November 16, 2014

10 Ways to Take Care of Yourself on a Tight Schedule.

tea cup mug hot

It’s easy to find lists of the 50 different things you could do each day to enhance your life and yet if you took the time to actually implement them you might not make it out of the house.

One of the most common questions I receive during coaching sessions is “how can I implement sustainable self care into my daily routine?” It’s relatively easy to do a 7 day cleanse or go on a retreat, but what happens when the week is over and you’re back in the office or in between baby cries and only have a couple of minutes to yourself?

Here are my 10 favorite self care options that take less than 10 minutes. In fact, you could combine 3 or 4 of these and still be under 10 minutes. That’s manageable for even the busiest schedule.

1. Abhyanga

The Ayurvedic oil massage can be done with sesame oil or coconut oil and not only deeply moisturizes your skin and grounds you but also allows you to give yourself some lovin’ touch. You don’t need anyone else for this massage, just warm some oil between your palms and begin to rub from your hands up your arms. Then massage from your feet up the front and back of your legs. Rub in a circular motion around your belly and low back, eventually circling around your heart. While you’re massaging you could add in appreciation for your body. (See #2)

2. Appreciation.

What’s one thing that you appreciate about yourself today? What’s one thing you appreciate about someone else?

We can bring this into awareness on the drive home, while making a meal, washing our hair or walking our dog. I notice my mind can drift to criticism in an instant, but it’s just as easy to appreciate as it is to criticize, though it may take some training. Rather than using blanket statements such as, “I love myself,” focus on something specific. Something that’s totally unique.

For me it could be: I appreciate how my hair transforms me into a lioness as it dries. Or, I appreciate the sun kissed glow on my porcelain skin. I appreciate that my husband stopped in the middle of his busy workday to enjoy lunch on the deck with me. We have the power to choose what we put our attention on. Choose appreciation and discover how much brighter the world appears.

3. Take a shower.

It sounds simple, and it is. Getting under the flowing water is like hitting the refresh button on your day. Don’t underestimate the power of a late afternoon shower to revitalize your energy for the evening ahead. This is especially useful if you feel like the day is sticking to you energetically. Wash off what was and you’ll arrive more fully in the present.

I love to put a few drops of essential oils in the shower for a spa-like experience. Eucalyptus, Sandalwood, Lavender or Grapefruit are all wonderful options. I always take a couple with me when I travel as well.

4. Stop drop and yoga.

Do you hear yourself saying you don’t have time for yoga? Yoga asana doesn’t have to stay on the mat or within the confines of a class. Try brushing your teeth in tree pose. Pausing to pick up clothes off the floor in a forward fold. Side twist as you reach for documents from your printer. Whip out a shoulder opener in line at the grocery store. There are so many yoga moments in the day. Find them. Create them. If you do have a little longer, I’ve created a couple of practices under 20 minutes focused on getting grounded and opening up to abundance.

5. Choose to nourish yourself.

So many times I have found myself out doing errands or running from school pick-up right to teach a class realizing my blood sugar is plummeting. A simple solution is making a snack bag and popping it in your car console or keeping a few ready-to-go containers in the fridge. Some ideas are: mixed nuts, mandarin oranges, dried apricots, jerky, apples or celery sticks with nut butter. If you have kids, you’re well aware that you wouldn’t leave them without a healthy snack on hand.

Why would you be any less of a good mama to yourself? I love to make a triple size smoothie and pour it into three jars to go. One blender washing = three days of goodness. One of my favorite ways to nourish myself is simply drinking more water. I slice cucumber and mint leaves to add in a burst of freshness or strawberries and lemon for a tangy blend. Have you ever noticed how much better water tastes at a spa? You can easily create the same experience in your kitchen.

6. Walk outside.

Sometimes we get so busy behind our desks that we forget about the outside world. You don’t need to go on a mid-day hike, though I’m sure that would feel amazing, but what about walking outside your door and looking up at the sky? What color are the leaves? What sounds do you hear? How does the air feel against your skin? The best ideas often come when you stand up from your desk, not while sitting behind it.

7. 60 second breathing breaks.

That’s right, you might not have time for an hour of meditation but everyone has time to breathe. You’re already doing it. The next step is to allow a minute to be conscious about it. With your eyes open or closed, tune into your lower body from your waist down, and notice any sensations. Then, for the next three breaths take your awareness up to your ribcage, heart and back. Notice where your breath is moving freely or feels constricted. For the last three breaths take your awareness to your throat, jaw and head. Notice any sensations. In less than a minute you’ll become aware of your inner landscape and be more present for everything and everyone else. You can do this as often as you like throughout the day.

8. Dancing your way into the day.

Part of my morning ritual as I get dressed is to hit play on a song that matches my mood. Sure it might take an extra minute, but it leaves me feeling energized and ready to meet the day. Do you feel melancholy and slow? Do you want to jump around and sing at the top of your lungs? Somewhere in between? Match that feeling all the way for a few minutes and you’ll be available for what wants to happen next.

Do you want to get your sass on? Try Meghan Trainor ~ All About That Bass:

Do you want to enter a meditative groove that blends love and devotion? Check out DJ Drez & Marti Nikko ~ Royal Krishna (Royals):

Do you want to melt into your heart? John Legend ~ All of Me:

Dance out your joy with Pharrell Williams ~ Happy:


9. Make an herbal tea.

Pair up hydration with a warming, soothing tonic to support your deep sleep. You may be staying up working longer than you hoped to, but there’s no need to forgo your comfort.

Get cozy with a delicious tea and your favorite fuzzy blanket. Start to send your body the message that you’re powering down and mix your to-do’s with your self care. My favorite blend is called Earth by Health Force Nutritionals. With a grounding blend that includes marshmallow, dandelion, astragalus, ginger, flax, chia, slippery elm and probiotics it soothes the colon, supports blood sugar equalization, detoxification, deep hydration and boosts the immune system.

10. Light a candle.

Candles are like magic. They add a drop of sacred to the mundane and sensual to the usual. Turn off the lights as you wind down for bed and light a few candles instead. Enjoy the glow minus your computer screen. Go ahead, try it now.


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Author: Meghan Neeley 

Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Stacey D at Flickr 


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