Psst…I have a secret. Not only am I a big fan of self-care, but I try my best to practice what I preach since I’ve personally experienced the physical, emotional, and mental toll of burnout and feeling overwhelmed. That being said, it’s not always easy to practice self-care, especially if you’re a busy person. This article is all about showing you that self-care isn’t complex and teaches you ways to practice self-care when you’re too busy.
Too busy for self-care?
Yeah, I get it.
You have a lot going on right now. Your children are recovering from the flu, your partner has their needs and you have a big project deadline.
In addition to all this, your schedule is packed every single moment of every day and it probably feels impossible to take a step back, let alone find any time for yourself to relax.
But guess what?
Finding ways to take care of yourself when you’re busy is not only necessary, but it is critical for your health.
What happens when you don’t practice self-care
Unfortunately, our minds and bodies are not designed to go at 100 miles per hour for an extended period of time.
We’re not machines or robots and therefore at some point, the wear and tear we put ourselves through have dire consequences.
Take for example the time I was working 50+ hours a week and avoiding my regular wellness routine. I felt excited about my level of productivity. My body on the other hand was fed up after 2 weeks of non-stop activity.
I injured my back lifting a small bag of groceries and couldn’t move for over 1 week.
Morale of the story?
Your body reacts to stress when you’re constantly on the go.
Stress wears down your body quickly.
You may begin to experience anxiety, depression, headaches, stomach problems, and tension since stress is responsible for 77 percent of illnesses.
The antidote to all of this?
Practice self-care on a daily basis so that you can manage and mitigate the effects of stress.
6 ways to add self-care into your busy schedule
Here are some ways to practice a little self-care, even when your day is crazy busy.
1. Start with 10 minutes
The biggest excuse I hear from people is the following: “I’m too busy for self-care!”
Does that sound like you?
Well, practicing self-care doesn’t have to be grandiose, expensive, or time-consuming.
Instead, start with a 10-minute practice and make sure your routine is super easy.
Not sure where to start, here are 20 simple ways to take care of yourself.
2. Add a “wellness time” appointment to your calendar
When we’re overwhelmed, exhausted, and tired, the last thing we want to do is add another activity.
You are probably thinking, “I don’t have enough time for self-care so just leave me alone.”
I hear you, there’s a lot you have to do.
Trust me, I get it. The last time I felt overwhelmed and burnt out, the last thing on my mind was scheduling time for myself.
But you know what, you can actually change this situation by making time.
If this sounds complex, it’s not. The moment you decide that self-care is a priority is when you are ready to make a change.
The way to get started is to actually schedule it.
Do it right now.
Take out your calendar and find a gap in your schedule in the coming week and schedule an appointment, “self-care time.”
This is YOUR time so block it.
Try to be realistic with your schedule. If all you can see is a 5-minute window or gap in your schedule, then block that time for “my self-care time” and try these simple meditation exercises you can do in 30 seconds or less.
3. Show up to your appointment with yourself
Congratulations! You have scheduled your self-care appointment with yourself.
Think of it this way, when you schedule an appointment for a haircut or doctor’s appointment, you show up right?
It’s the same idea except the appointment is with yourself.
Once the appointment time arrives, you show up and practice self-care because you’re prioritizing your well-being.
Remember, this block of time isn’t for catching up on emails or looking at Facebook.
Instead, it’s about intentional practices to improve your physical, emotional, and mental health.
Unsure where to start? Here are 5 self-care tips that will change your life!
4. Establish a morning self-care routine
The biggest change that I made in improving my mental and physical health was establishing a morning self-care routine.
In doing so, I found that I felt calmer, and more relaxed because I started each day with a short guided meditation and a 15-minute walk outdoors.
Over the past few years, I’ve noticed that this routine helps me get ahead of my stress because I feel grounded and less reactive.
If you’re not a morning person, then carve out self-care and sprinkle it throughout your day.
Perhaps you unplug for 15 minutes and take a walk outside or eat a healthy snack.
Whatever it is, when you do a little bit of self-care throughout your day, it is much better than trying to “catch up on self-care” on the weekends
5. Focus on Little and Often
As much as I love getting a massage or going to the spa, I’ve learned that self-care is actually a lot more effective when you do it little and often.
Especially when you engage in self-care activities that reset your nervous system, like taking 10 deep breaths or going on a short mindful walk.
The reason that practicing little bouts of self-care is effective is that your body and brain need to re-calibrate and reset. You feel calmer and more relaxed doing activities that engage your “rest and digest” also known as the parasympathetic nervous system.
As a result, your tolerance for stress, overwhelm and other triggers are a lot higher.
Other self-care activities that take 10-15 minutes include:
- Deep breathing exercises
- Reading positive quotes
- Eating mindfully
Any of these activities are easy to get started on and are all free!
6. Stop worrying about doing it right, and do something
You can probably research for hours what types of self-care practices are out there.
The whole “self-care industry” is quite hyped and people can spend hundreds of dollars on gadgets and gizmos promising unbelievable results.
My take on it?
90% of self-care practices are free, accessible, and easy to do.
So start doing something instead of worrying about doing “self-care right” or even wasting your time and money buying stuff.
Remember, self-care is the intentional practice of taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental health. So ask yourself, what can help me feel better in any or all of those areas, and then do it.
5-minute self-care ideas for busy people
Perhaps you have very little time and want a cheat sheet. Here are a few ideas you can start doing NOW!
1. Make screen time a lower priority
If you want to find time, then limit or cut out social media since an average person spends about two and a half hours daily on social media.
I mean seriously?
2.5 hours a day?
If you can’t go cold turkey, then cut down your time by at least half and that itself is an act of self-care.
2. Say no more often and set boundaries
As much as I preach about self-care, I also struggle with finding time for it.
One thing I’m always looking for is…more time!
I wish I had more time to do the things that I actually want to do versus what I’m obligated to do.
What I’ve learned is that setting boundaries and saying no helps a lot.
It might be tough to do this especially if you’re a people pleaser like me, but guess what?
You can still take half an hour for yourself and the world will continue to revolve and function when you return.
Even more, YOU will feel happier, healthier, and more relaxed to deal with the world around you.
3. Write a list of self-care activities
Does this sound like a silly tip? It’s not because the simple act of writing down a list of YOUR favorite go-to self-care activities is immensely helpful.
Perhaps you’re exhausted (like me) after a long day, and the thought of having to figure out what self-care activity to do is too draining.
Take control. Feel better.
Start your Self-care Journey.
Just pull up the handy activity list that you’ve generated, scan the ideas and pick one that calls you.
Then it’s time to take action.
Writing a list of activities is a fun way to ensure that self-care is accessible to you, even when you’ve had a busy day.
Repeat after me:
Self-care is not a luxury, it is not selfish nor is it indulgent.
Self-care is an act of self-preservation for my physical, emotional and mental health.
Here is my secret: I practice self-care not just to survive but to thrive.
Remember, self-care does NOT have to be another task on your already overflowing to-do list.
Self-care is not a practice that adds pressure to your life. Instead, it is designed to help alleviate your stress and worries.
Take it from me, when I sacrifice my self-care I end up paying for it with severe illness and anxiety. It takes a long time for me to recover when I don’t take care of myself.
I’ve learned the hard way that it’s essential to practice it when you’re too busy so that you don’t have to!
If you’re a busy person (like all of us) what secret practices do you employ on a regular basis? What are your favorite 5-minute self-care activities that help boost your mood? How do you make time for self-care when you’re too busy? Please share your stories and comments below.
Great tips! We often think that self-care it’s hard and requires lots of time, and actually, we can do every day something for ourselves, it doesn’t need to be huge, expensive, luxurious…I really like how you encourage this, every little step counts. Thanks for sharing!
Hi Smiley thanks so much for your positive feedback! I completely agree with you, every little step counts and 90% of self-care is actually free!
I love this article! The advice to “start with 10 minutes” and “focus on little and often” is brilliant. Perhaps I overdo it every time I start my self-care routine, and that’s why I always end up falling off the wagon.
Hey Hannah thank you so much for your insight and transparency. I think you speak to what almost EVERYONE struggles with because we all try to do too much and then we fall off the wagon because it feels like self-care becomes another task on our overflowing to-do list. I am happy that you found the “start with 10 minutes” and “focus on little and often” helpful since little sprinkles of self-care throughout the day are intentional and meaningful and will help restore your well-being. I can’t wait to hear about your journey! 😃
It is truly a wonderful post. I love your tips especially starting with 10 minutes really resonates with me. Starting small really helps. Thanks for sharing.
Hi Hari thank you for your positive feedback. I’m a big believer in 10 minutes and happy that it resonates with you. I try to take a 10-minute walk outside every day and when I come back I notice how much calmer, less stressed, and more focused I feel. I am happy that you’re going to engage in some self-care as well ❤️
It truly is so important 🙂 I love all those points and I started noticing improvements in my life after practicing self-care.
Hi Maria thanks so much for your positive feedback! I too have noticed significant improvements in my life ever since I started a daily self-care routine. Happy that you’re prioritizing your health and wellness!
What an important topic self care is! Thoroughly enjoyed this post and will be incorporating some of these self care ideas into my routine. Thank you for the information!
Hi Jessica I’m so happy to hear that you’ll be incorporating some of the self-care ideas into your daily routine! Can’t wait to hear how it went!
Wonderful advice here! I think you help your readers by starting small if needed and stressing the priority of taking care of yourself. They busy of life gets in the way. I know if it is written on my planner I have a better chance of honoring the time. Thank you!
Hi Lindsey thank you so much for your positive feedback! I agree with you that the best way to start with self-care is to start small and prioritize yourself with little acts of love and compassion.
Such a great post! I was in a great routine for quite a while and fell off the last few weeks and I definitely notice a difference. Thanks for the reminder and tips.
Hey Tracy thanks so much for your positive feedback. It’s completely normal that we fall off our self-care routine once in a while. The important thing is that you recognized it and are getting back into your routine. Sometimes we need to make modifications since our body, environment, and life stressors change. That’s the beauty of approaching self-care mindfully and with intention, since you’re listening and attuning to what YOU need and then you take charge to redirect you’re energy to what serves you best.
Very interesting read. I am not good at self-care. I go all in and work myself to the bone and then I crash. Self-care is so important. Thank you for this post <3 <3 <3
Hey Aleksa I appreciate your transparency and I think that is true for many of us. We live in a society that values high productivity and constantly being “on” so we ignore the signs and messages from our bodies to slow down. I hope you find a little time to restore and replenish your well since your love, expertise, and presence are much needed in our world!
Depending on our mood or the situation sometimes self-care can take a step back from our priorities but we have to remember how important it is and how it can contribute to our wellness journey. Planning and creating a routine/habit around self-care can indeed make a difference. Thanks for the tips.
Hey Lani I completely agree with you! I think we sometimes put our self-care on the back burner when we have a lot going on in our life and I’ve learned the hard way that it’s important to integrate self-care as part of my daily routine. Thanks for your feedback!
There are so many helpful ideas in this article that I’m going to implement into my daily routine. Thank you for writing this!
Hey Sarah so happy to hear that you find the ideas in the article helpful!
What a great post! I’ve been really slacking with self-care since having my baby, but luckily my stress levels have stayed fairly low when compared to when I was working! These are great tips to get back on track.
Hi Catia I’m so happy to hear that your stress level is lower than when you were working! Congrats on your baby. I think having children really helps us re-evaluate what is most important in our life since work is always there but the time with your child is precious. I hope you fine-tune your self-care soon!
This is such a great topic! Being someone who really struggle with mental health, I’m always preaching self-care to people! I really enjoyed the read and gain some helpful insight! 💕 looking forward to more updates!
Hey Cg I totally hear you about struggling with mental health and the value of self-care. Like you I also preach self-care to people (one of the reasons I started this blog) and I’m happy that the article provided you with some helpful insight. I’m happy that you prioritize your self-care!
I love the “little and often” tip! With 2 young kids, I don’t find a lot of big blocks of self-care time. But I fit in a lot of small things throughout each day. It helps so much! These are all great tips, thank you!
Hey Melissa I appreciate your feedback and the value of little and often for self-care!! I’m glad you fit self-care into your daily schedule with having 2 young ones.
This is such a relevant topic these days! Everybody is too busy and neglects self care. I am one of those people, these are some very helpful tips.
Hey Gabby I completely agree with you that people are too busy and neglect their self-care so I’m glad that you are prioritizing it for YOU!
Great tips for learning how to add self-care time into a busy schedule!
Thank you!! Hope you are able to use some of the self-care tips in your busy day.
I can so relate to not having time to do self-care. It seems I stay so busy with everything that I don’t always take the time to take care of myself as I should. The point that really stuck with me was “do little and often.” That sounds like something that would work for me. Thanks for sharing!
Hey Anita I’m so happy that you relate to the article. I also keep myself busy and need to be intentional about carving out time for myself. I love that the “do little and often” stood out for you since even a 5 minute break can do wonders for us!
Love this article! I need this. Finding time for self care is sometimes a challenge, so will follow these tips. Thank you for sharing!
Thanks so much Rosie!
This is a great and well-detailed article. Yes, let’s start with small steps, one at a time. I set my timer for 10 min two times a day, and I just breathe deeply and calmly.
Hey Pedja I love that you set a timer and just breathe deeply and practice mindfulness. The idea of setting a timer is fantastic since it helps us stay accountable and focused.
I love the idea of putting a “wellness appointment” on our calendar. It’s so easy to put off simple self-care routines. Giving them a specific time and place sets aside space to make them actually happen. These are lovely ideas – and so doable. Thanks for the reminder that self-care isn’t a luxury or just for weekends.
Hey Dana thanks so much for your positive feedback. I schedule my wellness appointment on Sunday’s and it’s made a world of difference for my physical, emotional and mental health!
Love this article and how you talk about taking small steps to start self-care instead of starting a whole routine at once. I look forward to reading more articles!
Hey Julie thanks so much for the positive feedback. Change can be hard for anyone and doing too much all at once usually is a set back for some of us so I appreciate you recognizing that small incremental steps are key in improving our self-care habits.
I agree that we need to keep our appointments with ourselves. I also agree that we all need to reduce our screentime. This was a very good article about self-care and you included many good tips.
Hey Zandra thank YOU for validating the importance of honoring and keeping our appointments with ourselves and the importance of reducing screen time. I sometimes need a reminder too since social media can be such a time sucking vortex for me!