Self Improvement

These 5-Minute Self-Care Ideas Can Change Your Day

Dann Albright 07-12-2016

With work responsibilities, an out-of-control to-do list, and constant notifications How To Turn Off Distracting Tech Notifications Almost Anywhere These days, we're constantly barraged with email updates, system alerts, and annoying texts from hypothetical neighbors named Brad about how he got his pet chinchilla stuck in the dryer vent again. But for some reason,... Read More , 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!


journaling on a wooden table
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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 The Beginner's Guide to Digital Journaling  Maintaining a private journal is a great way to build your writing skills, spill out your thoughts, desires, worries, and reflections on paper. The very act of writing itself can often help you think through... Read More , 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.



reading on a couch with hot drink
Image Credit: TijanaM via Shutterstock

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 How to Read More Books Using Serial Reading Apps Most people agree that reading books is good for you, but finding the time to read can prove difficult. So, why not use this simple method to help you read more books? Read More 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 10 Creative Ways to Manage Your Life with a Trello Calendar To-do list items are easier to work on and tick off your list if you schedule them into your calendar. The calendar display of Trello is an awesome feature for managing your life. Read More ” 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 The 20 Funniest Websites for the Best Humor on the Web If you're searching for the best humor on the web, here are the funniest websites you should visit. Read More . Follow a comedian on Twitter. Look at the memes and comic strips your friends post on Facebook. Get daily jokes 8 Best Daily Jokes Sites To Lighten Up Your Mood Read More via email. Find hilarious things on Tumblr Need A Good Laugh? Follow These 10 Tumblr Blogs Are you big fans of Tumblr? Here at MakeUseOf, we certainly are. The blogging platform brings together the idea of blogging together with social networking and has become home to some of the most creative,... Read More . 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 Use Free 7 Minute Workout Videos To Get Into Shape [Stuff to Watch] There are lots of YouTube videos that can show you exactly how your workouts should be going, and they won't cost you a penny. Read More or fire up a quick exercise app Stay Fit: The 5 Best Quick Workout Apps For Android Need to find the time to exercise? These apps can help you with only a few minutes of your day. Read More 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

jamming with music through headphones
Image Credit: anetta via Shutterstock

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 Get Your Dose of Strategy with 8 Great 4X Games for iOS Most of 4X strategy games are limited to powerful gaming PCs, but several great strategic games are available to play on your iPhone or iPad. So grab a couple of them and have fun! Read More 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. If you’re looking for more tips on how to recharge and prioritize your self-care, take a look at these self-care apps and sites for positive and healthy reminders.

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!

Related topics: Health, Mental Health.

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  1. Alex
    December 8, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    Mindful awareness meditations are also great and can be easily slipped into your day in whatever time slots that are available. A regular practice can greatly increase your ability to focus and combat anxiety. I like the buddhify app for this

    • Dann Albright
      December 10, 2016 at 12:11 am

      Meditation is a great part of self-care! I've gotten out of the habit, but I really should get started again. Thanks for pointing that out.