Physical self-care has always been my go-to when it comes to different types of self-care. As someone who’s passionate about health and wellness, I’m amazed by the impact that solid physical self-care can have and how simple it really can be.
But let’s be real, the wellness industry can be overwhelming and confusing, even for me as a dietitian. With new fad diets, complicated exercise regimens, and secrets to better sleep popping up every day, it’s easy to feel like “healthy” is out of reach.
That’s why I’ve found that less is honestly best when it comes to our health and physical self-care. Not less in terms of exercising less or caring less about physical health, but embracing habits that are much less complicated and time-consuming.
You don’t need to count macros or do a 10-step skincare routine. Instead, it’s about going back to the basics of healthy eating, exercise, and sleep. It’s these simple yet powerful habits that make physical self-care doable for our busy lives.
Ready for some straightforward and actionable tips and ideas for physical self-care? Keep reading because I’ve got you covered.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is the practice of taking care of the different aspects of your health and well-being. It’s prioritizing your needs and making time for yourself so that you feel your best. It’s not being selfish or indulgent. Real self-care is doing what you need so that you’re your best self for all of the things that give your life purpose and meaning.
Types of Self-Care
There are six different types of self-care. They are:
- Physical Self-Care
- Emotional Self-Care
- Intellectual Self-Care
- Social Self-Care
- Occupational Self-Care
- Spiritual Self-Care
Each type of self-care is important, but on different days or at different phases in life, some might be more relevant than others. The types of self-care are also connected to each other, which is why for example, exercise can be a great way to practice a few different types of self-care.
Physical self-care is taking care of your body. It’s doing things that support and maintain physical health and prevent illness and disease. Getting regular exercise, proper nutrition, adequate hydration, and rest are the main pillars of physical self-care.
Think of physical self-care as the foundation of good health. When you care for your body, you’re better able to handle stress, prevent illness, and perform at your best. Additionally, it can strongly impact your mood, energy levels, and self-confidence.
Benefits of Physical Self-Care
There’s a reason why the advice to eat healthy, get more sleep, and exercise is so common. They work. Aside from waking up in the morning feeling rested and stronger, these are some other reasons you might want to give it a go:
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Increased energy
- Mental clarity
- Enhanced mood
- Reduced risk of illness and chronic diseases
- Better sleep
Where to Start with Physical Self-Care
If you’re new to this, or things you’ve tried in the past haven’t worked for you, it can be challenging to get started. Here are some tips and tricks that I’ve found work best:
Start with what feels most accessible and doable to you. For example, if you struggle to drink enough water because you forget, try setting an alarm reminder to have a glass of water when you wake up and about 30 minutes before each meal. Once this feels automatic, you can either work on increasing your water intake or stacking another healthy habit on top of it.
Set a Goal
No SMART goals are required, I promise! What you do need to do though is set an actionable, measurable goal. Just like the water example above, try to avoid goals like “drink more water,” and instead plan out exactly what you will do and when/how you will do it.
Learn how to set goals that you’ll accomplish with ease in my free, Nourish to Flow Self-Care Challenge.
Make a Plan
Decide how the self-care habits will work with your busy life. Be realistic, and map out what needs to happen for you to have the time and/or space to prioritize your physical health. This can include tasks on a daily to-do list, as events in your calendar, or working out childcare.
50 Physical Self-Care Ideas
- Take a walk after a meal
- Try a quick morning yoga flow
- Sign up for a group fitness class
- Go for a swim
- Try a 7-minute full-body workout
- Play a sport
- Stretch before going to bed
- Go for a hike
- Do a home workout
- Add both a fruit and a vegetable to a meal
- Prepare a healthy lunch for tomorrow
- Try a new healthy recipe
- Include a high-fiber food with breakfast
- Snack on a food that contains probiotics
- Swap out animal protein for a plant-based protein
- Make a dinner menu plan for the week
- Add fresh herbs to a meal
- Pack healthy snacks for the week
- Try a new fruit or vegetable
- Keep a refillable water bottle with you during the day
- Swap your nightcap for herbal tea
- Add fresh fruit or herbs to flavor water
- Download and use a water-tracking app
- Snack on melons, strawberries, pineapple, and oranges
- Set an alarm to wind down before bed
- Use dark curtains or an eye mask
- Swap out scrolling for reading before bed
- Upgrade your bedding, pillows, or mattress
- Try a white noise machine
- Meditate before napping or sleeping
- Instead of sleeping in, go to bed earlier the next night
- Take 2-3 off days from working out each week
- Write down thoughts that are keeping you awake
- Practice progressive muscle relaxation before falling asleep
- Learn how to track your menstrual cycle
- Give yourself permission to slow down during your period
- Book a massage
- Practice a deep breathing exercise
- Floss before bed
- Set up an evening and morning skincare routine
- Put sunscreen on each morning
- Make the switch to non-toxic cosmetics and toiletries
- Take a relaxing bath or shower
- Schedule a dental appointment every 6 months
- Schedule your annual OBGYN appointment
- Schedule a yearly preventative wellness visit with your primary care provider
- Stay up-to-date with vaccinations
- Take medications as prescribed
- Take daily vitamins and supplements
It’s important to acknowledge that there are several obstacles that make it hard to practice physical self-care. Let’s take a closer look at some of these obstacles and how to overcome them.
One of the most common obstacles to physical self-care is low motivation. It’s hard to get excited about working out or cooking a healthy meal when you’re feeling down or stressed.
If you’re struggling with motivation, try setting small, achievable goals for yourself, such as going for a 10-minute walk each day or cooking one healthy meal a week. Also, try finding an accountability partner, someone who can motivate and support you on your journey.
Not Enough Time
Another obstacle that many people face when it comes to physical self-care is not having enough time. Between work, family obligations, and social events, it can be challenging to find time to prioritize your health.
If you’re short on time, try breaking your physical self-care activities into smaller, more manageable tasks. For example, try incorporating 10-minute workouts throughout your day, or meal prep for the week on a Sunday.
Physical limitations, such as injuries or chronic health conditions, can also be a significant barrier to physical self-care. If you’re dealing with physical limitations, talk to your healthcare provider before beginning any new physical activity. They can provide guidance on safe activities and modifications that can help you participate in physical self-care.
The Bottom Line
Taking care of your physical health is crucial for a happy and fulfilling life, especially for busy millennial women. It’s not always easy to make time for physical self-care, but it’s worth it! When you prioritize your physical well-being, you’ll feel less stressed and more positive.
It’s okay if you face barriers along the way, but they’re part of the process. It’s how we learn how to be flexible, realistic, and consistent. Try out my top tips above to make self-care a regular part of your routine.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember that you don’t have to do it alone. Reach out to your friends, family, or healthcare professionals for support. Small changes can go a long way, so never underestimate the power of taking small steps. You got this!
Want to get a jumpstart? Join the FREE 7-Day Self-Care Challenge!