40 Self Care Weekend Ideas to Destress and Relax

After a difficult week, it’s important to prioritize your health and wellbeing. Planning a self care weekend with these ideas might be exactly what you need to destress your body and completely relax.

If you enjoy all things self care, there are more ideas in my self care menu.

40 self care weekend ideas text overlay on a photo of a candle, bunch of lavender and a sleeping mask on light pink satin fabric

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Purpose of a self care weekend

What are you missing? Figuring out what you need is the first step to planning a self care weekend. For instance, if you’re not getting enough sleep, a quiet, restful weekend with lots of naps might be the best way to help your body.

Ask yourself:

  • how am I feeling?
  • what have I been neglecting when it comes to physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing?
  • what can I do to make myself feel better?
  • when last did I feel pure joy and happiness?
  • what makes me smile the most?
  • how long has it been since I’ve done those things?

These answers can guide you on planning the best self care weekend to meet your needs.

Self care weekend ideas

I’ll be exploring some ideas based on the purpose and what you feel you’re missing.

1. Sleep

Missing sleep? Then, prioritize rest for the weekend. The CDC recommends 7 or more hours of good quality sleep daily as poor sleep quality is linked to higher risk for diabetes, heart disease, anxiety and depression.

Napping is great for a self care weekend at home. You can also take it a step further and create a sleep routine and environment that will guarantee you’ll have quality shut eye anytime. Avoiding large meals, coffee, and electronics before bed along with having a cool, quiet, dark room are ideal.

2. Activate your parasympathetic nervous system

Feeling stressed? Then, engage your parasympathetic nervous system which controls your body’s rest, digest and relax state (versus the sympathetic nervous system which controls the body’s fight or flight response).

There are a ton of ways to do this:

Exhale longer: inhaling causes the sympathetic nervous system to dominate, while exhaling activates the parasympathetic system. In this 2021 study, participants did a 5-minute deep and slow breathing exercise by inhaling for 4 seconds and exhaling for 6 seconds. They saw their heart rate and anxiety decrease.

Meditate: many studies including this 2021 one suggest meditation can improve happiness and reduce anxiety and blood pressure.

Try mind-body disciplines: like yoga, Qigong, Tai chi and light exercise. Deep breathing while doing gentle, rhythmic movements have been shown to activate the rest-relax state. This 2019 study gets into more details on this. I love following along with this Qi gong video:

Get a massage: this 2015 study showed even a short massage could active higher parasympathetic nervous system activity. This 2009 one found massages using moderate pressure are better.

Smelling your favorite scents: smelling fresh flowers like roses cause significant increases in parasympathetic nervous activity, according to this 2014 study. Essential oils like lavender can also have similar effects.

3. Nurture your relationships

Missing your loved ones? Then, make plans to get together with your friends, family and community.

Social relationships have been shown to affect mental and physical health. This 2011 Texan study shows lots of good quality social ties are linked to less stress, better immunity, lower blood pressure and even lower risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

So, a great self care weekend can look like:

  • having brunch with friends
  • visiting family
  • hosting a small party
  • attending a concert, show or game
  • going to church (or your preferred place of worship)
  • volunteering for a great cause
  • joining a new club
  • signing up for a new class
  • finding a nearby trivia or game night
  • signing into a fun, interactive livestream, zoom call, or game

4. Adventure and getaway

Missing newness? Getting away for the weekend or going on a fun adventure might be exactly what you need.

Adventure, especially in group settings, has been linked to increased self esteem and social skills, according to this 1995 study. This 2022 study noted being in nature can improve mood, depression, anxiety, and mood.

So, get out there and have new experiences. Here are some activities to try:

  • plan a fancy girlfriends getaway or a romantic trip for two
  • take a road trip or solo travel
  • attend a wellness retreat
  • go camping
  • have fun bird watching
  • try hiking or biking
  • consider forest bathing – this involves spending time in a forested area (or natural environment) and being fully immersed, present, and mindful of the senses. There are studies like this 2022 one that showed forest bathing decreased feelings of stress and increased mental wellbeing.
  • enjoy star gazing
  • visit the beach
  • explore snorkeling and diving
self care weekend idea: enjoy star gazing text overlay on a photo of a waterway with the stars

5. Get creative

Feeling stuck? Get your creative juices flowing by making something wonderful with your hands.

Creating art is widely seen as therapeutic, healing, and almost a spiritual experience. Art therapy, according to this 2022 Indian study, has been found to help users express freely, and improve their mental health and relationships.

Art and creative expression can take on many forms. You can try:

  • going out dancing
  • writing and playing music
  • singing
  • drawing
  • painting
  • crafting
  • taking an improv class
  • cooking
  • baking
  • photographing the world around you
self care weekend idea: try photography text overlay on a photo of a phone taking a night photo of the street

6. Get mental clarity

Feeling confused? Take a step back, detach and think about your situation and what you need to do to achieve clarity. This may be tough to do during your self care weekend, but it can give you a new perspective, direction and even plan of action on how to deal with life’s challenges.

Here are a couple ways to get clarity:

Journaling: writing about your feelings and actively working on thought experiments can bring so much clarity and reduce stress. This 2017 study also found gratitude journaling activated the parasympathetic nervous system and reduced inflammatory biomarkers. There are tons of gratitude journals on Amazon to get you started on this habit.

Staying off social media: the constant flood of information, images, and videos from social media can have negative effects on your mental and overall wellbeing. Going on a social media or phone detox may be a great idea for a self care weekend at home.

Talking to someone: discussing a situation with someone you trust, who gives you a safe space to talk, vent and brainstorm, will certainly help you get clarity and perspective. Family, friends, a mentor, therapist, or even well meaning strangers can help.

Schedule a doctor’s visit: going in for a routine medical checkup and having a conversation with your doctor about how you’re feeling mentally and physically can bring some much needed answers that may not be solved by one or two self care weekends.

That’s it! Just a few self care weekend ideas to try whether you’re home or planning a fun adventure and getaway. If you enjoy self care content, then you’ll want to check out these self care quotes and affirmations.

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self care weekend ideas infographic

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