Why compile a list of 2-minute self-care ideas, you might ask? Well, because most of us, humans, don’t have entire free days to dedicate to self-care. But does that mean you should forget self-care altogether? Of course not!
You certainly can (and definitely should) find ways to incorporate into your busy day little nuggets of self-care practices that are meant to be executed in 2 minutes or less.
It’s actually a very good thing that you are trying to figure out ways to do self-care in small bouts, despite your always being busy or in a hurry. It’s much more effective (and realistic) to do self-care that way, as it allows you to sprinkle little pockets of joy throughout your day.
Whereas if you wait until you have a full free day to take care of yourself and your needs, chances are, you will go weeks (if not months) before you can do it. And that’s utterly unproductive and even damaging for your mental and physical well-being.
Pre-requisites for making self-care under 2 minutes work
Tip #1: set a timer so that you can totally let go.
That one is self-explanatory. Don’t spend those 2 minutes checking your watch every 12 seconds. That’ll just make you anxious. Just set a timer and let go, even for just two minutes.
Tip #2: Believe that 2 minutes of self-care a day, every day, does make a difference.
Do you know what makes a real difference? It’s not the amount of time you spend doing something once. It’s the fact that you do it every day.
You may think that you need to spend a full day taking care of yourself for it to be effective, and I get it. And you know what? You are absolutely right.
… In a way.
I mean, I quit my (dream) job and dedicated more than a year solely to self-care and mental and physical healing, and it was the best thing I ever did in my entire life. So, who am I to tell you that you shouldn’t dedicate big chunks of time to self-care? You certainly should work toward doing just that, if that’s a goal of yours.
However, I did have to go back to the “real” world, and let me tell ya, it’s an adjustment. It (oh so often) seems impossible to practice self-care in the middle of the chaos of real life. I’m still struggling every day to find the right balance between my obligations toward the world and my obligations toward myself.
I no longer have entire days to dedicate to taking care of myself; I have to find ways to make it work in the middle of everything else that’s going on.
And that’s a real challenge.
“Self-care is defined as the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress” (Oxford Languages).
Tip # 3: Have a better understanding of what self-care is about.
Self-care means a lot more than just taking long baths and getting a manicure once a month. It’s about protecting your own well-being and happiness.
Self-care is not about doing (only) “pleasurable things”. More often than not, it involves doing things that feel super hard. Things like waking up early to exercise, setting boundaries, or learning to say no…
Now that the important stuff is out of the way, let’s be realistic for a moment here and assume that you are dead busy and only have 2 minutes of free time to allocate to self-care. How can you take better care of yourself, and preserve your well-being and happiness, in under two minutes?
2-minutes self-care ideas for when you are pressed for time
Here’s a list of 23 ways you can practice self-care in 2 minutes or less. Feel free to comment if you want to add anything to this list. The more, the merrier!
Some of these self-care ideas are appropriate for the workplace, and some of them work best if you are at home.
In any case, you should figure out what works best for you and leave what doesn’t.
Okay, enough with the chit-chat and let’s get to it! Here are twenty-three ways you can practice self-care in under 2-minutes when you are too busy and pressed for time.
1. Close your eyes, put a hand on your stomach, relax your face, try to smile “inside”, and breathe.
Take long, deep, breaths. Try to encourage positive, kind, and loving thoughts about yourself during those 2 minutes.
2. Sit still, and listen to the sounds around you.
Even if you are in a not-so-glamourous setting, like your office kitchen. Just listen. Notice the humming sound of the fridge, birds chirping outside, the sound of cars passing by, voices down the hall.
Don’t judge or comment (in your head) everything you hear. Just listen.
3. Make yourself a nice cup of (herbal) tea; notice the details of the leaves and petals, the vibrant colors, the delicate smells.
Inhale the aromas before taking your first sip. It helps if you purchase high-quality tea mixes and not cheap, drugstore tea sold in individual pouches. (I have nothing against drugstore tea! It’s just not the best for a 2-minute sensorial experiment).
Bend forward, touch your toes, turn your head sideways, do gentle arm rotations. Repeat each movement 3 times. Yes, just two minutes of stretching is a thousand times better than no stretching at all.
5. Have a little juggling session ????
Keep soft, colorful, juggling (bean) bags (like these) within reach. It’s so much fun and it totally helps reset your brain after long hours of focus and deep concentration.
It’s also important for your well-being that you allow your brain to disconnect and just have fun for a minute or two.
6. Sit (or stand) in a quiet place and recite your affirmations.
Don’t forget to pick the right affirmations for you, and repeat them at least 5 times while taking deep breaths and smiling from within.
By the way, it’s ok if you don’t feel a major difference right after doing them. I don’t believe that’s how affirmations are supposed to work. However, if you do spend a few minutes with yourself every day while taking the time to reinforce positive beliefs about yourself… it will have an impact in the long run.
7. Send a loving text or message to someone you miss, care about, or have neglected recently.
Just to say a quick hello/that you wanted to let them know you were thinking about them/and-or that you love/miss them/wish to send them good vibes.
Acting on an impulse and actually reaching out will make you feel better versus just sitting there feeling guilty (regardless of whether they reply or not). But chances are this person will reply and you will get a nice, loving message as well! And that’s good for your soul.
8. If you are at home, diffuse some lavender (or put 2-3 drops of lavender essential oil in simmering water), and just sit quietly for 60 seconds.
Lavender oil is known for its relaxing and calming properties so, take deep breaths, leave your head and thoughts, and just inhale the scent.
9. Stare at a living thing for a minute or two.
By “living thing” I mean a bird, an insect… a tree! Whatever you have around you at that moment. Just observe them in their element, doing their own thing.
And if you have to open a window or step outside to see such things, just do! Don’t just stay locked up in a house, it’s not good for your mood.
10. If possible, untie your hair and give yourself a gentle scalp rub for a minute or two.
You will be left with a very relaxing, tingling sensation that will last for a few minutes.
11. Spray some rose (or another floral) water on your face, and relax.
Close your eyes, smell the delicate perfume of roses, feel the tiny droplets of liquid on your skin, notice the refreshing effect of liquid/air on your face, etc.
12. Look at the sky.
Seriously, how often do you just… look up, simply for the sake of staring at the clouds or noticing the colors? The white, grey, or pink of the clouds, the different shades of blue or grey of the sky itself, the fiery orange of the sunset… Just look at it!
13. Hydrate your scalp.
As in, with liquid. Seriously! This tip is especially relevant for people with excessively dry scalps or those who carry around massive hair all day (like I used to).
Simply wet your fingertips with water and tap them to your scalp, or spray your scalp with water, or a mix of water/floral water/essential oil/etc. It’s incredibly refreshing and relaxing for some people with hyper-sensitive scalps. I know!
Not everyone is prone to “head orgasms”, but you might be one of them!
14. Put a cold compress on the back of your neck and behind your ears.
I don’t know if there’s a scientific explanation for this, but my God! When I carry too much tension in the head/shoulder/neck area, a simple, cold compress behind my ears is so soothing, especially during summer.
I close my eyes, lightly dab the cold compress on the back of my neck and ears, and relax for 2 minutes.
15. Do the same thing but under your feet this time.
And then, allow your feet to air-dry for one minute or two. Foot orgasm, this time.
16. Massage your hands, 1 minute for each hand, with a hydrating lotion.
It’s better if you pick one that has a fragrance you particularly enjoy.
17. Take a couple of minutes to visualize yourself accomplishing a personal goal of yours.
Regularly reminding yourself of (and visualizing) your goals and values is an integral part of self-care.
Remember, self-care is about preserving your own well-being, not spreading yourself in 20 directions while forgetting yourself and neglecting your needs for self-realization. And visualization is an effective way to stay aligned with your values and attain your full potential.
18. Take 2 minutes to read a poem if you enjoy poetry, read a page from your self-study/language book if you’re into foreign languages, or doodle something (anything!) on a piece of paper.
Self-care is about doing things you enjoy just for the sake of doing something you enjoy, EVEN when it’s just for 2 minutes.
19. Hug someone you love for at least 20-30 seconds, or even the full 2 minutes!
You know, not the distant, face-turned-away-butt-sticking-out kind of hug people give these days. I mean a real hug, where your body’s touch and you stay there and breathe in the other person’s presence.
Of course, you must find the right person to hug, ask them first (no inappropriate touching in the workplace, please!).
20. Hug yourself.
No, I’m not crazy and YES, it makes a HUGE difference.
Self-care is about loving yourself. And one of the ways I tricked my brain into loving myself is through daily, morning affirmations and by hugging myself every morning and night. I did that every day for a few weeks and it deeply transformed my relationship with myself.
21. Sit in the sun, directly (like on a bench outside) or next to a window, and feel the warmth of the sunrays on your skin.
Close your eyes and focus on the physical sensation, notice how your whole body is warming up. Try to describe the experience in your head.
22. Look around you (or in your heart) and find 3 things you are grateful for. For example, you can be grateful for:
- Your ears, that allow you to hear the neighbor’s loud music right now. Yes, it may annoy you right now but these ears also allow you to hear your fiancé’s voice when he says “I love you”.
- That fridge that’s keeping your food fresh without you ever having to worry about food preservation.
- Or you could be grateful for this bread that you are eating right now, and have a thought for the baker who baked it and the thousand years of evolution it took for you to sit there and eat that bread.
23. Observe the elements.
Notice how the wind is whirling up the snow in a magical dance, the rippling water (in the nearest pond), or the fire dancing in the chimney.
There is something magical and humbling about the elements that helps us relax and let go of the mundane. Don’t stay locked up in concrete buildings 24/7; do take a moment to find the outside world and the elements, and take it all in.
There are certainly plenty of other ways you can practice self-care in under two minutes throughout your busy day. Self-care varies from one person to another, depending on each person’s individual needs and goals.
You will certainly have noticed by now that self-care, in my book, has a lot to do with mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques (which involve paying attention to the present moment in a non-judgemental way) while doing something that feels pleasurable or that helps you fulfill your need for self-actualization.
Now, it’s your turn to add to this list. How do you practice self-care when you have under two minutes in your day? Or do you struggle with self-care because you are too busy?