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How to Take a Self Care Time Out

You feel burned out, frustrated and overwhelmed…

There feels like there are 30 things to do and not enough time to even get 10 of them done…

You’re tired, irritable and sick of everyone telling you that you need to take care of yourself at the same time they are adding more things on your plate…

                                                                                                                     Sound familiar???

We all know that we ‘should’ take care of ourselves and that the more we push ourselves to take care of others the more burned out we feel but can’t help thinking “when am I supposed to do that”? Although there are a fantastic amount of ‘self care’ activities you can do when you have a whole day or even just an hour:

Self Care Activities
  • Take a drive/ go on a trip
  • Read a book- Whether it is inspirational stories, poems, spiritual verses or fiction, reading can be a great hobby to reboot
  • Light physical activity. Even taking a short walk can help decrease stress levels.  Another option is yoga.
  • Soaking in a bathtub
  • Learn relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditating.
  • Working out
  • Watching a movie
  • Playing sports
  • Going on a date
  • Start a journal- Write a story about your life experiences
  • Pulling out a hobby
    • Scrapbooking, model cars, photography, Crafts, coloring, painting
  • Crossword puzzles, word searches
  • Make social connections- Spending time with friends or family
  • Try something new. Whether it is a new type of food, a movie or book, try something different!
The struggle tends to be what do you do when you just DON’T have that much time? You look at that list of things to do and feel guilty at even thinking of skipping one to do something for yourself. You decide to take the time but then end up finding yourself sitting there staring off into space and thinking of what you ‘should’ be doing instead.

Instead we leave our throttle set at full speed and just ‘push through’. You get done what you need to but end up resenting it and the people that you love who do take time out for themselves. I would like to challenge you today to practice just taking 2 minutes at a time for yourself. You can steal those moments from the time you would have been checking out your social media updates or catching up on the cyber news! Here is a list to get you started; the trick is to NOT multitask or rush through your two minutes. Set a timer and be mindful of what you are doing and where you are at.

2 Minute Self Care Time Outs:

  • Take a moment to focus only on your breathing. Close your eyes and feel the air coming in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try counting while you are doing it to keep you on task… in for 4… hold for 2… out for 4… repeat
  • Give yourself a hand, foot or neck massage. If there is someone else available, by all means ask them to do it for you, but you don’t NEED someone else to take care of your own muscles.
  • Pull out a pen and paper (yes a real pen and paper and not the note app on your phone) and start a list of what you are grateful for. As the days and weeks go on, go back and revisit that list, add new things and reflect back on what you had already identified.
  • Make a cup of coffee or tea and sit down and drink it slowly and with intention. Pay attention to the smell, the flavor, the way the warmth feels in your mouth and the sensations of it going down your throat. Enjoy your beverage, don’t inhale it.
  • Get outside, sit on the porch, stand in the yard, put your feet in the grass
    • If it is sunny; find a place to sit or stand with your eyes closed and face the sun. Allow yourself to truly feel the warmth and drink it in.
    • If it is cloudy; take the time to find shapes in the clouds, notice the colors, notice how they move across the sky.
    • If it is raining; close your eyes and listen to the rain, absorb the sounds and let your stress be released into the storm
  • Put on your favorite song and JUST sit and listen to it without doing anything else.
  • Sing out loud in the car or shower
  • Pick up scratch paper or a coloring book and spend the time doodling, drawing or coloring
  • Look through old pictures
  • Get a big, long hug from someone you love. There are chemicals in a good hug that can offset the chemicals created by stress. Slow down and squeeze someone!
  • Give yourself a compliment- let yourself look at what you have done well and what you are good at. A little self recognition can go a long way

Struggling with taking 2 Minutes?

The ability to follow through with these time outs is essential for mental balance. We suggest doing at least 2 things for yourself every day, even if it is ‘JUST 2 Minutes’. If you find yourself not able to make the time or mental separation to do so, counseling may be a great option for you. Working with a therapist will help you learn to set internal and external boundaries. It is also that time away from life’s chaos to assess what your needs are and what changes may need to be made in your daily life. For counseling in the New Castle, PA area you can reach out to our therapists at 724-654-9555. If you are still in PA but not able to make it into the office, ask about our telehealth services, several insurances are now starting to cover this and it allows you to schedule the therapy time out while not having to make the arrangements to make it into an office setting. Other great resources to find a therapist that works well for you is Psychology Today, Health Grades and/or your insurance companies member services.