How to find time for self-care in a busy schedule

When you think about self-care, what do you think of? You might be imagining luxury spas and cucumber slices. If you're about to close this tab thinking, I don't have the time, money, or bandwidth to stop and take myself down to a fancy spa, then wait. 

When you think about self-care, what do you think of? You might be imagining luxury spas and cucumber slices. If you’re about to close this tab thinking, I don’t have the time, money, or bandwidth to stop and take myself down to a fancy spa, then wait. 

Because whilst sipping coconut water with cucumber resting on your eyes in a fancy spa can be self-care, that’s not all self-care is. And if you’re busy and struggling to prioritise your needs, then the idea of taking a few hours to visit a fancy spa might be off-putting. 

Often, we’ll ignore the signs that we need to slow down. Instead, we’ll keep pushing through until we get sick or burnt out. How many of us prioritise our health before we have no other choice but to? Not many people I’ve met. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way. By prioritising your well-being with some self-care strategies, you’ll enjoy improved physical and mental health, disease prevention, and enhanced connection with yourself & your needs.  

I know all too well the damage that ignoring your needs can do and how important self-care is for our physical and mental health. If you’re finding it hard to know where to start with self-care in a full week, then below, I’ve compiled some tips for fitting it into your busy schedule. 

Schedule time for yourself every week and stick to it

As I said, taking time for yourself is incredibly important and has great benefits for your wellness and well-being. Doing things like reading, meditating, exercising, or even taking a walk can help clear your mind, revitalise your energy, and remind you to take a break from the hustle of everyday life. 

Allowing yourself time to decompress can make it easier to handle stress in the long run and lead to greater clarity throughout the week. So, trust me when I say that setting aside some dedicated ‘me-time’ will pay off!

Are you laughing at me because there’s absolutely no way you can schedule any time for yourself into your slammed week? Start small. I literally plan in a glass of water. I have reminders on my phone to notify me to make a smoothie, drink a glass of water, go for a walk, and stop for lunch.

Otherwise, I’ll just keep going, and the next thing, it’s 4 pm, and I’ve got a headache from being hungry and dehydrated. So, start small. 

Find activities that help you to relax and do them regularly

Life is all about balance, right? That’s what we say to ourselves when we order pizza on the way back from the gym. 

Well, being busy and taking time to relax is also balance. It’s about finding hobbies that help you to relax.

For some people, it might be gardening, cooking, or doing yoga – the list goes on! Whatever activity makes you feel relaxed and refreshed, just make sure to add it to your routine. 

Not only can these activities reduce stress levels but adding them to your everyday life will also create a sense of balance in a world filled with demands and deadlines.

Don’t be afraid to say no 

I’m going to tell you a secret: I’m a recovering people pleaser, and I find saying no or disappointing people difficult. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could manage the automatic yet frequent desire to say yes? Whether that means saying no to a friend who wants you to attend a busy event on a Wednesday night or picking up a difficult relative/anyone from the airport in the middle of the night.

Learning how to decline invitations politely can feel uncomfortable but making a conscious effort to prioritise yourself will work wonders in terms of managing stress and committing your resources and energy to things that matter most to you. 

Sure, there are times when it is essential to step outside our comfort zones, show up for others, or simply challenge ourselves. But also learning that no is a complete sentence and opting not to do something that doesn’t light you up is so liberating!

Learn to delegate 

When did you last ask for help? Don’t worry; I’ll wait. 

Delegating tasks and asking for help are two of the most important skills to master to be successful. It’s so easy to get caught up on this idea that you must do it all when delegating responsibilities can give you back precious hours. So, the possibilities are endless, whether you want to spend that time with friends & family, working on a new project, learning a language, or in a spa. 

I learnt this lesson in my business. I was doing so much stuff that I hated, that took me ages, and I just found it boring because I felt I had to juggle everything. But I turned it around and asked myself: how long do I spend sitting with my self-assessment tax return, hating it? Say, four hours? My day rate is £300, so £150 is four hours. So instead of stressing for four hours and hating HMRC, could I pay someone to do it, free myself up, and use that time to do paid work? Yes.  

And it works with anything. If you’re time-poor and juggling 100 things, maybe it’s time to see what you can put down to free yourself up. Why not switch to an online shop instead of going to the supermarket? Or hire a cleaner and free yourself up for two hours every Saturday to do something for you instead. 

When did this weird shame creep in if we can’t manage the load of 3-4 people? There’s nothing shameful about just being one person. Lean on support and make your life easier because you can. You’ll thank yourself later.

Take breaks throughout the day

Taking a few moments throughout the day to step away from what you’re doing and clear your head can be so beneficial. Whether you take a quick stretch break, go for a short walk outside, or just sit still for a few minutes taking deep breaths, these small pockets of time can help you relax, focus better, and become more productive when you get back to work. 

Breaks don’t have to last long either – research has found that even 60 seconds of activity, for example, walking around the room, can make a difference! So, if you feel overwhelmed with work or tasks during the day, why not challenge yourself to take regular breaks? You may find it helps boost your energy and motivation significantly!

Personally, when I’m busy and up against a deadline or just pushing through work that doesn’t inspire me, I’m a big fan of the Pomodoro Technique. 

Here’s how it works: 

  • Identify a task that you need to complete
  • Set a timer for 25 minutes
  • Work on the task with no distractions
  • When the alarm sounds, take a 5-minute break
  • Repeat the process three more times
  • Take a longer 30-minute break and start again

Make sure to get enough sleep each night

This one is foundational and probably should’ve been first on the list, but here we are. 

I’ve had chronic insomnia since I was a child, and I frequently feel tired, which has a habit of making everything feel worse than it really is. However, over the years, I’ve found different techniques for getting sleep, valerian for when it’s awful, and I fall asleep to a sleep cast on Headspace each night. My favourite is the Midnight Laundrette. 

Getting enough sleep each night is essential for feeling your best and having enough energy to complete daily tasks. Not only does it help you focus better, but it can lower your risk of severe illnesses like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity, too! 

Additionally, getting quality rest helps boost creativity and problem-solving skills you might use during the day. Discipline yourself to have a regular sleep schedule to support a healthy mind and body! When you prioritise sleep, the sky is the limit to what you can achieve. Sleep is the foundation for many other areas of your life working the way it should. 

Self-care is vital for everyone, and it’s something that you should make time for every week. Remember, we only get one life, we deserve to feel our best. 

If you’re not sure where to start with self-care, I’ve created A Year of Self-Care: The Ultimate Guide & Journalto help you get started. It includes 52 weeks of self-care prompts, reflective questions and journal prompts so you can track your progress and reflect on your journey! 

Published by Saloni Chamberlain

Turning words into stories with feeling.

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