One of the hardest parts of self care is finding time to give yourself the care that you need. Self care can feel like a luxury when you are busy and life gets in the way. If you can't quite find the time for a full meditation or yoga session, try these self care rituals for when you only have 30 minutes.
Write in your journal
Journaling is a great way to clarify your thoughts and feelings, but it can also be a terrific way to actively pursue wellness. If you want to get more out of journaling than just a space to vent and organize your thoughts, try one of these ideas.
Try gratitude journaling. Researchers have found that focusing on gratitude can help boost happiness and well-being. Try keeping a list of things you're grateful for once or twice daily. At the end of the week, look back over your lists, and consider how being grateful has improved your experience of life in general.
Use your journal as a source of inspiration. Set aside some time each day to write down ideas that come from popular culture (TV shows, movies, songs), articles or even books you read (or passages from books), or anything else that inspires you in any way shape or form. Whenever you find yourself stuck for something new to do creatively—whether it's writing an article yourself or brainstorming blog post ideas—look through your collection of inspirations for something that might jog your creativity!
Do a short meditation
Meditation is one of the best activities to help you relax and reduce stress. You don't need to set aside tons of time for a session, though—even a few minutes can help you to focus on being present and calm.
Here's how to meditate:
Find a comfortable spot where you won't be interrupted, like your apartment's living room or an outdoor area away from traffic.
Sit in a way that feels natural for you—whether it's cross-legged on the floor or in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Close your eyes and focus on taking deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. If it helps, try silently repeating a mantra; people often do this with phrases like "I am relaxed," "I am safe," or "I am at peace." Consider playing soft music if that helps you relax more easily.
If distracting thoughts come up (and they will), don't get too frustrated—just let them pass by, then bring yourself back to focusing on your breathing and/or mantra.
Put on a face mask
Put on a face mask.
Leave it on for 15 minutes to give your skin time to soak up all the nutrients.
Once it's dry, wash off the mask with lukewarm water and pat your skin dry with a clean towel.
Apply moisturizer to seal in hydration and protect your skin against environmental aggressors like pollution or UV rays.
To start, clean up your workspace and get rid of things you don't need. Throw out any trash that's lying around, take that pile of dirty dishes to the kitchen sink, and file away all those papers you've been hanging on to. Also consider changing up your decor a bit. Rearrange the pictures hanging above your desk so they're not in a row anymore—why not cluster them randomly? Toss a few throw pillows on the couch instead of having everything orderly and lined up. Add new plants to your kitchen windowsill or move some books from one shelf to another.
Now head into the kitchen where you'll find fresh produce waiting for you. Pull out all the ingredients needed for dinner tonight, whether it's just pasta or tofu stir-fry with big chunks of veggies (yum!).
Finally, go into your bedroom and make that bed! You'll be amazed at how relaxing it will feel when you go back in there later as opposed to crawling between rumpled sheets—especially if it looks like a hurricane attacked it earlier this morning. How about adding some flowers or scented candles too? Little touches like these can really make a difference in feeling like you're able to step away from work for awhile (even if only mentally) which is why they are included on our self-care checklist today!
Take a bath
Turn off the lights, light a candle and close your eyes.
Put on some relaxing music.
Take a few minutes to relax before getting out of the water.
Do some deep breathing while you're in there.
Get a bath pillow for extra comfort if you don't have one already! (Plus they're easy to clean)
Use a bath bomb if you have one! They are fun and will make your skin feel great.
Moisturize and massage your hands, feet and neck.
To massage away this tired feeling, put a moisturizer or oil on your hands, feet and neck. Using your thumb, start at the base of one foot and use small circular motions to move up along your foot to the ankle. Repeat on each toe and then do the other foot. On your hands, focus on using these circles on each finger as well as the palm, wrist and arm just above your wrist. To massage your neck and shoulders go with long strokes starting at the base of the neck moving up to just below the ears. Use both hands here so you can apply more pressure.
Also included in this super-simple self care routine is a nice bit of aromatherapy: As you work those hands, feet and neck don't forget to breathe deep in through your nose (it goes straight to our brain) and enjoy that amazing scent from whatever product you're using!
Make a to-do list for tomorrow
You'll want something to write on. This can be as fancy or inexpensive as you like, but it should be big enough to contain the list of items you'd like to complete in a day, plus the to-do lists for the next few days. If your existing calendar is too small, buy one with more space. If it's not visually attractive, get one that gives you joy while using it.
Now that you have your writing surface and a way to keep track of time, make sure you have a pen that works well. Sometimes I'll pick up an expensive pen at an office supply store and then realize it doesn't write very smoothly or comfortably. It's definitely worth spending a little extra money on something that feels good in your hand and makes writing fun!
Once you've got your supplies in place, go ahead and write down all the things you need to do tomorrow—don't leave anything out! Big tasks can be intimidating when they're looming over us unbroken into smaller steps or parts we can manage more easily (i.e., if there was ever a day when everything was done).
Read the news
Take a few minutes to read the news.
You don't have to go far. Reading the front page of reputable sites like The New York Times, The Washington Post or BBC will give you an overview of what's going on in the world. You can read your local paper online as well. (Websites often have a monthly limit to how many articles you can read without subscribing.)
However, it's important not to get sucked into reading too many articles or spending too much time on this activity because news stories can be depressing and sensationalized at times. That's why it's best to stick with major headlines that are relevant and then move onto other activities for this self-care ritual.
You can add to your daily routine a 10-minute stretch before bedtime, which will help you relax and improve your sleep.
Many studies have shown that stretching for just 10 minutes each day can help relieve lower back pain by as much as 25% over the course of a month.
If you sit at a desk all day, regular stretches are especially important to keep your spine in proper alignment and prevent compression of your discs.
For those who do not even have time to do the things they love such as reading or going out with friends, taking 10 minutes each night to stretch out on the floor before going to bed is not just a good way to relieve stress but also to improve your brain function. By increasing blood flow throughout your body while reducing muscle tension, it can also help prevent injuries caused by repetitive motion injuries.
Exercise with Tabata intervals
The Tabata workout is a high-intensity interval training workout that lasts just four minutes. It’s fast, it's fun, and it makes you feel like you can take on the world—what more could you want in a workout?
To do the four minute Tabata workout, you will need an interval timer (like this one). You will also need something to jump over or step up onto. If that something does not already exist in your home, then consider purchasing an aerobic step for around $30. Ok! Now that we have all of our materials ready, let’s get started.
The timer should be set for 8 rounds of 20 seconds with 10 seconds of rest between each exercise. The exercises are as follows:
- Jumping Jacks
- Step ups (alternating legs)
Doing just these few small things can make a big difference in how you feel when you wake up the next day.
If you don't have a lot of time for rituals, consider these highly effective ones:
Wash your face
Gently wash your face with warm water and a mild cleanser. Pay attention to how the warm water feels on your skin, and how calm and peaceful it is to do something for yourself. If you have extra time, apply an overnight moisturizer or facial oil that works well for your skin type before bed—you'll feel extra-pampered in the morning when you wake up with soft, supple skin!
Do some deep breathing
Take five minutes to focus only on the feeling of air filling up your lungs, flowing through them and out again as you exhale. Notice any sensations in different parts of your body as you breathe deeply—perhaps you feel a tingling sensation around the sacrum (the area at the base of your spine), or maybe there's a sense of lightness in the back of your throat when you inhale fully.
Give yourself a foot massage
Massage each toe gently, then run both hands along the length of each foot one at a time. Work up from each ankle to calf muscle by applying pressure with long strokes along that muscle group until it feels relaxed and loose. Then use small circles around each ankle joint to release any tension there—circling in one direction ten times then going in the opposite direction ten times should do it. This is great for releasing stress too!