Self-Care for People Who “Don’t Have Time” For Self-Care

Today’s post is for those of you who have told me, “5 Minute self-care techniques are great, but most of the time, I don’t even have 5 minutes to myself!” Nicole Schwartz is a therapist, blogger, and mother of three who knows a lot about juggling too much at once and somehow squeezing in a few precious moments for herself. I was thrilled when she brought up this idea and of course asked if she would share it with all of you.




Self-Care for People Who “Don’t Have Time”

By: Nicole Schwarz


Self-care for parents who don't have time

Self-care for parents who don’t have time


Have you seen what’s on my desk? My boss expects this all of this to be done by tomorrow.

I have 3 kids under 3. I can’t even go to the bathroom by myself.

With school all day and working at night, I barely have time to sleep.



No Time for Self-Care?

You have learned to live in chaos.  You’ve become comfortable with feeling exhausted and being overworked.  While you like the idea of taking time for yourself, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

Whatever your excuse, you’re never too busy for self-care.  It may feel overwhelming to start something new or add something to your schedule, but self-care does not need to be time consuming.

In fact, learning to squeeze self-care into your life may actually lead to less stress, more patience and a clearer focus.

Sound Good?


Self-Care in Just Seconds

  • Breathe: Stop what you’re doing and take a deep breath.  Do not underestimate the power of a deep breath.  These precious seconds may be the difference between loosing your cool and responding calmly; between feeling overwhelmed and staying focused.


  • Think About What You’re Eating: As you take a bite of your sandwich, take a second to focus on the different flavors and textures. Or, instead of eating a handful of M&M’s at once, put one in your mouth and chew it slowly.


  • Give Technology a Time-Out:  Set a timer for 30 seconds.  Turn off all technology and do something else on this list or just sit in silence.   This might be difficult at first and that’s ok, add time as you feel comfortable.


  • Take a Look Around: Focus your eyes on something around you – it could be a painting, a cloudy sky, one of your kids, something that brings you a little joy.  See how many details you can observe: shading, colors, shapes, lines.


  • Stretch: Raise your arms straight up above your head, and then bring them out to your sides.  Gently roll your head from the left to the right.   Shrug your shoulders, and then roll them to the front and back a few times.


  • Close Your Eyes: You may not be able to actually take a break from your surroundings, but you can mentally escape by closing your eyes for a few seconds.  Allow your brain to take a little “mini-vacation” by thinking about a calming scene or destination.


  • Be Thankful: Change your focus to the positive by being grateful for something in this moment.  If this feels like a struggle, get creative: free Wi-Fi, a new magazine, a glass of clean water, the ability to see, hear, taste and breathe.


Start Small

Start by doing one self-care activity for 5 seconds today. Tomorrow, try to fit in a few seconds of self-care throughout your day.

With time, your body may begin to crave self-care.  Once you begin to incorporate self-care activities into your life, you begin to realize how good it feels.  You may find yourself naturally taking a deep breath or chewing food more mindfully.

After a while, taking 5 minutes (or more!) for self-care won’t seem so overwhelming.  In fact, you may find that you’ve spent 5 minutes on self-care already today!



How do you balance all the things on your plate without losing it? Does taking even 5 minutes in your day feel too long? If you do have a hard time squeezing in self-care, could you choose just one of Nicole’s ideas to try out today? Tell us how it goes in the comments.



Take the “Pictures of My Imperfect Life” Challenge

Take Nicole’s #myimperfectlife challenge! She has bravely taken some pictures of the mess and chaos in her life. Just snap a picture of your “un-Pinterest ready” moment and post it here on her blog, here on her Twitter page, or here on the Imperfect Families Facebook page. Remember to use #myimperfectlife.


Nicole Imperfect Families

Nicole Schwarz, MA, LMFT is a Parent Coach and Child & Family Therapist in St. Louis, MO.  Nicole writes a blog focused on positive parenting strategies and encouragement for stressed-out moms.  Visit her at or follow her on Pinterest.


  1. Jodi Hickenlooper

    Nicole what great ideas to get started with self-care! I especially love your suggestions to just take a moment and look at something. Little mindful moments can make such a difference!

    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      HI Jodi:

      I always love having your input here. I loved the “take a moment” suggestion too! It’s amazing what a little mindful attention to what we are actually doing – what the sensory components of it are, can do for my mood. Like right now, the feeling of my legs in the chair and my feet on the floor, the experience of clicking on the keyboard, the sound of my breath. Geez, I need to slow down more! HA!

      What mindful moments have you enjoyed today? And, what are some other great tricks we missed?



  2. Nicole Schwarz

    Hi Jodi,
    Thanks for your comment! You’re right, little moments can make a huge difference! So often, we want big, dramatic change in an instant – we underestimate the impact of small, intentional changes.

    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Nicole – Dramatic changes in an instant? Me? I would never want that! Geez, it’s crazy how impatient we can be sometimes. But I also get amazed at how little tiny changes can make a huge difference in the way we feel, like you said. Thanks so much for your wonderful article.


  3. Margaret Fiorello

    Sounds simple enough, and I was relieved that many of this I already do, so that might mean I’m doing more Self Care than I realized. I’m a RN, a Day Shift Supervisor on a busy psychiatric emergency unit in a hospital. Self care is a frequent topic, and this year (we are “Screeners”, licensed in our state to involuntarily bring people to the ER when they refuse, and are a danger to self or others), one of the day long courses for recertification of one’s license was on Self Care. One topic is of course yoga, I go weekly to a class (12 years), but want to do more daily. This is a reminder that 5 minutes matters. Thank you for this article, I’m older, my 3 kids are out of the home, yes, I help with 3 granddaughters, and life still feels chaotic. We all need encouragement for Self Care!

    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      HI Margaret:

      Oh boy, self-care sure IS an important topic for you with everything on your plate! I’m so happy to hear that you take yoga and have realized that you do more than you thought, AND that you’ve made room for some new ideas. 5 minutes does matter. In fact, it makes a huge difference, especially when you practice it daily, or more.

      Thanks for reading and commenting,




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