Self care with laptop and red cup

12 Simple Self-Care Ideas When You Don’t Have A Lot of Time

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When life gets busy and stress starts to take over, it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself. That’s why self-care is so important for your mind, body, and soul.

Why is it that we tend to forget to take care of ourselves?

Many of us spend time caring for others surrounding us whether that be family, friends, or employees, but we risk our own health and mental state by failing to take time to care of ourselves.

With the fast pace timing of society, there may even seem like there is no extra time for self-care. But what happens when we don’t prioritize caring for ourselves? Stress, overwhelmed, burn out, and sickness are just a few of the negative effects a lack of self-care could have in our lives.

With self-care being so important, why is it that many people ignore it?

The truth is, we are busy. We are all very very busy. There doesn’t seem like enough time in the day to dedicate to extravagant self-care retreats and luxuries.

What if I told you self-care doesn’t have to be a time-consuming process?

Of course, there will always be those activities that take up an entire day, but there are plenty of self-care ideas that can easily be done in a few minutes.

Here are 12 simple self-care ideas when you don’t have a lot of time.


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1. Listen to an audiobook or podcast

In the first few years that I worked at my desk job, I listened to music for almost the entire eight hours while I was working. After a while, music gets pretty boring. I listened to the same songs over and over and I was super burnt out on all of the playlists.

That’s when I discovered audiobooks.

Audiobooks completely changed and rejuvenated my work life. I started to look forward to being at work and listening to my audiobook. I even noticed that I was a little more productive because my mood and energy spiked.

I had initially signed up for a free trial of Audible but as soon as it ended I subscribed to the basic membership. It has been such a great decision for me during these past few years.

I even listen to audiobooks when I’m at home doing things around the house. It puts me in such a relaxing state of mind. Listening to an audiobook is a simple self-care idea that really only requires a smartphone and some headphones.

To get started with a free trial on Audible you can sign up here. If you aren’t sure what book to start your free trial with, here are some suggestions:

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero
Everything I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey

I have personally listened to all these books on Audible and loved them.

If you’re not into audiobooks, an alternative would be to listen to a podcast. I also love listening to podcasts and find myself switching back-and-forth between audiobooks and podcasts on a regular basis. My current favorite podcast is Rise and Conquer by Georgie Stevenson.

Remember, self-care doesn’t have to be a big ordeal. Simply listening to an audiobook or a podcast, and allowing your mind some easy escape, is a great simple self-care idea.

Related: 19 of the Best Books to Read in Your 20s

2. Make a cup of tea or coffee

Are you a coffee person or a tea person?

For me, it depends on the season, but I definitely enjoy a good cup of coffee and a good cuppa tea. The reason I bring it up is because tea and coffee is a nice treat for self-care.

If you work in a high-stress environment or you’re constantly overwhelmed with the things around you, try establishing a time of day where you can take a break and enjoy your tea or your coffee.

I like to make a cup of coffee around 11:00 am and drink it while I do my work. The entire process of bringing out my pot of coffee and watching it brew is relaxing and it gets me away from my laptop, even if it’s just for a few moments.


There’s also something extremely comforting about sipping hot coffee or tea. There are so many different flavors and blends that you could probably find one specific for stress or relaxation.

An extra tip to really enjoy your coffee or tea is to get a cup that you love to drink out of. This is the cup I’m currently drinking out of: Clear Mug

3. Journal or affirmations or self reflect

There are tons of proven statistics about the benefits of journaling (you can read them here.) Writing down your general emotions and experiences is a great way to relieve some stress and focus on you.

However, I totally get it if you’re not into journaling. Journaling isn’t for everyone, which is why I have a few other suggestions for what you can do.

Instead of writing in a journal, try writing your affirmations. An affirmation looks like this: “I am good enough and I work hard enough.”

Writing a few affirmations each day or even a few times a week helps boost your morale and gives you a simple but effective way of caring for yourself.

You can also care for yourself in a self-reflecting way. Unlike journaling where you write a diary-type entry, and unlike like affirmations where you write a few sentences, self-reflection can be a basic list of any observations you want to point out from how you’re feeling, what you’re thinking, your successes, your failures, your goals etc.

For examples on a journal, check this one out: Celestial Journal
For an affirmation notebook, check this one out: The One-Minute Gratitude Journal

4. Adult coloring book

For all my creative people who need some sort of outlet, adult coloring books can be a fun and relaxing activity.

I got my first adult coloring book a few years back and was mesmerized by how enjoyable it was.

There are plenty of adult coloring books on the market to choose from. I keep a coloring book at my desk and pull it out during my lunch break. I also have a coloring book at home that I color in occasionally.

Here’s a link to the coloring book I have plus a couple of other options.

Secret Garden: An Ink Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book
Stress Relieving Animal Designs
Calm the F*ck Down

I also recommend getting me a pack of colored pencils that has an eraser. This makes your color and experience that much more clean and fun.

Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils, 24 pack

5. Declutter something

A simple self-care trick for relaxation is to declutter a room, cabinet, desk or really anything that needs decluttering.

There is something about cleaning that makes our brain feel more organized and focused. A lot of times we tend to put off cleaning and decluttering so that we can focus on other work around us.

Instead, take some time to focus on the areas around you that you see on a daily basis but ignore because they’re so messy. Remember, you don’t have to declutter everything all at once. This is not an activity to stress you out!

6. Do basic stretches

Moving your body around and getting a nice good stretch is a great way to check-in with how your muscles, bones, and overall body is feeling.

Stress and overwhelm can settle into a person’s body in different ways. Whenever I’m stressed I can feel it in my neck and in my stomach.

To help with this I like to do you a few basic stretches every day so that I can make sure I’m addressing my sensitive areas rather than ignoring them.

Your stretches don’t have to be a full-on yoga routine either. Just something simple to remind your body that you care about it.


Remember, keep it simple but effective.

7. Go outside

Sometimes self-care is as simple as stepping outside and changing your scenery.

If you don’t have a lot of time to spend outside, it’s perfectly fine to just step into your front yard or backyard. If you have a little extra time, try walking around your neighborhood or walking around the block.

To take it a step further and change your environment entirely, drive to the nearest park and walk around a few times. This simple self-care idea is effective because it not only helps you clear your mind but it also provides an element of exercise which is great for your endorphins.

8. Use an oil diffuser or light a candle

While you’re working, try putting on an essential oil diffuser to bring a calming atmosphere into your environment.

I have an oil diffuser at work and at home. I love changing up my scents between lavender and eucalyptus in order to create an environment that helps me to relax. There’s something extremely soothing about being in a space that has a diffuser going silently in the background.

Here is a recommendation for an oil diffuser: Essential Oil Diffuser

If diffusers aren’t your thing, try lighting a candle instead.

Lately, since I’ve been working from home a lot, I light a candle every morning. My brain has gotten used to smelling the scent of my candle while I’m working, which helps me get focused sooner.

Here is my candle recommendation: Wild Lilacs

9. Find a go-to hobby

Sometimes self-care is as simple as spending a few moments indulging in your favorite hobby.

Hobbies are things that we enjoy and are passionate about but don’t always have time to do. My favorite hobbies include painting and making crafts.

Sometimes when I’m feeling extremely stressed out, I’ll block off a few hours to work on my paintings. This helps me to refresh and relax.

Some other hobbies you can consider in addition to painting and crafting include playing an instrument, riding a bike, hiking, cooking, baking, drawing, sewing, and so much more.

10. Make a list

When I’m extremely stressed out I tend to make a list.

I thought I was the only one who did this but it turns out that making a list is a form of coping with overwhelming situations. I will take it a step further and say that making list is a form of self-care because it helps to organize your thoughts on paper and it puts things into perspective.

There are times when I can have 3 to 4 list going in different categories.

Some types of lists to make include budgets, gratitude, friends to call, bucket list, morning routine, night routine.

You can make your list in a cutesy planner like this one, on a sheet of paper, on in your phone.

11. Watch a short YouTube video

I never used to watch YouTube until I discovered the types of channels I actually enjoyed. My favorite type of YouTube videos are typically run five minutes and teach me something random that I never knew I wanted to learn about.

I like to watch short YouTube videos during my lunch break or while getting ready because it takes my mind off of anything work-related.

YouTube is also versatile because you can watch it on your phone, a lapto or a desktop. Sometimes you don’t even need to look at the screen because you can just listen to the video.

I recommend the YouTube channel Ted Ed because all their videos are roughly 5 minutes long and they are extremely interesting.

12. Use a vacation or sick day

If you work at a job where you can incur sick or vacation days, try using one randomly.

By taking a random day for yourself it is a simple self-care trick to have a paid day off while also allowing yourself the chance to rest physically and mentally.

These are days that you have earned and paid into. You deserve to take them. You can even plan in advance the days you want to request so that you’re not springing anything on your job last minute.

And don’t worry, it’s completely legal to take a mental health day as a sick day. Your mental health matters and when you need to take a break, you absolutely should take your break.

I hope you found some value in these self-care ideas for when you are low on time. Self-care is important and should be valued. Stay safe and healthy!

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