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Self-Care Hacks
10 Self-Care Strategies for When You're Strapped for Time
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Hilary Thompson
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It's a busy week. Your to-do list is full of work meetings, deadlines, dance recitals, sports games, and social events. You have a house to keep clean, meals to make, and kids to shuttle around. So, how do you get everything done? You work late, miss yoga, and reschedule brunch with your girlfriends. To accomplish everything, you probably put self-care activities on the very bottom of your to-do list—or do not include them at all. That is a recipe for disaster. Neglecting your health and well-being and overworking yourself doesn’t benefit anyone—especially you. No matter how much you have going on, there some self-care practices you can do when you get five minutes of free time.

1. Spend time alone.

Your moments alone are anything but lonely. Locking yourself in your bedroom or office allows you to rest, regroup, and refuel. Your time alone can be as simple as going for a quick walk, lying on your bed, or curling up in your favorite chair with some tea. Spending some time in solitude  can increase productivity and concentration, so don’t feel guilty for taking a few minutes for yourself.

2. Try some deep breathing exercises.

Breathing is one of those things you probably don’t think about, but you should. Taking a few deep, cleansing breaths can help you relax and calm down in a matter of minutes. Along with benefiting your mental and emotional health, most breathing exercises can help with your physical health as well. Taking deep breaths can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which lowers your heart rate and conserves energy.

3. Keep a humidifier running.

There are many benefits to keeping a humidifier on all the time. If you suffer from dry skin, irritable sinus, or difficulty breathing, a humidifier can treat these conditions. Your immune system also gets a boost, which prevents you from getting sick. All you have to do is plug it in, and it goes to work improving your physical health, so you can keep working.

4. Take a hot bath or shower.

Whether you are more of a bath person or a shower person, taking 10-20 minutes for a quick soak can be incredibly beneficial to your physical and mental health. Relaxing your muscles, increasing circulation, and reducing stress and anxiety are just a few enjoyments you can get from a bath. Plus, it can help lift feelings of burnout or emotional distress.

5. Listen to music that makes you happy.

Whether you love the Backstreet Boys, Blake Shelton, or Ed Sheeran, turn on some music that makes you want to get up and dance. Elevating your mood, increasing motivation and productivity, and reducing stress are all positive effects of listening to music. Plus, you might be more willing to clean up the kitchen or answer emails if you have your favorite music blasting in the background.

6. Get your body moving.

No matter what your motivation, there are plenty of ways you can squeeze exercise into your daily routine. The most important thing is choosing activities that you enjoy doing and motivate you to exercise consistently. Try pilates, Zumba, boxing, or tai chi. Working out helps improve heart health, boosts your mood, and aid weight loss.

7. Rewrite your to-do list.

You probably have a to-do list that’s a mile long, but does it include personal time for self-care activities? If it does not, rewrite it to include specific times for self care. Adding in exercise, a hot bath, or some alone time will help remind you to take moments for yourself.

8. Write down three things for which you are thankful.

On your busiest days, you may not feel particularly thankful. Finding something to be grateful for can help you appreciate the positive things in your life, however small. Someone smiling at you, getting through traffic quickly, or completing your morning chores done before the baby wakes up are all small things for which you can be grateful. Those feelings of gratitude can lift your mood and help you find the motivation to tackle the rest of your day.

9. Laugh.

Don’t take life too seriously. It may surprise you how much fun life can be when you learn to laugh at it—especially on the days when you feel overwhelmed. Having a good laugh releases endorphins that help you feel happier and lowers stress by winding down your stress response. Listening to a funny podcast or watching an entertaining clip on YouTube are all fast, easy ways to get you laughing and feeling happier.

10. Ease up on yourself.

It may feel like everyone expects you to finish your entire to-do list and look great while doing it. This is completely unrealistic. The reality is, you can't do absolutely everything. If you accept that and cut yourself some slack when you fall a little short, you will be so much happier. Asking for help when you need it, focusing more on yourself, and figuring out what works for you are all ways you can ease up on yourself and feel more content with your efforts.

Self-care is not something to put on the back burner. Without taking some time for self-care, you're not putting your best self forward. You should never feel guilty or lazy for taking some time to regroup before tackling the rest of the day. Using these self-care practices will help calm your mind, improve your health, and prevent burnout.

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