We all have a different version of self-care. For some, exercising does the trick. Others need a nice relaxing bath. Watching Netflix at the end of a long day never hurts. But, one thing I have always found beneficial for self-care is journaling. It may be because I am a writer at heart. However, journaling can be tailored to exactly what we need at any given time.
If you are looking for new ways to implement self-care, I recommend trying some form of writing. Journaling is great for self-reflection, planning, and putting life in perspective.
Usually, at the end of each day, I take the time to reflect through journaling. I just write what I am feeling at that point. Sometimes I add a creative spin to it. I keep a journal specifically for this freeform type of writing. I try to write at least a page a day even when I am struggling to think of something. It usually helps me to confront the things that have been on my mind but have not yet acknowledged. If you are on the creative side and need to get some thoughts on paper, I would recommend this type of journaling.
Journaling can also help to boost your self-esteem. Sometimes, I struggle to find any positivity or optimism in life. Lately, to remedy that I started keeping a positivity journal. At the end of each day, I write down at least one positive thing from that day. It may be an accomplishment or an interaction that I had during the day. The positivity does not have to be life-shattering. It can be anything from "I took care of myself today by watching Netflix and relaxing" to "I finally wrote that essay I have been putting off."
To make the journal extra encouraging, I write in a different color sharpie pen each day. If I write more than one positive thing in a day, I change colors for each positive item on my list. By the time I fill a couple pages, I have a rainbow of positivity in the journal. It helps me to realize that even if I had a boring or unproductive day, there is still something to be happy about.
For those of us who follow a religion, I sometimes incorporate journaling into worship. If I am having an especially tough day, I will take out my Bible and read a couple pages. Then, I write down lines or verses that stuck out to me to reaffirm them in my mind. I write a couple of paragraphs about what they mean to me to reflect on where I am in my life and how that relates to what I am reading in the bible. I find that this type of journaling is super beneficial for touching base on my faith when I need it the most.
If reflective journaling is not appealing to you, bullet journaling is another option. I use bullet journaling to plan and organize my schedule on a daily basis. I use it to keep track of appointments, my class schedule, and meetings. It also helps me to keep track of how I am spending my time. I use different colors for different things such as homework that I need to get done or lunch dates with friends. If I see too much of one color, it tells me that maybe I am spending a little too much time on homework and not enough time relaxing or socializing.
Bullet journaling is also helpful for keeping track of habits, spending, books you may want to read. On one page, you can list out a couple habits you would like to work on. Then, you can put a check next to each day you complete the habit. For example, if you write you would like to exercise each day, you would put a check mark for every day during the month you exercise. Similarly, you could devote a page to keeping track of your monthly budget. I also like to keep a page or two to list out the types of books or movies I want to read during the semester (which also helps to remind me to take some time for myself).
If none of these types of journaling sound appealing, take a minute to think about what you need in your life. If you want to be creative and do not really like self-reflection, you can try writing a short story once a week or once a month. Try looking up prompts on what to write about online. Or, it is always fun to write a blog about your life to share with friends and family. Maybe try making a couple lists like a bucket list or a list of places you want to travel to. Write letters to friends and family. Anything involving a pen and paper can be cathartic.
Also, journaling is not for everybody. If you hate writing, then journaling is probably not the best way for you to de-stress. There are thousands of other ways for self-care.