We often think of self-care rituals as luxuries or indulgences. But in reality, taking care of ourselves is fundamental to our well-being. And when we carve out small moments for the things that bring us joy, we’re able to live happier, less stressful lives. 

We asked our Thrive community to share with us the small self-care rituals that bring them joy, no matter how busy or stressful their day is. Which of these will you try?

Start your day with a short meditation 

“When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is meditate for 15 minutes and then listen to a 5-minute affirmation. It’s my favorite self-care ritual to help me start the day. After that, I’ll go shower, brush up and get cleaned up to get ready for the day.”

—Lesley Kao, business analyst, St. Petersburg, FL

Take 3 deep breaths

“I have set my phone to alert me at 1:00 pm every day to take a mindfulness break. When it chimes, I take a minute to put my feet firmly on the ground. Then I stretch and expand my posture so I feel like I am sitting taller. Next, I take three slow, deep breaths and reflect on my intention that I set at the beginning of the day. This daily self-care moment helps me reset my mindset and energy, especially if it has been a busy or stressful day.”

—Shea Ki, career momentum coach, Ashburn, VA 

Carve out time for a real lunch break

“I always make space and time away from my desk to enjoy a real lunch break. I got into a nasty habit in the past of eating lunch at my desk and found my energy levels were on the floor by mid-afternoon. I now take at least 20 minutes away from my desk to enjoy a proper lunch and recharge my batteries. That short break in the day is my time to read, take time to breathe, and just create some space. It renews my energy and keeps me going.”

—Jessica Brewer, leadership coach & HR strategist, London, UK

Look at a picture of your dog

“Whenever I need to boost my mood, I glance at three life-size photos of my grand fur baby on my wall. Mochi is a puginese that my daughter rescued four years ago. Mochi lives with her, so I only see him once or twice a week. Gazing at his picture and reminiscing about his most recent sleepover always makes me smile and reminds me of the simple joys in life.”

 —Marcia Rhodes, public relations executive, Scottsdale, AZ

Take breaks for movement

“One self-care ritual I can’t live without is movement. I love to start my day with a morning run, and throughout the day, I make sure to get up and move every half hour when I’m at my desk, or I take breaks outside and enjoy fresh air while I walk my dog. Moving my body regularly throughout the day helps release stagnant energy and stress in my body. Movement is a simple way to create regular resets throughout the day that always bring me joy.”

—Emily Madill, author and creativity coach (ACC), Nanaimo, B.C., Canada

Try bird watching

“Bird watching has always been a fantastic way for me to pause and really live in the moment. Being outside (with a great cup of coffee or tea) and still enjoying the different varieties and colors of birds that stop by my feeder is extremely relaxing for me.  There is also something so magical about all the different songs and sounds that just helps me find peace of mind and start my day with a great frame of mind.”

 —Suzanne Schnaars, engineer, Basking Ridge, NJ

Get outside

“My morning self-care ritual is to exercise minutes before I do anything else: no e-mail, text, or social media for almost two hours after I wake up. I try to be outside almost all year round, jogging, hiking, or cross-country skiing in the very cold weather. To keep things interesting, I track my activities on an app called Strava and chart my progress against yearly goals. During the winter I make slow steady progress against running and swimming goals, while in the summer things get exciting. With an early sunrise, I can work on biking – enjoying the scenery while building up mileage and climbing goals, and even a bit of speed. On weekends if the weather is good, I enjoy longer bike rides with great scenery and no checking email until the afternoon.”

—Bruce Segall, marketing consultant, Dobbs Ferry, NY

Take a minute for mindfulness

“One of my favorite self-care rituals is a practice I call ‘What else is here?’ It only takes a few minutes, and it helps me bring my attention back to my senses to help me become present. By asking myself what else is here aside from my thoughts, it allows me to prevent my thoughts from taking over my attention. I simply stop, drop my shoulders, and ask this question. All of a sudden, life itself comes into my focus buzzing with the vitality of the present moment. I feel present, and in that moment, it’s all I need. Doing this a few times a day makes all the difference.”

—Marijke McCandless, writer, workshop leader, Las Vegas, NV

Sit in silence with a warm drink

“As a former nighthawk, I’ve had to become very intentional about my early morning routine. A ritual I started almost a year ago is spending ten minutes first thing in the morning just sipping my coffee and sitting in silence. It’s been a way to become more present with my thoughts, feel calm, and just let myself become okay with not always moving and doing things. I’ve started to apply this ritual as needed into my day when things are busy to increase my focus and energy. Taking just a short amount of time has become a reminder that more can get done when I’m feeling calm and that sense of joy. It is a simple ritual, and yet it brings so much joy.”

 —Danielle Joworski, confidence and visibility coach, Toronto, Canada  

Have a meaningful conversation

“A deep, meaningful conversation is my go to practice for deep self-care. I’m fortunate to have built a career which at its core is simply about having deep, meaningful and insightful conversations with other people, all day long. People ask if I’m tired at the end of the day, and I say, ‘No, I’ve been feeding my soul.’ That’s self care.”

—Carolyn Mahboubi, life and leadership coach, CA

Try reading before bed

“My evening routine of reading and gratitude brings me joy. I love to read non-fiction books that connect me to my future self or the goals I want to achieve. From this inspired place, I switch off my light, close my eyes and do a mental gratitude practice of what I have, and I always include saying thank you for something as if it’s already happened. What I love about my evening routine is it’s flexible; some days, I can read for five minutes or even twenty minutes. When I fall asleep with a headspace of gratitude, my sleep is always undisturbed, and I wake up energized for the day ahead.”

—Lori Milner, life coach, Johannesburg, South Africa

Play with your pet

“My self-care comes most lovingly from my beloved dogs. When I am feeling overwhelmed, off, or just captured by the day in my spinning head, I quite often find grateful reprieve in the solace and escape of my pups’ sweet tummies, cornflake-smelling paws, enthusiastic face licks, and my two horses’ fragrantly, comfortingly warm and reassuring shoulders. I bury my face deep, lost in their acceptance and the reminder that I am okay and loved no matter what.”

—Amy Infinity, author and coach, Bonney Lake, WA

Use essential oils

“One of my favorite self-care routines is to put spearmint and eucalyptus essential oils in the diffuser and simply sit and inhale for five minutes. This refreshes the mind, triggers stress release, and changes my outlook for the rest of the day.”

—Bronwen Sciortino, author and simplicity expert, Perth, Western Australia

Observe the sounds of nature

“In the summer, just as the sun rises, I enjoy drinking my coffee on the front porch and listening to the birds. The music of the birds, the rocking of the chair, the smell of my coffee and the peace of early dawn soothes the soul. This ritual is only around 20 minutes, but it is the best part of my day.”

 —Karen Tobias, HR director, Columbus, OH

Write in your journal 

“My go-to self-care ritual is writing down three things every day that I am grateful for. On the next line, I also write this: ‘3 Things That Are Awesome About Me and How I Honor Myself.’ Sounding self-absorbed? Hang with me. Our 60 to 90 thousand thoughts a day are heavily-laden with thoughts of fear, self-criticism, and even self-loathing. And in today’s fast-paced world, the people around us often aren’t stopping to reflect back to us how amazing we are or the things we did well. So honor yourself today. Acknowledge that you are an amazing human being. If this seems foreign and awkward to you, start with something small. You just might be amazed at how amazing you truly are!”

 —Annie Bauer, mindset coach, Asheville, NC

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Author(s)

  • Rebecca Muller

    Senior Editor and Community Manager

    Thrive

    Rebecca Muller Feintuch is the Senior Editor and Community Manager at Thrive. Her previous work experience includes roles in editorial and digital journalism. Rebecca is passionate about storytelling, creating meaningful connections, and prioritizing mental health and self-care. She is a graduate of New York University, where she studied Media, Culture and Communications with a minor in Creative Writing. For her undergraduate thesis, she researched the relationship between women and fitness media consumerism.