We’re going to delve into how to start a self-care journal. I’ll also share 50 self-care ideas.
Why are we diving into this? Isn’t ‘self-care planning’ just a trendy phrase? Nope.
There’s nothing new about the concept of self-care. People are just talking about it more, and it’s pretty obvious if you look around that we need it.
Here’s why it matters
On a typical Sunday in September, I went grocery shopping with my friend’s 6-year-old daughter. We’re super close. I call her my niece and she calls me Aunty. Sauntering down one of the store aisles, I spot a table of samples. Perfect. I nab a few for both of us.
After picking up everything we need, I head back to the sample table. One more for the road. Or so I thought.
As I stepped up to the samples, my adorable ‘niece’ blurted out (more like yelled. I’m pretty sure she was 6-year-old-style-yelling): Aunty Alicia, do you really need more food? I thought you said you were being healthy? Are you sure you’re not eating too much?
At that moment it felt like everyone in the nearest 5 aisles all stopped and turned to get a good look at the gluttonous lady with zero self-control (me!) being reprimanded by a child.
I… slowly…painfully.. died…a…thousand…mini….deaths..inside
I chuckle about it now, but she was right. You can learn a lot from a 6-year-old.
She gave me a painful reminder about self-care.
I had made a promise to myself that week to be more conscious of what I eat.
The sample wasn’t even good. I was just eating…to eat. Most of us can relate to doing that at times.
But I didn’t feel bad about eating a few samples. That would be ridiculous. The issue was that, once again, I was going back on my word, my promise to myself.
See, I believe the promises and words we tell ourselves have a lot to do with self-care.
So what exactly is self-care, anyway?
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of self-care? Is it manicures, pedicures, and spa days?
Those are pampering options.
But they’re only a tiny portion of what self-care really means.
Self-care, broadly defined, is any activity you do intentionally to support your wellbeing. That covers a wide spectrum of things, I know. But no worries, I’ll be sharing a massive list of example self-care activities and how to shape a journal around them.
That may be a spa day.
But I want you to start thinking more broadly about self-care. When you do this, you realize there are so many ways to layer it into your daily routines.
Self-care is everything from sticking to your word, keeping your promises to yourself, feeding your body well, and tons more.
And that’s the fun of it.
There’s no prescription. We can all find what works best for us.
And a self-care journal is just about the best tool to help you build and sustain self-care habits.
What’s a self-care journal?
I’m going to give specific tips for starting and maintaining a self-care journal. But the very act of journaling itself is an act of self-care.
Journaling helps you:
- Express your thoughts and feelings that are bottled up in your mind
- Release feelings that no longer serve you
- Write your way to clarity around things you’re unsure about
- Pour your heart onto the page, especially when you feel nobody’s listening
In addition to all those, you can keep a journal for planning, tracking, and reflecting on your self-care.
That’s what this blog post will help you do. I’ll share tips, activities, and a few supplies you might like.
Please know that this post contains some affiliate links below for your convenience (that means if you make a purchase after clicking a link, I’ll earn a small commission, but it won’t cost you a penny more). You can read my full disclosure policy here.
Before starting your self-care journal, do this
Reflect on the type of self-care you most need in your life right now. What’s a priority? There are four main types of self-care activities (although most activities fit multiple themes)
Try to think about and prioritize where you are most lacking in your life.
When you approach it from a theme angle, you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed.
If you think ‘I need to change everything. I need a total life overhaul’, that’s just way too much for the brain to process, and the chances of you sticking to self-care activities (and making them habits) are low.
We want your chances to be high.
Prioritize first and pick a few activities (from the list below or elsewhere). You can always add more as your habits build.
The four main self-care themes to choose from (I’ll be giving specific examples for each in the activities section below):
- Emotional Activities that feed your emotional wellbeing
- Physical – Habits that support your body
- Mental – These are habits that recharge and refresh the brain.
- Spiritual (this is unique to each person. For some, this will be things like praying or keeping a bible journal for others it may be things that nourish your soul – you’ll know instantly if these words resonate with you or not. And for others still, it’ll just be things that inspire you and uplift your spirits.)
Of course, many self-care activities fit all three themes, but try to simplify this. If you choose drinking 8 glasses of water daily, even though that will support you emotionally and mentally, it’s primarily a physical theme. It’s something that primarily affects your physical well being.
Step 1 for creating your self care journal: Plan
This is the most powerful way to create a self-care journaling habit that will supercharge your self-care routines.
You can use a journal centered around your self-care activities to:
We’re about to dive into each of these in the next sections and show you just how powerful this can be.
How to start a self-care journal to plan activities
As they say, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
This is the foundational step for sticking to self-care activities. It helps me stay on track and get back on track if I slip up (because it happens).
Use a journal to write out what you plan to do and when.
Write your plan:
- What will you do?
- Where will you do it?
- What supplies, if any, are needed?
- Does anyone need to be notified (example tell the hubby you’re doing a foot soak Wednesday evening and want that time alone, maybe child-free)
- When will you do it.
Can I repeat #5? It’s that important. You must figure out when you will do these activities ahead of time.
If you just wait till random days, you will almost inevitably get caught up with life and not do any of the activities.
Pick days and times (be specific).
If you use a calendar, put it down. If not, write a reminder for yourself (like a post-it note on a bathroom mirror).
Step 2 for creating a self care journal: setting up tracking
This doesn’t have to be complicated but it does need to be done.
Tracking is the best way for you to:
- Gain awareness of what you’re doing and whether you’re keeping your promises (to the most important person in the world: YOU)
- Create a place to quickly assess the days/weeks you tend to be on track or off
- Make note of how long activities are taking
How to track?
There are many options here. If you’re a bullet journaler, you can simply create a self-care habit tracker layout. See my post What Is a Bullet Journal? if you don’t know what that is.
You simply want to set up space in your self-care journal to track your activities.
How to start a self-care journal to reflect and deepen self-care activities.
Step 4 for creating your self care journal: gathering supplies
Here are a few of my favorite journals and pens. Or use what you already have on hand.
My favorite pens for journaling:
Alternatively, grab a notebook you already have, and get going.
Don’t think too hard about this.
The more time you take deliberating over which supplies you need, the more your brain will talk you out of the entire idea.
You’ve got a lot to do. Don’t complicate life (that’s my life mantra, by the way. Steal it if you want).
Step 5 for creating your self care journal: choose activities
Here’s a massive list of self-care activities to choose from
I can’t tell you which of these ideas are best for you.
Some of these are simple and obvious, some more complicated. You have to try what works best for you. If you try something but don’t like it, try something else.
I’m sharing a massive list for you here. The list is available in printable form from the free Self-Care Lounge. That way, you can download and print it and have it handy. I’ll be updating that list in the Lounge over time. It’s always better to have things on hand for the times you most need them. Sign up in the black and gold box below to get instant access to the lounge.
Firstly, none of these ideas are meant to replace professional guidance. Seek professional help if you need it.
- Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time. Nourishing your body will always be high on the list of caring for your self (And if you’re anything like me, you’re easily tempted by quick -junkie-snacks when your out and about and get hungry, stressed or tired. Avoid that by being prepared).
- Be conscious of your self-promises (remember that embarrassing grocery store incident above? Sticking to the promises you make to yourself your promises is emotionally and mentally supportive)
- Get more sleep (most of us are lacking)
- Rest (yes, rest is different than sleep).
- Get (more) fresh air
- Go for a walk (in nature if possible. Nature is healing)
- Call a supportive person, talk, listen.
- Vent (to that supportive person) about something that’s bothering you. But! put a time limit on it so it doesn’t become habitual complaining
- Disconnect from social media if you feel you’re glued to it and it’s not helping your mental state. Too much social media makes me miserable #facts
- Make your favorite drink and snuggle up with an entertaining book
- Read a fantasy book
- Read a cheesy romance book (if you’re into that. They can be so much fun)
- Read something uplifting. A book I’m digging right now: Alexandra Franzen’s You’re Going to Survive. I love pretty much everything by Alexandra. She helps me remember I’m magic. We all are.
- Another great book I cuddle up with if I need a boost: Kamal Ravikant’s Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It
- Write in your self-care journal (or any journal you keep). Unsure what to write about? See my list of 48 things to write in a journal.
- Yin yoga (my absolute favorite type of yoga and Yogi Nora is a great instructor. I do the stretches in this video – and some of her others in her program – almost daily)
- Yoga Nidra (another favorite of mine for deep relaxation)
- Restorative yoga (as you can tell, I love yoga. Restorative yoga is especially helpful when I’m feeling a lot of tension in my lower back and neck)
- Get a massage
- Start a self-care kit
- Start a self-care emergency kit
- Get a manicure. You can try one at home if going out for a mani isn’t in your budget. Here’s video instructions for giving yourself a great home/diy manicure.
- Give yourself a home (or spa) pedicure
- Go for a facial or do a home facial
- Gift yourself a day spa treatment if that’s in your budget
- Take a bubble bath
- Do some form of art (draw, paint, do crafts)
- Color (coloring pages is therapeutic and helps you build focus muscles)
- Pick up a camera, or your phone, go outside and capture moments. Really take time to see and notice more than you usually do.
- Start a playlist of your favorite, dreamy, relaxing songs that you can put on when you need a little boost
- Go out dancing
- Stay home dancing
- Watch funny videos
- Try drawing as a meditation
- Use a relaxation app like Calm
- Declutter your closet of just one thing (then schedule a time to repeat this)
- Clear some space. Got a kitchen table with letters piled high? Set a timer and tackle it in chunks of 15 minutes over a period of a week (it’s hard to have a clear mind when you have a cluttered environment).
- Listen to a fun podcast here’s one of my favorites (Tara Brach). Here audios and meditations are life-restoring
- Call a loved one you’ve been missing/meaning to speak with
- Take up a new hobby you’ve been wanting to try
- Live near a beach? Go there and dip your feet in the water for a few minutes if it’s warm. Or just stroll in the sand. Ocean air is invigorating, so is the noise of the waves.
- Take a few minutes to journal write something you love about yourself (physical or otherwise)
- Write a list of things you’re grateful for
- Try a new, yummy, recipe
- Give yourself a foot massage and thank you feet. Sounds weird, I know. I do this especially after days when I’ve walked a lot. Yes, I actually thank my feet for all the hard work they did that day for the day.
- Do a foot soak (then do the foot massage I just mentioned- you can do both with this DIY foot care kit
- Remind yourself that you’re worthy of love and of living. There’s nothing you need, and there’s no person you need to become, to be worthy. You already are worthy of love, especially self-love. (Write this down if you need to. Allow this thought to override some of the negative ones that tend to roll around in your head, especially when feeling overwhelmed or down. Thoughts can be destructive for your wellbeing).
Remember, you can get this entire list in printable form from the Self-Care Lounge by entering your name and email here:
Ready to get started with your self-care journal?
Starting a self-care journal can be just the thing you need to kickstart your consistent self-care. Try it, and see how it works for you.
It’s by far one of the best things I ever started. Hopefully, you’ll feel that way one day, too.
I wish this for you.
Let me know how it goes. You can always come back to this site when in need of prompts, self-care ideas, and inspiration.