In an ideal world, your entire weekend could be devoted to the practice of self-care: After your detoxifying bath (paired with a soothing face mask, of course) you’d sit down to a delicious, nourishing meal and then hop into your dreamy bed. But, like I said, that’s an ideal world.
The editors of The Little Book of Self-Care want to snap you out of your fantasy by making the practice accessible—no matter how much (or how little) time you have on hand. They included over 200 self-care rituals between the book’s glowy covers, and most take less time to enjoy than it does to clean up your inbox.
If you are lucky enough to find an entire day with nary a brunch date, familial obligation, or weekend work, you can string these little acts of self-care together to seriously stave off the Sunday Scaries. Otherwise, grab the time you have—five minutes here, an hour there—to refresh, reset, and reinvigorate your day.
Keep reading for 8 self-care rituals you can practice even when you’re short on time, excerpted from The Little Book of Self-Care.
1. Boost your immunity with tea
Licorice and ginger are a good combination to remember during allergy season. Ginger has a warming, drying action on the upper respiratory tract, and licorice helps support your immune system. Amla has immune supporting properties of its own, and it also has a yummy flavor. Use powdered herbs for the easiest tea—just stir it all up and enjoy your Licorice, Amla, and Ginger Tea! Gather these ingredients:
1 tbsp powdered licorice root
4 tbsp powdered amla berries
3 tbsp powdered ginger root
1. Blend together the powdered licorice root, amla berries, and ginger root and store them in an airtight container. Make sure to label your tea so you can find it easily when you need it.
2. To make a cup of tea, bring 8 ounces of water to a boil and add 1 teaspoon of the licorice, amla, and ginger blend. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Pour into your favorite mug. The licorice and amla have a sweet taste, so be sure to take a sip before you reach for your favorite sweetener. You may not need it. (Yields 24 servings.)
2. Make your own sugar body scrub
Walk into any body-care shop and you’ll find an array of salt and sugar scrubs that cost $20–$40 for one small jar.
Exfoliating your skin doesn’t have to be that expensive—and it’s not just for women either. With a few simple ingredients you probably already have in your pantry, you can whip up a big batch of refreshing scrub. You will need:
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
Almond oil or vegetable oil
Essential oil or fragrance oil (try lemon, vanilla, lavender, or rose)
Mix both the brown and white sugars in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the almond or vegetable oil to the sugar until it becomes a thick paste. Add a few drops of your favorite essential or fragrance oil. Make sure you aren’t allergic to any of the oils you want to use. Jump in the shower and rub the mixture all over your body, paying close attention to typically dry areas like elbows and feet.
3. Design a goal board
We all have a lot of goals and aspirations in life, but seeing them every day reminds us to continue to reach for them in our everyday tasks. Use a cork board or dry-erase board and draw or cut out pictures or phrases that represent the ultimate job you want or that dream home you have been saving for. Make sure to hang this board in your home where you will see it every morning before you start your day. Whatever the goal may be, the visual daily reminder will help you focus your energy and get your creative juices flowing every time you see the board.
4. Chill out if you can’t sleep
Don’t get all stressed out about not being able to get to sleep. An occasional night of too-few ZZZs won’t hurt you as long as you usually get enough sleep. Rather than lying in the dark, tossing and turning in frustration, turn on the light and find something to read. Get comfortable. Sip some warm milk or chamomile tea. Meditate. Steer your mind away from worries and think about pleasant things—not sleep, just pleasant things. Breathe. Even if you don’t get to sleep, at least you’ll get to relax. And you’ll probably feel drowsy soon.
However, if it becomes a pattern that keeps happening, figure out why. Maybe you’ve been working right up to the time you crawl beneath the sheets, not giving your mind enough time to transition from stress to rest. Perhaps you’ve been watching the news or a television show that riled up feelings. Once you identify what could be contributing, talk to your doctor about it.
5. Tell someone you love them
This can be either easy or hard, depending on if you’ve ever said those words to that person before. Saying it out loud can make you and the other person feel amazing, so it’s worth it. Maybe you’ve been waiting to tell your new boyfriend or girlfriend your true feelings. Maybe you haven’t told your mom or dad you love them in a while. If you were never close enough to your brother or sister to say the “L” word regularly, do it today. There is no time like the present, and everyone needs to hear “I love you.” Say it loud and proud.
6. Keep a 10-point list of what’s important to you
Millions of people live their lives without a sense of direction. Unless you know what is really important to you and what you want out of life, how are you going to know where you are going, how to get what you want, and what your goals in life are? Think of 10 things that are really important to you; for example, family unity. Then make each item as specific as possible. Instead of family unity, maybe you really mean eating meals together, working on the chores together, or praying together. Refine the ten things on your list until you know exactly what is of primary importance to you. These are the things that will make you happiest. Knowing what they are can help you take care of yourself.
7. Hit a local hiking trail
If you enjoy working up a sweat, especially in nature, go for a hike. If your workday is just too long and there’s no way you could do a hike in the evening before dinner, arrange to hike on the weekend. Get out early when the air is still cool and enjoy the fresh beginning of a new day. Plan to hike an hour or two along a local, scenic trail. Take plenty of water with you. If you love to take pictures or make notes about what you see, also slip your camera and a journal into your backpack. That way, if you see some breathtaking scenery or head off the path to explore the woods, you can document special discoveries along the way.
You can also participate in a hike organized by the Sierra Club or other local organization. Such hikes often have guides who can share insights, as well as show you new trails. In addition, you can meet other trailblazers who share your interests in the rugged outdoors.
8. Feng shui your home
Feng shui is the Chinese practice of configuring a space so that it is in harmony with spiritual forces. Feng shui enthusiasts believe that the arrangement of the furniture and objects in your home will help you achieve your goals. The placement of these objects affects the flow of chi, or life-force energy, in an environment, and using certain colors in certain rooms can affect the energy in your home. Do some research online to find out how to apply feng shui principles to the particular setup of your home.
If you’re feeling way too overwhelmed, consider taking a mental health day—your boss may be more receptive than you think. While you’re at it, whip up one of these natural cold and flu remedies to get through sick-day season unscathed.