How to Create Your Own Daily Self Care Retreat in 5 Easy Steps

Let’s admit it: self care activities are as trendy as they are important. Companies sell face masks that promise to invigorate your skin and your life; magazine covers share 101 secrets to finding time for self care as a busy, independent woman. There are even entire self care retreats that people can attend to escape their lives and completely engulf themselves in self love for a few hours...or even a few days.

But what if you want all the benefits of a self care retreat without having the time or money to go on one yourself? That’s where this guide comes in! Inspired by a few crazy weeks where self care strategies definitely fell too far down on my to-do list, I’m sharing five self care practices you can integrate into your everyday life to add more self care to every day. Or, you can do all of these five steps within a few hours - or stretch them out in a whole day or a whole weekend - for a mini self care retreat!

How to Practice Self Care and Create Your Own Daily Self Care Retreat in 5 Easy Steps

Ready to increase the self love and decrease the stress of your day? Keep reading to find out what self care for the real world can look like!

1. Find a quiet place to reflect and organize your thoughts. Make a to-do list for the day. Say what you're grateful for.

When you’re go-go-going and have a ton to do (which, as a grad student who’s also teaching a college class, I can totally relate!), the last thing you may feel like is stopping everything to journal for 15 minutes (or even longer). However, setting aside time for reflection can actually make your day a lot more productive - and enjoyable. 

In fact, research has found that writing a to-do list not only decreases the anxiety people feel about the chores they need to finish but also increases their productivity and performance on assigned tasks. To do list not your thang?  Try journaling or thinking about at least five things you’re grateful for. Studies report that grateful people are healthier, happier and have higher self taking 15 minutes to just reflect on the good parts of life might be just the self care activity you need for an even more awesome day.

How to Practice Self Care and Create Your Own Daily Self Care Retreat in 5 Easy Steps

2. Take 15 to 20 minutes to do something "extra."

You know that I love and thrive off of following predictable routines each day. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t throw in something a little different now and then. In fact, one of my favorite ways to practice self care in the real world is taking a few minutes - it doesn’t even have to be the full 15! - to do something “extra." 

By “extra,” I’m referring to activities that you enjoy but don’t regularly make time for. Experiment with a different kind of makeup. Go for a walk on a route that you often don't get the chance to explore. Call a friend you haven't had time to talk with in ages. It doesn’t matter if your “extra” is something super mundane that other people do every day (like whipping up a fresh mug of tea and drinking it slowly with a good book). I know I always say this, but it's especially relevant when it comes to self care strategies: you do you!

How to Practice Self Care and Create Your Own Daily Self Care Retreat in 5 Easy Steps

3. Unplug completely for at least an hour.

One of my favorite quotes from the writer Anne Lamont is, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” The truth is, technology is part of nearly every aspect of our everyday lives (especially if your work and side jobs rely on a computer and social media, like mine do). 

I’ve written before about the benefits of unplugging from technology for a whole weekend. In fact, research has found that taking a break from technology can result in improved sleep, higher productivity and a higher self-reported quality of life. Of course, unplugging for an entire weekend isn’t always possible...but ditching the gadgets for just an hour is a start.

How to Practice Self Care and Create Your Own Daily Self Care Retreat in 5 Easy Steps
We all know that exercise is good for us. We’ve probably been in PE classes since elementary school, and have heard plenty of times that regular exercise can benefit people’s overall physical health. 

Personally, though, I exercise even more for the mental benefits. In fact, there’s even a growing call for psychologists to incorporate exercise into their treatment plans because of its mood-boosting and anxiety-reducing properties. Proponents are quick to point out, though, that starting an exercise plan that’s too intense to be enjoyable is counterintuitive (mainly because people won’t stick with it!), so focus on finding physical activities you actually enjoy. 

How to Practice Self Care and Create Your Own Daily Self Care Retreat in 5 Easy Steps

Your choice of favorite exercise may change daily, too. This past summer, I was really into weight lifting and yoga. Now that I’m shorter on time and facing more stress, cardio and HIIT workouts are more appealing. Go with the flow - and you never know what new ideas you’ll get about your other to-do list items for that day while you’re practicing some sweaty self care!

5. Eat for your body...and for your soul. 

If you were to compare my eating habits in the last few weeks to my eating habits a few years ago, you might initially think that I’ve “fallen off the wagon,” as people say. I’m still eating tons of veggies, healthy fats (I never say no to avocado!) and plant based proteins...but I’ve also been eating more chips and candy (I’m addicted to this gluten free and vegan licorice) and baked goods. But you know what? I’d still consider my gluten free diet pretty dang “healthy” - not just in nutrients, but in honoring my cravings. 

How to Practice Self Care and Create Your Own Daily Self Care Retreat in 5 Easy Steps

“Intuitive eating” is just as trendy a phrase as “self care retreat,” and I would never claim to be an expert at it. (For more information on intuitive eating, I’d suggest checking out Robin's blog and Kylie's blog). However, I do think that self care includes nourishing your body and your soul. Sometimes, I practice self care by swinging by Whole Foods and loading up on a carton of rainbow veggies and other gluten free and vegan goodies. Other times, I practice self care by baking chocolate chip cookies at 9 at night.

Like I've written before, the diet that works for me may not work for you, and vice find what diet gets your body (and your soul) dancin' and roll with it! (And if actual cinnamon rolls are included are included in that dance, you know I won't be judging). 

The Bottom Line of Self Care Retreats

Nowadays, it seems like being busy is the default daily schedule, and the common reaction to a self care retreat is, “Ain’t nobody got time (or money!) for that!”

How to Practice Self Care and Create Your Own Daily Self Care Retreat in 5 Easy Steps

However, you don’t necessarily have to buy a plane ticket to an exotic island or take three days off of work to enjoy the benefits of self care strategies. Instead, you can use some of the tips and tricks I’ve mentioned above to throw your own self care retreat...whether it lasts a few hours, a day or a whole weekend!

(And if you're really short on time, don't forget to check out my post about 15 Self Care Activities That Can Take 15 Minutes or Less!)

What’s your favorite way to de-stress and sneak self care into your daily routine? Have you ever gone on a self care retreat - or want to? Tell me in the comments! 


  1. One of my all time favorite forms of self care will always be journaling. It's the best way that I've found to be really open and honest with myself. It's the one time I can stop thinking about all the outside factors and instead focus internally on what I'm feeling and what's going on in my head. I like to light a candle, sip some coffee or tea and then just start writing!

    1. That sounds like a lovely way to relax and reflect! <3


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