Little Things

54 Small, Nice Things To Do for Yourself

In order to be there for your family, you have to be there for yourself

by Fatherly Editors
Originally Published: 
Ariela Basson/Fatherly; Getty Images

Say it with us: In order to be there for your family, you have to be there for yourself. Now, we get that understanding this and executing this are two very different things. There aren’t always enough hours in the day. What’s more, carving out time for yourself can make it feel like you’re taking time away from your family. But, as someone probably said once, you can’t ride a bike with a flat tire. In other words, we’re all stressed and overwhelmed these days, but it’s not possible to be the person your kids and your partner need you to be if you’re not caring for yourself. Therefore, it’s important to spend a little time every day attending to your mental and physical health. Why? Simple: Finding — no, making — the time to go for a walk, work on a hobby, establish a better relationship with your phone, give yourself some joy, push yourself, or make yourself sweat can lead to a better, more available you.

So, with this in mind, is this list of 55 small, nice things to do for yourself. No, not everything on this list will appeal to you. Some of them will probably make you think, rightly, that we’re a bunch of weirdoes. But we hope there’s something on here that will help you be your best self for those who need you most.

55 Small, Nice Things To Do For Yourself

  1. Go for a walk in the most nature-y place you can find.
  2. Call a good friend who you haven’t spoken to in a while. Shoot the shit.
  3. Create a playlist of all the songs you loved when you were younger but haven’t heard in a while. Listen to them. Introduce them to your kids (if they’re appropriate)
  4. Maybe it’s the Navy SEAL breathing technique. Maybe it’s banging out as many push-ups as you can in 5 minutes. Whatever it is, develop a go-to method to help you unwind when you’re feeling angry or stressed out.
  5. Talk about your feelings with someone. No, don’t dump them on your spouse or kids. But be more open about your inner world.
  6. Take a minute and think about how you talk to yourself. Give yourself a lot of crap? Work on your inner dialogue. Self-compassion is crucial.
  7. Stretch for at least 20 minutes every morning. Breathe long and slow.
  8. Actually, take some stretch breaks during the day, too.
  9. Watch videos of dogs doing stupid dog stuff on the Internet or go do some stupid dog stuff with your own mutt
  10. Cry a little bit because screw it, shit’s hard and you deserve it
  11. Get some food you love — your favorite snack, sandwich, coffee, or treat — and savor it. Like, really focus on every sip and bite.
  12. Cancel a trivial social obligation that was low stakes but stressing you out.
  13. Sign up for a free trial of a service you’ve always wanted but never tried and set a reminder to cancel that shit before you pay.
  14. Learn to press “pause” during an argument if you feel yourself getting worked up. Tell the person you’re speaking to that you need a few minutes. Compose yourself. Return calmer.
  15. Go to an art gallery and just sit with the paintings and pictures for a bit.
  16. Take a power nap.
  17. Plant something in the yard. Or just get some cool houseplants. It’s amazing what seeing more green can do.
  18. Go to your car, shut the door, and freak out as loudly and wildly as you like.
  19. Write (by hand) the angriest letter you can to a person who is causing you the most stress. Take a deep breath. Throw it away.
  20. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt. Did the snap at you? Assume that they’re stressed and didn’t mean it. Forgive them.
  21. Spend at least 20 minutes in natural sunlight.
  22. Play like a kid, with your kids. Seriously. Have fun. Go all in on imagination. Take the journey. You’ll feel much better afterwards.
  23. At the end of each day, make a list of things for which you’re grateful. Positive affirmations might sound silly, but they’re incredibly helpful for changing your outlook.
  24. Go for a long drive. Turn the windows down. Blast the radio.
  25. That hinge that creaks? That busted screen? Fix them. These little nuisances add up. Addressing them make a big difference in your day to day.
  26. Rearrange a room where you spend a good deal of time. A lot of mental benefit comes from a little adjustment of the scenery — especially when it’s scenery you see often.
  27. Maybe it’s yoga. Maybe it’s dancing with the kids. Whatever you do, make a pact to move your body consistently for at least 25 minutes during the day. Get those endorphins flowing.
  28. Give your partner a hug from behind. Kiss them on the neck. Tell them you love them.
  29. Turn off push notifications on your phone. Why? The less you’re forced to look at something, the more you’ll intentionally look at the things you want to see and win back yourself from the pull of social media.
  30. Speaking of phones, don’t look at yours the first thing in the morning. Give yourself an hour. Wake up. Drink some coffee. Mediate. Whatever. Checking the news and Twitter can wait.
  31. Make a pact to read more good news. The Uplifting News subreddit is a nice place to start.
  32. Give yourself an hour of screen-free time a day.
  33. Unfollow ten accounts on social media that don’t bring you joy.
  34. Do you walk every day? Promise to take a different route than you normally do.
  35. Make out with your partner on the couch after the kids are asleep. Pretend you’re back in high school.
  36. Write an email — or send an actual letter — to a friend or family member just to check in and say hi.
  37. Seek the help you need but have been putting off. That is: sign up for that therapist, go to the doctor, make that dental appointment.
  38. Spend time in prayer or meditation.
  39. Sign up for those music lessons or the workout class you’ve been wanting to take.
  40. Also sign up for a class that seems difficult. Seek things that force you to learn and grow.
  41. Make a dumb error? Go easy on yourself. We all fuck up. Besides, shame is toxic.
  42. Dedicate ten minutes more a day to your hobby. Even if that means you’re only dedicating ten minutes, that’s a start.
  43. Don’t have a hobby? Make a commitment to find one. We all need creative outlets.
  44. Get rid of five pieces of clothing you don’t wear. Donate them.
  45. Try a new recipe.
  46. Pledge to drink more water.
  47. While you’re at it, eat more fruits and vegetables.
  48. Buy that random vegetable you always see at the grocery store but don’t know what it is. Learn how to prepare it.
  49. Prioritize a good wind-down routine at the end of the day to prepare your body for sleep.
  50. While we’re at it: prioritize good sleep in general.
  51. Have a friend who has a point of view you don’t agree with? Engage with them. Learn from one another.
  52. Add “Time to laugh” on your calendar. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? But spend this five- or ten-minute chunk of time telling jokes with your kids or watching videos that make you giggle. It does wonders for your state of mind.
  53. Hug your family.
  54. Forgive yourself. Pledge to do better next time.

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