Trying to find some time for yourself may be easier said than done for many. If your days are already jam-packed, then the last thing you want is me telling you to head to some yoga retreat for a week to find yourself again. Many self-care techniques out there involve having a lot of free time to start with and, generally, we’re stressed because we don’t have a lot of free time!
However, you don’t need to set aside an hour a day or an entire week alone to practice self-care! In fact, you can take some time out for your mental health in just five minutes or less… Here are some of the quickest ways you can de-stress and find some time for yourself.
1. Write down 3 things you’re grateful for
This is one of my favourite bits of self-care that takes just a couple of minutes, but which makes me feel amazing for a long time after. We can spend so long being focused on the negative sometimes, that it’s nice to think about what is going right.
2. Put on your favourite singalong song
Most songs are about 3-4 minutes long and you can still do something else if you reaaalllly have to (I like to do this while emptying the dishwasher). You can find some awesome singalong playlists out there for a real boost – or make your own.
3. And dance along too!
If you’re not emptying the dishwasher while singing along, then it’s time to get your groove on. Yep, I really did just say ‘groove on.’ I do actually combine this with something else too, like clearing clutter. It’s such a mental health booster.
I’m talking deep breaths here. There’s a little technique I like where you breathe in for four seconds, hold it for four seconds, and then breathe out for eight. It’s a really relaxing bit of breathwork that should help if you’re feeling anxious too. Our breath work teacher, Dr. Charlie Moult, also has some incredible techniques you can try out.
5. Tell yourself all the reasons you’re amazing
Every morning, before I pick up my phone or do anything else, I practice a little bit of self-love. It’s the perfect time to do this too, because we’re so used to grabbing our phones before our eyes are properly open. If you have a minute to check your phone, you have a minute to run through some reasons why you’re amazing.
6. Write down 5-10 things you’ve done that you’re proud of
This is another quick self-care technique I talk about a lot, but I genuinely think it is such an important one. Grab a pen and paper or a note-taking app, then write down 5-10 of your successes. Keep this with you wherever you go and make sure you add to it regularly!
7. Read a few pages of a book
Not everyone has time to devour an entire book in a day – I wish! However, just squeezing in a couple of pages can do you the world of good. Reading can actually bring your heart rate down and make you feel calmer. Just make sure it’s a book you enjoy and not something that feels like work to read.
8. Drink a glass of water
Another one I recommend doing first thing in the morning, but also just throughout your day. If you’re a coffee-drinker like me, then it can be too easy to make the first drink of the day caffeine. However, our bodies need plenty of hydration and there’s just something so refreshing about that first glug of cold water.
9. Go sit outside
Whether you have a garden you can sit in or just a doorstep, go spend a minute outside. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like – I actually really enjoy sitting outside in the rain. Fresh air, Vitamin D, there’s nothing not to love about being outside. I know for some people being outside can be daunting so if this is too much then just sit near an open window or door.
10. Wash your face
I don’t know when I enjoy washing my face most; in the morning when my eyes are crusty (delicious), at the end of the day when I’m taking my makeup off (heavenly), or just randomly through the day when I need a splash of cold water to wake me up. Invest in a nice cleanser that you enjoy putting on and spend a minute or two mindfully washing your face.
11. Moisturise your face
If you’ve spent a minute cleansing, then hopefully you can spend a minute on some more skincare, too. However, if you don’t have time for a full-on routine, then just massage some moisturiser into your face after washing it. It can be the quick pick-me-up we need to feel good!
12. Moisturise everywhere else!
While you’re there, don’t just stop at your face. Find a cream or butter you really like the smell of and spend five minutes massaging it into your arms, legs, wherever. Even just the act of doing this can instantly calm you down, and the smell will also ensure that mental health boost you get continues throughout the day.
I can’t be the only person who thinks that there’s nothing better than a big ol’ stretch?! The ones first thing in the morning and when you get into bed are the best, but this is one of those self-care techniques you can squeeze in at any point during the day.
14. Tell someone you love them
This will take 30 seconds of your day, so go do it now! Tell someone that you love them, you’re proud of them, or that they’re amazing. As humans, we get such a positive mental health buzz from being kind to other people, but we perhaps don’t do it as often as we should.
15. Quick meditation
Squeezing in a few minutes of meditation can be such an amazing form of self-care. You can follow a guided meditation track or even just close your eyes and practice being truly present. I don’t think you have to close yourself in a dark room for hours to reap the benefits of meditation.
16. Close your eyes
If meditation isn’t for you, that’s okay! I know I found it a little bit odd to start and it isn’t for everyone. However, if you can take five minutes just to close your eyes, then this is the next best thing. I’m a big advocate of the power nap…
17. Mindfully make a cup of tea
Have you ever made a cup of tea mindfully? It sounds a bit odd, doesn’t it? However, the few minutes it takes to make a cup of tea is the perfect time to practice being mindful. Make every action, from putting the teabag in through to stirring, something that you’re really present for.
18. Complete a super quick task that’s been clogging up your to-do list
If you’ve got something on your to-do list that you keep putting off, then get it done. It has to either be something super quick you can do in a few minutes or something that you could start in just a couple of minutes and then start a two-minute timer. Trust me!
19. Mindfully brush your teeth
If you’ve mindfully made yourself a cuppa, then you can mindfully brush your teeth. I love this one because you don’t actually need any extra time in your day to complete this bit of self-care. All you need to do is be really present when you’re brushing your teeth.
20. Remove negative people from your social media feeds
You know you’ve got them… The people who are a drain on your energy. Unfollow them, unfriend them, remove that negativity from your life. You’ll feel so much better if you fill your feeds with things that make you happy. Like The Anti-Burnout Club Instagram – shameless plug? I think so.
21. 30 seconds of jumping jacks or marching on the spot
This is just about moving around for 30 seconds. Wave your arms in the air, jump around, march on the spot, roll your neck. Whatever you can do for 30 seconds that gets your blood pumping a little bit. This is an awesome self-care tip for those afternoon slumps too.
22. Be kind to yourself in the mirror
Laugh at me all you like, but the longest conversation you’ll ever have with anyone in your life is with yourself. Make it a good one. Look in the mirror and have a little chat. Tell yourself just how amazing you are, smile, laugh at your own jokes and just spend some time with yourself. It’s a real boost for your confidence and mental health.
23. The 5-4-3-2-1 technique
If you’re feeling anxious or you need to ground yourself a little, then this is a really quick bit of self care that you can do in a minute or less. If you’ve not heard of the 5-4-3-2-1 technique then acknowledge the following:
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can touch
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
24. Write down something that’s bothering you
It helps to get things off our chest, so this is something I do quite often. Instead of letting it run havoc in your mind, jot it down on a piece of paper. It could be someone at work that’s bugging you or a problem with your spouse. Just get it out of your head!
25. Get dressed – or get changed
I can get into such a bad habit of waking up in the morning, turning on my laptop, and working away for ages. Lounging in your pyjamas can be relaxing sometimes, but it can also make us feel a bit meh. So, go put your finery on!
I’m the world’s worst drawer. Even my stickmen look like something out of a horror film. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t like a doodle every now and then. Just grab a pen and the nearest piece of paper and get doodling.
27. Write a little poem
Luckily, my poems tend to be a little bit better than my doodles. However, this is self care and no one is judging you anyway. So, who cares if it’s the worst poem known to man or better than Keats? This is just you spending a little bit of time getting creative!
28. Eat something delicious
Eat. The. Cake. Seriously, eat it. Smell it, touch it, take a tiny nibble, really taste it. Lick it. Smell it again, really breathe it in. If you like peanut butter and chocolate, then this super quick peanut butter cup recipe is for you.
29. Pet something (or someone)
If you have any kind of pet, give it a stroke when you need some downtime. It’s so relaxing! However, if you don’t have a pet then stroke anything – or anyone (within reason).
30. Take a quick body shower
Unless you have short hair or are some kind of superhuman, chances are you can’t have a full shower in five minutes or less. It’s much quicker to just jump in the shower and give yourself a quick freshen up without getting your hair wet.
31. Brain dump
When I’ve got one of those ‘there’s too much going on in my head’ headaches, this is one of my favourite self-care techniques to do. I grab either a pen and paper or my phone notes and write down every single thing that comes into my head. Dump it all out of your mind to give it some space.
32. Unsubscribe from emails you don’t want
This is so cathartic! Spend a couple of minutes going through your inbox and unsubscribe from any of the newsletters you don’t want. It clears up your emails and also ensures you’re not getting a ton of random spam emails every other day.
33. Set a timer for 60 seconds to answer these questions
Here are some quick things to think about when you’re in the mood for some self care techniques that will help further your goals – and find your ‘why’. Set a timer for 60 seconds for each question and just write down the first thing that pops into your head:
- What would I want to experience in life if time or money were not an issue?
- What does a successful life look like for me?
- What is most important in my life and what do I value most?
- What brings me the most joy in my life?
- What do I want to contribute to this world?
Your answers will help shape your goals, define what success means to you, and help you find your ‘why.’ We also have a ton of amazing journal prompts on our Etsy store if you want to dig a little deeper.
34. Give yourself a head massage
Or ask someone else to give you one! I think this is the only reason I ever go to the hairdressers if I’m totally honest. Just run your fingers through your hair, massage your temples, and give the top of your neck a good rub. This is the perfect self-care technique if you’re feeling a little bit stressed, too.
35. Touch your fingertips
This is another grounding technique which can be really useful if you’re feeling a little bit overwhelmed or anxious. Using your thumb, touch each of your fingers individually. Start by touching your thumb to your pinky, then the next one along, and so on. Do this again on the other hand.
36. Write down 3 priorities for the day
If you’ve got too much to do and you feel like you’re in ‘catch up mode’ all the time, then let’s take a step back. Write down the three most important priorities that you have to get done that day. Use the other few minutes to get started on priority number one. You don’t need to finish it, just get started.
37. Help someone else
What can you do today to help someone? Our brains get such a kick out of giving, that this self care technique should make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Text someone and ask them if there’s anything you can do to help. Just don’t offer too much that it’s going to overwhelm you; a small favour will do.
38. Ask someone what they love about you
You might think this is a little bit self-indulgent, but I kinda love it. Ask someone exactly what it is they love about you. I do this with my husband probably a little bit too much… But it could be anyone!
39. Tell someone what you love about them
If you want to make the last one a little bit less self-indulgent and tie it in with helping someone else, why not tell someone what you love about them too? Not only will you have made the other person feel good, but it will give you that warm fuzzy feeling as well.
40. Let something go
What are you holding onto that you could do with letting go? Perhaps it’s a grudge against someone. Maybe it’s a negative self-belief. Either say out loud or write down that you’re letting that thing go. This is a difficult but cathartic piece of self care.
41. Make an appointment you’ve been putting off
I’m writing this one more for myself than anyone else – I really need to go to the dentist! This is your reminder to do the same for something you’ve been putting off, especially if it’s for your health or wellbeing!
42. Schedule in more downtime
You might only have a couple of minutes right now and that’s alright, but that doesn’t mean you can’t schedule in some proper downtime with yourself. I’ve talked all about how to fit more self-care into busy routines in this podcast episode too.
43. Watch a funny video
Nothing boosts our mental health more than laughing! Find a video of your favourite comedian or watch five-minutes of a sitcom and just laugh. There really isn’t anything out there better for your mental health than a good ol’ giggle.
44. Walk to the end of the road and back
When I’m short on time or really anxious about being outside, I like to take a short walk just to the end of my road and back. It only takes me 90 seconds, but it ties in that little bit of exercise and some fresh air!
45. Look up at the sky
I’m adamant that we’re going to evolve with bent necks, the amount of time we spend looking down at our phones or avoiding people’s gazes. Take some time to actually look up and marvel at the sky. Do this at different times in the day, to watch the clouds, see the sun setting, or take in all the stars.
46. Do one yoga or pilates pose
I love using stopping to give myself a good stretch every now and then. Find one or two poses you really enjoy doing and try to squeeze them in when you have a spare minute. Yoga teacher Toma has some fantastic pose breakdowns that you can do in record timing too.
47. Write ‘One Line a Day’
If you don’t feel as though you have the time to properly journal every day, then try finding a ‘One Line a Day’ diary. These are super cool, because they only take about 30 seconds to fill in every day. If you do have time to journal a bit more thoroughly, however, I’d really recommend it.
48. Learn something new
You really can learn something new in less than five minutes a day, I promise! If you want to learn a language, for example, then commit to learning one new word a day. That’s 365 words in a year! You could also use this time to save useful articles and videos on a topic you want to learn, so that you can refer back to these when you’ve got a bit more time to learn.
49. Soak your feet
This is a particularly useful bit of self care if you’re the kind of person who is always on their feet! Grab a bucket or bowl big enough that you can dip both feet in, fill it with warm, soapy water (or use bath salts if you have any) and just sit there for a few minutes.
50. Lie on the floor
This is another self care technique I mentioned in my last podcast and I actually had a couple of people message me to say they do this too! I’m glad I’m not the only one that loves to lie down on the floor. This ties in with getting some rest, so just pop a timer on for 3-5 minutes, lie down and close your eyes.
51. Find one thing in your life you can delegate
What is taking up time that you just really don’t want to do? Whatever it is, write it down and do a little bit of research into how you could delegate this. If you run your own business, work out if there’s a member of staff you can give it to. If it’s something around the home, work out the cost versus benefits of hiring someone to take it on.
52. Write down one big goal you have in life
If you answered those 60-second questions I put further up, then you may have a better idea of what your one big goal is. If not, just spend a minute or so thinking about it and then write it down. Don’t overthink it, just go for the thing you think will make your life better. Your instinct is usually right with this one.
53. Separate that big goal into smaller chunks
If you have a little bit of time left over, try splitting that big goal into smaller chunks now. If you spent the whole five minutes thinking of your big goal, then that’s okay. Do this the next time you have five minutes spare. Write 5-10 smaller goals that will help you accomplish that one big goal.
54. Do one small thing that will move that goal forward now
Now, pick one of those smaller goals that you can start immediately. Again, you only need to spend a minute or two on this. Just get something started. Whatever it is and whatever your main goal is, start moving forward right away.
55. Say no
Sometimes, one of the best things you can do for your own self-care is to say no and set boundaries. I know that can often be easier said than done, however. Here’s a great guide on how to say no for self-confessed people pleasers (like me).
Hopefully, there are plenty of self care methods here that you’ll be able to try out. Do let me know which one you’re going to try first!