How to fit self-care into your day, even when short on time

You take care of everyone else all day long. You carry backpacks, make lunches, kiss boo boos, help with homework, arrange playdates, doctor appointments, and extra-curriculars. On top of that there is work, and dishes, and bills, and friends, and family, and a host of other demands on your time. Multiply it all by a million if there are any special needs that you’re juggling.

So when’s the last time you took care of you?

The number one reason a lot of people have no answer to that question is that we feel we don’t have time. That’s why the list below is segmented by how much time you have to give yourself. On some days (or during some phases in life) it might be only be a minute. Hopefully on other days you’ll have more time.

Whether you have 60 seconds or 60 minutes, the other challenge with self-care can be knowing what to do. It’s kind of sad that we’ve lost touch with how to care for ourselves, especially when caring for others comes so easily, but for a lot of us it’s not easy to know what we need.

Hopefully, this list will inspire you to take some time for yourself on a daily basis. You’ll be amazed at the difference it will make both to you and your loved ones who will notice and appreciate the happier, healthier, more centred you.

When you only have 1 minute

  1. Drink a glass of water.
  2. Stop what you’re doing for one minute and just pay attention to your breath.
  3. Text a friend to say you’re taking a 1-minute break to tell them that you’re thinking of them.
  4. Stretch.
  5. Sing. Belt out a couple of bars of your favourite feel-good song to release endorphins and oxytocin.
  6. Write down one thing you’re grateful for and put it in a “gratitude jar”.
  7. Give yourself a 1-minute facial massage.
  8. Smile. Science tells us that smiling releases dopamine and serotonin.
  9. Use the HALT method.
  10. Brush your teeth or splash water on your face.

When you have between 5-10 minutes

  1. Practice being grateful with one of these exercises.
  2. Do a quick 5-minute yoga stretch.
  3. Go outside and move with a quick walk around the block.
  4. Make a cup of tea.
  5. Meditate. Most mediation apps have a free 5-10 guided meditation.
  6. Put your legs up against a wall.
  7. Look through your favourite photos of people you love or ones that remind you of a happy trip or time in your life.
  8. Journal. Set your timer for 5 or 10 minutes and write whatever comes to mind until the timer beeps.
  9. Get your dance on.
  10. Pick one spot to de-clutter or tidy up. Maybe it’s your desk or another flat surface collecting piles.

When you have an hour or more

  1. Go for a bike ride either alone or with a friend.
  2. Find a quiet spot and escape with a favourite book.
  3. Take a class … boxing, yoga, painting, ballet, skating, the sky’s the limit. Check out what’s being offered near you and try something new. Maybe think back to what you loved as a child and do that.
  4. Get a massage.
  5. Take a cue from Soul Pancake and think of someone who has had a big impact on your life and call them to let them know you are grateful.
  6. Listen to a podcast. There is so much great content that it’s easy to find something that would be valuable for you.
  7. Laugh. Watch your favourite sitcom or comedic movie.
  8. Soak your feet. Fill a big bowl or bucket with warm water and soak your feet for a few minutes.
  9. Plan a vacation (even if you don’t go).
  10. Go out and play – do something that is fun for you: jump on a trampoline, climb a tree, go for a swim, swing at the playground, play soccer, or tag.

What are your self-care hacks for time-bankrupt parents?

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