Back to School: Take time for 'You'
When my kids were younger, late August was one of my favorite times of the year. While I loved the unhurried and unscheduled days of summer, as the weeks got closer to back to school time, I slowly began to crave my regular routine again.
As soon as school started, I dove into my list of to-do’s for ‘when the kids went back to school.’ But after the first few days, I was frustrated and exhausted. It took me a long time to realize that what I needed was unscheduled, unhurried time for me. I struggled because In my mind, self-care seemed almost selfish. I thought it had to be expensive and time-consuming. As the years went on, I realized that I didn’t need expensive day spas or weekend yoga retreats to get some alone time. In fact, I felt better by scheduling short, and more regular activities into my daily routine. By consistently making time for myself, often by myself, I was happier and more relaxed with my family and friends.
15-Minute Self Care Ideas
Through trial and error, I discovered the things that work best for me. I needed activities that could be done at (or close to) home, things that were easy to schedule in 15-minute blocks and, preferably free or inexpensive. Here are five of my 'go to' favorites:
- Get Outdoors – A brisk 15-minute walk does wonders for one’s physical and mental health. My favorite time to get outdoors is late afternoon, usually before dinner. Sometimes I listen to one of my favorite podcasts, which typically fall into the natural health, productivity or mindfulness genres. Other times, I leave my phone at home and just enjoy the silence. Either way, I always come back feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the day.
- Write it out - The simple act of writing has such a soothing effect on me. Whether I am journaling about a future trip, writing a blog post or simply making a gratitude list, writing is very therapeutic. My brain actually feels lighter and more focused after I take the time to transfer the day’s thoughts and ideas down on paper. I love writing in a beautiful journal, like this one from Compendium, but any notebook – even a college-ruled spiral notebook works fine!
- Yoga – I have discovered that I don’t need a 60-minute, instructor-led class to enjoy the benefits of yoga. In fact, racing to get to the studio on time for class sometimes defeats the whole purpose! When I need a little break from my routine, I lay out my yoga mat at home and go through a series of sun salutations and breathing practices. After just 15 minutes, I often feel a renewed sense of peace and calm.
- A cup of tea and a good book – This is one of my favorite afternoon rituals. I’ll grab good book and a cup of tea (our new Wellbeing tea by Tea Forte is my favorite!), and settle into my cozy chair. There’s something more relaxing being in the living room, away from the kitchen and family room with all the reminders of household chores and dinner prep. A short bit of quiet time before carpool shifts and dinner prep begins can be a game changer!
- Hot Bath – Nothing melts the stress of a busy day away better than a soothing, hot bath. Soaking in a tub with essential oil-fragranced bath salts for just 15 minutes, tops my list of self-care indulgences (I love these bath balms by Musee). I’ll also light a fresh scented candle – Makana’s Neroli Blossom candle is my favorite -- to make my bathroom more spa-like. So simple, but so restorative!
While these are my personal favorites, everyone is different so it's important to do some experimenting to find out what provides the most relaxation for you. The key is to remember that self-care is not selfish – it is a natural and necesary remedy to prevent stress, exhaustion, burnout, and even illness that can occur when you aren’t getting what you need.