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40 Self-Care Tips for Worn-Out Parents

Simple relaxation techniques that only take a few minutes

Published on: December 08, 2020


There’s no getting around it, this has been an incredibly tough year. In most homes, personal space is limited and your entire family has been cooped up, working, breathing and living on top of each other for months. 

The suggestion to take time for “self-care” may actually make you laugh out loud. (Or cry, depending on the day.)

Maybe you’ve tried a few things, but you've found it hard to be consistent. Or, maybe no matter how much you try, carving out time for yourself is literally impossible. 

Rather than thinking about self-care as one big event, let’s think of self-care as small moments that you can take throughout the day.

Here are some quick things you can do to relax — even with the relentless demands from work, school, family and everything else on your agenda.

  1. Take three good cleansing deep breaths.
  2. Close your eyes and visualize a calming scene. 
  3. Study the details on your child’s face, a photograph or a tree outside your window.
  4. Massage the arches of your feet, the palms of your hand or your neck.
  5. Stretch your arms up, bending side-to-side or standing tall.
  6. Roll your shoulders up and back.
  7. Sip hot tea or coffee… and really appreciate the flavor.
  8. Eat something slowly, savoring every bite.
  9. Pop in some earbuds and listen to your favorite song or podcast.
  10. Color or doodle.
  11. Tense and flex the muscles in your body, one at a time.
  12. Light a scented candle or spray your favorite perfume.
  13. Tell a story about a time when you felt relaxed or happy.
  14. Wrap your arms around and give yourself a big hug.
  15. Write down three things you love about yourself, your child, your family, etc.
  16. Rewrite your to-do list, adding at least one thing you actually want to do.
  17. Smile. Hold it for at least ten seconds.
  18. Sing something in an opera voice, beatbox or “whale voice” (like in "Finding Dory").
  19. Pick a sunny spot and stay in its warmth for a few minutes.
  20. Take a shower with some aromatherapy shower steamers or essential oils.
  21. Treat your skin to a face mask.
  22. Have a dance party with your kids (or on your own).
  23. Sing some silly made-up songs or real songs.
  24. Leave coloring placemats, colored pencils and pens on the table to encourage a random coloring break.
  25. Stand on the grass with bare feet.
  26. Eat chocolate (or ice cream) while hiding in the bathroom.
  27. Rub a nice smelling lotion on your hands.
  28. Lie on your back and put your legs straight up the wall.
  29. List five things you are grateful for today.
  30. Apply fast-drying nail polish.
  31. Breathe deeply while imagining yourself in a calm and soothing nature scene.
  32. Look at some funny photos.
  33. Use the Headspace app.
  34. Call or text a good friend.
  35. Take an online quick yoga or fitness class. Some of these are as short as seven minutes. 
  36. Blow bubbles.
  37. Ask your kids to apply lotion to your hands or brush your hair.
  38. Look at old vacation or holiday photos.
  39. Do three minutes of exercise — it could be as simple as a few sit-ups, jumping jacks or running in place.
  40. Try one of these 12 mini meditations.

Editor's Note: This article was published a few years ago and updated in December 2020. Nicole Schwarz contributed to this article.  

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