I’ve got some hard truth for you: we are not refueling ourselves. 

It happens little by little, day by day, until we’re chronically tired, overwhelmed, burned out, and spiraling. 

If you’re having trouble relating to the articles about slapping on a face mask, and pouring yourself a glass of wine…you’re not alone. It’s time to learn which self-care ideas actually work to improve your mood and prevent burnout.

Plus, it’s important (now more than ever) to make sure that self-care isn’t just something you do when you’re feeling totally run down. It has to be a routine part of your life in order to make an impact.

Keep reading for exactly how to use radical self-care as your secret weapon to feel great and prevent burnout.

What is RADICAL self-care?

Here at Lifehack Method, we practice what we like to call Radical Self-Care. 

What is it, exactly? And how does it differ from every Buzzfeed article with self-care ideas? 

Radical self-care asks you to start taking better care of yourself long before burnout comes knocking at your door. It asks you to transition from defense to offense, and prevent burnout instead of having to recover from it. And it asks you to do MORE self-care than you think you need. Double it! Triple it! 

Here’s another hard truth: you can’t show up in excellence for anyone else until you start showing up in excellence for yourself. You have to fill up your own cup before you can pour over into anyone else’s. 

Showing up for yourself can be really hard. Many people (like moms) feel guilty about spending time on themselves. That’s because in our society self-care is viewed as a luxury, not a necessity… and that has GOT to change! The key to moving from defense to offense is reframing the idea of self-care in your mind as integral to your life.

My best advice for practicing Radical Self-Care is to go ALL IN. When you’re spending time on self-care, you can’t half-ass it! You deserve to be 100% present with yourself. 

If you want to be extremely productive and have extreme breakthroughs – you have to REST extremely too. 

8 ways to practice radical self-care

Practicing radical self-care doesn’t have to be difficult. 

Here are my 8 favorite ways to practice radical self-care.

8 ways to practice self care

I also talk through the concept of radical self-care here:

Prioritize your needs 

Too many people believe that prioritizing yourself is selfish. It’s not! It’s self-care.

Taking care of yourself first is the foundation for a thriving life, both physically and mentally.

Research shows that putting yourself first improves well-being, productivity, and self-esteem. It can also help prevent burnout by helping you find ways to navigate challenges and relationships more easily. 

Prioritizing your needs can involve anything, from journaling to going on a walk, reading, exercising, getting proper sleep, or spending time with friends. 

Understand the root of the problem

Practicing radical self-care only makes a difference when you address the root of the problem instead of just treating the symptoms.

Because when you understand why you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, burnt out, or tired, you can come up with more effective forms of radical self-care.

For example, let’s say you were constantly exhausted.

Sure, a nap might help, but that’s just a short-term fix.

But you’ll never feel rested if you don’t address the root cause – a lack of quality sleep.

So take a step back and ask yourself: What (or who) is draining my energy?

You can start to change your life for the better when you know.

If you’re struggling to find the root of your problem, start by considering the leading causes of “The Great Exhaustion:”

  • Unsustainable lifestyles
  • Uncontrollable stress
  • Financial stress

Set boundaries

A boundary is an invisible line that marks what is and isn’t acceptable in your interactions with others.

However, we have a hard time setting them – 58% of Americans can’t say no to others, especially Millennials and Gen Zers.

But if you don’t set boundaries, others will set them for you, and you’ll risk burnout, resentment, and strained relationships.

That’s why healthy boundaries are a win-win. They let you prioritize your well-being, have a better sense of control, and reduce your stress and anxiety.

They also create stronger relationships by preventing misunderstandings.

You can set a boundary for every aspect of your life, including work, health, family, and time.

Photo of a stop sign

Take charge of your life

Being in control of your own life is crucial.

Otherwise, you’ll struggle with motivation, problem-solving, and coping.

So, if you haven’t already, it’s time to take charge! 

Start by figuring out what matters most to you. What are your strengths, priorities, and goals?

Focus on and make choices based on them rather than external pressure.

That’s true for work, too. 

Delegate tasks that don’t leverage your strengths or align with your goals. You’ll free up your time and reduce stress.

And if your job is toxic? Don’t be afraid to leave it altogether.

Taking control of your life is self-care – and research shows that doing so enhances your happiness and well-being.

Have a support system

Having a group of people around you might not seem like an obvious form of radical self-care.

But a support system has a positive impact on your mental health, can help those who are at risk of depression, boost resilience, reduce stress, and even lengthen your life.

Now, building a support group means something different to everyone.

It might be made up of friends and family, mentors or coaches, or a therapist. Some people also turn to online communities.

Whatever yours looks like, make sure it’s a two-way street of trust, respect, and comfort.

Photo of hands

Make time to reflect

Reflection is a form of radical self-care because it lets you understand yourself better.

But it’s also a powerful jumping-off point for change.

Why?

Because it helps you set goals, track your progress, and make better decisions for yourself.

In fact, self-reflection has been found to lead to higher levels of life satisfaction and well-being and lower levels of stress.

Again, it’s a form of radical self-care that looks different for everyone. Some people try things like:

  • Meditation
  • Writing goals down
  • Spending time in nature

Whatever you choose, make sure to dedicate some time to it.

Avoid shaming yourself

Most of us have felt shame at one point or another. It’s an intense belief in our own flaws.

But it’s crucial for our well-being that we find ways to avoid it.

Shame leads to depression and anxiety. It’s also typically a root cause of things like addiction, eating disorders, and codependency.

And it can stem from anything, including family, friends, and society.

Finding ways to avoid self-shame is an incredible form of self-care.

Why?

Because it allows us to foster self-compassion, enhance our sense of self, reduce our stress and anxiety, and find ways to grow.

To avoid shaming yourself, try fighting negative self-talk, practicing self-acceptance, and focusing on growth.

Define your own self-care 

Self-care isn’t one-size-fits-all – it’s about recognizing what keeps you healthy mentally, physically, socially, and spiritually.

For some people, it might be reducing stress, enhancing connection, or focusing on your health.

Once you’ve figured out what you need, explore the activities that resonate with you.

It’s crucial that you prioritize them.

Regularly practicing radical self-care creates a healthier mindset, lowers stress levels, and enhances well-being. 

And if you don’t prioritize it, you run the risk of burnout, anxiety, hopelessness, physical ailments like headaches or stomach aches, insomnia, and more.

Do you need some inspiration for practicing radical self-care in your life? 

Then keep reading, because I’ll give you some ideas next!

Ideas for more self-care in your daily life

While I am about to share several radical self-care ideas, it’s important to note that this is going to look different for everyone.

I think people get caught up in the idea that integrating self-care into their lives means they have to drop everything and meditate for 3 hours every morning. When in reality, effective, sustainable self-care is a bunch of small actions done routinely everyday – regardless of what’s going on in your life. 

It needs to be built into your schedule. It can’t be something you occasionally squeeze in after a long day at the office if you’re feeling sad or stressed. And it can’t be viewed as a “reward” for hard work (ex: “I’ve had the worst day at the office, I deserve to do some self-care tonight!”). 

Forming healthy habits around self-care means making it non-optional. Block it off in your schedule like it’s a meeting – and protect that time block with the same vigor you would a doctor’s appointment.

In the same vein, radical self care should be structured. Scrolling through social media mindlessly for an hour isn’t going to make you feel rejuvenated. It’s just going to make you feel tired (and probably more sad or stressed). Your self-care ideas should be activity-based. 

And remember – to form a solid habit, start small. You either have to replace a current habit you have, or chain your new habit after an existing cue. Creating self-care habits is no exception to this rule. Start incredibly small. 

Here are a few ideas you can start with (brought to you by our awesome community): 

Visual with 5 self care routines
  • 5 deep breaths in the shower. Simple, powerful, a great jumping-off point for anyone who feels like they’ve got no time in their day for self-care!
  • Movement. Stretching, a light workout, yoga, hiking, etc. Setting a time daily, weekly, or monthly to practice the movement you love most! 
  • An “unfollow spree.” Boy-oh-boy is this satisfying. Take an afternoon to methodically go through your friends list on every social media platform you’re present on and unfollow the profiles that make you feel negative in any way shape or form. (If it’s a family member you’d rather not cause waves with by unfollowing, use that beautiful little “mute” button that pretty much every platform has!
  • Read an enriching book. A lot of members of our community suggest fiction in particular, because it creates space for creativity.
  • Learn a new skill. Bonus points if it’s tactile – like painting, drawing, calligraphy, or playing an instrument.
  • Practice positive self-talk. Talk yourself up the way you would your best friend. Do it in the mirror for 1 solid minute every morning. It might feel weird at first, but MAN is this one powerful. (This is a suggestion from Michele, a Lifehacker in our community!)
  • Schedule regular spa treatments. This might sound indulgent – it’s actually incredibly restorative. The most common example is a massage! But float therapy, acupuncture, manicure/pedicures all count too. You’re worth the money and the luxury, trust us. Bonus points for scheduling recurring appointments.
  • Take a walk at the end of your work day. Use it as a signal that you’re switching from “work mode” to “chill mode.” 
  • Get up before others in your household. (Like an hour or two before anyone else in your household.) Use this as “solitude time” to reflect, sip coffee, read, meditate. No screens!
  • Go on a trip alone. Take a weekend trip a couple hours away. Bring lots of books, your favorite blanket and pajamas, and double down on spending quality time with yourself.
  • And lastly, SLEEP! This is a big one. So many people in our community mentioned sleep as their #1 self-care hack. (We’ll talk more about sleep in just a bit)

Self-care resources

Whether you’re new to the practice of self-care or are a seasoned vet… it’s time to get RADICAL!

Think of this article as a jumping-off point – transitioning from defense to offense is going to take some work. But it is SO worth it.  

We wanted to leave you with some of our favorite self-care resources. If we left your favorite off of this list, let us know in the comments and we’ll add yours!

Headspace meditation app
Calm meditation app
Balance meditation app (a suggestion from a Lifehacker in the community – thanks Brent!)
Betterhelp talk therapy
Talkspace talk therapy
Yoga For Beginners workout app
An article all about the best sleep trackers on the market
Oura ring sleep/health tracker
Fitbit sleep/health tracker

What’s next? 

There you have it! Those are our top radical self-care ideas.

What it comes down to is creating healthy habits you integrate into your daily life.

If you want help, take a look at Lifehack Tribe.

Our program gives you the accountability you need to supercharge your productivity and fight burnout. 

Read more here!

Demir & Carey Bentley

Demir and Carey Bentley are the founders of Lifehack Method, WSJ & USA Today bestselling authors, and executive productivity coaches. They've helped thousands of people avoid burnout and soar to their highest level of productivity. Read more about them here.