Self-Care Vision Boards
Can a self-care vision board totally change your life?
by Alicia Butler, October 25, 2022
When vision boards first became a “thing” after the movie The Secret was released in 2006, I was all in.
You can manifest sh*t just by thinking about it? What kind of sorcery is this?
I spent a lot of lunch breaks at work scouring photos in magazines, trying to find visual representations of my deepest desires. To be honest, I was way more into doing a craft than I was the stuff I added to my vision boards.
And at some point, these vision boards ended up in the recycle bin or the back of a closet (though a lot of stuff on those boards did “come true”).
Though I do still love a good crafternoon, my vision boarding has taken a turn. I now use this activity as a form of mindfulness and self-introspection. Instead of making a self-care vision board to “manifest” what I want more of, I use it as a tool for savoring, gratitude, and active hope.
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What is a vision board?
Vision boards are visual reminders of what you want more of in your life.
Some people consider them manifestation tools. I’m not sure where I land on the manifestation/mindfulness spectrum. All I know is that they work, and I don’t really care how they work.
Plus, vision boards are fun, both to make and to look at. I actually use them more for savoring than manifesting.
What is savoring you ask? It’s a tool to remind you of your favorite things. Like the song in The Sound of Music, these lists of favorite things can help boost your mood and remind you of the good things in life — especially if you’re havin’ a no bones day or a period of languishing.
What is a self-care vision board?
Because I need visual reminders for every area of my life, I create different digital vision boards.
Each board reminds me of what I’m looking forward to, what I’m striving toward, and what I already have.
A self-care vision board is any board that helps you maintain a healthy relationship with your mental health, physical health, and spiritual health goals.
Do vision boards work?
If you write “$10 million” on a vision board, will you get $10 million in your bank account? I really don’t know. Does seeing the word “$10 million” on a board make you feel excited about all the things you’ll do with that money?
Or, is it an irrelevant number? Does it make you feel bad that you don’t have $10 in your bank account, never mind $10 million?
On a personal level, I feel for a vision board to be truly successful, it needs to make you feel something you want to feel or make you inspired to feel something.
But there’s also some research to back up vision boards and other visualization techniques.
Digital Vision Boards or Paper?
When it comes to vision boards, there are two roads to travel: digital or paper. Which is the “better” option? Let’s find out!
Paper Vision Boards
Back when vision boarding originally became a thing, I was making vision boards from old-fashioned magazine cutouts. (Okay, I wasn’t using “old-fashioned” magazines, but using paper magazines feels a little old-fashioned now, no?)
There’s something really satisfying about cutting out pictures from magazines and pasting them to a board.
Yet, there’s also something about that whole process that makes you feel like a serial killer, cutting out letters to make a ransom note. Yes, I just mixed my metaphors there — but why do serial killers and kidnappers use magazine cutouts?
But finding just the “right” pictures in magazines can be tricky. And so can cramming an hours-long art project into my already tight schedule.
That’s when I discovered digital vision boards.
Not only can you copy, paste, and download the exact photos you want to include in your vision board, but you can take that vision board with you wherever you go (without looking like a weirdo).
Digital Vision Boards
With digital vision boards, you can create your own self-care vision board collage and include the exact photos you want. No longer are you at the hands of magazine editors to decide what you want to manifest in your life.
I use collage apps, like Canva or Photoshop Express to make my collages. I just choose the photos I want, upload them to a collage board in one of the above apps, and boom. I’ve got myself a digital self-care vision board.
3 Self-Care Vision Board Tips
1. Start With a List
Not sure where to start with your self-care vision board? Start with a list!
Get a pen and paper and just start free-writing about any topic (see some ideas for topics below).
2. Add Don’t Subtract
Instead of focusing on what you don’t want, focus on what you do.
Want to travel more? Pick a few destinations and add them to your board. Want to simplify your life a little? Add a few organizational tools to your board. Want more joy in your life? Choose pictures of what already brings you joy and add them.
3. Ask Yourself Why
A lot of times I want sh*t without even knowing why. Sometimes it’s stuff; other times it’s the idea of people or things in my life.
I remember when I was in my early 20s, my best friend really wanted a boyfriend. She didn’t know why. She didn’t have a crush on anyone or really any idea of anyone she wanted to date. She was just desperate for a boyfriend.
If I’d asked her why at the time, I feel her answers would have been emotional stability, routine sex, and self-validation.
When we think about the things we want, we want to get to the bottom of why we want them. Because the boyfriend isn’t the thing. The boyfriend is just an icon of it.
Anyway, it would really suck to get a boyfriend only to realize he didn’t bring you emotional stability or good sex.
3 Self-Care Vision Board Ideas
1. Self-Care Mantras
Sometimes it’s easy to forget how we feel about ourselves.
I for one think I’m kind of an awesome person who’s funny and kind and self-inquisitive.
We’re so used to telling our friends and family members what we love about them. Reminding myself about what I love about me needs to be a daily habit, too. Even if I don’t totally feel that way.
Because we sometimes need to talk the talk before we can walk the walk (i.e. act in a certain way before we actually believe it), adding a self-care mantra to a vision board can set us up for self-love success.
2. Favorite Things
One of my — hands down — favorite things to add to any vision board is photos of my favorite things.
These things could be places I’ve visited, photos of my favorite days, my best friends, funny quotes, anything really that makes me happy to look at.
3. Personal Goals
Because we use self-care vision boards to remind us of our personal self-care goals, we can also add those to any board.
Running three miles (or one mile), doing something physical every day, making dinner one night a week, spending more time playing with the dog, or reading a good book (like This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub or Imposter Syndrome by Kathy Wang) are all great items to add to any self-care vision board.
I also like to add reminders to myself of how I feel when I accomplish a task.
Will I like my new book or want to throw it at the wall? Will I be so bored in the two minutes it takes to brush my teeth that I suddenly cease to exist? Will I actually die from exhaustion on my 30-minute walk?
Starting tasks really sucks for me. But the feeling I get when I finish them (books that reach into my soul and rip out my heart, the wonderful feeling of clean teeth, and an endorphin boost after my walk), is reminder enough to start them.
I add all these types of goals to my self-care vision boards (yes, I have several).
This type of project is sort of a reminder to myself that there are things that I love and care about in this world and that I’m not randomly doing stuff just to check it off a list.