32 In Anxiety/ Mental Health/ Self-care

64 Ideas for Self-Care When Life Gets Hard

64 Ideas for Self Care When Life Gets Hard

As much as we would like it to be, there’s no such thing as clear weather, calm seas, and smooth sailing forever, no matter how hard we wish for it. The fact is, life is hard work… for all of us.

That’s the first thing I’d like you to takeaway from this post.

For all of us.

I’d like you to remember that the next time your life gets hard and you feel like chucking in the towel, because it definitely helps to remember that there are others out there doing it tough as well. And that they are surviving.

But how do they go about it? Surviving, that is?

Two words for ya.

Self care.

Yep, self-care. Something a lot of us suck at for a majority of the time BUT something that is oh so critical to surviving and thriving. I’ll stick my hand up and admit that I mostly suck at it, but that I am getting better.

The second takeaway is this. A whole bunch of ideas for self-care that will help you cope when life gets hard.

[Before I get stuck in, I put a recent call out to my readers for help with writing this post, and I’d like to thank those who contributed a whole lot of awesome suggestions!]

64 Ideas for Self Care When Life Gets Hard

So here they are. 64 Ideas for Self-Care When Life Gets Hard.

1. Take a long hot shower, followed directly by hopping into clean pjs or comfy clothes and hitting the couch (or even a freshly made bed!)

2. Write a gratitude list like this one

3. Ask for a cuddle. Stick with it for 12 seconds for a real sense of connection. A study published in 2015 suggests that, in addition to making us feel connected with others, hugs may actually prevent us from getting sick

4. If I’m getting stressed or pressured I force myself to slow down and do my nails: strip, file, buff, protective coat and then final colour. Takes 1 hour – Sheran

5. Eat chocolate

6. A recent study has shown the mental health benefits of living near the seaside. We can’t all live by the seaside, but I highly recommend heading down to the beach or some other scenic place to watch the sun rise or sun set. The fresh air will do you a world of good. Jeremy likes to find a nice place like a lake to sit and listen to the birds and the frogs; ‘When I lived close to the beach I would sit and watch the sunset and listen to the waves crash on the shore trying to wash away the negativity with the wave sending them out to sea while I tried and catch the positivity from the wave crashing onto shore’. 

7. Take a long, slow walk

8. For me it’s journalling, reading and therapy. Whilst I do use hobbies, nature and friends to help give my mind a break, for me what ultimately seems to help is making sense of what I can gain from life being hard  – Ellen. Here’s some ideas to inspire your journalling. And if you don’t know how to get started, check out these tips!

9. Hunker down and read a good book. If it’s cold out, light some candles and snuggle into a cozy blanket. If it’s warm, head outside with a rug and get some vitamin D – just remember a hat and sunscreen!

If it's warm, head outside with a rug and get some vitamin D - just remember the sunscreen!

10. Take a nap. In my opinion, naps solve almost everything!

11. Colour! Adult colouring books are the bomb… or at least I think so! This is my favourite colouring book.

12. Pick up the telephone and talk to someone. You’ll thank me AFTER you’ve done it

13. Book yourself in for a pamper session. Get your hair done, get a manicure or pedicure, or maybe treat yourself to a massage! If you can afford it, hit the day spa for a whole day of pampering!

14. Pray – JoAnn aka The Glam Whisperer

15. Watch a funny movie, or if you need a good cry, a sad movie. And then there’s a good old mindless chick flick…

16. Cry your heart out. You don’t need a reason

17. Binge watch your fave TV series

18. Hit the open road and go for a drive with the music up loud

19. Depending on the issue, a good walk, write or journal. Make a list of pros and cons if it’s a tough decision I’m faced with. Maybe go sit somewhere picturesque like the beach and sometimes a great chat with a close friend probably over a vino 🍷 and a good laugh 😃 – Debbie

20. Just say no. Here’s why it’s so good and how to learn to do it!

21. Take a mental health day – even if it involves you calling in sick to take care of you (or to do sweet fuck all)

22. Give yourself permission to have a couch day. Housework can wait

23. Hiking, definitely! – Sahra

24. Enjoy your favourite comfort food without guilt

25. Spend time with your Mum. Because you’re never too old to need your Mum. If you don’t have a mum, borrow someone else’s!

26. As a Mum to a 5 month old I keep it simple like a 10 minute cup of hot tea once she has a nap. Gives me a little time out from it all 🙂 – Shante

27. Go to a cafe and treat yourself to some coffee and cake whilst reading a trashy magazine, reading a book, people watching, or just savouring every morsel and sip

28. Retail therapy anyone?

29. Write your heart out. Here are some insightful journal prompts to help guide you in self reflection.

30. Pop on the iPod and get lost in music for a bit – Bobbi

31. Write a 99 things I love list. It’s not as hard as it sounds! I love to rewrite this every year.

32. There’s nothing quite like yoga to tune out of the myriad of thoughts and into your body

33. Sip on a cup of tea and listen to music while doing some simple drawings – Chelsea

34. Go away for the weekend. There’s nothing like a road trip or a girls weekend away!

35. Catch up with your girlfriends for a girls night out or in

36. Hit the gym for a workout

37. Take a nice long hot bath with Epsom salts – Jane

38. Clean your house from top to bottom, or choose a room to focus on

39. Play sport. It helps you to focus and release any frustrations you’ve got going on in life. My favourite is football (soccer) – D

40. Play with your pet. It will be good for them too!

Play with your pet. It will be good for them too!

41. Have you been getting enough sleep? Go to bed early and make sure you are getting at least 7 hours sleep a night. Suzannah also agrees that sleep is the solution

42. Tea with great friends for D&Ms, chocolate and hugs! 😘 – Charissa

43. Volunteer for a cause you are passionate about

44. Go through your wardrobe and throw out your old clothes, donating them to charity

45. Cook up a healthy meal chock full of veges and hearty goodness

46. Exercise, exercise, exercise 🏃🏻🏃🏻 – NaBee

47. Watch some trashy TV

48. Listen to music from the good old days, whichever days they are. For me, they are the 90’s

49. We have family time, walking along the river, which we love – Jane

50. Light some candles, incense and sit back and relax with a nice glass of wine

51. Exercise, dog walks and (can’t believe I’m admitting this guilty secret here!) some trashy ‘Real Housewives of…’ TV. None of which require me to think and give me the perfect opportunity to de-clutter whatever I am over-analysing at the time and just be. 😊 – Lucy

52. The other thing I love doing most to clear my head is jumping on my motorbike and going for a ride – Jeremy

53. Create a playlist on YouTube, Soundcloud, or whatever your preferred streaming channel is, just for times like this. Music, videos, other… Whatever it is, create that list. That way you can tune in when times are tough and immediately feel relief

54. Accept that nothing lasts forever, that there will be light at the end of the tunnel, that there is a lesson of life here and that everything happens for a reason.. I also like to get a hug and a shoulder to lean on and share – Parul

55. Allow yourself time to just be. Mindfulness is a great practice to help with learning how to just ‘be’

Allow yourself time to just be. Mindfulness is a great practice to help with this

56. Paint something… artistic painting that is. Unless you really love painting walls – D

57. Pull some weeds. It’s a mindless chore, but taking your frustration out on weeds can be quite therapeutic, or so I think so anyway (whilst listening to my 90’s playlist).

58. I must say my biggest goto’s would be my foster dad, without him I don’t think I would be the man I am today, my wife and her family. Without her I don’t think I would be here and her family, well, they accepted me for me which really helped me with my anxiety issues. I also find talking about my issues with close friends and family help me not laps back into my depression – Jeremy

59. Watch some funny or heart warming You Tube videos. Cats, puppies, Irish comedy. Choose your happy poison. Personally, puppies do it for me every time!

60. Clear the clutter. Be it from your mind, computer, desk, house, back patio, shed… donate clothes to charity, shred or burn years-old paperwork, sweep the leaves from your patio. It all helps

61. When times are tough I tell myself “what brings you down only makes me stronger.” I take a few deep breaths, think of the joyful things in my life, and move forward a step at a time – Jeremy

62. Go on retreat. There’s quite a few ‘formal’ retreats these days you can check out. Or just go on your own retreat! A weekend getaway could be just the retreat you need – even if it’s in a bed in a hotel room watching TV!

63. Remind yourself and your partner why you got together in the first place and go on a date, even if it’s just for popcorn and a movie. Why not try make it a regular thing? Date nights can help put the spice back into your relationship!

64. As much as we love to be connected, or use our various devices and social networks to tune out and distract ourselves, being constantly connected via social media could be making us depressed. Do yourself a favour and unplug regularly. It will do you the world of good. I guarantee it!

Do yourself a favour and unplug regularly


Now, over to you. What self-care ideas can you add to the list?

Even if you add one a day, you will end up with one mighty self-care list!

Oh, and before you leave, here’s a FREE gift for you!

To help you on your way, here’s a free workbook to download and work through at your own pace. It’s called Finding Your Why, a workbook I’ve designed to help you in your journey through self-reflection and self-discovery.

Get your free download

If you loved this then you will love these:

50 Small Ways You Can Help Make the World a Better Place

6 Things to Do When You are Bombarded with Bad News

12 Morning Rituals to Change Your Life


And don’t forget to subscribe to my weekly newsletter!

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  • sarah
    May 23, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    Some great suggestions there! There’s bound to be something for everyone on that list to calm the senses.

    • Janine Ripper
      June 21, 2016 at 9:55 am

      Thanks Sarah. I hope you are well!

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  • Carrie Bailey
    June 21, 2016 at 1:18 am

    I just wanted to say Thank You! I was on pinterest looking for self care ideas to share with my tribe and came across your blog! Amazing! The first paragraph really got me in the feels. Ill be back to visit 🙂

    • Janine Ripper
      June 21, 2016 at 9:56 am

      Hey Carrie, Thanks for reading, commenting and liking the post. It’s blown me away the response to it and I’m so glad people find it helpful. Take care and remember to look after you! xx

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  • Lauren Mello
    June 28, 2016 at 1:21 am

    I absolutely love this list! I found you on Pinterest and will absolutely be signing up for the newsletter! Thank you!

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  • Niki
    August 28, 2016 at 12:35 am

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing this wonderful post!

    • Janine Ripper
      August 28, 2016 at 11:04 am

      You are most welcome! Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

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  • Allie
    October 7, 2016 at 11:36 am

    Being an altogether negative person, I took this list and immediately struck off the impossible… I was surprised to be left with 20 possibilities! Thanks for posting this.

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    January 10, 2017 at 9:51 pm

    The fbomb was unnecessary. Other than that, thanks for the info, good Stuff

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