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7 ways to practice self-care when you just don't have time

Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel. Eleanor Brownn

Are you a high flier, thoroughly enjoying your career, happily working longer hours, earning high income and successfully balancing the work, family, health and social elements of your life? Nice work! (Also, can we be friends? I need to learn your ways.)

For the rest of us managing work, home, social, and personal needs, trying to keep too many balls in the air usually comes at the expense of our health, triggering health issues like headaches, back pain, and even increased risk of heart disease. All thanks to excess stress.

That’s just no way to live. Which is why I firmly believe it’s unselfish to practice self-care.

No doubt we’ve all heard about the importance and benefits of self-care. Many of us are probably already practicing self-care to some extent, but chances are what we do is not enough and not often enough.

That twice yearly Groupon pedicure won’t cut it.

“But I don’t have time!” I often hear. I know. I also know it’s often only after an illness strikes or we finally burnout, that we start practicing self-care, which for some can be too little, too late. Prevention is better than cure, right?

Let’s delve in then!

7 simple self-care practices that you can do when you’ve just got a few minutes:

1. Breathe

According to experts, controlled breathing helps to relax and de-stress, increases mindfulness, and even lowers blood pressure. No less important is what we breathe – essential oils have widely been used in self-care. Try lavender for calming, relaxing and soothing effects.

2. Stretch

Practicing yoga regularly improves health and increases our energy and fitness levels, helps to focus our mind and calm our nervous system. Only 10 to 15 minutes two or three times a week can bring immense health benefits. Try these six yoga postures to relieve stress and check out this excellent post on restorative yoga to help you slow down and feel rejuvenated.

3. Practice gratitude

Gratitude is the latest self-help trend and a powerful technique that can help reduce stress and depression, improve your mood, sleep and overall wellbeing. Research suggests that expressing gratitude for “little things” can even strengthen relationships and revive romance. Always try and find something to be grateful for!

4. Pray or meditate

Just a few minutes of meditation can calm your mind and relieve stress. Meditative practice encourages you to focus on the present, rather than worry about the past or future. Try the Welzen app which teaches meditation and trains your mind to deal with everyday stress and anxiety in just 5 minutes a day. (I love this app SO much and I hope you do, too!)

5. Listen to affirmations

Positive thoughts can work wonders by helping you achieve goals and changing your whole outlook so you experience a more positive day. Check out ThinkUp to build your own inspiring self-improvement program and develop positive attitudes so vital for success. It’s an easy and quick way to start and end the day on a happy note.

6. Dance

Crank the music! Dance parties are good for the soul and great for your body. Moving to the music can make you happier and healthier. Researchers found evidence that people who danced for just 20 minutes, three times a week improved their heart health significantly more than those who did traditional cardio workouts.

7. Step outside

According to research, the neural effects of just a short walk in nature are similar to the effects achieved through meditation. Even just a 15 minute walk in a park or on a tree-lined path along a river can lead to significantly higher vitality and life satisfaction.

Little and often is the way forward

There are no set rules on how often to practice self-care – it depends on your unique preferences, which is why it’s crucial to determine what works best for you.

The “little-and-often” approach is the simplest way to achieve this. Build those habits into your daily routine, focusing on your mind, body, and soul, and let them become second nature and a permanent state of mind.

What works best for you? Comment below!