Self Care

11 Things You Can Do for Yourself That Only Take 60 Seconds a Day

women doing self-care practices"
women doing self-care practices
Graphics by: Caitlin Schneider
Graphics by: Caitlin Schneider

While we all deserve to go on a one-week vacay and treat ourselves to a spa day in the name of self-care, some days we can’t even squeeze in a hot pilates class, let alone a 10-minute meditation. Me-time often takes a back seat to the laundry list of tasks to get done and the feeling of needing to prioritize productivity over rest. Reminder: You don’t need to earn a breather. The good news is showing yourself some TLC doesn’t have to be elaborate or require you to block out time in your schedule. Read on for 11 small yet effective rituals to give you a dose of R&R. The best part? You can do them in the time it takes you to paint your lips red, plus they won’t break the bank.

11 Acts of Self-Care That Take Less Than 60 Seconds

1. Brain dump

Call it journaling or a self-therapy sesh. Write down whatever to-dos, worries, and thoughts your racing brain throws at you in a minute, and release emotions and anxieties that would otherwise eat at you throughout the day.

2. Light a candle

Cue the hygge and slip on your fuzzy socks while you’re at it. Studies show the simple act of lighting a candle can improve your memory and help purify the air in your home (depending on the type of candle! Others contain pollutants FYI, so opt for non-toxic beeswax candles scented with natural essential oils for the greatest health perks).

3. Drink a glass of water

Start your morning with the practice, and you’ll be that much closer to reaching your daily water goal, plus revving up your digestion, hydrating joints, boosting skin glow, and lots of other benefits we get from drinking water. Need some inspiration for staying hydrated? Hi, #WaterTok.

4. Exercise-snack

I’m not talking smoothies, protein bars, or bananas, but rather doing as many push-ups, squats, or lunges as you can in a minute. It will not only help break up your day but also ensure you fit in movement on the reg, prevent prolonged sitting, and boost energy.

5. Text your bestie

We’re all busy, but take the 60 seconds (or less) to let your bestie know you’re thinking of them. There’s power in social connection, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant the gesture. A 2022 study found that we underestimate how much other people appreciate us reaching out to them, meaning not only can it make your day, but it can make a friend’s day, too.

6. Engage your senses

Putting your senses to work helps you come into the present moment and stay mindful, which can help you destress or even calm anxiety. Wrap yourself in your coziest blanket, put your diffuser to work, sip on a PSL, ask Alexa to play your go-to chill song, and go through your “Favorites” album.

7. Step outside

Breathing in some fresh air does your mind and body good. One study published in 2015 proved that being outdoors for as little as 40 seconds can improve your focus. Being one with nature also increases happiness and decreases anxiety, stress, and depression. 

6. Hold a stretch

Whether you down-dog, back-bend, or cat-cow, consider stretching an act of self-care. It’s often the piece of our fitness routines that doesn’t get much love, but stretching our muscles and releasing our fascia is a key part of fitness, not only for muscular health but to release tension in the body.

7. Hug it out (yes, really)

There’s no denying the oh-so-good feelings of a warm embrace, so go wrap your arms around your S.O., your four-legged friend, or even yourself (it is called self-care, after all). Oxytocin, the love hormone that gets released when we hug someone we love, can reduce blood pressure, soothe stress, and promote healing.

8. Repeat a positive affirmation

The ongoing monologue in your head can either light a fire in you or tear you down. Enter: optimistic AF self-talk. Research suggests that affirmations can boost your sense of self, influence positive behavioral changes (good sleep habits, anyone?), and help you perform better under stress.

9. List three things you’re grateful for

Reflecting on what you appreciate can work wonders for lessening anxiety, relieving stress, and improving sleep. What’s more, practicing gratitude will help you be mindful and attract more of what makes you thankful (see: manifestation). So take a minute (literally) to notice what genuinely brings you a sense of happiness and satisfaction. It could be as mundane as the taste of your morning coffee or as big as the people in your life.

10. Take three deep breaths

If there’s one surefire way to instantly bring on the relaxing vibes, it’s engaging in breath work. Whatever technique you choose, you’ll hit reset on your nervous system and gut (think: better digestion) with the simple act of breathing. Try the 4-7-8 routine, which entails breathing in for four seconds, holding the breath for seven seconds, and exhaling for eight seconds.

11. Smile

If all else fails, just smile. It turns out the jovial expression has the power to help our bodies release cortisol and endorphins, which come with major health benefits like reducing pain and stress and strengthening the immune system. Consider this your reminder to not take life too seriously.