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Too Busy to Take Care of Yourself? How About Self-Care in 5 Minutes or Less

We are always hearing about self-care. It's important. Find time to take care of yourself. Whenever I read or hear this, I think, "I don't have time for that". I think many of us feel the same. Demands from work, family, and life in general, leave us feeling stressed out, feeling like there aren't enough hours in a day.

Many blogs, books, and memes give us ideas on what we can do for self-care. I read them and all the ideas sound lovely. And then I think, "I don't have time for that". I started thinking about how I advise people who want to start a new habit or have a big project, to start with baby steps. Well, guess what, we can take baby steps when it comes to self-care. Instead of trying to take an hour-long bubble bath, or getting a massage weekly, let's do small things that add up. Let's come up with self-care we can do in 5 minutes or less.

For this type of self-care to work, we need to remember to be kind to ourselves. We can't get stressed out about it. We can't be thinking, "I have to hurry up and get my 5 minutes in". We need to let it happen. If you have a day where 5 minutes seem impossible, try 1 min. If you usually journal for your self-care and you can't think of anything to write about, pick another self-care activity. It shouldn't be a chore or something that adds to your stress.

So here is my list of self-care activities you can do in 5 minutes or less. If you don't like these ideas, think about what you like and what would work for you, and do that. Remember, these should be enjoyable and fun.


  1. Deep breathing- there are many ways to deep breathe. My favorite is belly breathing. This will reset your nervous system, shut down the fight or flight response, and calm you down quickly.

  2. Make a gratitude list. Write down 3 things you are grateful for, and why you are grateful for them.

  3. Crank up your favorite song, sing and dance like no one is watching.

  4. Drink some water. Healthy habits are also self-care.

  5. Have a healthy snack.

  6. Stretch. Try setting an alarm on your phone or fitness tracker and stretch for 1 minute every hour.

  7. Take a quick shower and visualize the stress and negative energy being washed down the drain.

  8. Meditate or pray. Can't take 5 minutes, even one minute will help.

  9. Get up and walk around your room, office, or walk in place, again pick an amount of time, from 1 to 5 minutes.

  10. Make a list of what is stress you out. If you are a list maker, this can help you look at things and see how you can better manage them.

  11. Color or doodle- set a timer for 5 minutes and work on a page in your coloring book or sketchbook.

  12. Journal. Remember, you don't have to journal every day. If you aren't in the mood to write, don't. Journal when it feels right.

  13. Tell yourself a few nice things about yourself. Most of us are really good at negative self-talk. Be kind to yourself and talk to yourself like you are your best friend. Because you are.

  14. Take your breaks. Are you someone who works through your breaks? Stop it. You will work more efficiently if you take your breaks. And you deserve them.

  15. Go outside. Take a deep breath. Visualize the breeze blowing stress and negativity off you.

  16. Declutter. Yes, you can declutter in 5 minutes or less. Pick a room, for example, your bedroom. Take 5 minutes and declutter the top of your dressers and nightstands. Tomorrow, take another 5 minutes and declutter a drawer or 2. Repeat daily and soon your room will be decluttered and it won't be an overwhelming task.

  17. Laugh. Watch a funny video or two.

  18. Read. Set a timer and read for 5 minutes. It could be a book, a blog, or whatever you enjoy reading.

  19. Soak your feet. Use Epsom salts and your favorite essential oil.

  20. Write an affirmation for the day. Keep it with you and look at it often.

Working as an Emergency Department nurse for many years, I needed self-care. But I always thought I didn't have time. It took a bout of burnout for me to finally figure out how important it is. Self-care doesn't have to be time-consuming or extravagant. It is more about taking moments in your day to be present and kind to yourself. Remember, not only do you need it for your health, you deserve it.

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