Written by Jasmine Irven and originally published for Sustainable Bliss Collective.
One of the most common excuses I use for not taking my self-care more seriously, and a common thread I hear among others as well, is the idea that we don’t have time to practise self-care.
In the media, self-care is often described in big ways — taking full nights off to do 10-step routines, or hour long rituals that should be completed weekly if not daily.
While I think there’s room for all forms of self-care, including hour-long, day-long, and weekend-long opportunities to practise anything and everything that makes you feel fulfilled, I also want to provide the perspective that self-care can also very much exist in small moments of your day.
And so, I’ve compiled a list of ways you can practise self-care in the 5, 10, or 30-minute breaks you might have during your day. Print this out, write it down and add to it, or make a list of your own and put it as a checklist in your phone!
Remind yourself to create space in your days for these activities that make you feel cared for.
complete a body scan
Close your eyes and scan your physical body. Do you notice any tension? Most often tension manifests in the form of creases in our forehead, a clenching of our jaw, and our shoulders being tense and up at our ears. Where you notice tension, see if you can release it by moving, releasing, unclenching.
notice your energy
Close your eyes and note how you’re feeling energetically. Are you holding onto something that happened earlier in the day? Or are you worrying about something that’s yet to come? Often our thoughts are what create our emotions, so notice the thoughts you’re having. Are they serving you or hindering you? Know that you can let go of any thoughts that aren’t serving you.
take 3 long breaths
This will help with releasing any tension in your energetic or physical bodies. Taking 3, long and intentional breaths, letting the air leave through our mouth can help our body shift from a state of anxiety and stress (our fight or flight response) and into a rest and digest, relaxed state.
make a cup of tea or coffee
Completing a simple task like preparing a cup of tea or coffee mindfully can help to give us a break to clear our minds and “reset”. While you’re completing this task, try to focus just on the task at hand. Can you engage all of your senses? This can help to bring you into the present moment.
complete the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding practise
This is a common grounding practise often used to help people reduce stress and anxiety by bringing them into the present moment.
First notice 5 things you can see (say them out loud or in your mind), then 4 things you can feel (your clothing, the temperature of the air, etc.), listen for 3 sounds (again saying them out loud or in your mind), 2 things you can smell (you can move if you need to in order to smell something intentionally. If there’s nothing accessible, think about your favourite 2 smells), and finally 1 thing you can taste.
Take a big breath to finalize the completion of this practise.
say no or yes to something
Sometimes self-care isn’t a physical practise but something that you need to do to nourish your being. Is there something that would serve you to say yes or no to? The act of setting this boundary or agreeing to doing something that will serve you in the future may only take a few moments, but the impact will be much greater.
Have you been scrolling on your phone? Looking at blue light for a long time? STOP and take a break. Take a deep breath, put down your device and close your eyes or shift your focus to something else around you. Appreciate how much of life happens off-screen.
text someone to say you care about them
Doing something nice for someone else not only spreads love to others but helps us to feel incredible ourselves. Spread some kindness and you’ll be nourishing your soul just as much if not more as the person you compliment!
say 5 things you’re grateful for
What you focus on grows, so put your energy towards all of the incredible things that are present in your life right now. These can be something super small, or large milestones, it doesn’t matter. Say them out loud or write them down to anchor them in.
drink a glass of water
When was the last time you drank some water to hydrate your incredible body!?
go on a walk
Movement is incredibly nourishing for our bodies, especially if we spend most of our days sitting down for work or school. Give your body the chance to work and move and stretch! Notice how you feel before and after.
Throw on a 10-minute yoga or stretching YouTube video and give your muscles and limbs the chance to flex and move in ways that feel good.
make a smoothie (or another nourishing snack)
Especially if we’re feeling “off” it can be helpful to give our bodies a little boost by providing them with all the yummy nutrients they need to feel nourished.
This is THE BEST practise for when our minds are feeling full and we’re feeling overwhelmed. There is something so comforting about getting things out of our mind and onto paper in order to find a sense of peace and clarity.
take a shower
The cleansing effect of a shower cannot be minimized!! As you feel the water wash over your skin, envision any unhelpful thoughts or feelings that you’re ready to let go of cleansing from your body and going down the drain. Notice the energetic shift.
complete your skincare routine
Having a couple steps in a skincare routine that you can go-to when you’re looking for a sense of structure can be helpful in giving your mind something to focus on. Plus, in a similar way to the shower, we can use the act of washing our face and cleansing our skin as a chance to visualize a cleansing of our energetic bodies as well, almost helping to press the “reset” button on our day.
call a friend or family member
Be intentional here, knowing the impact that other people and their energy can have on you. Choose someone who you can chat freely with, who has a positive impact on your energy, who you can laugh and be inspired with. Connection is powerful self-care.
give yourself a massage
Show yourself some love by taking the time to release tension from your body, increase circulation, and improve energy flow through massage.
Clutter can really impact our mood and energy levels. Give yourself a few minutes to clear a physical space like your desk or a nearby shelf, or an online space like your email, desktop, or the people you’re following on social media. Notice how this clearing impacts you.
read or listen to a podcast
While consumption sometimes isn’t helpful depending on the form and energy being exchanged, nourishing your mind intentionally through consumption by listening to something inspiring or reading something new can be super impactful! It’s up to you to recognize which forms of consumption are helpful for you and which hinder you.
Sometimes we simply need an outlet to throw our energy into, to get into flow, and to create without judgement but just passion. Whatever this looks like — singing, dancing, colouring, drawing, painting, etc., give yourself the chance to explore old passions and invite in new ones.
We’ll keep this section simple. Essentially any of the above 5 and 10 minute practises can easily be turned into a longer practise by adding in more elements, moving more slowly, or bringing even more space and intention to it.
Here are a few examples:
Combine the body scan, energy check-in, and deep breathing into a longer meditative practise. Turn on music, get comfortable in your space, and really give yourself the chance to get grounded in the present moment. P.s. our events are perfect for scheduling this self-care into your day!
Disconnect for a longer period of time — turning off your phone and laptop 30 minutes earlier at night than you normally would or leaving it off for a little longer in the morning. Do something during this time that you normally “wouldn’t have time for for” — like creating, reading, moving, etc.
Turn that kind text or chat with a friend or family member into a coffee date or a virtual call!
Journal for a longer period of time, using prompts in addition to the brain dump to help you dive deeper, combining meditation and journaling, or merging creativity with journaling by doodling or writing poetry alongside.
Turn your shower into a bath, allowing that feeling of cleansing to really sink into all parts of you. You could also add in your skincare routine to this practise to extend your experience and the feeling of nourishing you’ll likely get from taking care of your physical body.
Declutter a larger area of your home, office, or online space to experience an even larger energetic shift.
Know that you deserve time to take care of yourself, but also don’t be so hard on yourself if you continuously struggle to find this time.
Know that while working towards longer periods of recurring self-care to fill your cup, you can also fit different forms of self-care into the small spaces of your day that you already have.
Know that there is no right or wrong way to go about this, but also recognize the importance of approaching your self-care intentionally.
Know that this list is here for inspiration and we hope you find it helpful, but also know that self-care is completely unique and know that you need to practise it in your own way and what feels nourishing to you, rather than what others say you should or could be doing (us included!).
What’s on your self-care list? Let us know in the comments!
About the Author:
Jasmine Irven, founder of the Sustainable Bliss Collective, a Registered Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach (RHNC™), Certified Meditation Teacher, sustainable living advocate, and lover of all things health + wellness. If you’re looking to work with her directly please visit Jasmine's website or personal Instagram.