17 Alternative Self-Care Tips To Help Keep You Zen

We all know getting outside and going for a walk is great for our wellbeing – but what else can you do to boost your mood?

Self-care comes in many forms, and while there are a handful of tips shared widely – like staying active, prioritising sleep and connecting with others – there are other things we can do to give ourselves a much-needed boost.

Dr Radha Modgil, a practising NHS GP and broadcaster, says self-care is incredibly individual. “It’s not a couple of words in a magazine and it’s not a shiny picture,” she wrote on Twitter.

“It’s what makes us feel good, it’s without pressure, it’s individual, it depends on the day, it’s what’s authentic, it’s tiny actions and it works.”

Her version of self-care changes from day-to-day. Some days, it’s about having boundaries at work and shutting her laptop at the end of the working day. On others, self-care comes in the form of watching The Hobbit on DVD, listening to Miley Cyrus, having an early night, or going for a run outdoors.

“Keep going with whatever makes you feel better,” she said. Here are some ideas of how to do just that – have a read through to see which ones might bring you joy this week.

Listen to a song associated with happy memories

Speaking on The Calm Edit podcast, Vex King, an author and mind coach, recommended listening to a specific song associated with positive memories to boost mood. And we have to admit, it sounds like a no-brainer.

Is it your wedding song? A shared tune with your family? A song from one of your favourite holidays? Or just a tune that always gets you up dancing?

Don’t judge, but the song guaranteed to get me up off my feet, dancing around the room with a big goofy grin on my face is Wham!’s Club Tropicana – it reminds me of holidays in the sun. What’s yours?

Care for your plants

Even when you’re at home all the time, it can be easy to forget to water and care for your plants, which just morph into room ornaments. Carving out half an hour in the week to tend to them will give you – and them – a much needed boost. You: because they don’t look so crispy and sad anymore, and them: because, well, they’ve been given a new lease of life.

Prune any dead leaves, give them a good glug of water and, if they require it, a bit of plant food. Their leaves might need a dust too – or, if you’re lazy, stick them in the bath and shower them.

Sit, stand, or walk ‘happy’

Our mood can affect how we walk: slumped and hunched if we’re sad, bouncing along upright if we’re happy. But researchers have shown it works the other way around, too. People who were prompted to walk in a sad style, with less arm movement and their shoulders rolled forward, experienced worse moods than those who were induced to walk in a happier style.

King told The Calm Edit podcast people should think about their body language and try to replicate how they would expect a ‘happy’ person to look. So whether you’re sat down, standing in a queue, or walking – hold your head high, pop your shoulders down and smile.

Sort your nails out

Is there anything nicer than taking time out of the day to clip, file and shape your nails so your hands look like somebody actually owns them? Grab a nail polish in an uplifting colour and go to town. Want to go a little further? Try these simple nail art ideas that are pretty easy (even if you’re rubbish at home manicures).

Miguel Sotomayor via Getty Images

Cook your favourite childhood dish

In a similar vein to listening to your all-time happy song, cooking a childhood dish you used to love will not only help you switch up your weekly dinners, but also give you a hearty dose of nostalgia and invoke happy memories – whether it’s fish fingers, chips and beans; shepherd’s pie or some concoction involving smiley potato faces.

Track down QAC (that’s quality animal content)

If there’s one good thing about the internet, it’s that you’re never many scrolls away from quality animal content (QAC). This thread of animals interrupting wildlife photographers is five minutes of self-care you don’t want to miss.

Unleash your inner Neil Buchanan

Sure, you can arrange props on the floor to make an impressive, birds-eye view image. Or, you could opt for something easier and put pen to paper.

Whether you buy a paint by numbers set, attend an online drawing class or simply get doodling, it’s a great way to spent half an hour to take your mind off everything else – and be off any devices.

You don’t need to be particularly good at it, either – just enjoy the process. To get you started, try a ‘DrawAlong’ – you can find lots with a quick search on Facebook. Here’s Nick Sharratt drawing some animals you can copy.

Give yourself a massage with a tennis ball

Spas might be closed, but you can still enjoy a cheeky massage. Massaging your body increases circulation to the muscles and soft tissue. Use a tennis ball (or a similar-sized ball) and place it between your spine and shoulder blade – never directly on your spine. Then, lean up against a wall and roll the ball up and down that area. You can also do this along your lower back area.

Try to avoid putting pressure on any area that is painful, however – if you’re experiencing pain, you might want to seek an online appointment with a physio or massage therapist.

Take an extended lunch break

We should all be making the most of our lunch breaks – but how about requesting a slightly longer one once in a while?

This requires you to check in with your manager first, but if the weather outside is bright and sunny, see if you can add another 30 minutes onto your lunch break so you can get out on a longer walk and enjoy the daylight. Then, at the end of the day, work for 30 minutes longer.

Belt out a sea shanty

If it’s good enough for the masses on TikTok, it’s good enough for us. Surprisingly, these sea shanties doing the rounds are pretty uplifting and once you’ve learned the lyrics, there’s really no stopping you from going full-on sailor.

Clean out your tea-stained mugs

How is this self-care, you ask. How is it not! You’ll be left with delightfully bright mugs once more, rather than tea-stained cups that look like they’ve never been washed. Plus, there’s nothing more calming than a nice cuppa.

Debora Robertson, who writes the Notes From A Small Kitchen Island column in the Telegraph, recommends making a thick paste with some bicarbonate of soda and a splash of water, then using a cloth to rub the stain. Leave for 30 minutes and rinse.

Get on top of your life admin, bit-by-bit

There’s nothing worse than letting your life admin run away with you and feeling bogged down by it all. So, break it up into chunks. Rather than setting yourself the mammoth task of doing it all in one day – do a bit every day.

Take 10 minutes to write a to-do list of what you need to get done this week. Then, each day, tick one thing off that list (or tick off multiple items, if you’re feeling up to it). You’ll feel so much better once everything’s in order.

Make a breakfast tortilla

Who wouldn’t want to cram a tortilla with delicious ingredients, toast it, then eat it for breakfast? There’s no harm in treating yourself to something different every once in a while. Check out three amazing recipes here, including a breakfast wrap; chicken, bacon and avocado wrap; and – if you’re really craving the sweet treats – a Biscoff, Nutella, Oreo and smores dessert wrap.

Bacon, Chicken and Avocado Folded Tortilla Wrap
Bacon, Chicken and Avocado Folded Tortilla Wrap

Settle down to watch a feel-good film

You might be glued to Netflix right now watching your favourite series or the latest film releases – but try picking a film that will genuinely give you a mood boost. There are so many to choose from right now. Suggestions from the HuffPost UK team include: Soul (Disney+); Over The Moon (Netflix); Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (Netflix); Devil Wears Prada (Amazon); and Sliding Doors (Netflix).

Get lost in a nature around the world

Nature has it all for you, from otters lazing about in rivers, to bears hunting wild salmon, totally zen beaches, and incredible views of planet earth from space. There are thousands of cameras showing us live streams of goings on around the world (and beyond!). Check out some of our favourites here.

If you’re into nature in a big way, The Moving Art series on Netflix is also worth a watch – filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg highlights the beauty that lurks in oceans, forests, deserts and flowers.

Buy yourself some flowers

You don’t need a special occasion to do this – and if you do, here’s one: winter will soon be over and then we can enjoy the warmth and light of spring. Definitely something to celebrate.

It could be a simple bunch of £3 tulips from your local express shop; gorgeous letterbox blooms from an online delivery company or some dried flowers (which last longer and will be sure to keep the joy going for months to come).

golibtolibov via Getty Images

Unfollow those who make you feel bad

Life’s too short to follow people who bring you down. If someone’s social media posts are increasingly leaving you feeling fraught or angry, it’s probably time to click the unfollow button and breathe a sigh of relief.

Every time you unfollow someone, know that you’re less likely to feel down or miserable next time you scroll. To make up for it, follow some new, positive accounts of people or groups who share similar interests to you.