The idea of self-care is relatively new in American society, where paramount importance is placed on productivity. It can be looked down on as self-indulgent and we’re told we must be good employees, good friends, good community members, good parents, good pet owners, good neighbors, good renters/homeowners, and good partners first. However, what they don’t tell you is that you can’t be any of those things without being a good friend and partner to yourself first!
When we neglect our own self-care, it affects how we perform in all areas of our lives. You cannot be a great employee if you’re exhausted and stressed-out. Nor can you be a good partner or parent if you’re irritable and anxious. Not taking care of ourselves, both inside and out, will manifest in our lives. If you’re not caring for your mental health, your relationships will most certainly suffer. Both mental and physical neglect can lead to physical illness and disease. Added stress from life events like divorce, child custody issues, or helping an elderly parent can compound already overloaded lives!
Why do people neglect self-care? They’re “too busy.” Busyness is the perfect excuse for neglecting yourself, but here’s another secret: No one is “too busy.” It’s only a matter of priorities. When someone says they’re too busy to meet you for lunch, what they’re really saying is, “you don’t fit into my current list of priorities right now.” If you really want or need to do something, you make it happen. Suppose your favorite celebrity or role model requested a private lunch with you on a specific day and time, their treat, of course! How fast could your schedule clear?
So, make yourself a priority and watch how much better your experience becomes in all other areas of your life. Become a more patient parent, a more emotionally available partner and a less stressed employee by taking just a few minutes for yourself when you really need it.
Here are 8 ideas for self-care that are totally free and take 30 minutes or (much) less:
Get into nature. Go for a walk on a tree-lined street or head to the park and walk a trail. Nature is all around. Keep your phone on you for safety, but put it on Do Not Disturb and don’t check it!
Create art. Doodle with pencils, color with crayons, or break out some watercolors. Give the rational part of your brain a rest and give your creative side some playtime! No art supplies? Try digital coloring or drawing app book for mobile devices.
Take a shower. Enjoy soothing hot water, the aroma of soaps and shampoos, the lathering of soap. Play some music to keep your brain occupied on something other than what you feel you “should” be doing.
Give yourself a facial. No time for a shower? No access? Give yourself a five-minute facial with a mud or gel mask. The aromatherapy as well as gentle massage while applying the mask will transport you to a spa-like moment.
Stretch it out. There’s no excuse for not taking five to ten minutes out of your day for a good stretch! You can do it anywhere and you don’t need any special equipment. Begin with head and shoulder rolls, then work your way down to your toes. Tackle some yoga poses to get the blood and good-feelings flowing. You’ll feel more focused and reinvigorated.
Watch a comedy. It can be stand-up shorts or your favorite comedy movie, but take some time to give yourself some belly laughs. If you can make some popcorn, darken the room and give yourself the full home movie experience, do it!
Overload on cuteness. There’s a reason why the internet is obsessed with cat videos. And dog videos. And goat videos. You see where I’m going with this. There are adorable animals videos galore online and seeing their cute antics and little faces can cause your heart (and mood) to soar!
Bake or cook. Both require focusing on the task at hand and are great mental distractions from an overloaded schedule. The physical tasks as well as the aroma of food can create respite for an overactive mind. Plus, you get rewards you can eat later!