How to Actually Make Time For Your Self-Care (Because Not Everyone Can Just “Play Hooky”)

Do you ever read those self-care articles that are all like, rah rah “make time for yourself, babe!” and you’re all like, SURE, I'D LOVE TO but HOW? Honestly, I might have written that article, not fully realizing how big of an ask I was making. Like, telling a #girlboss to play hooky when she’s trying to build her empire, or support her family, or get an education, or any other number of real world obligations and responsibilities is a little bit …. Unrealistic.

I get that.

This past week, I took some time off for a family reunion over the long weekend and as much fun as it was I couldn’t fully relax because I knew I was putting important things like my work on the back-burner. That didn’t sit right with me. And I don’t even have kids or a mortgage or a hungry husband to worry about (yet!). When I did get back to my work, I was overwhelmed and stressed out by all that had piled up during my hiatus. The anxiety my little break induced nearly overshadowed my vacation and I couldn’t help but wonder if it was all worth it.

My learning from this past week? No matter how run-down, burnt-out, or desperate you are for just a single moment to yourself, not everyone has the luxury of ditching work for a manicure (or an extended vacay at the lake). Sometimes self-care means taking care of business. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t make time for yourself.

Self-care doesn’t need to be done in grand gestures, or large time-blocked hours in order for it to “work.” It doesn’t need to be an Instagrammable event or a luxurious expenditure of your hard-earned dollars. (Sure, a day at the spa sounds dreamy, but it’s not always practical for everyone.) I’ve learned from experience that self-care can be just as effectively practiced in small (but potent) doses throughout the day, week, or month.

The following are a few of my suggestions on how to actually make time for yourself and practice self-care without playing hooky from real life.

make time for self-care

1. Enjoy Sacred Morning Moments

This is one I’m still working on because I really love my sleep. BUT. Try waking up 30 minutes earlier than usual and take that time to yourself to do absolutely anything at all that will nourish you.

Maybe try a short morning yoga sequence or meditation. Enjoy your coffee in complete silence. Write in your journal. Take a long hot bath instead of your short, rushed shower. This is sacred morning time that belongs to you and nobody else. Use it to do as you please.

2. Utilize Your Commute

Do you commute to work? Instead of cursing traffic, or dreading spending another moment on public transit, try utilizing the free time to do something that brings you joy. If you’re driving, listen to a podcast, or blast your favorite jam and rock out at a red light, or take one from my mom’s book — drive in complete silence and use it as a time to do your best thinking. If you’re commuting via bus, train, or your own two legs, it might be the perfect opportunity to chill out with your book, count your gratitudes, or play Candy Crush on your phone — guilt free!

3. Use Your Breaks Wisely

Got a coffee break and/or lunch break? Actually use them to take a break. Do a 5-minute guided meditation at your desk. (Who cares if your co-workers are confused, you’ll feel amazing.) Or go for a quick walk around the block. You might be surprised what an extra 10 minutes of fresh air can do for your well-being.

4. Take a Minute

Seriously. One minute is all you need. Close your eyes and practice square breathing. Do this as often as you feel necessary throughout the day.

5. Try “Do Not Disturb” Mode

You know that feeling when you’re trying to get your work done, while simultaneously drafting out a grocery list and then your phone starts blowing up because it’s Thursday and your girls want to make a plan for the weekend and you’re all like, I can’t even right now!? You can 100% avoid that feeling by switching on “Do Not Disturb” or “Airplane Mode” on your phone. Fewer distractions mean more headspace to focus on your priorities. And all of your messages will still be there waiting when you’re ready to switch back on. Trust.

6. Nourish Yourself

It’s no secret that what you put into your body has a pretty major impact on the way you feel — in your gut, yes, but also in your mind. Making healthy decisions (whatever those might be for you and your body) when it comes to food is an obvious way you can infuse your every day with self-care, without costing you a ton of extra time. (Contrary to popular belief, eating well doesn’t have to be hard.) 

Need a little inspo? Read this.

7. Wind Down

Remember how I suggested you try waking up 30 minutes earlier? Why not try starting your wind-down routine 30 minutes earlier as well? Use your night time to relax in a hot bath filled with epsom salts and essential oils. Or read a few chapters in bed. Or cuddle with your S.O. and actually catch up. It’s best to enjoy these after-sunset hours screen-free so you can prepare your body for sleep.

8. Get Some Sleep

This one is obvious, I know. Of course, you’re going to get some sleep. You kind of have no choice. (trust me, I’ve tried the alternative of coffee-fueled benders and all-nighters — the quickest way to crash and burn.) But are you taking your sleep seriously? Sleep is a fundamental aspect of self-care, so ensuring you’re clocking at least 7 hours (8 or 9 is better) a night is paramount for your wellbeing.

PRO TIP: Make a habit of scheduling your “you” time in your calendar. Even if it’s just a 15-minute bath, or a phone call with your BFF. I’m serious. Pen(cil) it in. Because if you’re anything like me, anything that’s not written in ink in my planner can easily get bumped or skipped for “more important things.”

Your turn. How do you infuse your days with self-care? Comment below and let me know!