13 Ideas for Self Care — The Wise Woman Way
by Corinna Wood
Curious about self care ideas for women?
Maybe you’re wondering, “What would more self care look like?” or “Where would I even start?”
We live in a culture of busyness, where exhaustion and fatigue have become the norm. Let’s take a moment right now to celebrate that you're prioritizing yourself by exploring self care tips.
You're feeling a stirring inside you—a call to carve out time and space for yourself.
That in itself is no small feat. If you’re like most of us, you were probably raised to put the needs of others before yourself. You may feel guilty at the thought of incorporating more self care ideas into your life. Maybe you haven't valued self care . . . until now.
Whatever the path that brought you here, you’ve already taken the first step to improved emotional and physical health and well-being. Now let’s dig in!
13 self care tips for you to choose from
I’ve gathered 13 ideas for self care to share with you. The list is by no means exhaustive. You may find you resonate with some, and not with others . . . see what feels juicy and appealing to you, and try it out!
Explore 13 of my favorite self care tips (and know they'll inspire your own ideas for self care too!).
Table of contents
- Time alone
- Move outside
- Savor songs
- Herbal infusions
- Incorporate baths
- Relationships with women
- Restful breaks
- Laying on the Earth
- Saying "no"
- Images of women
- Women’s her-story
- Tune into the seasons
1. Give your body the sleep you need
First things first, sleep is the foundation of self care. If you’re on the hunt for tips for self-care, there's a strong chance that you’re lacking quality time with your pillow.
As a woman, you need even more sleep than men—who tend to be the basis of statistical information.
As my family often hears me say, “Sleep is my source of happiness!”
Your body does 90% of its healing during your sleep.
Overnight, your body releases human growth hormone, which supports your body’s ability to nourish and strengthen itself.
So, honey, you need that sleep!
Here are some ideas for how to improve or increase your slumber:
- Create a bedtime routine that allows you to begin slowing down (and unplugging from electronics!) 1-2 hours before bedtime.
- Set a goal of getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, adjusting your schedule accordingly as needed to get to bed earlier or sleep later in the morning
- Allow yourself to wake naturally without the aid of an alarm clock. Let your body tell you when you’re complete with resting.
- Use an eye mask or black-out curtains to ensure complete darkness and to signal your pineal gland to produce melatonin (the hormone of darkness!) to support your sleep.
Treat your bed like the sacred place it is! Resist the urge to eat or work in bed. If possible, up the opulence with extra comfy blankets and pillows.
2. Take time alone to feel and reconnect with yourself
You may be feeling pulled in different directions at the same time.
Women are too often encouraged to suppress our feelings and emotions and to put the needs of others before ourselves.
Rather than stuffing your emotions and feelings down, carve out some time alone to process your feelings and to allow them to move through you.
Not only will this help bring your nervous system back into balance, it will also help you connect with your own inner wisdom and guidance. Say yes to you and to your need for quiet time. You are an emotional creature, my dear. And that’s a beautiful thing.
Here are some ideas for your alone time to feel and reconnect with yourself:
- Connect with nature through hammock time, a walk in the woods, time in the garden
- Make a collage or draw
- Take yourself on a date
- Take time to journal and integrate the events or concerns of your day. What feelings arose? What needs are met or unmet?
If this self care tip feels a little scary or foreign to you, I get it. The thought of doing things alone can sometimes be unnerving. Lean into that discomfort and explore it a bit. You’ll be surprised by the things you learn about yourself and the self-confidence you gain from stepping beyond your comfort zone.
3. Get outside and move your body
Our bodies were made to move, to be in motion—yet in today’s world many jobs include sitting at a desk all day long.
Many of us are far more sedentary than our foremothers were. All that sitting can build up tension and stress in your body.
Getting outside to move your body on a regular basis meets a lot of needs—from movement and exercise, to connection with nature. Getting your blood pumping and your lungs stirring is invigorating and fun!
Movement and exercise reduce the level of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. Plus, it releases endorphins which elevate your mood. In other words, exercise helps your body downregulate into a place of calm.
In addition to the stress-reducing benefits, movement and exercise promote overall health and well-being by lowering blood pressure, increasing circulation, providing anti-inflammatory benefits and sharpening your memory.
How do you enjoy moving? Find a favorite way and incorporate it into your daily or weekly routine, for example:
- Daily walks
- Gardening or yard work
- Yoga, stretching, or dance (indoors or out!)
Remember, the goal is to move and be present in your body. Movement and exercise is an opportunity to nourish and support your body—not to meet some unrealistic external standard of how women's bodies are "supposed" to look.
In a truly holistic approach to healing, it doesn’t have to be about fitness or weight control or competition.
Do what feels delicious to you and allow that to fit and flex to your needs in the present moment.
4. Savor your favorite songs
Needing to unwind at the end of the day? To transition from your thinking mind to a more relaxed state? Try some relaxing music. This slows down your brain waves and supports your nervous system shifting into a parasympathetic state.
It’s also fun to tap into pleasant memories by playing (or singing!) your favorite tunes. Don’t worry what your voice sounds like from the outside. . . just belt it out, and feel your energy shift.
Or shake it out to let go of the day (or the week) . . . crank on the tunes, jump up and dance your woes away! Dancing—especially uninhibited, non-performative, even downright silly movement—can shake and wiggle you out of an emotional funk.
Of course, the goal here is to return to your body, not to ignore or bottle up your emotions. Bust a move and shake loose a new perspective.
5. Drink nourishing herbal infusions
Infuse some comfort and care into your routine with herbal infusions.
One of my favorite daily practices is drinking herbal infusions—strong, medicinal teas brewed with nourishing herbs which support your body with essential minerals and nutrients.
You only need one herb at a time.
To start with, you could pick one of my favorite infusion herbs infusions: nettles, which nourishes your adrenal glands for long term energy level support, or oatstraw, which supports sleep and strengthens the bones
To make a full-strength infusion, the plant material must be steeped for at least 4-8 hours This allows you to extract nutrient-rich constituents like vitamins, minerals and chlorophyll. The easiest way to do this is to prepare it before going to bed and drink it in the morning.
How to make an herbal infusion
- Immerse one cup of dried herb in a quart (4 liquid cups) of boiling water.
- Place a lid on top and allow it to sit on the counter for at least four hours.
- Once the time is up, strain the liquid and enjoy!
Like food, infusions keep for several days in the refrigerator.
A standard dose of infusion is a pint a day (although I often find myself enjoying twice that!). You can drink it warm or cold, sweetened with honey, or flavored with mint.
You might even carve out time in your routine to simply sit and sip.
6. Incorporate baths into your rhythms
Often considered a luxury, taking a bath is truly a first-rate form of self care. Engage your senses as you bring yourself back into your body and the present moment.
As you immerse yourself in the warm water, feel your muscles relax and release tension. Notice how your body feels held by the water.
See what rhythm works for you—every night as part of your bedtime routine? Once a week on the weekend? In the winter months?
If you wanna add some more bliss to your bath, here are some ideas:
- Add salts to help draw out tension
- Darken the room and light a candle. The low light will quiet your mind
- Tie up a small bundle of herbs in cheesecloth to add to your bath (I like to grab something from my kitchen garden—sage, rosemary, lemon balm or tulsi)
- Put on relaxing music to help your mind shift and slow down
Turn off distractions, slip your toes into the steamy water, lay down and turn your attention inward. Take as much time as you can. . . savor the sweetness of self care!
7. Develop supportive relationships with other women
I’m a big proponent of women spending time with other women.
On a physiological level, it will actually promote your body's production of oxytocin, sometimes called the “love hormone."
Oxytocin stimulates relaxation, trust and altruism.
Making your relationships with your sisters a priority galvanizes a sense of belonging, inspiration and strength.
Remember, like all mammals, you're built for connection.
Those connections can nourish you or deplete you...so being mindful of where you put your time and energy into relationships is truly a radical act of self care.
This can be a bit of a dance. A key concept in my book when it comes to emotional self care is being selective about your interpersonal interactions and cultivating nourishing relationships.
Be wary of relationships that involve a lot of criticism—or consistently leave you feeling weary, tired, anxious or confused. These are signs that the relationship may be draining your life force rather than nurturing it.
Instead, surround yourself with those that leave you feeling energized, with more zest for life and confidence in your sense of self.
Some ways to help develop nourishing relationships with other women include:
- Find others with shared interests—and then notice who you enjoy spending time with
- Offer empathy and reflective listening
- Sit in circle with other women, allowing each woman an opportunity to share from her own experience, without cross-talk or discussion
8. Take regular restful breaks during the day
It’s a norm these days to override your feelings of fatigue or low energy during the day by reaching for stimulants such as caffeine or sugar.
While that may give you a temporary boost, it’s not benefitting you long term.
Stimulating your adrenal glands in that way actually decreases your baseline energy levels and contributes to adrenal exhaustion—which is endemic in women today.
The answer is simple—though it may not seem easy at first: Listen to your body’s signals.
Take time to rest. Naps are known to have a huge array of benefits, from improving memory and elevating mood, to reducing stress and lowering blood pressure. As if you needed more reasons to love naps!
Lying down for even 15 minutes is enough to allow your nervous system and your brainwaves to shift into a more relaxed state. Even if you don’t fall asleep, this rest allows you to move back into your day replenished, refreshed and restored.
If you're not able to take time for a nap, here are some other ideas of how to help your body downregulate:
- Schedule short breaks of 5-10 minutes throughout the day to allow yourself to decompress. Take a few minutes between tasks or meetings to clear your mind and reset. Maybe grab a drink of water or take a short stretch break like the standing "waterfall" pose lowering your head down towards your toes.
- When you feel yourself begin to get tense, pause, place a hand over your tummy and take a few deep breaths into your low belly. Imagine your body letting go of any tension or stress.
- Shake your arms and legs, move your hips and exhale a deep audible sigh to shake off burdens and tensions during the day.
- Alternate tapping with each hand just below your collarbones. This soothes your nervous system by engaging both sides of your brain.
9. Get grounded laying on the earth
A large body of research has now verified what ancient people probably just intuitively knew—that laying on the earth (aka "earthing") has a myriad of health benefits.
Even just a few minutes a day of simply lying quietly in the park, in your yard or garden or in the woods benefits physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
Much like snuggling with a beloved, laying on the Earth allows your mind and body to rest, relax and receive.
Even if you can’t fully recline, simply take off your shoes and walk in your bare feet for a while in the grass. Or sit on a rock or log and feel that attachment. Soak in that serenity, lovely!
When you feel the desire or the need to downregulate your nervous system, here are some ways to connect with the earth
- Allow your emotions and feelings to flow through you into the soil to be absorbed and transformed
- To reverse the blood flow, you can even put your legs up against a tree trunk
- Let your mind and body rest, relax and receive
- Lay on your back to release and let go of tension, grief or anger—energies that may be “stuck” in your body
- Lay belly down, to receive nourishment and healing energy
10. When in doubt, say "no"
Knowing how and when to set boundaries is a key component of self care. This often begins with learning to say “no."
Whether it’s going to an event, joining a group, helping someone out, or even just gathering with friends, take a moment to feel into your body and ask yourself, “Is this something I actually want to do?” If the answer is not a hearty yes . . . then the answer is no.
If you tend to feel pressure to give an answer right away, cultivate a practice of saying, "Let me get back to you on that."
Give yourself space to listen to your inner voice and to your internal needs before responding. It may feel awkward at first; over time, you'll begin to feel more comfortable and confident in your answer.
By saying no, you're saying yes to your own well-being. And remember, if you say yes when you're really wanting to say no, chances are resentment and anger may start to build up—towards yourself or towards the other person. So save your yes for when you feel the clarity of that whole-body yes!
Here are some tips to keep in mind when you say no:
- You are saying no to the request, not the person
- You don’t need to justify your reason or explain why
- No need to apologize
- Saying no is creating more time and space for yourself
11. Surround yourself with images of women that reflect your own beauty
Modern society cultivates a sense of inadequacy in women, barraging us with images of emaciated, photoshopped models and subliminal advertising messages: we are not enough as we are. . . we would be happier and more loved if we buy the products that will change us.
Counter this with a reminder on your mirror, "This is what a real woman looks like!"
As a teen, I know I absorbed the unrealistic, media-driven message that, in order to be beautiful, a woman must be stick figure thin, with a flat belly.
Like most young women these days, I struggled with my relationship with my body and with food. I even developed an eating disorder for some years.
You know what I’m talking about—nearly all the women I know have experienced an adversarial relationship with their bodies and their appearance.
Remind yourself that you are beautiful and loved just as you are. Having visual images around you supports your brain in shifting out of the cultural brainwashing. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Display photos of real women—your friends, loved ones, yourself!
- If you use social media, unfollow accounts that portray unrealistic beauty standards
- Add to your walls artwork or goddess images of female forms that reflect your own beauty and form—lanky or full-bodied, tall or short, black or white
12. Read women’s voices and her-story
One of the greatest acts of self care is to value who you are and what you have accomplished.
In a society that values the perspectives and contributions of men more than women, this can be a challenging task.
Reading women’s perspectives and women’s "her-story" is a helpful antidote to all that messaging of "his-story."
We all stand on the shoulders of visionary and courageous women who have made vital contributions in virtually every arena from the sciences and the arts to spirituality and social causes—often while also bearing and raising children.
These women shared many of the same struggles that you and I face today. Their stories can be a source of inspiration as well as a reality check about the systemic nature of what women face today.
Here are some ways to quench your thirst for women's voices:
- Read works of feminist authors—such as Alice Walker, Mary Oliver, Maya Angelou, Marge Piercy
- Read biographies, autobiographies or memoirs written by and about women
- Look for movies with strong female characters . . . take an amusing moment to apply the “Bechdel Test” (amazing how many don't pass!): 1) that at least two women are featured, 2) that these women talk to each other, and 3) that they discuss something other than a man
- Listen to music by women (that does not revolve around relationships with men!)
- Read about women in other cultures and the struggles they have overcome
- Find an elder woman in your community and ask her to share her life story including what she is most proud of
13. Tune into the seasons
The seasons have a powerful way of reflecting women’s inner experiences.
As the plants move through their passages of sprouting, growth, fruition and death, we too can see the reflection of our own journey through the cycles of birth, growth, death and rebirth.
Just like the plants, in the wintertime, we’re naturally pulled inward to our roots and in the summer our attention turns outward.
As you watch and are in relation with the Earth, notice the ways that your own physical, emotional and spiritual experiences are mirrored in her seasonal phases. This can include following the dark moon through waxing moon to full moon . . . and then waning back to the dark of the moon. Or try it with the cycles of the year.
Acknowledging and celebrating the natural turning points of the year—including the solstices and the equinoxes—can help you re-align yourself with these rhythms and to dance with them more gracefully as our foremothers did, all around the world.
More of your own ideas for self care will organically emerge
Lest you get overwhelmed by all the possibilities, start small. Pick one or two ideas that resonate with you. Try them out incrementally. Find what works for you and be creative.
You’ll find that the more you incorporate these self care tips into your life, the more ideas you'll generate.
They’ll just start to naturally emerge!
More and more, your inner and outer life will reflect your choices for self care.
Let your creativity flow and know that self care is as much an attitude and perspective as it is the actions that you do.
Create space for the things you love. The things that recharge your batteries.
As you continue to cultivate care for yourself, know you are worth it. Every. Single. Time.
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