7 Emotional Self Care Activities for When Life Gets Hard

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So often, when people talk about wanting to take better care of themselves, they are referring to their physical appearance. 

Namely diet and exercise

What typically gets forgotten, however, is the importance of one’s emotional well being. 

Emotional self care is just as important as the other types of self care. In fact, they typically go hand-in-hand… because if you’re happy with yourself and where you are in life, you’ll be less likely to sabotage your body with laziness, harmful substances and overindulgence. 

Emotional self care is a process in which we bring an awareness to our emotions and take the steps necessary in order to respect and nurture these emotions. The process is essential for our wellbeing… but also easier said than done. 

Think about it. 

When is the last time you put yourself first? 

self care is fuel quotes - “An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.”

If you are a spouse, parent, employee trying to climb the corporate ladder… you are more than likely putting other people’s needs and desires before your own. 

Boss asking you to work late? Sure.  

Your husband going on a business trip? Then you’re in charge of the kids for a few days… which means the chance of you making it to that hot yoga class is highly unlikely. 

Sick kid? Guess you’re skipping book club tonight.

While it’s important to be there for others, or to make your mark on the world, it is equally important to be in a healthy headspace so that you can actually be your best self.  

After all, your best self is the one that other people are counting on. 

In this article, I’m going to offer 7 emotional self-care practices to help put you in the best mindset possible… because once you’re there, the sky’s the limit as to how good you can feel and what you can accomplish! 

Emotional Self Care Practice #1: Do Something That Makes You Happy

It may sound basic and cliché, but this little gem of a tip is so true. 

Emotional self care is all about taking care of your inner self and doing things that improve your mood… ultimately reducing anxiety.  

And what better way is there to do that than to find your happy place? That one thing, person, or place that makes you smile from the inside out.  

Maybe it’s as simple as enjoying coffee or drinks out with a friend. Or taking a bubble bath by candlelight once the kids are asleep.

Schedule a date night

An overnight trip with the girls or round of golf with your buddies. 

Try getting out for a scenic bike ride or hike.

Learn a new hobby.

Sketch, journal, read a juicy novel. 

No matter how big or small the gesture, if you think you will enjoy it… make time for it.  It’s as simple as that. 

Emotional Self Care Practice #2: Practice Breathing Techniques and Take Up Yoga

Sometimes, the best thing you can do for your emotional well being is to slow down. 

In a perfect world, this would involve flying off to a tropical island paradise and digging your feet into the warm sand. 

But since we are not all millionaires, and have actual daily responsibilities to tend to… this may not be possible.

And that’s where breathing exercises and yoga can help. 

Maybe it’s less glamorous sounding than an island getaway, but it can still have a profound effect on your emotional self care routine.

Deep breathing can lift your mood and quiet the mind. 

Additionally, research has shown undeniable effects of deep breathing on the heart, brain, digestion and immune system. 

When coupled with the rejuvenating, mentally grounding and physical effects of yoga… this practice is a surefire way to keep your emotional self care in check.

If you don’t currently consider yourself a yogi… don’t worry. It’s never too late to learn. Online courses are a great way to get the kinks out before taking your workout public. 

Still on the fence? Read some of these yoga quotes for some inspiration.

Emotional Self Care Practice #3: Clean House on Your Social Media Pages

Whether you realize it or not, social media can have a substantial impact on your emotional self care. 

So it’s your job to ensure that who you are following and what you are posting is positive. 

If a Facebook friend is always spewing negatives or trying to start arguments, it may be time to block them. As harsh as that may sound, it is a detriment to your emotional well being to surround yourself around anyone who can’t be generally optimistic and uplifting. 

The same rule applies for what you choose to share with the masses.  

Make sure your posts are indicative of the good things going on in your life. Even if you’re not in the best of moods one day, it is good practice to force yourself to look at the bright side

When you choose to see the glass as half full, you will soon realize that there is always light to be found… even in darkness. 

It’s also a good idea to follow people and pages who are motivational.  Daily affirmations and inspiring quotes can be a great way to start, or even end, the day when it comes to giving your emotional self care a boost. 

Emotional Self Care Practice #4: Color With (Or Without) Your Kids

When we were kids, teachers encouraged us to color… not just because it was fun, but because it helped us to hone in on those fine motor skills.   

Truth be told, coloring can be so much more than these things. There are at least a handful of benefits to coloring in between the lines, such as: 

  • Stress relief
  • Mental sharpness
  • Creative mediation
  • Concentration
  • Mental stamina

Coloring forces you to slow down and stop thinking… even if for just a little while. 

Additionally, specific colors affect our mood. So the colors we choose to color with may be trying to tell our brain something. 

Whether or not we are attune to it, color makes us feel a certain way. And since a picture is worth a thousand words, the palette we elect to decorate it with can indicate subconscious feelings.  

By bringing those colors to light, we can better understand what we need to fulfill our emotional self care. 

Emotional Self Care Practice #5: Try Mindfulness Exercises

What is mindfulness? 

Mindfulness is the practice of purposefully focusing all of your attention on the current moment, and accepting it without judgment. 

This is a great place to start if you are looking for a key element on your journey towards emotional self care. 

Mindfulness is a level of self awareness that we should all try to attain. (Here are more examples of self-awareness.) Luckily, there are exercises to help with this. 

Some of the easier mindfulness techniques to execute on a regular basis include: 

  • Morning breathing
  • Shower meditation
  • Waking up early
  • Journaling
  • Eating a healthy, mindful breakfast

Practicing mindfulness forces you to slow down and take the time you need to check in with yourself. But the real beauty of this technique is that it can be incorporated into almost everything you do as part of your daily routine.   

Things like bathing and eating breakfast can coexist with mindfulness.

When you are mindful of your emotional and physical needs, you are better able to prioritize what really matters to you. This will help you to set short and long term goals to ensure your overall well being. 

The video below talks about 7 morning routine ideas that can help you become more mindful on a daily basis.

Emotional Self Care Practice #6: Set New Goals Each Week

Goals are so important when it comes to establishing an emotional self care routine. They give us something to strive for… and look forward to. 

They give our actions purpose. 

A goal can be as simple as setting aside one, uninterrupted hour for yourself each week. During this hour, you can choose from any of the emotional self care practices we’ve discussed here and execute it. 

Take a yoga class or hit the gym. 

Catch up on a tv show. 


Pour a glass of wine and read a book by the fire. 

Your goal can also be more complex, such as working out 4 days this week… or cleaning out the linen closet. 

It’s also ok to set multiple goals that vary by time commitment and also importance. 

For instance, maybe you are determined to finish painting your spare bedroom this week… but also want to have lunch with your sister.  Both are doable, you just need to keep your eye on the prize and not lose sight of the big picture. 

If the spare room gets painted, you’ll have that relaxing home office or sanctuary you’ve been craving. And if you meet up with your sister, she may have some fresh decorating ideas for you. She might even go shopping with you. 

By setting goals and meeting them, you will give yourself an overwhelming sense of achievement and pride… and that goes hand in hand with an elevation in mood. 

Can you say, “win/win”? 

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Emotional Self Care Practice #7: Refrain from Being Overly Critical of Yourself and Embrace Your True Self

At some point in your life, you may have been told not to be so hard on yourself. 

And while that can be comforting to hear, it’s also extremely difficult to do. 

It is human nature to blame or second guess yourself when things don’t go as planned. It is also natural to be displeased with yourself now and again… whether it’s because of the way you look, act or feel. 

Now hear this! Nobody is perfect. 

But that does not mean we should stop striving for perfection. Perfection in the sense that we want to be our very best self… physically and emotionally. 

The best way to do that is to: 

  • Acknowledge any limitations
  • Refrain from being overly critical of yourself
  • Embrace your best qualities

Look, we are not all built the same. 

If you take the time to see yourself, really see yourself, then you will eventually become comfortable with who you are. 

With a little emotional self care, you’ll become aware of your mental and physical limitations. You’ll settle into a nice rhythm with yourself and accept that you simply cannot control everything. 

You can always work harder, but there will still be times when you’ll be forced to say, “This is who I am. I am doing my best.”.

If you accept the things you cannot change, you’ll free up your mind to work on those things that you can. 

Embrace your best self and watch it soar!  

Final Thoughts on Emotional Self Care

Emotional self care is about prioritizing your emotions. 

It is such an important part of living our best life… yet so many of us fail to master it. 

Why? Because we are so busy putting off the things that truly matter for the things that appear to matter. 

A good job. A place to live. A spouse or family. 

These are things that everybody wants… but there’s a catch. 

Dreams are only as strong as the person behind them. 

If you are optimistic, happy, outgoing, confident, kind and well-adjusted… if you believe that anything is possible and take care of yourself emotionally, it will happen. 

Everything you want can be yours if your mind is open to receiving it.  

And if you're looking for more self-care ideas, be sure to check out these blog posts:

Nicole Krause has been writing both personally and professionally for over 20 years. She holds a dual B.A. in English and Film Studies. Her work has appeared in some of the country’s top publications, major news outlets, online publications, and blogs. As a happily married (and extremely busy) mother of four… her articles primarily focus on parenting, marriage, family, finance, organization, and product reviews.

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