daily life — take care of yourself first. It sounds nice, but in reality it's difficult to practice.
Like most of us, you probably hit the ground running when the alarm clock rings. Whether it's tending to kids, racing off to work, or going to school, your day starts early and is filled to the brim with tasks and obligations.
There's always something on your list of things to be done, a list that keeps expanding no matter how hard you try to get ahead of the curve.
Your digital devices keep you constantly plugged in and distracted, worrying that you are missing something important and dragging you into a vortex of information overload.
In Western culture in particular, we equate our self-worth to productivity and hard work. Many of us (women in particular) feel we are being selfish if we don't put the needs of others ahead of our own all the time.
We become addicted to people pleasing in order to feel validated.
But all of this productivity, multi-tasking, and people pleasing comes at a cost –your mental and physical health. Not only do you jeopardize your health, but also you miss out on the joys of fully experiencing life.
Can you give yourself permission to step back and reclaim some of your life? Are you willing to take better care of your own physical, mental, and emotional needs so you have the energy for the people you love, your work, and your life obligations?
If you need some inspiration, here are 50 self-care ideas to help you put yourself first for a change:
1. Let go of perfectionism.
It's hard to take care of yourself when you set your standards impossibly high. You will never be satisfied, and will feel you must work harder and harder to reach your perceived definition of perfect. You'll never reach that, so let it go. Allow yourself to be perfectly imperfect.
2. Reassess your priorities.
When you are so busy and distracted, everything seems like a priority. You're just spinning your wheels trying to get it all done. Just stop for an hour, and contemplate what is most important today, this week, this month, and in your life in general. Where are you spending time that isn't really contributing to these priorities?
3. Amend your diet.
What you eat makes such a difference in how you feel about yourself physically and mentally. What is one small change you can make in your diet to improve it? Trying dropping one bad item from your diet and replacing it with one good item (like a fruit or vegetable).
4. Make time for exercise.
You know that exercise is good for your mind, body, and spirit. There is so much research supporting this that it can't be denied. Don't make the excuse that you're too busy. Work the rest of your life around your exercise program.
5. Practice meditation.
Meditation is one of the best self-care habits you can practice. It reduces stress and anxiety, improves memory, decreases pain, and improves your sleep. You can learn the steps to a meditation practice here.
6. Take a daily walk.
Get out in nature, somewhere quiet and peaceful, and take a long walk. Listen to the sounds, watch the sky, smell the grass. Being in nature soothes your soul and helps you process your thoughts and feelings.
7. Prepare and eat a meal mindfully.
One of the unfortunate consequences of our busy lives is the slow disappearance of the family mealtime. We've become dependent on meals on-the-go and fast food, rarely taking the time to savor what we eat, much less the food preparation. Make the choice to prepare and eat a meal mindfully, at least once a week.
8. Enjoy a quiet cup of tea.
Make yourself your favorite cup of tea and curl up in a comfy chair to enjoy it without any other distractions.
9. Get a monthly massage.
A massage is amazingly therapeutic both physically and emotionally. The massage therapist can work out all of the built-up tension in your body, which in turn allows you to release any stored emotional pain or anxiety.
10. Give yourself a digital detox.
Turn off all of your digital devices for an hour, a day, or even a week. The world won't end. But you'll regain some of your sanity.
11. Read a novel.
Read something just for the pure pleasure of reading. Or listen to an audiobook if that's your preferred way of consuming a great book.
12. Create a bath ritual.
Fill the tub with water and add bath salts. Dim the lights and light some candles. Put on soothing music. Grab a glass of wine or a cup of tea, and slip in the tub. Ahhhhh.
13. Purge toxic people.
Are there people in your life who are draining your energy and creating stress? Are you doing all of the work to maintain the relationship with little in return? Back off from people who drag you down and make you feel bad.
14. Create and enforce boundaries.
Don't allow the people around you, especially those you love, to take advantage of you or cross your personal boundaries. If you don't know what they are or how to set them, check out this post.
15. Define your values.
Your core values are the the guiding principles for your life. They are the guideposts that help you make decisions and live within your personal integrity. Once you define them, do your best to align your life with them.
16. Communicate your emotional needs.
Does your spouse or significant other meet your emotional needs? If not, it may be because you haven't fully communicated them. Let your partner know what you need to feel loved, respected, secure, and appreciated within your relationship.
17. Go to a movie by yourself.
Take yourself on a date to a movie theater, get a bag of buttery popcorn and a soda, and enjoy a great flick all by yourself.
18. Test drive a sports car.
Indulge a fantasy about owning that shiny red convertible, and go take your favorite sports car for a test spin. Turn up the radio, let down the top, and enjoy the ride.
19. Go to the beach or mountains.
Nothing soothes the soul like time at the ocean or in the mountains. Take a long weekend by yourself or with your favorite person and just relax. Leave your computer and work at home. Take along your favorite book, a bottle of wine, and some great food to cook.
20. Get rid of clutter.
Physical clutter in your home or work space can make you feel more stressed and overwhelmed. Pick one small area that is getting out of hand, and start purging and organizing. It will feel like a burden lifted once the space is clean.
21. Seek out your passion.
If you're working in a job you hate, you are spending the vast majority of you days in a negative environment. Figure out what your passion is and how to make it work for you and your life. Spend your days doing what you love.
22. Catch up on your doctor's appointments.
Are you skipping your annual physical or dental appointments? Are you up to date on recommended procedures? Don't neglect your physical health by putting off these important appointments. No, they aren't fun, but get them out of the way, and you'll feel relieved.
23. Sleep late.
When you've had a particularly rough week or a very late night, allow yourself to sleep in. Call in sick to school or work if you really need to catch up on some sleep.
24. Get a babysitter.
You love your kids, but being a parent is draining and demanding. You and your spouse need time for yourselves and each other. Hire a babysitter once a week so you can have a much-needed break.
25. Prepare the night before.
Think about how much stress you feel in the morning trying to get ready and out the door for work, school, or some other obligation. Make your morning routine less stressful by preparing the night before. Choose the clothes you want to wear. Get your breakfast lined up. Put everything you need to take with you in the car.
26. Get your car cleaned.
Are you riding around in a trash-mobile? Is your car filled with fast food containers, old papers, coffee cups, and part of your wardrobe? Clean out your car and get the interior and exterior cleaned.
27. Hire a housekeeper.
If your life is so busy that you have no time to clean your house, hire a housekeeper. This is an indulgence, but perhaps your time is worth more than the cost of the cleaner. Certainly your peace of mind is.
28. Go to a therapist or coach.
We all need help and support when going through a difficult time or trying to move our lives forward in a positive direction. Don't try to solve complicated life challenges on your own. Find a professional you can trust to help you.
If you're trying to be Super Mom or Super Dad, in addition to being Employee of the Year and winning Yard of the Month, perhaps you're overextending yourself. Delegate some of your chores to your kids, your co-workers, or other people in your life.
30. Buy the shoes.
Do you love them? Are they wildly expensive? Do you have the money? You only live once. Buy them!!
31. Get a manicure and pedicure.
Bitten down fingernails and gnarly toes do not scream self-care. Take care of your personal grooming and enjoy a relaxing hour of nail services.
32. Take a nap.
If you are having a hard time concentrating or keeping your eyes open during the day, you are probably sleep-deprived. Close your door, turn off your phone, and take a ten to fifteen minute cap nat to perk you up.
33. Make peace with your flaws.
Most of us are highly self-critical about everything from our appearance to our likability. The good news is that you aren't alone with your self-criticism. Everyone is flawed — that's what makes us human. So make peace with your flaws, and focus your thoughts on the positive instead.
34. Help someone else.
Nothing makes you feel better about yourself than helping other people. This may seem like a counterproductive approach to taking care of yourself, but when you are focused on helping someone else, you aren't as focused on your own problems or worries.
35. Use essential oils and aromatherapy.
Using essential oils may reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety, alleviate physical ailments, improve sleep, help digestion, and have many other benefits. The aromas of your favorite oils are soothing and calming, especially in your bath or on your pillow.
36. Listen to inspiring podcasts.
Take a break from scanning social media or binge-watching Netflix and listen to an uplifting, inspiring podcast. Check out The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes, The Minimalists Podcast, or Optimal Living Daily.
Physical touch is healing and calming. We all need it, more than we might think we do. If you aren't getting enough cuddling from your partner, ask for more. Just sit on the couch and hold each other. It feels great.
38. Take a yoga class.
Yoga is a form of meditation in action. It increases your muscle tone, flexibility, and strength while calming your mind and giving you more clarity and focus.
39. Learn to say “no.”
This is a hard thing to do for people-pleasers, but you'll find the more you practice saying no, the easier it becomes. You'll feel more in control of your time and more confident about yourself.
40. Dial back your expectations of others.
One of life's biggest energy sucks is expecting the people around us to be something other than who they are. When you struggle to change someone or hold unrealistic expectations, you cause yourself suffering, and you diminish your relationship with this person.
41. Ask a friend for support.
Don't carry every emotional burden or challenge by yourself. Reach out to your friends and ask for a listening ear or support when you feel down or anxious. Allow your friends to be there for you.
42. Drink more water.
Water keeps your body temp in normal range, lubricates your joints, keeps your organs functioning, and helps you eliminate waste. Most people don't drink enough water throughout the day. Men need about 15.5 cups of fluid a day, and women need 11.5 cups. You can get fluids from food and other beverages, but try to make the majority of this intake pure water.
43. Cut back on alcohol.
Drinking alcohol not only impairs your judgment, but also it impacts your sleep, affects mental health, adds weight, dehydrates you, affects concentration, and can contribute to the risk of having a host of diseases. Cutting back is a great way to take care of your body and mind.
44. Take up a creative hobby.
We often avoid trying a creative hobby because we fear the results of our efforts will be crappy. Don't focus on the results. Focus on the joy of a creative endeavor. Creative hobbies reduce stress, protects your brain function, improves your mood, and can enhance your social life.
45. Get a pet.
Taking care of a pet does add to your responsibilities, but it can also have many emotional benefits that offset the work involved. A pet can decrease feelings of loneliness, offer soothing physical contact, and help keep us active.
Journaling is an excellent way to process your emotions, clear your mind, and solve problems. Studies confirm that the emotional release from journaling lowers anxiety and stress, and improves physical health.
47. Cancel plans when you feel bad.
Do you feel obligated to follow through on plans with friends or family when you feel depressed or ill? Do you always try to push through because you don't want to disappoint others? Of course you want to be reliable, but when you feel off, put yourself first and be willing to cancel to take care of yourself.
48. Deal with your baggage.
Whatever emotional baggage you carry from the past will inevitably impact your current relationships and perceptions of life. Make the decision to heal your past so you can fully enjoy the present.
49. Work on your personal growth.
Be proactive in exploring your own inner world and learning new ways to evolve and grow as a person. The more self-aware you become, the happier and more content you will be.
50. Meet new people.
An excellent way to grow and expand yourself is by meeting new people who may be different from your typical crowd. Seek out people are growth oriented, positive, and adventurous, and you'll discover a well-spring of new interest and opportunities for yourself.
There are a myriad of ways to practice self-care and show compassion and love to yourself. Any action or endeavor that feels soothing, relaxing, enriching, and joyful will fit the bill. What does self-care mean for you? What have you done to put yourself first so you can be more available for others and energized for your work and other obligations?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.