Spa day? We hope. Overnight at the hotel? No chance. A sip of warm coffee for two seconds? More like it.
Yes, while we all know that self-care is important to our well-being, finding time to practice it can be tricky. Research shows that as a nation, we have less time than ever before because we are busy managing our lives, work, and everything else.
In fact, according to the Office for National Statistics, a growing number of Britons feel a persistent lack of time, and those with children under 15 report having 14 hours or less of free time a week. Results? We are also more stressed than ever. In fact, The Mental Health Foundation found that the number of people experiencing moderate to high levels of stress has increased year over year from 67 to 76 percent.
“Self-care is key to getting this number down,” says Nichola Henderson, holistic life coach and wellness specialist (coachingbynic.com). “It is the ability to take care of yourself while maintaining balance in different areas of your life. Introduce self-care and you will feel calmer, more in control, and able to deal with anything.”
And installing it is easier than you might think. Enter micro self-care, small actions that take 30 minutes or less. It is a state changer for our well being. “Micro self-care is achievable for most people. And little bits of wellness often help get you used to continuing to do self-care,” says Nichola. So have you found 60 seconds or half an hour, what are you waiting for?
You have…30 minutes
Soak bath: Soak in the tub for a full half hour with Tisserand Aromatherapy Total De-Stress Bath Salts, £16, (tisserand.com). Made with a relaxing blend of geranium and nutmeg.
READ A BOOK: The real thing, not an e-reader or a phone. A study conducted by the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68 percent.
SPORT: And fast. Get inspired, motivated and sweat it out with the free Kic app, which has over 1,000 mini workouts to choose from.
You have…20 minutes
RELATIONSHIP REMEDY: One of the biggest stressors is difficult relationships. Try using the free Paired app to increase communication and intimacy. It combines tips from top therapists plus fun daily questions and quizzes to answer with your partner. Just 20 minutes has seen an increase in communication and closeness.
BRAIN TRAFFIC LIGHTS: “Take out a notebook and describe the things that are on your mind right now,” says Nicola. “Tag green, yellow or red depending on your interpretation of how important it is – red stops you from feeling calm, while green makes you let go. For those in red, sort them into three columns on a new page, ‘can control’, ‘can influence’, ‘no control’. This exercise helps our brain process our thoughts, eliminating feelings of being overwhelmed. Let go of the things you can’t control, and work through the list of things you can to see what needs to be done.”
CREATIVITY PATH : “Outdoor walking increases happy hormones and increases circulation, focus, and mental relaxation,” says Nicole Greenfield-Smith, neurotrainer, behavior specialist, and founder of theconfidentcraft.com. “Studies also show creative output increases by up to 60 percent when participants walk.” So when you’re in trouble, walk, breathe, and see if a solution comes to you.
You have… 10 minutes
HAVE A CUPPA WITH YOURSELF: “First thing in the morning, drink your tea – no cell phones – and ask yourself how you are feeling,” says Zoe Clews, mental health therapist (zoeclews-hypnotherapy.co.uk). “If it’s not great, ask yourself what you need later when you have time.” The ideal cup of tea for this is Clipper Teas Karma Mama, £3.50 (Ocado), a blend of chamomile, tulsi and flaxseed, designed to help keep you cool on busy days.
FACE BEFORE SLEEP : “Skincare routines are self-care essentials — they relax, and make you both look and feel better,” says Eve Casha, chief scientist at skincare concept store Dermoi. “Allocating just 10 minutes each night will prepare the skin and mind for optimal overnight recovery.”
- Start with cleaning. Twice. Using a jelly to cream option like Evenswiss Edelweiss Cleanser, £23 (shop.dermoi.com) lets you take the time to apply the cleanser, removes makeup on the first go, then residue on the second, and also encourages blood flow.
- Pat the skin dry, then massage with facial oil, which will moisturize and tone it. Work from neck to jawline then across face, always using strong, upward motions. Try the Super Facialist Rosehip Oil, £16 (lookfantastic.com).
- Finish by gently applying moisturizer all over your face using your palms to seal in the good work of the oil while enjoying a relaxing massage. Try We Are Face Stress Face Daily Moisturizing Cream, £34 (wearefaace.com).
MEMORY FLASH: “Look back one year ago today in your phone photo album and see where you were, allowing yourself to remember how you felt at that moment and how far you have come,” says Nicola. “Respect that you are always developing into another version of yourself, and no matter what happens, there is always growth.”
You have … five minutes
THAT NAIL: “Make a nail strengthening treatment at home with three tablespoons of olive oil and one tablespoon of lemon juice,” says Liana Thomson, esthetician at nail.co.uk. “Massage this treatment into your nails twice a week for five minutes to brighten, remove blemishes, and encourage growth.”
THINKING: “The simple, fun Pilates moves are the ultimate in micro-self-care,” says Eloise Skinner, fitness instructor (eloiseskinner.com). “Stand with your feet hip-width apart, tuck your chin into your chest and sequentially roll your spine until you reach a gentle forward bend – bend your knees for support here if needed. “Take a few deep breaths into your hips and spine, then roll back up as you descend, contracting one vertebra of your spine against the other. At the top, give your shoulders a few rolls to finish. Repeat three times.”
PLEASE YOUR SKIN SKIN: “Our scalp is an extension of our face, and is filled with nerve endings, making it an ideal place to massage,” says Mandy Graham, Paul Mitchell trichologist. “Apply a scalp scrub to exfoliate, then add a little water for easy massaging.” Working from the back of your neck, working your way up to your forehead and back, applying as much pressure as you can to relieve tension. Repeat before rinsing. Try Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Foaming Salt Scrub, £23.25 (ukbeautyclub.com).
You have… one minute
BREATH DEEP: Roll the Neom Calming Pen, £20 (neomorganics.com) around your inner wrist and temples, then inhale relaxing lavender, chamomile, and sweet orange oils.
FOUR WORDS MANTRA: Make a four-word mantra, such as “Calm begins right now,” then, touching each finger on both hands with your thumbs, chant as you move your fingers. It provides a rhythmic and relaxing sensory experience.
ICE CUBES FACE : No time for a full facial? Apply ice cubes (theiceco.co.uk) all over your face after cleansing. It reduces swelling, and minimizes pores and redness. The chill will instantly clear your mind.
MINI MEDITATION: Play classical music and listen carefully, choosing as many different instruments as you can. This focus will temporarily tune out the other noise in your head.
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