How often do you tell yourself you don't have time to take care of yourself because you're too busy?
Self-care is an essential tool for mental wellness, but it's easily neglected when life gets hectic.
Work is crazy; you've got plans with friends; you've got errands to run and your to-do list just keeps getting longer.
Who has time to pamper themselves?
Unfortunately, those busy times in life are when it's most important to take care of yourself.
Ignoring your needs and well-being can add up quickly. Then, you're burned out, sick or worse.
Self-care doesn't have to be expensive or take a lot of time and effort. Practicing self-care will help you stay grounded, true to yourself and healthy (mentally and physically) during busy times.
You'll quickly learn taking care of yourself isn't self-indulgent; it's necessary.
Here are some easy ways to practice it, even when you're so busy you feel like you don't have time for anything:
1. Breathe deeply.
When you feel stressed and tense, take a couple of minutes, put your phone down, turn away from your laptop and breathe.
Focus on your breath.
This is a great practice for regaining balance and releasing tension. It allows you to take a second to feel a little less overwhelmed.
There are a lot of great apps out there that can help you if you need a little more structure as well.
My favorite is Stop, Breathe & Think. It encourages you to use different types of guided meditations on your phone, all of which are short.
This is a really easy way to clear your mind when you only have five minutes.
2. Take a walk.
Whether it's in the morning, during lunch, after work or before bed, take a quick walk alone.
Leave your phone at home and be alone with your thoughts for a little while.
The extra fresh air will help put you in a more positive mood, and taking time for yourself can help you work through any thoughts or problems you may be dealing with.
It's also an easy way to work in a little exercise when you're pressed for time and don't think you can make it to the gym.
3. Touch base with friends.
You may not have time for dinner or happy hour, but you definitely have time to shoot off a few texts at some point in your day.
Keep the conversation light, though. Venting can have the opposite effect of its intent, and will make you focus more on what's bothering you.
Instead, focus on small victories or something funny.
Isolating yourself when you're busy isn't healthy, and focusing on something else for a little while can help ensure you don't turn into a cranky hermit.
Stay in touch with people who make you feel happy and supported.
4. Keep your space welcoming and tidy.
It's so overwhelming to already feel stressed out and then realize you can't find something because your area is a mess.
Take a few minutes to declutter and organize, and maybe even put up some notes with quotes that inspire you. Or just use affirmations that make you feel positive and motivated.
Lighting a candle in my space also makes me feel like I've taken the time to do a small thing that makes me more comfortable.
It really can be as simple as that.
5. Set limits and boundaries.
Know when enough is enough.
Know when you need to stop and take time for yourself. Don't over-schedule yourself, and know when to say no.
Give yourself permission to say no to the things that don't need to be taken care of right now.
6. Make yourself a priority.
Self-care is often seen as a luxury, but it's a basic human need.
Prioritize taking care of yourself. By doing this, you're prioritizing yourself.
Figure out what you really need.
Is it calm? Is it stability? Is it organization?
Focus on taking care of that. It'll make you a more efficient person.