Self-love is an important part of self-care. When you’re ready to reset and recharge, you can use these tips as inspiration.

Society often tells us it’s important to be selfless: to take care of others, put loved ones first, and to give whatever and whenever you can.

These messages themselves aren’t wrong. Most people are part of a larger community, and we tend to benefit when we take care of each other. But the problem comes when we prioritize taking care of others above caring for ourselves.

The concept of self-love is simple: it just means valuing and caring for your own needs, wants, and desires. It isn’t about being selfish. It’s about making sure you have time to recharge to have the energy and resources to be there for others.

As airlines like to remind us, it’s important to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others do the same. Because if you run out of air, it becomes a lot harder to help anyone, including yourself.

Self-love doesn’t have to be complicated.

It can be as simple as changing your self-talk. For example, it can look like showing compassion to yourself when you make mistakes in the same way you’d show compassion for a mistake a loved one makes.

Or it could be more involved, like taking a day off from work to recharge.

The goal of self-love is usually to love yourself at least as well as you love others. And according to a small study, it can come with some health benefits, including helping with:

  • sleep
  • eating habits
  • stress management
  • exercise

Researchers have found that despite the many benefits of self-love, it’s often a habit people are least likely to practice.

But research has also found that when you do practice self-love and self-compassion, it can help make you more resilient in times of adversity.

There are so many ways to practice self-love — the options truly are limitless. But if you’re looking for some ideas to get started, these are some great first steps.

1. Plan your escape

It’s not uncommon to feel drained when you’re constantly working to meet the needs of others — especially when you’re a caregiver. And when those others (kids, for example) live in your house, it can be difficult to find time for self-love.

That’s why taking breaks from those who rely on you most can be so beneficial.

Maybe that means a night at a local hotel (just you) to watch a movie, sleep in, and eat uninterrupted. Or it could be lunch by yourself with a good book and no one requesting anything of you.

2. Book a therapy session

Taking care of your mental health is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

A therapist you trust can help you identify areas where you’d like to improve your mental health and create strategies for working toward that.

To find mental health support, you can check out Psych Central’s therapist finder or skim this list of free mental health apps.

3. Spend time in nature with those you love

Fresh air is often therapeutic, and outdoor adventures with the people we love can put a smile on our faces. You might plan a hike with a romantic partner, or maybe a bike ride with your kids.

Looking to learn more about the benefits time in nature can have on mental health? Here’s a deeper dive.

4. Adopt a pet

Shelters are full of pets in need of loving homes, and the unconditional love we get from our furry family members can be a true mood booster.

If you can’t adopt right now, volunteering could also be a good option. Even spending time at a pet store, an adoption agency, or with a friend’s fur baby can be comforting.

5. Fill your home with things that make you smile

Home should be your safe place, your sanctuary. Consider filling yours with what brings you joy, whether it’s live plants, pictures of happy memories, or art you love to look at.

6. Go screen free

Take a break from your screens and put your phone into “do not disturb” mode. No notifications, no outside noise, and no distractions could equal just the peace you need.

7. Give yourself permission to say ‘no’

You can’t be everything to everyone, and it’s hard to give anything your best if you’re constantly trying to do it all. When you practice saying “no,” it allows you to take on what you can handle.

If you’re not in the habit of telling people “no,” it can feel challenging and even anxiety-inducing. Here are some tips for getting started.

Still, if you need to say “yes” to someone, you can say it and put limits or boundaries in place. For example, you could say, “Yes, you can come over at 1 p.m., but I’ll need you to leave at 3 p.m.”

8. Eat alone

Especially for parents who often have little ones stealing from their plates, taking time to eat alone — whether it’s a coveted dessert or a full-course menu — means you don’t have to share with anyone.

Mindful eating is one way to make mealtime feel that much more rejuvenating. Here are some quick steps to practice mindfulness while you eat:

  1. Minimize and set aside distractions, like the TV or your phone.
  2. Take some time to breathe in the scent of your meal. What herbs or spices do you smell?
  3. Enjoy your food one bite at a time, and enjoy the flavors you might often be too busy to notice.

If you want more info on mindful eating, this article gives an in-depth look at its benefits, where the practice came from, and how to get the most out of it.

9. Read a book

It’s easy to convince ourselves that we don’t have time for this simple pleasure, but reading can serve as such a great escape. Even just allowing yourself one chapter a night can be an act of self-love.

Research backs up the practice of reading for mental health. For example, one literature review found bibliotherapy — where you use a workbook and similar methods to manage some mental health conditions — could help teens manage depression.

10. Carve out time for exercise

Research has found countless benefits (both mental and physical) to daily exercise. It’s not necessary to push yourself too hard, and more isn’t always better — a 30-minute walk can be a great way to get your body moving and enjoy the benefits exercise provides.

It’s common to feel that the motivation to exercise just isn’t there, even if you initially wanted to. If you’d like to make exercise a habit but feel like lack of motivation is getting in your way, here’s some info that could help.

11. Lock the door

If you have a partner or kids who tend to misunderstand what closed doors mean, it’s OK to lock yourself into the bathroom for your daily shower — you deserve that uninterrupted time.

12. Remind yourself of your worth

We’ve all caught ourselves in negative self-talk from time to time, but what if you made a concerted effort to lift yourself up? If you need reminders to do so, you can leave notes around the house that point out what you love best about yourself.

Here’s 5 tips to improve your self-talk if you’d like a deeper dive.

13. Splurge

It can be hard to spend money on ourselves, especially during times of financial strain. But small (and occasional) splurges can help us all smile a little more. This could be as simple as a fancy coffee or the face wash you wouldn’t usually allow yourself to buy.

14. Meditate

Research suggests spending more time meditating could improve your mental health in the long term.

One way to begin: Find a comfortable and quiet place to sit for 10 minutes. Close your eyes and focus your attention on your breath, heartbeat, and the positive goals you have for the day.

For more meditation tips and resources, consider checking out:

15. Make time for the little things

Self-love is sometimes as simple as clipping your nails, putting on a full face of makeup, or shaving your face (if it’s something that makes you happy).

16. Organize your space

If you get stressed by clutter, consider making time to clean up and reap the benefits of a clutter-free zone. If you don’t have the time and can afford to do so, you might give yourself permission to hire someone to do this for you.

17. Ask for what you need

Tell the people you love when you need help, or time, or space.

18. Pamper yourself

A haircut or massage could help you relax. If you’re on a budget, you could treat yourself to an at-home face mask, DIY pedicure, or at-home massage.

19. Set boundaries

You’re allowed to draw your own personal lines and stick to them. You don’t owe people explanations or the chance to negotiate.

Here’s 10 ways to build better boundaries if you’re looking for more info.

20. Journal

Take some time to write down things you’re grateful for, the goals you hope to accomplish, or a list of things that bring you joy. You can write out your frustrations and disappointments as well. Sometimes putting our thoughts to paper can be one of the most healing things we can do.

If you’ve always wanted to get into journaling but aren’t sure how to start, these journaling prompts could help.

21. Take a bath

Light some candles, turn out the lights, and pour some Epsom salts into the warm water.

Your tub can be another great place to bring in some mindfulness. If you’re up for a mindfulness exercise while you soak, consider using all your senses to notice how the water feels, looks, and sounds.

22. Let yourself scroll

For some people, social media can become a time suck and source of constant frustration. For others, it can be an escape from the world and a few moments of mindless entertainment. If you’re the latter, give yourself the time to scroll without guilt.

23. Take a social media break

On the other hand, if you find yourself frustrated every time you log on, consider pausing or shutting down your social media accounts — temporarily or for good.

24. Plan a date

Quality time with the people we love can be truly regenerative. Plan a night out with friends or your significant other and focus on talking and enjoying that time together.

25. Dance it out

Put on your favorite music, open your windows, and get your body moving.

26. Schedule time for your hobby

Writing, painting, taking photos, completing puzzles — whatever your hobbies are, consider setting aside a block of time just for them.

27. Conscious breathing

With one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest, feel the breath moving through your body. You can do this for just a few breaths or several minutes at a time. You can even take some time to focus on your breathing whenever you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

Here are some more breathing exercises if you’d like to keep going.

28. Set goals

We all have things we want to accomplish, but sometimes writing those things down and considering the steps necessary to achieve them can make those things suddenly seem more achievable and possible in our minds.

29. Try a new recipe

Even if you don’t love to cook, look up a recipe that sounds good to you and set aside some time to try your hand at it in a quiet house. For some people, following the steps (perhaps with a beverage of your choice) without the pressure of needing to feed others can be fun.

30. Honor your spiritual needs

For many people, spirituality is about what gives life meaning. To nurture your spiritual side, you might pick up a book on a spiritual topic that resonates with you or find a set of friends who share your spiritual views — whatever they may be.

31. Cry it out

Sometimes, we all just need to let our big emotions escape.

It turns out, crying can even come with some benefits. Better emotion regulation and helping us bond with loved ones are just some of the ways crying can be good for us.

32. Pick up the phone

Call a friend or loved one and spend some time catching up.

33. Sleep

Perhaps one of the most important forms of self-care, allowing yourself to get the sleep you need can help you feel your best.

If you want to learn more about how to promote good sleep, here are some extra tips.

It’s one thing to read a list of self-love tips, and it’s another to actually do any of the things on that list. Rather than trying to do everything at once, it’s a good idea to pick out one of two things that seem doable and commit to them.

When it comes to self-care and self-love, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. It’s always OK to change things up if you decide one self-care approach isn’t serving you.