Self-Care Strategies for Mamas With No Time.
You just don’t have time for self-care, and no list of self-care strategies is going to change that. You’re busy taking care of your children, your home, your husband, and there’s no free time for you.
We all know what self-care looks like, after all, it’s a long bubble bath where you get so absorbed in the chocolate you’re eating that you don’t notice your bath is overflowing and flooding the whole house. Or, it’s a week-long yoga retreat in the woods without Wi-Fi. Maybe it’s an entire weekend off where you can just curl up with a book, reading and drinking tea all day.
Those things are all fabulous, but there are easier, faster ways to bring self-care strategies into your life.
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Micro Self-Care Strategies.
No matter how many children you have, how many hours you work, how much you have on your plate right now, you can’t tell me that you don’t have even one minute available for self-care.
Well, you can tell me, but I won’t believe you.
Self-care needs to be everyone’s priority, and I want to share some micro-self care strategies that you can use in one minute or less. Some of them might need a little bit of preparation ahead of time, but for the most part, these ideas let you just jump in anytime, anywhere.
1. Mindfulness & Meditation.
Yes, there’s plenty of research supporting the idea of meditating for a big chunk of time each morning, but don’t overlook the power of meditation as a micro self-care strategy. Apps like Headspace can be helpful here, but you don’t need a lot of time to start feeling the benefits. Use the timer on your phone, and spend 60 seconds breathing properly, deeply.
Just because you can’t fit in a half-hour workout, doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from adding some movement into your day. One minute is plenty to start feeling the benefits from a little bit of focused movement. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at Donna Eden’s Energy Medicine. That link is to a ten-minute routine, but doing just one or two movements will let you squeeze some nurturing energy medicine into your minute of movement.
3. No time for yoga?
I know, you’ve got to factor in the time taken to get to class, find someone to watch your children, and that’s before you even think about doing an exercise class when you’re so exhausted you could fall asleep right now.
What about doing just one stretch, though? Or a couple of poses, held for thirty seconds each? You could find a minute to use yoga as one of your micro self-care strategies. Once again, YouTube can help out, with Bad Yogi’s set of four 1-minute yoga practices.
How do you talk to yourself? All the self-care strategies in the world aren’t going to help if your internal monologue is negative and unpleasant. Spend a little time listening to what’s going through your head. Are you telling yourself, ‘I can’t do this’, or, ‘I’m so tired’? Whatever it is, it takes only seconds to catch yourself in the act and replace that statement with a positive mantra. I like, ‘I’ve got this’, or, ‘Everything always works out for me’.
It might be tempting to dismiss the idea just because it seems so simple, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Writing things down supercharges the practice, but the act of appreciation is a beautiful self-care practice to begin, even if it’s only in your head.
Take time right now to think of one thing you’re grateful for today.
Time taken? Maybe ten seconds. That means you can do it six times today, and really turn gratitude into a habit.
Everyone knows you’re supposed to drink two litres of water a day.
Everyone also knows that busy mamas rarely get to pee without company.
Two litres is a lot of water, and just thinking about it is enough to put some people off even trying. How often do you find yourself gasping for a drink, and then realise you haven’t finished a full cup of coffee since some time last week?
I’m not asking you to down two litres right now, just turn it into a micro self-care strategy and drink one glass, right now. Make sure you finish it though – don’t put it down on a shelf somewhere and forget about it while you throw the laundry into the machine.
7. Pockets of Beauty.
We’d all love a beautiful, Pinterest-perfect home. There’s a season for everything, though, and maybe this is your season for miniaturising the whole beautiful home thing.
A clean and tidy home can be an integral part of self-care for a lot of people, but it can also feel nearly impossible to achieve when you have small people shadowing you.
So, tidy one thing. Remember we’re sticking to the one-minute rule here, so it needs to be a tiny space. There’s a bureau in my hall, and it kind of accumulates stuff that people put down on their way upstairs. I can almost always zap that clutter in one minute, and if I’ve got an extra minute, I can bring something beautiful into that cleared space.
To make this into self-care rather than just tidying, you need to make an effort to focus on that tiny, tidy space every time you come into the room, rather than the mountains of crap everywhere else. Let your eyes rest there for a moment as often as you can.
8. Fresh Air.
Too much effort to go for a half-hour walk? Fresh air is one of those things that can fall victim to our all-or-nothing perfectionist mentality. Like all of the self-care habits we’ve talked about already, a tiny action can still make a difference. Get in the habit of opening the windows every day when you get up, and letting fresh air into your home.
Also, try stepping outside for just a couple of breaths, with bonus points for doing it in bare feet. Taking time to ground yourself in this way can be hugely beneficial. I try to do it every time I go into the kitchen, just by stepping outside without shoes to breathe for a moment or two.
You can combine this with the suggestion above, for double the benefit.
Step outside, turn your face to the sun, close your eyes, and enjoy the feeling of the sun on your skin.
A minute of sunshine isn’t enough to meet your vitamin D needs, but it’s better than no sun.
10. Colouring In.
Not just for kids. There’s a huge range of colouring-in books aimed at adults, and it’s a surprisingly calming hobby. Learn to draw Zentangles yourself, or pick a ready-made colouring book. A minute of colouring would be a minute well spent.
This probably isn’t the season for spending a whole day on the beach and reading, uninterrupted, the whole time you’re there. Those days will come again. For now, though, recognise that it’s hard to find time to read several chapters of a novel, but don’t use that as an excuse to stop reading altogether.
Treat yourself to a poetry book or two, and keep them close by for a minute of escaping into your imagination. (A couple of my current favourites: Sage Cohen’s Like the Heart, the World and Useless Magic by Florence Welch).
I adore knitting lacy shawls with complicated patterns. I like the magic of seeing that jumble of yarn turn into something stunning. I’m realistic though, and I know that a long stitch repeat just isn’t going to stay in my head if I’m interrupted three times a minute.
That’s why I love knitting socks.
Enough fiddly bits at toe and heel to make it interesting, but nice long stretches of either plain knitting or a nice easy pattern repeat. I remember reading a post on Soulemama years ago, about how she carried her knitting project everywhere with her, patiently waiting for the moments here and there when she’d get time to knit a row or two.
When we’re at the park, I know there will be time for a few stitches, or when I’m watching them play in the garden. Little by little, stitch by stitch, that yarn turns into a pair of socks. Not as fast as I’d like, and not as fancy as I’d like, but socks nonetheless.
Do you have a hobby that could be broken down into tiny blocks of time like that? If embroidery is your thing, then a small tin can carry what you need, ready to be bust out at a moment’s notice. Even the most elaborate of embroideries were created one stitch at a time. One little stitch of self-care. You’ve got time for that, haven’t you?
13. Eat Something Nourishing.
No, you don’t have to cook dinner from scratch, or plan your meals to fit with the perfect diet plan. Those things are good, but they take more than the one minute you have for self-care today. Eating an apple though, you can manage that, or a carrot. In your minute, you could even slice the fruit, because everyone knows that sliced apple tastes way better than unsliced.
Maybe the act of eating a raw fruit or vegetable doesn’t feel like self-care in itself, but you know it’s serving your body better than a slice of toast, or another secret biscuit.
14. Make Proper Coffee.
Or real tea, in a teapot. Or, amazing cocktails on no particular occasion. Whatever floats your boat.
Most of us don’t drink enough. Most of us use the excuse that we’re busy. Most drinks take less than a minute to make.
I’m unashamedly in love with my AeroPress (and trying to figure out if it’s weird to take it camping with me). I made a decision, in January of this year, to upgrade my coffee. I was sick of drinking crappy instant coffee. The AeroPress lets me make a single, perfect cup of coffee, and it’s quick and easy to do.
Maybe tea is your thing? What if you upgraded just one cup each day to something a bit fancier? You’re not adding any more time to the process, but you’re layering in some extra sensory pleasure to your day. Micro self-care at its best.
15. Wash Your Face & Hands.
My favourite go-to for when I’m feeling like I need to escape. So simple, but I find it to be a really effective self-calming technique.
Wash your face and hands in cool water, and maybe the back of my neck too. It feels good, it helps to bring you into the present, into your physical self. Micro self-care strategies don’t have to be fancy, sometimes it’s just about taking the time to do something, anything, to change the pattern you’re stuck in.
Make use of Pinterest for a minute of switching off and self-care that can be done through your phone. You could find one or two inspiring quotes and pin them. A bit like the old saying that wood warms you twice, first while cutting it, then while burning it, pinned quotes can inspire you twice, first when pinning them, then when viewing them later. Scrolling back through things you’ve pinned to an inspirational board can also count as micro self-care.
Pinterest is also an awesome resource for self-care strategies to squeeze into any amount of time – check out my self-care board for some suggestions.
Put on your favourite perfume for no reason other than it smells nice.
Or, drop some of your favourite essential oil into a diffuser, and enjoy the scent that way.
18. Watch Something Funny.
Laughter is the best medicine, right? So, hit YouTube and find something funny to watch. Or, click here and be prepared to lose way more than your allocated minute.
19. Change Your Clothes.
Been wearing the same t-shirt for three days now because you’re behind on the laundry and don’t want to add more clothes to the pile? Or, wearing scuzzy clothes that you don’t enjoy, because you’re at home and not going anywhere today?
Go and change.
Put on something that you love, even if no-one else is going to see it.
Go all out and put on your fanciest underwear too, and see if it doesn’t change the way you feel.
20. Micro Dance Party.
Make yourself a YouTube playlist of songs that are less than a minute long. Try this list for ideas. Put something on & dance like crazy until the music stops. Kids love this one too!
One Minute, and Then Another…
Okay, twenty ways to inject a teeny-tiny amount of self-care into your everyday life. One minute doesn’t sound like much, but if you pick a few of these to do each day, you’ll be making a difference. These micro self-care strategies could be the starting point for a more comprehensive self-care plan. Or, they could just be nice little things that you do because they feel good.
Want to make sure you can find this list again on a day when you really need some one-minute self-care? Pin it & share the love.