25 Self Care Activities for When You Don’t Have a Lot of Time
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Let’s just get it out of the way: It’s safe to say that we all appreciate self-care and understand the benefits of incorporating caring practices and routines into our schedules to better ourselves, to recharge us, and to live overall happier, more balanced lives.
Sometimes, though, we really don’t have time to leave the office to go for a walk, or to take some peaceful time in your room for a thirty minute meditate while a fussy toddler bangs on the door, or the teenager who doesn't yet have a driver's license needs to go to yet another activity, or your significant other is asking “What's for dinner?”.
We get it-- stealing time away for personal, calming practices can be difficult! But learning quick, grounding self-care techniques can still do wonders for your mind and health even if you don’t have loads of time to devote to them.
Read on to check out our favorite self-care activities for those days when you just don’t have a lot of time!
Self Care Activities for Women Who Don't Have a Lot of Time
1. Read a quick morning meditation or an interactive mindfulness book. Start your day by reading something short and inspirational. Even if it’s just a quick paragraph, these books can help get you into a calm and prepared mindset to take on the day ahead.
2. Listen to a motivating podcast on the way to work. There are tons of different calming and meditation-focused podcasts you can listen to while you’re going about your day. We suggest popping one on during your morning commute, so you feel clear-headed and calm when the rush of the day begins.
3. Listen to a favorite playlist of songs while you’re out running errands. Music often soothes us and moves us in ways nothing else can.
4. Try aromatherapy! I know. It sounds trite, but really, don't knock it 'til you've tried it. I was not a believer, but my sister “the health nut” finally convinced me to try it, and I'm telling you...aromatherapy works! Use essential oilsessential oils rubbed onto your temples or other pressure points, or spray some onto your pillow before sleeping. Aromatherapy soothes both mentally and physically and is a great form of therapy that’s easy to incorporate into the everyday.
5. Do a 3-5 minute breathing-focused meditation. Count your breaths and listen to the way they enter and exit your body. For help, use this short breathing meditation exercise. You'll be surprised how in just a few short minutes, you can feel refreshed, better, calm.
6. Repeat a mantra you’ve created for yourself that helps to calm and motivate you and remind you that you’re doing great. A study done by Brain Behavior showed that silently repeating a mantra to yourself quiets the system responsible for your mind wandering into negative and distracting places.
7. Follow soothing accounts on social media. Maybe you love puppy photos or maybe nature photos remove you from a negative headspace. Follow an account and immerse yourself in images that relax you when you need a break.
8. If you have children (or grandchildren), engage with them for a few minutes during your busy day when you're doing it not as a “have to”, but because you want to. We don’t mean entertain them for 30 minutes, but take a few moments to talk to them, focus on them or hold them. Spending time with young children can give you a refreshing perspective and a much needed pause from “adulting”.
9. Write a quick note of encouragement to yourself. Whether you're cheerleading, reminding yourself why you work so hard, or just leaving a note of inspiration for those days when you need a little extra, do this for yourself. Stick the note somewhere visible like the bathroom mirror or car dashboard for a little message of motivation.
10. Do a short stretching routine every day. It can take just a few minutes, if you don't have a lot of time, to do some stretches. There are simple stretches you can incorporate into your schedule each day, and you can still do them even if you’re sitting at a work desk!
11. Ask a friend or loved one to text you something nice every once in while. Okay, this one is admittedly a little dorky, but part of getting comfortable with self-care is first knowing what makes you feel cared for, and secondly feeling the necessary confidence to incorporate that practice into your life.
So, if words of encouragement from others make you feel emotionally cared for, take a leap and ask someone that knows you well (like your sister or your best friend) to text a “pick me up” message every once in a while.
12. Take time to compliment and appreciate someone else. You know how it feels good to receive compliments? Try giving one to someone else to spread that same joy. (I started doing this several years ago, and was amazed at how good it made me feel to help make someone else's day!)
13. Phone a friend. Get your bestie or a funny family member on speed dial and give them a ring whenever you have a moment. Even short phone calls with friends to say hello and share what's going on in their lives can radically turn a bummer of a day into a happier one!
14. Outsource when you need to! Does this sound familiar? “I’m a woman and I can do it all and have it all and blah blah blah blah…” NO! When did we start giving in to societal pressures (and the bunch of crap) that says we're able to make everything effortlessly happen, every single day? It’s not healthy, it's not realistic and it’s certainly not aligned with self-care.
Learn to be okay with outsourcing some tasks when you need to. Hire someone to walk your dog instead of rushing home to do it yourself. Have healthy meals delivered to your door a few times a week, so that when you get home, you can focus on your family rather than another task or chore you have to do.
If you're a stay-at-home mom, ask a relative or friend to watch the kids a few times a month to give you (or you and your significant other) some down time, much-needed alone time or time away from your home.
15. Drink More Water and eat more water-filled foods. I know you've heard this before. But we all know how beneficial drinking water is, and making a conscious decision to intake the right amount of water each day can be a game changer for your body and mood. (Did you know that the average body is 50 - 60% water?) (Source)
16. Bring mindfulness to the mundane. Practice being in the present moment even during tasks and activities that aren’t particularly enjoyable. Take a moment to listen to the sounds around you even while you’re doing the dishes, the laundry, or cooking dinner to bring a sense of peace and calm.
17. Start a list of things you’re thankful for. Take a moment to write down things in your life that bring you gratitude. Add to this list whenever you think about it, and read through the list when things get overwhelming.
18. Play soothing sounds on your phone. Whether you're sitting at your work desk, traveling by plane or walking through the subway station, add a sense of calm and relaxation to your day by listening to soothing sounds. You'll find an abundance of soothing sound apps on Google Play.
19. Take care of something. This might mean taking a few moments to enjoy cuddling with your dog, running an errand to help out a friend who's pressed for time, or checking in on an elderly neighbor who may not get out much or have regular visitors. Taking care of other's helps you to shift your focus from self to others. In so doing, it helps to relax your thoughts, rest your mind and temporarily switch your attention elsewhere, which surprisingly can help you to take care of yourself.
20. Decorate your space! Try to make the environment within which you spend much of your time everyday one that is pleasing, inviting, restful and calming. If you sit at an office desk all day, hang up photos that are appealing or inspiring - a place you really want to visit, a photo of your family, a night out with your best friends. Taking a moment to look at these images can help to recenter and calm you during hectic days.
21. Take a different route to work. Try mixing up your routine by taking a different route to get to work or places that you visit on a consistent basis. The transitions and resulting novelties will open up a fresh perspective on a task that can get boring quickly. But more importantly, it will train you to look at things in new ways, and to be more accepting of and adept at change.
22. Go to bed 15 - 30 minutes earlier than you normally would. It doesn’t matter what you do during those minutes, simply having them is where the self-care part comes in. Read a book, write in your journal, close your eyes and take in the peace and quiet, say a prayer - just take some time to do whatever you like to bring you to a place of peace and calm before drifting off to sleep. You'll feel better, you'll rest better.
23. Practice your posture. One of the most overlooked elements of physical care is how we carry ourselves. Much of our mood is affected by our posture, so make an effort to sit up straight (like your mom or your grandma used to tell you to), shoulders back, no slouching and square up your body to improve your circulation and balance, ease tension on your neck and shoulders, and increase your energy. (Source)
24. Make connections. This might sound a little counter-intuitive to the whole “practice self-care” thing, but we’re not talking about getting out your calendar and planning a convention. We tend to think of ourselves and our lives in terms of “silos” much more than we do communally.
When we actively seek opportunities to make meaningful connections with others, it can benefit us in many ways. It can lighten our load – both emotionally and otherwise – to share with others. It can help to expand our perspectives and world view when we make connections with people that are different from us.
It can help us to recognize that we're not unique or alone in our experiences, both good and bad, that there are others who share similar journeys, challenges and perspectives. And making connections allows us to often realize those deeper understandings and experience more meaningful relationships in life through connecting to others which is what we're meant to do.
25. Start Saying
NO YES! We often talk about learning to say “no” more often when we discuss self care, but we also need to learn when to say “Yes!”. “Yes!” to new opportunities to do or experience new things. “Yes!” to out-of-the-box or out-of-my-comfort-zone options. Several years ago, the phenominal Shonda Rhimes wrote a wonderful treatment on the subject entitled “Year of Yes – How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person”.
So there you have them, 25 self care activities for when you don't have a lot of time. I know you're busy. We all are, but we can find the time to engage in at least a few meaningful self care activities that will help to enrich our lives.
Are there any self care activities that you've found beneficial that we may have missed? Tell us in the comments!
Kimberly Clay is the founder and creative force behind What She Say. She’s a business professional, writer and editor who’s been creating and managing digital content for nearly twenty years. Her work is now focused in the areas of self-improvement and personal development, and she is passionate about helping other individuals, especially women, to find a path for living their best life.