July 24 is International Self-Care Day! This annual celebration is an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of self-care around the globe, promote self-care in your organizations or communities, and of course, take good care of yourself, as well.
The date of International Self-Care Day can be written as 7/24 — a subtle reference to the idea that self-care should be performed seven days per week, 24 hours per day.
Although self-care has become a widely used (and let’s be honest, misused) vocabulary word, it has meaningful roots in the 1950s Civil Rights Movement, as Black activists and organizers integrated the term into their movements.
As we acknowledge the history of self-care, we can also see what it has become: A personal practice for everyone to proactively prioritize their minds, bodies, and spirits in the ways that serve them best.
And what better excuse for prioritizing ourselves than International Self-Care Day? Read on for some more information about this global holiday and some ideas for how you can best honor and care for yourself, too.
5 Facts About International Self-Care Day
- International Self-Care Day was developed by the International Self-Care Foundation in 2011.
- International Self-Care Day is on July 24 to represent the benefits of self-care experienced 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Part of the call to action of International Self-Care Day is to encourage organizations and workplaces to see self-care as a public health matter — and implement programs that make self-care more accessible.
- The National Institute of Mental Health defines self-care as “taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical and mental health.”
- The U.S. Senate designated July 24 as International Self-Care Day in 2014.
While it’s important to learn more about and prioritize our self-care every single day, it’s helpful to have somewhere to start. We’ve created a guide on how to celebrate International Self-Care Day this year.
By the way, some of the links in this article (like books!) are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!
Activities and Ideas: How To Recognize International Self-Care Day
Learn what self-care is.
But self-care goes beyond a bubble bath or face mask (though, those are still great sometimes!). Like the National Institute of Mental Health says, self-care is basically anything you do to improve your mental or physical health.
So, while self-care might feel like (and can be) enjoying a decadent dessert or painting your nails while watching a rom-com, it also consists of things like getting enough sleep, being able to visit a doctor when you need to, keeping your home functional, and more.
That’s the difference between reactive and proactive self-care: doing things that feel good in the moment and doing things that help you feel good more often.
Both are great ways to boost your mental health, and it’s up to you (and your community) to build a self-care routine that best serves you.
Read books about self-care.
We get it: Self-help books can be difficult to navigate. There are so many out there and only some that contain real nuggets of wisdom and support. So here are a few we’d really recommend to help you on your self-care journey!
- “How To Keep House While Drowning: A Gentle Approach to Cleaning & Organizing” by KC Davis (Bookshop) (Amazon)
- “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle” by Emily & Amelia Nagoski (Bookshop) (Amazon)
- “Kaizen: The Japanese Secret to Lasting Change - Small Steps to Big Goals” by Sarah Harvey (Bookshop) (Amazon)
- “You Are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilience, and the Black Experience” edited by Tarana Burke and Brene Brown (Bookshop) (Amazon)
- “The Comfort Book” by Matt Haig (Bookshop) (Amazon)
- “Toxic Positivity: Keeping it Real in a World Obsessed with Being Happy” by Whitney Goodman (Bookshop) (Amazon)
- “The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde” by Audre Lorde (Bookshop) (Amazon)
Download self-care apps.
Sometimes, self-care means going screen-free. Other times, it means creatively combining technology with our daily lives to make us feel more balanced and grounded.
Lucky for us, there are loads of self-care apps out there that can actually help us slow down, create meaningful habits, and feel good.
Read quotes about self-care.
Oftentimes, the experts can explain it better than we lay people ever can. Read through some self-care quotes to define your own practice, consider the importance of self-care, and more.
This one’s the biggest “duh” out there, but there is truly no better excuse for practicing some self-care than a date on the calendar reserved for that very act.
One of the more exciting things about self-care is that it’s truly so personal and unique to every individual. Take some time thinking about what activities or interventions might best serve you today.
We’ll get you started with a list of over 100 self-care ideas — you’re welcome.
Encourage your organization or public health department to prioritize self-care programming.
Self-care is a huge component of both mental and physical health, but it can still be stigmatized as a frivolous or unnecessary thing.
If your workplace or organization is committed to equitable and accessible programs and policies, consider having a conversation about self-care.
This could look like improved paid time off for mental health or self-care needs, in-office accommodations like a relaxation room, flexibility in scheduling medical appointments, and more.
Your local health department may also get involved in these types of initiatives, creating campaigns for local companies or organizations to improve their self-care policies and programming.
Make a “Self-Care Promise.”
The Global Self-Care Federation is encouraging folks to sign a “self-care promise” as a way to take action on International Self-Care Day.
The campaign is a small and simple act where users can go online and submit a brief sentence promising the ways they will prioritize self-care.
By making a commitment to self-care, users shine a spotlight on self-care as a vital foundation of health.
Build a self-care kit.
If you live with a mental health condition, you might already be familiar with the idea of a self-care kit.
A self-care kit is a pre-curated collection of items that make it easier to practice self-care during a difficult time, like relaxation tools, medications, sensory aids, hygiene items, and more.
By putting all of these resources in one easy-to-access place, you make it easier for future you to access coping skills and resources that can guide and ground you in a time of stress, anxiety, or executive dysfunction.
Consider it an IRL toolbox for your day-to-day fluctuations in mental health and energy.
Buy someone a self-care gift.
Surely there’s someone in your life who could use a kind gift to help them practice self-care. Fortunately, Good Good Good has worked to curate a helpful list of ideas for self-care gifts. (You might even choose to buy an item or two for yourself!)
Practice self-care affirmations.
Positive affirmations might seem corny at first, but they really can make a huge difference.
Try implementing these affirmations into your daily routine. Maybe you write them on a sticky note to keep near your laptop, repeat them in the mirror, or write them in a journal before bed.
Not sure what affirmations to start with? Here are over 50 self-care affirmations to get you off on the right foot.
Start a self-care journaling practice.
Just like affirmations, journaling is a great self-care tool. Keeping a regular journaling routine — like, say, the morning pages — is an excellent way to manage anxiety, reduce stress, and even cope with depression.
Sometimes, it can be hard to get the thoughts to flow, though, so guided self-care journals (or planners!) can be the perfect option for someone looking for a little more support.
Help someone else so they can prioritize their own self-care.
It might sound like the opposite of “self” care, but helping someone out can truly make a difference in both your life and theirs.
Researchers agree that acts of kindness bring a boost of all those good brain chemicals and improve our empathy levels — and might even be contagious!
While random acts of kindness help us feel better, they obviously also make someone else’s life easier. Just think: What can you do for someone in your life that would make it easier for them to take care of themselves?
Can you help them plan a grocery list for their meals that week? Maybe you can come with them to drop off that box of clothes at the donation center they’ve had in their car for weeks.
Sometimes hurdles to self-care can be knocked down with the simple support of someone who wants us to feel our best.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a National Self-Care Month?
In America, September is Self-Care Awareness Month. It was first recognized in 2017. However, the World Health Organization recognizes June 24–July 24 as Self-Care Month, culminating in International Self-Care Day on July 24.
When is National Self-Care Day?
In America, National Self-Care Day is on April 5. The holiday was created to remind people to take a break and put themselves first. The holiday became the first of its kind when Chicago-based development coach Laura Schwartz created it in 2010.
How to do a proper self-care day?
Taking a day to devote to self-care looks different for everyone! Some may want to have a spa day, relax through yoga and meditation, or even take a nap. Others might see this time as an opportunity to tidy up, take care of pesky appointments, or hit the gym.
What is the theme of International Self-Care Day?
According to PACE Hospitals, the 2023 theme of International Self-Care Day is “resilience, adaptability, and thriving in adversity.” This theme calls for worldwide resilience, which helps folks manage stress and cope with negative events and emotions to maintain their whole-person health.