With work responsibilities, an out-of-control to-do list, and constant notifications, you have a lot of things that demand your attention. Self-care often gets lost in the noise of modern life.
The Fort Garry Women’s Resource Center provides a great definition of self-care:
Identifying your own needs and taking steps to meet them.
It’s that simple. It’s crucial to functioning as effectively as you can. And you can get started in five minutes.
Pick one of these self-care activities to do today, and you’ll already be on your way to taking better care of yourself. And when you’re taking care of yourself, anything is possible!
We’re big fans of journaling here at MakeUseOf, and there’s good reason. It’s one of the best ways to get at ideas and thoughts that are hidden a little too deep for your regular conscious mind to grasp them. Which makes it great for identifying your own needs, an important first step in self-care.
Sit down with a notebook and a pen (or a journaling app, if you prefer) and just start writing. You can think about your self-care needs if you want. Or you can just start writing about what’s on your mind. After a while, you should start to see your needs emerging. And that’s exactly where self-care starts.
You probably don’t think about breathing, but it’s an activity that deserves a little more thought. Studies have shown that taking deep breaths can affect different systems in your body, and have benefits from stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system to lowering your blood pressure.
There are several different breathing exercise you can practice, and choosing one of these six is a great place to start. If you need some relaxation right now, though, just close your eyes and focus on taking deep breaths that fully expand your lungs.
Don’t just breathe into the top of your chest; breathe all the way down into your abdomen. Count one in, one out, two in, two out, and so on up to ten. It’s not much, but it’s a great start to using breathing as a measure of self-care.
This is my personal favorite method of self-care. Read a book. That’s all there is to it. Not a self-help book or something that’s supposed to help you be more productive. Just a book of your favorite type. Science fiction, or literary fiction, or history, biography, fantasy, philosophy… anything that helps you get away.
And if you want to make sure you do this on a regular basis, you can sign up for a serial reading app that will send you bits of books or stories to read each day. The five, ten, or fifteen minutes you spend outside of your own world will do you a world of good. Just getting out of your own head for a bit can change your perspective.
Get Something Off Your To-Do List
I first saw this idea as a method of self-care on Tiny Buddha, and I realized that it’s been a preferred strategy of mine for a long time. There are always those items on your to-do list that stick around for far too long. Maybe you’ve been meaning to call someone for a few months. Or you want to clean your garage and just haven’t gotten around to it.
Do one of those things today. It feels great, reduces the amount of visual clutter on your task list, and is productive to boot. Choose something that won’t stress you out too much, but still needs to get done. This can be similar to the “eat that frog” system of task management.
Much like breathing, laughing has a lot of physiological benefits beyond just improving your mood. You should try to laugh every day, but when you’re feeling like you need to level up your self-care, it becomes even more important. Fortunately, the internet makes it easy to find things to make yourself laugh regardless of your sense of humor.
Spend five minutes on a hilarious website. Follow a comedian on Twitter. Look at the memes and comic strips your friends post on Facebook. Get daily jokes via email. Find hilarious things on Tumblr. No matter how you do it, read or watch something funny every day. Your life will be better for it.
Your body and mind are inextricably linked. This means taking care of one also helps take care of the other. A little exercise can go a long way toward keeping your mind in top shape — it also relieves stress, lowers your blood pressure, and has a raft of other health benefits.
It doesn’t need to be much. Do a seven-minute workout or fire up a quick exercise app to guide you through some exercises. Of course, you can also plan a longer session for after work or early in the morning (I find that going for an early bike ride improves the entire rest of my day). No matter your preferred method of exercise, make sure to do it. Even a 10-minute walk helps.
Do Something You Love
This one can be a bit vague, especially when you’re thinking of things you can do in five minutes. But let me give you an example. When I’m feeling overwhelmed by social situations, I find a place to retreat for five or ten minutes and listen to my favorite music. I often play a quick strategy game on my phone as well.
It’s only five minutes. But because those are two things I love to do, they improve my mood and help me get back to socializing and being around other people. No matter what you love to do, you can find a way to get a little dose of it in five minutes. (If you can keep something with you that helps you do that thing — in my case, headphones — that makes it even easier.)
Take Care of Yourself!
As I write this, I’m getting ready for Thanksgiving with my family. And making sure to pack my headphones. Self-care is important all year, but it’s especially crucial around the holidays or any other time that can be extra-stressful.
Whether it’s a regular day at the office or Christmas morning, make sure to take care of yourself. These seven self-care activities will help, but only you know what you need most.
Do you use any of these methods to care for yourself? What’s your favorite way to make sure you’re getting the self-care you need? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments below!