(NEW YORK) — Self-care can easily fall by the wayside in the dog days of summer, when the days are long and packed with work and fun.Though summer can be busy, there are still 24 hours in each day and countless ways to find time to support yourself mentally, physically and emotionally.”You can’t really get away with not having time to take care of yourself,” said Ellen Bard, a psychologist and the author of This is for You, a self-care toolkit. “If you don’t take care of yourself, and then run out of time and energy, you will have nothing left to give to those in your life who need you, let alone live your best life.” A long weekend like the Fourth of July is a perfect chance to squeeze in self-care, and create practices that will stick.”One of the key things to remember is that self-care isn’t something you ‘tick off’ the list and then it’s done,” said Bard. “It’s something that needs to be integrated, with kindness, into the rest of your life.”Here are tips from Bard and other self-care experts on how to fit in self-care in any amount of time:If you have 1 minuteMove your body: “Get up, roll your neck, touch your toes, and BREATHE,” said Sarah Knight, the bestselling author of Get Your Sh*t Together.Plan ahead: “Book your next massage or workout or therapy appointment so you have something to look forward to,” said Knight.Practice deep breathing: “Grab an essential oil, put a drop in your hand, cup your face and shut your eyes. Take 5 deep breaths. Breathe in for 4, hold for 4, and exhale for 4. This breathing technique calms your nervous system down,” said Amy Kurtz, a wellness coach and author of Kicking Sick.
If you have 5 minutesFocus on one sense: “Pick one sense to mindfully focus on completely, without judgment, for five minutes: Listening to all the sounds you hear, or the smell of a freshly-peeled orange, or the texture of a soft fuzzy blanket,” said Sarah Gray, a clinical psychologist and founder of Integrative Psychology.STOPP: “Take a moment to Stop or pause briefly, and then Take a breath, which allows you to reset and check in with yourself. You then Observe what you are feeling and experience, and then you also Pull back and Put in Perspective the situation. From there you can then Proceed with what works, with what will be most helpful for you given the greater context and your own values and goals,” said Gray.Phone a friend: “Call a friend and vent (with agreement),” said Nancy Irwin, a licensed clinical psychologist.Meditate: “Meditate with an app on your phone,” said Irwin.Get inspired: “Read an inspiration essay or listen to a favorite song,” said Irwin.
If you have 15 minutesMake a gratitude list or jar: “This involves jotting down three to five (or more) things that you are grateful for in this moment. It might be something as small as being grateful for feeling a cool breeze on one’s face in the heat of a summer day, or being grateful that you have your needs for shelter, food, and more met,” said Gray.Wake up without your phone: “Practice not looking at your phone first thing in the morning. Sit with yourself, meditate, watch the sunrise, or journal. Build in that time in the morning for yourself to set the tone for the whole day,” said Kurtz.Relax before bed: “Reading for 15 minutes before bed helps me feel centered. I think it really is the little changes that help,” said Erica Wollerman, a licensed clinical psychologist and founder of Thrive Therapy Studio.
If you have 30 minutesMake yourself a ‘Self-care go bag’: Fill a box or a bag in your home with things you can easily grab when you find yourself in need of self-care. “They might be a healthy snack, a blanket, snuggly socks, a playlist, a sleep mask for a nap, a few films that cheer you up, and paper and pen to journal, whatever works for you,” said Bard.Change your scenery: “Eat lunch somewhere other than your desk,” said Knight.Pamper yourself: “Rub yummy lotion on your arms and legs. Put a cool washcloth over your eyes and set a timer,” said Knight.
If you have one hourTake in nature therapy: “Just a short amount of time spent outdoors surrounded by green plants or trees can result in mental health and stress reduction benefits. See if you can make time for a hike with friends, or connecting with a place in nature that you feel allows you to breathe easier,” said Gray.Do what works for you: “Veg in a hot bubble bath with your favorite music or book, with your favorite beverage. Take a walk in nature. Get a foot massage. Shop online. Catch up with your favorite TV show. Plan a vacation. Take a Zumba or yoga class,” said Irwin.
If you have 1/2 a day or moreAllow yourself to be cared for: “For some this may mean booking a massage, a healthcare appointment, saying ‘yes’ to a friend who offers to help out, or hiring an expert to help with household needs or things that need fixing that we don’t have the time, energy or expertise to easily do ourselves. This may also mean creating space for a regular therapy session where the focus is on you and your needs/values/goals,” said Gray.Give yourself permission to do nothing: “If you are someone who is constantly feeling like you never have enough time for yourself or that there is always a ‘to-do’ list that can never be completed, given yourself permission to do ‘nothing,’ and just relax, sleep in, watch your favorite shows, or any of the other things that help you to just slow down, ‘be,’ enjoy and savor the moments. For some people this might mean a day at the spa but for others it may simply be staying at home for a few hours, sleeping in, enjoying every sip of a hot cup of good coffee, and letting the day unfold more slowly that it normally does,” said Gray.Clean out a closet: “Clean out your closet and take old shoes, clothes, jewelry, to a battered woman’s shelter. This may seem like work, but is self-care in that you are making way for the new,” said Irwin.
If you are traveling on a plane, train or carJust zone out: “Read a book you’re excited about, or just zone out to a trashy magazine like I do. Sing along to the radio. Do a crossword puzzle. Knit. Make a list of things you’re grateful for. And as long as you’re not the one driving, sleep is the best self-care of,” said Knight.Listen to what you need: “This is a great time to listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks. I believe that self-care is really all about knowing yourself and what you need. I tend to need time alone with my thoughts without someone talking to me but if someone else is missing adult conversation or wants to talk through challenges, it might be helpful to use their time to listen to something or call their friends or family.” Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.