As I mentioned in my last podcast episode, trying to find some time for yourself may be easier said than done for many. If your days are already rammed, then the last thing you want is me telling you to head to some yoga retreat for a week to find yourself again.
However, you don’t need to set aside an hour a day or an entire week alone to practice self-care! In fact, you can take some time out for yourself in just five minutes or less. Don’t believe me? Well, I set a timer and tried out 55 self-care ideas to make sure these could all be done in just a few minutes. To say I had one of the most relaxing weekends ever trying all of these out would be an understatement!
Thank you to everyone who sent me ideas when I asked on my Instagram stories too. I have made a little infographic at the end of this article so that you can save it or print it out, ready for when you next manage to grab five minutes of peace.
Super Quick Self-Care Techniques That Take Five Minutes or Less
1. Write down 3 things you’re grateful for
This is one of my favourite quick bits of self-care that takes just a couple of minutes, but which makes me feel amazing for a long time after. We can spend so long being focused on the negative sometimes, that it’s nice to think about what is going right. We do this every day in the private Facebook group and on my Instagram too!
2. Put on your favourite singalong song
Most songs are about 3-4 minutes long and you can still do something else if you reaaalllly have to (I like to do this while emptying the dishwasher). You can find some awesome singalong playlists out there for a real boost – or make your own. I’m currently obsessed with the Hamilton soundtrack… “I am the one thing in life I can controoooool.”
3. And dance along too!
If you’re not emptying the dishwasher while singing along, then it’s time to get your groove on. Yep, I really did just say ‘groove on.’ I do actually combine this with something else too, like clearing clutter. The music goes on, I whizz around the house dancing like a fool, picking up stuff while I go. It’s such a mood booster.
Okay, I know this is technically we do something all the time, so nothing new there BUT I’m talking deep breaths here. There’s a little technique I like where you breathe in for four seconds, hold it for four seconds, and then breathe out for eight. It’s a really relaxing bit of breathwork that should help if you’re feeling anxious too.
5. Tell yourself all the reasons you’re amazing
Every morning, before I pick up my phone or do anything else, I practice a little bit of self-love. It’s the perfect time to do this too, because we’re so used to grabbing our phones before our eyes are properly open. If you have a minute to check your phone, you have a minute to run through some reasons why you’re amazing in your head. Do this every morning and you’ll change that inner monologue of yours.
6. Write down 5-10 things you’ve done that you’re proud of
This is another quick self-care technique I talk about a lot, but I genuinely think it is such an important one. Grab a pen and paper or a note-taking app, then write down 5-10 of your successes. Keep this with you wherever you go, so you can always look back at it if you’re feeling down. And make sure you add to it regularly! I wanna see you pulling out a whole scroll of successes next time you’re not feeling very confident or are experiencing Imposter Syndrome.
7. Read a few pages of a book
Not everyone has time to devour an entire book in a day – I wish! However, just squeezing in a couple of pages can do you the world of good. Reading can actually bring your heart rate down and make you feel calmer. Just make sure it’s a book you enjoy and not something that feels like work to read. I’ll be creating a whole list of awesome books I recommend very soon so keep your eyes peeled for that.
8. Drink a glass of water
Another one I recommend doing first thing in the morning, but also just throughout your day. If you’re a coffee-drinker like me, then it can be too easy to make the first drink of the day caffeine. However, our bodies need plenty of hydration and there’s just something so refreshing about that first glug of cold water. If you’re not a big water drinker (Jake, I’m looking at you), then try infusing your own water with something like strawberries, lemon, cucumber, or those super cool infuse teabag things.
9. Go sit outside
Whether you have a garden you can sit in or just a doorstep, go spend a minute outside. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like – I actually really enjoy sitting outside in the rain. Fresh air, Vitamin D, there’s nothing not to love about being outside. I know for some people being outside can be daunting (as a former agoraphobia sufferer, I understand) so if this is too much then just sit near an open window or door. Being able to feel the breeze will give you a boost of energy and positivity.
10. Wash your face
I don’t know when I enjoy washing my face most; in the morning when my eyes are crusty (delicious), at the end of the day when I’m taking my makeup off (heavenly), or just randomly through the day when I need a splash of cold water to wake me up. Invest in a nice cleanser that you enjoy putting on and spend a minute or two mindfully washing your face. This is bliss for me!
11. Moisturise your face
If you’ve spent a minute cleansing, then hopefully you can spend a minute moisturising too. I’ve become a little bit obsessed by skincare as a self-care technique (thanks, Caroline Hirons) and I just love the ritual of putting lotions and potions on my face. However, if you don’t have time for a full-on routine, then just massage some moisturiser into your face after washing it. Don’t forget your SPF either, especially if you’re going to be trying out tip #9.
12. Moisturise everywhere else!
While you’re there, don’t just stop at your face. There’s something so comforting about lathering a load of cream on your body. Don’t look at me like that. Find a cream or butter you really like the smell of and spend five minutes massaging it into your arms, legs, wherever. Even just the action of doing this can instantly calm you down, and the smell will also ensure that mood boost you get continues throughout the day.
I can’t be the only person who thinks that there’s nothing better than a big ol’ stretch?! The ones first thing in the morning and when you get into bed are the best, but this is the kind of self-care technique you can squeeze in at any point during the day. I like to try to reach the sky, before kinda flopping down like a ragdoll. Then I slowly roll my body back up and touch the sky again. Ahhh, even the thought of that is making me happy.
14. Tell someone you love them
This will take 30 seconds of your day, so go do it now! Send a text, an email, a Whatsapp, an Instagram DM, whatever. Just tell someone that you love them. Tell them you’re proud of them. Tell them they’re amazing. As humans, we get such a buzz from being kind to other people, but we perhaps don’t do it as often as we should. Go text someone now and tell them you love them! Unless it’s your douchebag ex, in which case put the phone down.
15. Get 5 minutes of Headspace
I have been using the Headspace app for a little while now and I love how you can squeeze in 3-5 minutes of meditation without much effort. There are plenty of other apps out there, like Calm which is another one I’ve tried and liked. If you can pop in your headphones for a few minutes and just zone out, then I’d highly recommend it. Also, if you’re new to meditation, then there is a Beginner’s Course on Headspace which is well worth doing.
16. Close your eyes
If meditation isn’t for you, that’s okay! I know I found it a little bit odd to start and it isn’t for everyone. However, if you can take five minutes just to close your eyes, then this is the next best thing. I spoke about getting more rest in my ‘12 ways to stop burnout in its tracks’ episode, where I said try to get 20 minutes. However, if you don’t have 20 minutes spare then just five is fine. Rest is rest!
17. Mindfully make a cup of tea
Have you ever made a cup of tea mindfully? It sounds a bit odd, doesn’t it? However, the few minutes it takes to make a cup of tea is the perfect time to practice being mindful. Make every action, from putting the teabag in through to stirring, something that you’re really present for. Notice how you feel when you take that first sip, too.
18. Complete a super quick task that’s been clogging up your to-do list
Oh man, this is one of those that I’m like “EUGH,” but actually really helps me in the long run. If you’ve got something on your to-do list that you keep putting off, then get it done. It has to either be something super quick you can do in a few minutes or something that you could start in just a couple of minutes. You don’t need to finish it, just spend a couple of minutes on that task. Honestly, the sense of relief that comes from this is incredible.
19. Mindfully brush your teeth
If you’ve mindfully made yourself a cuppa, then you can mindfully brush your teeth. I love this one because you don’t actually need any extra time in your day to complete this bit of self-care. All you need to do is be really present when you’re brushing your teeth. I find doing this in the middle of the day is really good for a minty fresh energy boost too.
20. Remove negative people from your social media feeds
You know you’ve got them… The people who are a drain on your energy or who constantly make you feel like you’re a worthless sack of spuds. Just get rid of them. Unfollow them, unfriend them, remove that negativity from your life. You’ll feel so much better if you fill your feeds with things that make you happy. Like The Anti-Burnout Club Instagram – shameless plug? I think so.
21. 30 seconds of jumping jacks or marching on the spot
Now, I’m aware that not everyone will be able to do this and that’s okay. Really, it’s just about moving around for 30 seconds. Wave your arms in the air, jump around, march on the spot, roll your neck. Whatever you can do for 30 seconds that gets your blood pumping a little bit. This is an awesome self-care tip for those afternoon slumps too.
22. Be kind to yourself in the mirror
If you listen to my podcast, then you’ll know I’m a big fan of talking to myself in the mirror. Laugh at me all you like, but the longest conversation you’ll ever have with anyone in your life is with yourself. Make it a good one. Look in the mirror and have a little chat. Tell yourself just how amazing you are, smile, laugh at your own jokes (I do this because no one else does), and just spend some time with yourself.
23. The 5-4-3-2-1 technique
If you’re feeling anxious or you need to ground yourself a little, then this is a really quick bit of self-care that you can do in a minute or less. If you’ve not heard of the 5-4-3-2-1 technique then it goes as follows:
- Acknowledge 5 things you see around you
- Acknowledge 4 things you can touch
- Acknowledge 3 things you can hear
- Acknowledge 2 things you can smell
- Acknowledge 1 thing you can taste
Try it whenever you’re feeling anxious or need to stop your mind from ruminating!
24. Write down something that’s bothering you
It helps to get things off our chest, so this is something I do quite often. Instead of letting it run havoc in your mind, jot it down on a piece of paper. It could be someone at work that’s bugging you or a problem with your spouse. Just get it out of your head and on a piece of paper. It might give you a different perspective of it, but at the very least it should help you stop dwelling on it for a while.
25. Get dressed – or get changed
I can get into such a bad habit of waking up in the morning, turning on my laptop, and working away for ages. I kind of forget that there are other things I need to do first, like, uh, get dressed. Lounging in your pyjamas can be relaxing sometimes, but it can also make us feel a bit meh. So, go put your finery on! If you’re already dressed, change your outfit. Pretend you’re a celeb who needs at least two outfit changes a day. Why not?
I’m the world’s worst drawer. Even my stickmen look like something out of a horror film. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t like a doodle every now and then. Just grab a pen and the nearest piece of paper (the back of envelopes will be where you’ll find most of my artwork), and get doodling. I like to draw clouds and sunshines, because that’s about the level of my ability.
27. Write a little poem
Luckily, my poems tend to be a little bit better than my doodles. However, this is self-care and no one is judging you anyway. So, who cares if it’s the worst poem known to man or better than Keats? This is just you spending a little bit of time getting creative, which is one of the 12 ways to stop burnout I mentioned in my last podcast episode! Give it a try.
28. Eat something delicious
Eat. The. Cake. Seriously, eat it. However, I want you to eat this something delicious whilst also being mindful – like the cuppa and brushing your teeth. Smell it, touch it, take a tiny nibble, really taste it. Lick it. Smell it again, really breathe it in. Sure, they might give you a funny look in Greggs but at least you’ll be enjoying yourself.
29. Pet something (or someone)
I know I am very lucky to have two of the cutest dogs known to humankind and they are my self-care saviours most days. If I’m feeling a bit down, I’ll just go and squeeze them for a little while. If you have any kind of pet, give it a stroke when you need some downtime. It’s so relaxing! However, if you don’t have a pet then stroke anything – or anyone (within reason). Your kid’s hair, your husband’s shoulder, your fluffy cushions, you get the gist. Just don’t stroke strangers.
30. Take a quick body shower
Unless you have short hair or are some kind of superhuman, chances are you can’t have a full shower in five minutes or less. It’s much quicker to just jump in the shower and give yourself a quick freshen up without getting your hair wet. Grab yourself a shower cap or do that thing where you lean back as if the shower has offended you – you know the one I mean. I quite like a semi-cold body shower, especially in the summer. It’s a nice wake-up call!
31. Brain dump
When I’ve got one of those ‘there’s too much going on in my head’ headaches, this is one of my favourite self-care techniques to do. I grab either a pen and paper or my phone notes and write down every single thing that comes into my head. It doesn’t matter what it is and I don’t dwell on anything that comes out. Mostly, it’s things I’ve been putting off or ideas I’ve had that I spend forever ruminating on. Dump it all out of your mind to give it some space.
32. Unsubscribe from emails you don’t want
This is so cathartic! Spend a couple of minutes going through your inbox and unsubscribe from any of the newsletters you don’t want. It clears up your emails and also ensures you’re not getting a ton of random spam emails every other day. Replace one of the things you’ve unsubscribed from with The Anti-Burnout Club newsletter instead. Good vibes in your inbox!
33. Set a timer for 60 seconds to answer these questions
Here are some quick things to think about when you’re in the mood for some self-care that will help further your goals – and find your ‘why’. Set a timer for 60 seconds for each question and just write down the first thing that pops into your head:
- What would I want to experience in life if time or money were not an issue?
- What does a successful life look like for me?
- What is most important in my life and what do I value most?
- What brings me the most joy in my life?
- What do I want to contribute to this world?
Your answers will help shape your goals, define what success means to you, and help you find your ‘why.’
34. Give yourself a head massage
Or ask someone else to give you one! I think this is the only reason I ever go to the hairdressers if I’m totally honest. Just run your fingers through your hair, massage your temples, and give the top of your neck a good rub. This is the perfect self-care technique if you’re feeling a little bit stressed, too.
35. Touch your fingertips
This is another grounding technique which can be really useful if you’re feeling a little bit overwhelmed or anxious. Using your thumb, touch each of your fingers individually. Start by touching your thumb to your pinky, then the next one along, and so on. Do this again on the other hand.
36. Write down 3 priorities for the day
If you’ve got too much to do and you feel like you’re in ‘catch up mode’ all the time, then let’s take a step back. Write down the three most important priorities that you have to get done that day, which should only take a minute or so. Use the other few minutes to get started on priority number one. You don’t need to finish it, just get started.
37. Help someone else
What can you do today to help someone? Our brains get such a kick out of giving, that this self-care technique should make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Who knew that helping someone else would help us?! Text someone and ask them if there’s anything you can do to help. Ask in the work Slack or actively find someone looking for help. Just don’t offer too much that it’s going to overwhelm you; a small favour will do.
38. Ask someone what they love about you
You might think this is a little bit self-indulgent, but I kinda love it. Self-care isn’t selfish guys, remember that! Ask someone exactly what it is they love about you. I do this with my husband probably a little bit too much… But it could be anyone! A parent, a sibling, a best friend, a spouse, anyone.
39. Tell someone what you love about them
If you want to make the last one a little bit less self-indulgent and tie it in with helping someone else, why not tell someone what you love about them too? Not only will you have made the other person feel good, but it will give you that warm fuzzy feeling as well.
40. Let something go
What are you holding onto that you could do with letting go? Perhaps it’s a grudge against someone. Maybe it’s a negative self-belief. Either say out loud or write down that you’re letting that thing go. In the past, when I’ve had a bit more time, I’ve also written letters of forgiveness to those who have hurt me. I’ve never sent them, they were for me to be able to let go. This is a difficult but cathartic piece of self-care.
41. Make an appointment you’ve been putting off
I’m writing this one more for myself than anyone else – I really need to go to the dentist! It’s been playing in my mind for months now and I just need to pick up the phone and book it. I’m going to do that right now. This is your reminder to do the same for something you’ve been putting off, especially if it’s for your health or wellbeing!
42. Schedule in more downtime
You might only have a couple of minutes right now and that’s alright, but that doesn’t mean you can’t schedule in some proper downtime with yourself. I mentioned this in my 12 ways to stop burnout episode and I cannot stress how vital it is. Make this appointment with yourself and DO NOT break it. It’s one of the most important appointments you’ll ever make. It might just be another five minutes to do one of these things, but the more time you can find for you the better.
43. Watch a funny video
Nothing boosts our mood more than laughing – and I’ve got an interesting podcast guest who is going to teach us all about this coming very soon! Find a video of your favourite comedian or watch five-minutes of a sitcom and just laugh. Laugh until your cheeks and belly hurt. There really isn’t anything out there better than a good ol’ giggle.
44. Walk to the end of the road and back
When I’m short on time or really anxious about being outside (thanks lingering agoraphobia symptoms), I like to take a short walk just to the end of my road and back. It only takes me 90 seconds, but it ties in that little bit of exercise and some fresh air without me feeling like I have to go on a 10-mile hike with the dogs. Baby steps!
45. Look up at the sky
I’m adamant that we’re going to evolve with bent necks, the amount of time we spend looking down at our phones or avoiding people’s gazes. Take some time to actually look up and marvel at the sky. Obviously, don’t stare straight at the sun please (I don’t need to tell you that, do I?). Do this at different times in the day, to watch the clouds, see the sun setting, or take in all the stars.
46. Do one yoga or pilates pose
I’ll put my hands up, I’m useless at yoga and pilates. I keep trying, but the only videos I really like are the ones that make you lie down on the floor for 20 minutes. I can do a couple of moves though, including the cobra into child’s pose, and I love using this to give myself a good stretch every now and then. Find one or two poses you really enjoy doing and try to squeeze them in when you have a spare minute.
47. Write ‘One Line a Day’
If you don’t feel as though you have the time to properly journal every day, then try finding a ‘One Line a Day’ diary. These are super cool, because they only take about 30 seconds to fill in every day. They’re then a lot of fun to look back on – especially if you try to keep that one line something positive. If you do have time to journal a bit more thoroughly, however, I’d really recommend it.
48. Learn something new
You really can learn something new in less than five minutes a day, I promise! If you want to learn a language, for example, then commit to learning one new word a day. That’s 365 words in a year! You could also use this time to save useful articles and videos on a topic you want to learn, so that you can refer back to these when you’ve got a bit more time to learn. Just learning one tiny new thing every day will have a huge impact in the long run.
49. Soak your feet
This is a particularly useful bit of self-care if you’re the kind of person who is always on their feet! Grab a bucket or bowl big enough that you can dip both feet in, fill it with warm, soapy water (or use bath salts if you have any) and just sit there for a few minutes. Just don’t forget to clean that bowl out before you serve dinner in it.
50. Lie on the floor
This is another self-care technique I mentioned in my last podcast and I actually had a couple of people message me to say they do this too! I’m glad I’m not the only one that loves to lie down on the floor. This ties in with getting some rest, so just pop a timer on for 3-5 minutes, lie down and close your eyes. I find it really good for my back, but everyone is different so please be careful if you do have back issues.
51. Find one thing in your life you can delegate
What is taking up time that you just really don’t want to do? Cleaning? Running social media? Boring admin tasks? Whatever it is, write it down and do a little bit of research into how you could delegate this. If you run your own business, work out if there’s a member of staff you can give it to (or recruit one if you can). Just make sure you’re not putting too much on their plate, too! If it’s something around the home, work out the cost versus benefits of hiring someone to take it on.
52. Write down one big goal you have in life
If you answered those 60-second questions I put further up, then you may have a better idea of what your one big goal is. If not, just spend a minute or so thinking about it and then write it down. Don’t overthink it, just go for the thing you think will make your life better. Your instinct is usually right with this one.
53. Separate that big goal into smaller chunks
If you have a little bit of time left over, try splitting that big goal into smaller chunks now. If you spent the whole five minutes thinking of your big goal, then that’s okay. Do this the next time you have five minutes spare. Write 5-10 smaller goals that will help you accomplish that one big goal. I’ll be doing a whole load of stuff on goal-setting in the future, but this is a great place to start.
54. Do one small thing that will move that goal forward now
Now, pick one of those smaller goals that you can start immediately. Again, you only need to spend a minute or two on this. Just get something started. Whatever it is and whatever your main goal is, start moving forward right away. You’ll feel so amazing that you’ve just got something started, that you might even have the momentum to do a little bit more.
55. Listen to a podcast (wink)
Finally, there’s a reason podcasts have risen in popularity recently. It’s so nice to be able to pop your headphones in and learn something new or laugh along with someone. It doesn’t matter what kind of podcasts you’re into, listen to just a couple of minutes of one now. I know a lot of my listeners will listen to my podcast in chunks, so you don’t need to dedicate 20-30 minutes of your life to it if you don’t have the time. Oh… And yes, this is another shameless plug.
Hopefully, there are plenty of self-care tips here that you’ll be able to try out. I wanted to find a huge selection so that there are plenty of options, no matter how long you have or what you have access to. If you have a little longer than five minutes spare, then you could always try a few or spend longer on one. Whatever works for you.
And here’s the checklist below so you can save it somewhere and look back on it whenever you have five minutes spare. Enjoy!