As a busy woman it can sometimes be difficult to find a large chunk of time to look after yourself. Some days it can feel like a challenge to find time to even brush your hair! However, it’s really important to look after yourself well, especially if you are responsible for looking after others. If you don’t look after yourself, then in the long run we can begin to feel burnt out. We don’t always have time for long soaks in the bath, or to go on a spa day or yoga retreat. Here are some quick and easy 5 minute self care ideas to do something kind for yourself even when life gets frantic and you ‘don’t have time’.
Turn up your favourite tunes and dance like nobody’s watching! If you have kids, get them up and dancing too! You can do this while you are getting the kids’ packed lunches ready for school, waiting for your cup of tea to brew or cooking up a storm at dinner time – anytime you are in the kitchen.
Having a boogie around the bread bin can boost your mood. Really let loose and throw your best shapes for the biggest benefit. A quick burst of cardiovascular exercise, dancing is a great ‘movement snack’ and if you do it often enough, can even increase your fitness levels. It’s also a great antidote to our sedentary lifestyles of sitting for long hours and the associated health problems.
How much attention do you pay to your feet? They carry you around all day and get you where you need to go, but do you ever show them any love? A great way to spoil yourself at the end of the day, just spend 5 minutes to rub some lotion into your feet and give yourself a mini-massage at the same time. This can help you to relax and get ready to sleep as well as pampering your feet.
Practising an attitude of gratitude can help you feel happier and more optimistic. It’s a way of training your brain to notice the good things in life. As well as boosting your mood, it can even help you become more resilient at dealing with tough times in life.
At the end of each day, simple write down 3 good things from that day. This can be as simple as ‘I took my dog for a walk in the woods’ or ‘I enjoyed playing tickle fights with my child’, or something bigger like ‘We had an amazing day out in the city’ or ‘We went to my favourite restaurant’.
You can do this in a notebook, make a note on your phone, or even download an app! To get the most out of this practice, do it every day for at least 3 weeks.
If you feel your energy dipping, don’t reach for the biscuit tin! This will give you a quick boost of energy, but once the sugar rush burns off your energy will come crashing down again, creating a vicious cycle of highs and lows. Biscuits and chocolate are also packed with sugar and devoid of nutrients – yes, they are delicious but they do nothing for your body!
Instead, choose a healthy snack to give you a slow, steady release of energy. Why not try:
- A handful of nuts or seeds
- A banana or other piece of fruit
- Cheese and oatcake
- Boiled egg
- Vegetable crudités and houmous.
You can prepare all of these in advance so they are ready to grab when hunger strikes. Alternatively, make sure your cupboard is stocked with healthier convenience snacks such as fruit and nut bars, low-sugar flapjacks, or roasted pea snacks.
When we are busy or stressed, our bodies release adrenaline and other hormones to help us cope with the demands we are facing. But if this stress response is activated too often, or continues for too long, we can end up facing chronic health problems. Slow deep breathing signals to your body that you are safe and helps to switch from our usual ‘fight or flight’ mode into ‘rest and digest’.
Deep breathing is an easy 5-minute self care technique that requires no equipment! Take a slow deep breath in and exhale slowly. Try to lengthen the out breath so that it is longer than the in breath. If it helps, you can count. For example, breathe in for a count of four, and breathe out for a count of six.
To get maximum results, you would expect to do this at least 10 minutes lying down in a quiet place. However, you can still get lots of benefit from practising deep breathing in a shorter space of time. And you can use this as punctuation throughout your day. You even can do it while you are waiting for the kettle to boil – just take 3 slow, deep breaths.
Although ideally you would do a body scan somewhere peaceful, once mastered, this simple mindfulness technique can be practised whilst standing in the supermarket queue, waiting at traffic lights, or watching your children at the park.
You can learn how to do a body scan at home – try this Guided 5 Minute Body Scan to start if you prefer to listen to a recording, or follow these instructions:
- Lie down in a comfortable position somewhere you won’t be disturbed. Take a slow, deep breath in and out.
- Gently focus your attention on your head. Notice any sensations you feel. After a moment, move your attention to your face and repeat. Then slowly move down through each part of the body: head, face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, chest, abdomen, pelvis, thighs, knees, calves, ankles, feet and toes.
- Continue to breathe slowly. as you pay attention to your body.
- At each step, pause and notice how that part of your body feels. You might feel ease, tension, tightness, tingling, nausea, numbness, heat, coolness, buzzing, itching, pulsing, energetic, restless, or something else.
- If your mind wanders off that is ok, just gently bring your attention back to the body.
So many of us go through our days on automatic pilot without really noticing our bodies. Taking a little time to check in with yourself with a body scan can make you more self-aware and help to release tension.
5 Minute Self Care
Even on busy days, it is possible to carve out a small sliver of time to take care of yourself. Self care is important to avoid burnout so make it a priority every day. What are your favourite ways to take time for yourself on busy days?
Sally Wade is a busy mum of two and founder of Treat Trunk – a healthy snack subscription box for families. To start your hassle-free adventures in snacking visit www.treattrunk.co.uk/.
Look, a button code made by Heather Keet!