If you spend more than 20 minutes scrolling through your social feeds, you'll probably see someone recommending that you focus on self-care. It's almost to the point where making time for self-care to reduce our stress ... gives us more stress!
Massages, fitness classes, learning a new language, mindful eating … the self-care movement, though rooted in the best of intentions, has become so prevalent that it seems there are more ways than ever to practice it – and added pressure to do so. Does the thought of scrambling to fit self-care into your daily routine feel like more of a burden than an act of grace? If so, it’s time to rethink self-care.
True self-care, which can take the shape of any activity that fuels your soul, can energize your mind and body in as little as five minutes. At Happsy, we’re all about organic rest and well-being. Stick around and we’ll help you kickstart your super simple self-care routine.
What’s the big deal about self-care?
You may have heard the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” The practice of self-care is about taking care of ourselves so that we’re able to be our best and show up where we’re needed. Whether that means at your job, at home, or as a friend, partner or spouse, self-care helps us to be healthy, strong and centered enough to tackle all that life throws at us.
Since the pandemic, terms like “overwhelm,” “burnout” and “languishing,” have become commonplace, and the American Psychological Association reports that more than a quarter of U.S. adults feel so stressed they can’t function. Coupled with overstimulating technology, lackluster work-life balance and lack of sleep, there is an epidemic of anxiety and depression. Practicing self-care is one important way we can effectively combat stress and help keep ourselves grounded.
Self-care can be free!
With any movement, comes an industry. The self-care industry is rampant with overly priced ways to unwind. But self-care doesn’t have to cost a lot, and it should never be an additional source of stress (especially financial stress). In fact, self-care can be completely free!
If you feel intimidated by expensive wellness retreats or luxury skincare packages, take a deep breath and… guess what – you just performed self-care!
10 Free self-care ideas when you only have 15 minutes
Simplify your self-care practice with these effortless ideas. Remember, self-care can be subjective and will look different for everyone. It should always feel nourishing to you, so feel free to modify wherever you see fit.
Meditating is much easier said than done, but it is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your mind. Meditation can be guided or self-instructed. It can also come in the form of nature appreciation, prayer or silent reflection. Taking a few minutes out of your day to tune in and clear your mind will create a solid foundation, resiliency and improved mental health.
Journaling doesn’t have to be strenuous. Don’t overthink it! Writing a few quick thoughts or feelings is a healthy way to purge clutter and gain clarity. Journaling can also come in the form of a list. Writing out a list of gratitude, a to-do list, or even your grocery list can help clear your mind.
3. Go for a walk
Daily walking has been proven to increase longevity and improve mental health. Getting moving and getting out in nature are two powerful self-care tools than come free of charge! Walking is a great way to process thoughts and emotions, as well as receive the physical benefits of gentle exercise. Plus, daily walking supports better sleep!
4. Get some sun
Vitamin D from sun exposure is necessary for health and is also a great way to set your circadian rhythm for better sleep. Getting 15 minutes of unprotected sunlight each day offers countless benefits and is completely free!
Stretching is a free and easy way to reduce stress. Spending time slowly stretching and focusing on areas that feel tight or tense can relieve pain and tension. Gentle yoga practice can be a real game-changer.
6. Snack or sip
his is a surprisingly overlooked area of self-care. Preparing a nourishing snack, having a warm beverage to sip on or drinking enough water are all acts of self-care. Don’t skip meals and remember to eat slowly.
7. Take a shower
A shower a simple and free away to reset the mind and body. Turn on your favorite tunes, consider using an essential oil shower steamer, and just allow the warm water to hit the back of your neck for as long as you want.
8. Call someone you love
Connecting with loved ones can be an extremely therapeutic act of self-care. Calling someone, rather than texting, can help relieve stress and help you feel heard, making you feel more connected and grounded.
9. Check something off
Finishing tasks, however big or small, provides a sense of accomplishment and productivity that can have a positive impact on other aspects of your life.
10. Create space
It’s easy for us to take on the energy of our surroundings. Tidying up, lighting a candle or opening a window to get some fresh air are all great ways to care for your space, as well as care for yourself.
5 Free self-care ideas when you only have 5 minutes
Five minutes? Maybe you’re thinking that can’t possibly be enough time to really benefit your state of mind. But, don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it. Here are some incredibly quick self-care ideas:
1. Listen to music
Five minutes or less is just enough time to listen to your favorite song and dance it out! Singing and dancing have both been shown to alleviate stress by activating the vagus nerve, as well as the lymphatic system. The more you let go, the better!
Take time to reflect and express gratitude. Reminding yourself of what you’re grateful for or what you’ve already overcome helps maintain perspective. You can focus your reflection on a specific time period or situation if that helps.
3. Freshen up
Taking five minutes to wash your face, reapply some deodorant, brush your hair or change your shirt is a free form of self-care than can boost confidence and improve your mood.
Deep belly breathing, called diaphragmatic breathing, slows heart rate, stabilizes blood pressure and increases oxygen intake. This type of breathing has a profound calming effect on the body. Taking a few minutes to connect to your breath is a powerful form of self-care.
5. Embrace silence
If you only have five minutes, sometimes the best thing you can do is to spend it in silence. Don’t look at your phone, don’t scroll, don’t talk – just sit still and be silent for a few minutes.
Remember: sleep = self-care
Regardless of how you manage to fit self-care into your day, we all practice self-care every night whether we realize it or not. Sleep is perhaps the most profound form of self-care – and it’s free!
Making sleep hygiene a priority is an invaluable way we can improve every aspect of our lives and our overall self-care practice. And, the safer and healthier your sleep space can be, the better. Happsy, of course, recommends going for 100% certified organic mattresses and bedding.
When it comes to caring for oneself, sometimes it’s the most foundational and simple practices that make the most difference – and with the least amount of money.
Plus, if you’re still stuck on the 15 minutes thing, we have some great news for you about the power of power naps! Check it out.