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.