We live in a fast-paced world where everything can feel like a priority.
When you spend so much of your day trying to tick every box on that to-do list, you eventually realise that you’ve neglected the most important task of all: self-care.
But when you don’t have the time or budget to dedicate to a full spa experience or a swanky dinner and cocktails every week, it can seem easier to not bother.
Here’s a list of 15 things you can do in 15 minutes or less to take some time for yourself, relax and refresh. And better still, they’re all free or very low cost. Take a look below…
Quick ways to practice self-care every day
Watch a TED Talk
TED Talks aren’t all about building a million-pound business or becoming a crypto connoisseur; there are dozens of TEDs that address self-care, self-confidence, and wellbeing. Here are a few of my favourites:
- ‘Reclaiming your self-worth’ with Corrine Fisher & Krystyna Hutchinson (7 minutes)
- ‘What if we checked in with ourselves as much as we check our phones’ with Reggie Hubbard (8 minutes)
- ‘Work is not your family’ with Gloria Chan Packer (16 minutes) – okay, this one’s just outside of our 15 minute timeframe, but believe me that extra 60 seconds is worth it!
- ‘Plus-size? More like my size’ with Ashley Graham (10 minutes)
- ‘Breath – five minutes can change your life’ with Stacey Schuerman (9 minutes)
Listen to a podcast
Much like TED Talks, a good, uplifting podcast can make the world of difference, particularly if you’re feeling a little flat.
My best tip for finding the best podcast for you to turn to for your R&R sessions, is to stay away from anything related to what you do for work. It might seem like a great idea in theory, but it’s truly awful for trying to relax.
Read a chapter of a book
If self-help and guidance style books are your jam, there are so many incredible titles out there to explore.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** is one of my favourites. In a twist to the usual self-help narrative, blogger Mark Manson discusses why we need to stop trying to be perpetually positive and how to embrace and be happy in our messy world.
Take a hot shower or a quick bath
A bubble bath with beautiful, subtly scented candles is great for a rapid relaxation session. If you don’t have a bath, or you’re just not into them, a 15 minute shower is a great way to go.
Use your favourite scented body wash, light a candle (outside of the shower) if you have any, and take 15 minutes to just stand there and be present.
A great way to embrace that spa feeling at home. Face masks are relaxing, indulgent, and make your skin feel so refreshed.
One of my favourite brands for skincare is Frank Body; their products are all cruelty free, vegan, and made with naturally derived ingredients.
Exfoliate and moisturise
Have you heard of dry brushing? It’s a method of exfoliating that has been proven to help improve circulation. It’s also very relaxing. Not bad, hey?
Start at your feet and use upward strokes towards the body, working your way up your legs, to your buttocks and lower back (if you can reach), then brush from your hands to shoulders. Finally, for your stomach and chest (avoiding breasts or pecks), brush towards the heart, but be gentler here as the skin is much more sensitive and delicate. Follow up with a gentle body cream or moisturiser.
You can buy a dry brush for around £10 (The Body Shop has great options!) and will last you years if you clean and take care of it properly.
Be aware that dry brushing isn’t right for everyone though; if you have particularly sensitive skin, or a condition like eczema or psoriasis, it’s best to give this one a miss. If you’re unsure, check with your GP.
Meditate (or sit in silence)
Did you know meditation can change your brain? From learning to manage stress, to increasing self-awareness, patience, and tolerance, and improving focus and concentration, there’s a lot to take from this practice.
If you’re new to meditation, try starting with two minutes. Find a comfortable and quiet space, sit, and relax, breathe gently, and focus on each body part in turn. Acknowledge any thoughts that creep in then refocus on your breath and body.
Journaling is a great way of unpacking and letting go of emotions and stresses in your life. Use a pretty notebook, a diary, or use a Word document to store your journal entries, and write, doodle, or draw about your day or week.
There is no right or wrong to journaling, so take some time to find what works best for you.
Planning, setting, and tracking goals can be a huge boost to your self-confidence and helps to reduce stress and anxiety.
Whether your goals are related to your personal life, career, or even hobbies and interests that you’ve always wanted to try, make sure they’re achievable. Ever set yourself a huge goal, with no idea of how you’re going to get there? I’m with you.
When you’re setting those goals, ask yourself if it’s realistic. If not, revisit it or break it up into smaller goals that can be easily tracked and measured to avoid frustration.
Affirmations aren’t for everyone, but they can be a great way to remind yourself of how capable you are. Your affirmations could be as simple as “I’m doing my best, and that’s all that matters” or “I am enough”.
You don’t need to chant these for a full 15 minutes, but try standing in front of a mirror, taking the time to really look at yourself, and say your affirmation 15 times. If you’re struggling with it, imagine you’re speaking to your younger self.
Give yourself a mini mani
Take these 15 minutes to remove old nail polish, file them, push back your cuticles, and repaint (if you want to). Finish off with a lovely moisturiser and give yourself a hand massage. Believe me, you’ll feel better for it.
Stress management, mindfulness, better quality sleep, strength building and improved posture. Those are just five benefits of this ancient Indian practice.
Even 15 minutes is enough to get those benefits. There are so many yogis on YouTube whose videos are recorded in real time so you can follow along and stay motivated.
Exercise boosts those happy hormones, and helps to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Regular, quick 15-minute workouts can help circulation, boost your metabolism, and increase life expectancy, too.
If you’re not ready to dive straight into workouts, a brisk 15 minute walk can improve resting blood pressure, how the body manages dietary fat, and increase insulin sensitivity.
Call a friend
Often, the best thing you can do for your mental health is to talk. Whether you’re feeling down, or you’ve had an incredible day, give a friend or family member a quick call and seek comfort or share your achievements.
A problem shared is a problem halved, and you’ll probably brighten their day, too.
Hug it out
Your partner, a friend, a family member, or a pet, even a 20-second hug releases enough oxytocin to reduce stress, decrease pain, and improve your mood.
What do you do to de-stress and take care of yourself? Let us know in the comments!
Article by Charlotte Beattie