Self care is a vague term, but can be defined as any deliberately taken action that improves or maintains your health; physical, emotional, or mental. This means self care can be different for different people, and also different depening on your needs and circumstances. I’ve been focusing on low energy self care recently, following my 2020/2021 self care mantra: if something is worth doing (like self care), it’s worth doing poorly. Obviously, ideally we’d all havethe time, energy, and ability to devote to a full self care routine, but that’s not always true. However, having little time or energy doesn’t mean you can’t do self care, it means you have to be a bit more strategic about fitting self care in to your day.
The reason I made the self care pockets exercise is two-fold. Firstly, to get people to think about their specific self care activities, to help them realise what self care means to them, but secondly, it means you don’t have to think about self care when you have the time to do it. You can look at your list, pick one that fits your needs, and get on with it. If you can’t do the thing you realy want to, there might be something else that fits that same purpose that you can do.
I’ve also been thunking about low energy, in the moment self care, for times where things are really tight, but you need to look after yourself. If you only have 30 seconds, you deserve to take those 30 seconds for yourself, and I’m hoping this list will make it easier for people to do that, and maybe spark some inspiration for your own low energy self care
This post will be split into seconds. Some will be overall things, or things done in advance, so next time you do have some extra time or energy, you can set up your self care the best way you can. Others are in the moment, a mix of things you can do
- Start your day well, take time away from your desk and screens before starting the work day
- Take time to wind down. Transition between work and not-work by taking a walk, stretching, or having to time to sit and breathe. Try to mentally close the door on work at the end of the day.
- Give yourself permission to look after yourself.
- Take a lunch break (assuming you get them/can take them)
Worked in advance
- Easy food/leftovers. One of the reasons I love having leftovers in is so if I’m feeling rough and need food so I can take meds but can’t cook, I can eat leftovers (sometimes by the forkful without taking the container out the fridge). Having some ready meals or home made meals in the freezer for microwaving or leftovers (or take out!) can mean you get some food when you really don’t want to engage with prepping and cooking.
In the moment
- Take regular breaks. Look away from the screen and focus on something farther away (preferably not a screen). The 20, 20, 20 rule suggests taking a break of at least 20 seconds, every 20 minutes and to look at least 20 feet away.
- Keep hydrated
- stretch your arms and/or legs for 5-10 seconds
- wiggle your fingers and toes
- rotate your shoulders
- slowly look from shoulder to shoulder
- stand up and walk around the room
- If you want to do some ‘deskercise’, there are some movements here: https://www.healthline.com/health/deskercise#arms
- Deep breaths, in the nose, out the mouth if you can.
- Look around your space (whether that be sofa, desk, kitchen table, bed). Are there any bits of rubbish, crumbs, or used cutlery/dishware? Can you move one or two pieces to the bin or kitchen, just to make your space feel cleaner?
- Splash your face with water, as a nice refresh
- Use some mouthwash to freshen up if teeth brushing isn’t happening today
- Make your bed (even if you get out of bed, make it all nice, and then get right back into it. You deserve a nice comfy bed)
- Go get some fresh air, even if it’s just from your doorstep. Also vitamin D is really important, especially in colder months. Getting a bit of fresh air and daylight can be a bit uplifting.
- Rewatching something on YouTube or Netflix might be better for you than doom scrolling social media (and you won’t need to do too much thinking or if you get distracted you’re not gonna miss much, so no guilt!).
- Turn off notifications. Can you get away from emails and messages for a few minutes or an hour? Even if you need to keep notifications on for some things, like being on call, or for kids/people you have responsibilities to, you can cut down notifications. Sometimes just receiving notifications, that feeling that someone else wants your attention can really drag at you, so making sure you have a bit of mental space is useful.
- Accept your energy levels. Continuing to push against fatigue (unless you really have to) can lead to burnout in the long term. Sometimes you have less energy for no reason, or for very real reasons. Don’t hold yourself up to unreasonable expectations (or even reasonable ones, sometimes!), and take breaks when you need or have to. Read up on the spoon and fork theory, if you’re not familiar with it.
All in all, I hope this list provides something useful for you. I’d love to hear your small, low energy acts of self care. I’ve also made a twitter bot that tweets these twice a day, if that would be useful as a reminder to look after yourself.