Self-Care in Under Five, a Guest Post from Carley Schweet
We live in a busy, hyper-connected world, and, sometimes, self-care can quickly fall by the wayside, buried under a seemingly endless to-do list. The thing is: self-care is now more critical than ever before, especially living through a global pandemic, and there are ways to reap the healing benefits of caring for your needs in little to no time.
Keep reading to learn how you can begin to incorporate self-care into your daily life in five minutes or less. Hey, we all have to start somewhere, right? You may be amazed at how much better you feel by simply carving out just 300 seconds for yourself each day. When you look at the numbers that way, self-care feels pretty attainable, huh?
Five Ways to Practice Self-Care in Five Minutes or Less
To get the most out of your five-minute self-care practice, first get in touch with what you need most at that time. This step is essential. If you’re stuck, simply ask yourself what your greatest desired feeling or outcome is? Is it to feel less stressed or more grounded, or more energized? Whatever your answer is, keep it in mind as you read through these five ways to practice self-care when you’re short on time.
Slow Down and Breathe Deeply
While this self-care practice may seem incredibly simple, many of us don’t breathe deep enough throughout the day. Shallow breathing does not produce the deeply relaxing and stress-melting benefits that deep belly breathing can.
Try this quick 4-7-8 breathing exercise by Dr. Andrew Weil
- Empty the lungs fully.
- Inhale through the nose for four seconds, breathing deep into the belly.
- Hold seven seconds.
- Exhale for eight seconds through the mouth. Option to create a “whoosh” sound while exhaling.
- Repeat up to four times maximum
Set a timer on your phone every few hours to remind yourself to take a breathing break. Notice how these small pockets of breath affect your mood throughout the day.
Do Some Simple Stretches
Whether you stretch at your desk, your kitchen counter, or in the messiness of your child’s bedroom, your muscles will thank you. That’s because muscles tend to hold a lot of our tension, and they can quickly feel sore and tight in times of stress. Take a few minutes to stretch each morning or throughout the day.
- Bend over and relax your fingertips towards the floor
- Complete a series of head and neck rolls to each side
- Stretch out your wrists and ankles
- Gently nod your head yes, taking extra notice of the downward motion to release upper back tension
Ask for Help When Needed
Part of self-care is recognizing when you can’t do it all. Spoiler alert: you’re not supposed to do it all, even if it feels like you “should” most of the time. Speak up and ask for specific help from those in your life so you can take off some of the mental and physical load you’re carrying. It’s okay to ask for help. In fact, it’s highly encouraged.
For example, when asking your partner for help, instead of this:
Wow, I sure would love to take a bath tonight, but this laundry will not fold itself!
I’ll need you to fold the laundry tonight so that I can take a bath. I’m feeling burned out and could use your support. Thank you.
See how there’s a big difference between actually asking for help and merely hinting at it?
Bonus points if you add some relaxation-boosting bath salts to your tub time.
Set Boundaries with Others
It takes no time at all to set an effective boundary. Sure, it may take some time to build up the courage and find the right words, but the boundary itself can happen in a matter of moments.
Boundaries are a powerful form of self-care because you set limits on what you’re available for, both mentally, emotionally, and physically. It’s important - no, it’s essential - to communicate your boundaries and stick to them for ultimate happiness.
Some example boundaries could be:
- Thanks for thinking of me, but I’m not available at that time. Could we try XYZ time instead?
- I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, so I’ll have to pass on your offer.
- I simply don’t feel comfortable taking that on right now. Check back with me in a few weeks to see if anything has changed.
Boundaries ensure that you can protect your time and energy, two of our most precious and vital resources. Set boundaries and begin to watch your daily life positively shift.
Create a Quick Morning Routine
Your morning routine doesn’t have to be elaborate to be supportive. A quick and simple morning routine can help you feel set up for the day and accomplished before you even step foot out of the door. Take a few minutes to brainstorm a few ideas that you can commit to each morning to help you care for your needs before everyone else’s.
Final Thoughts on Self-Care
Hopefully, you can see that self-care doesn’t have to be elaborate or time-consuming to be useful and beneficial to your health. The five ideas listed above are simply to get you going; feel free to get creative and adjust accordingly to better suit your needs and lifestyle.
What’s important is that you tend to your needs and care for them with love. You’re worth it.
Carley Schweet is a self-care author and writer at Carley Schweet and the founder of Hello Postpartum. She’s passionate about redefining what self-care really means (hint: it’s not bubble baths). Through her work, she hopes to inspire womxn to fill the gaps in their self-care practices with confidence and sustainability.
You can find her work on major media outlets such as FabFitFun, MindBodyGreen, Bustle, Hello Giggles, and Elite Daily. Read more about her self-care work and connect with her on Instagram.