Published: May 29, 2020

Photo of purple flowers in front of the Flatirons.

Self-care is a process and it may look different for everyone. Before you start or jump into a new self-care journey, it can be helpful to know where you’re at right now. Evaluating what you’re currently doing can help you identify the areas that may need a bit more attention. You can use this free self-care assessment tool to get a better view of your current routine and make adjustments. 

Remember that it’s important to set goals that are realistic and choose activities that you will enjoy long-term. When it comes to taking care of yourself, consistency is key. Focus on activities that you can participate in regularly. Even if you can’t commit a significant amount of time, a few minutes of self-care a day is better than none at all.

Here are some free self-care ideas to try. 

Emotional and Spiritual

Emotional self-care can help us effectively cope with life and create satisfying relationships. Spiritual wellness can help us cultivate a sense of purpose and meaning in life.

​ Journal. Journaling allows you to observe and explore your feelings, practice gratitude, clear your mind and get things off your chest. If you need help getting started, consider using a journaling prompt or check out this free COVID-19 anxiety workbook.

 Talk to someone. We all struggle sometimes, and it’s okay to ask for help. Whatever you’re feeling, it can be useful to talk through it with a loved one, like a friend or family member. You can also try e-Let’s Talk. This free and confidential service lets you meet with a counselor for an informal consultation online.

 Evaluate your social media habits. As we continue to practice social distancing, we may find ourselves on our phones and social media accounts more often. If this sounds familiar, take a moment to evaluate your social media habits. Unsure where to begin? Check out this article to get started: Stop scrolling: 4 things you should be doing on social.

 Join a workshop. Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) is offering a number of free workshops for students over the summer covering topics like anxiety, stress, mindfulness, sexuality, remote work and communication skills.

 Meditate. Meditation can be a great way to create a deeper connection with our inner self and relieve unwanted stress. If you are new to meditation, consider using a free meditation app like Calm. The Rec Center also has free guided meditations and intentions available online.

 Volunteer for a cause that’s important to you. Are you passionate about helping others? Consider getting involved through volunteering! The Volunteer Resource Center has a variety of opportunities to help you get involved in the community.


Physical self-care can help us address our basic needs for physical activity, healthy foods and adequate sleep.

 Stay active. Try a variety of activities to find something you enjoy and can see yourself doing long-term. The Rec Center has a number of free online resources to help you get started. 

 Eat nutritious meals and snacks. Set yourself up for a healthy summer by eating foods that fuel you. Nutrition Services offers free online nutrition assessments to help you evaluate your current eating habits. Need additional support? They also have telehealth appointments available.

 Create a nighttime routine. Set yourself up for success during the day by creating a relaxing nighttime routine that will help you get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Try to stick to a consistent sleep schedule and avoid disruptions by turning off your phone notifications.


Social self-care can help us to create a sense of connection, belonging and a meaningful support system. 

 Create a virtual club. Gather your friends (virtually) to enjoy hobbies together! Consider starting a book club, discussing your favorite TV shows, hosting gaming tournaments, sharing recipes or creating challenges. Whatever you and your friends are into, explore ways to enjoy those activities together virtually.

 Schedule a weekly chat. Schedule a weekly chat with friends or family to catch up. You can also try different activities to keep your calls fun and engaging. Consider doing a paint and sip at home or cook a meal together.

​ It’s okay to say no. While it’s important to stay connected and keep in touch, it can also feel overwhelming at times. Remember that you don’t have to say yes to every request for your time. Saying no to things can help us safeguard our time, conserve our energy and focus on things that we really want to do.


Financial self-care can help us feel satisfied and content with our current and future financial situations. 

 Create a budget. It can be hard to know where you stand financially if you’re not in tune with how you make and spend money. Take some time to review your finances, including your income, expenses and debts. Once you know how much money you have (income) and how much money you spend (expenses), you can work to create a budget that sets you up for success now and into the future. You can also use free online tools like Mint to help you set goals, track expenses and more.

 Set financial goals and milestones. Once you have a budget in place, think of some specific goals you’d like to set. For instance, maybe you’d like to save up for a trip with your friends once things return to normal or create an emergency fund. Consider how much money you would need and create a savings plan. Commit to saving some money towards your goal each month. Every little bit helps.

 Learn about personal finance. Finances can be tricky and there are a lot of terms that we may not be familiar with. However, there are a number of free resources online to help you make the most of your personal finances. Check out sites like MoneyCoach to watch free videos and quiz yourself. They cover topics like banking, credit cards, debt, loans, taxes, investments, insurance and more.

Occupational and Intellectual

Occupational self-care can help us feel satisfied in our career paths and our jobs. Intellectual self-care can help us recognize our creative abilities and find ways to expand upon our knowledge and skills.

 Explore your options. Sometimes it may feel like you are on a set career path or maybe you’re unsure about what you want to do in the future. Take this time to explore your options and see what feels right for you. ONET is a great website that can help you explore different career paths. You can also use their free assessment tools to find careers that match your interests, skills and values.

 Review your resume. Your resume is often the first impression you make when applying for internships, jobs and other positions. If it’s been a while since you reviewed or updated your resume, Career Services has tips for building the perfect resume. You can also make an appointment with a career counselor to go over your resume together and get expert advice.

 Discover your strengths. All CU Boulder students have free access to CliftonStrengths. This easy assessment can help you identify your unique strengths and find ways to utilize them in your academics, personal and professional development.

 Check out career webinars. COVID-19 has impacted many of our jobs and internships. Career Services has created a library of online resources including pre-recorded webinars and workshops to help address internships and jobs during these uncertain times. You can also join events and webinars hosted by employers through Handshake.

 Learn online. Did you know students have free access to LinkedIn Learning? Sign in with your identikey to explore courses in job negotiation, design, writing, public speaking and more.


Environmental self-care can help us create pleasant and stimulating environments that support our well-being. 

 Spend time outside. Getting outside is a great way to change your scenery, get some fresh air and feel more at ease. Commit to spending time outside each day for at least 30 minutes. Remember to practice social distancing, avoid crowded areas, wear a face covering, stay hydrated and use sunscreen (SPF 30+).

 Rearrange your space. Our spaces can impact us in a lot of ways. Refresh your space by rearranging the furniture, adding art or organizing things in a different way. Try out simple DIY projects at home or follow this quick guide for refreshing your space without spending a dime.

 Create a vision board. Vision boards are visual representations of the intentions and goals you want for your life. They can help inspire us, keep us grounded and remind us of what’s important. Create your own vision board by using photos, magazine clippings or other elements you have around the house. You can follow this 5-step vision board tutorial to get started. Once you’ve created your ideal vision board, hang it up in a place you’ll see it often!

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