Readers have asked me before how to break out of the feedback loop of being too tired for fun or self-care or me-time… especially during that window of time after the kids are in bed and you are not. Sometimes it seems like when you most long for self-nurture, it’s hardest to find the energy to step into that loving quiet space. Because, damn are you tired… right?
Here are a few super-simple ways to give richly to yourself without lots of effort, when you are exhausted but not ready to sleep and need some serious self-nurture.
1. Tune into your breath.
Mindful breathing can be a great mini-retreat from the world and reconnect you to your body… all while doing something you need to do anyway… breathing! Sit or lie down in a comfortable position, and close your eyes.
Focus on your breath. Just notice it at first, without trying to change anything. Then, if you choose, you can slow down and deepen your breathing gently… no effort. If your mind feels busy and full of thoughts, that is normal and totally okay. Try to lightly notice them and let them float by, returning your attention to your breath.
Do this for however long feels good. Unless you have an ongoing meditation practice, that will probably be just for a few minutes at most… which is fine. When you are done, check in with yourself. How do your mind and body feel right now? What would feel good to do next? Follow that feeling.
2. Savor your space.
Try this 10 minute activity to help you deeply experience the enjoyment of your space and the present moment.
Whatever room you are spending time in… living room, bedroom, office… set a timer and take 2 minutes to declutter it. Don’t spend more than that and don’t overthink it. No need for perfection or efficiency. Just focus on whatever’s most bugging you that can be quickly remedied, and do it. Stop after 2 minutes… no turning this into a big cleaning session.
Now spend 3 minutes doing things to make the space beautiful and pleasant for yourself, right now, using all your senses. What could you do to give yourself the gift of a few really decadent minutes in this room? Like this… Put fresh sheets on your bed. Arrange the pillows just so for a comfy nest on your sofa. Light a candle. Spritz the room with a scent you love. Place a glass of your favorite beverage on a table. Put the book you are reading somewhere accessible. Put on music that you love.
You’ll find your own version of these ideas, depending on your taste and the room you’re in. Simply do whatever tiny things you can do to set yourself up for a short interlude of simple pleasure.
Now spend 5 minutes… or more if you feel so moved… simply enjoying your space. Read, close your eyes and listen to music, or just sit in the room and BE for a moment.
3. Soak up serenity.
Make yourself an epic + awesome bath.
This activity might require a bit of advance preparation in the form of a short shopping trip if you don’t normally keep decadent bath supplies on hand. Buy some essential oils, bath salts, bubble bath or whatever makes you love luxuriating in the tub. Plain epsom salts can be great too if scents aren’t your thing. Set up the room lovingly for yourself… dim lights, candles if you like them, music or silence as you choose. Run the water cool, warm or hot as your mood and taste dictate. Step in and soak for a while. Even a 10 minute bath can feel wonderful so don’t feel like you have to save this idea for when you have lots of time.
Not a bath person? Create a super-sensual shower for yourself instead. That’s totally allowed! This is all about you and taking a bit of time for what you enjoy.
And what else?
What can you do to slow down and be kind to yourself for a few short minutes, in a way that feels super gentle + easy? Do you want to try any of these short self-care rituals? Do you have other ones of your own? Please share your tips, ideas and experiments in the comments.