How to Practice Self-Care When You Have No Time For Yourself

Let’s face it. Life is messy, inconsistent and full of surprises. One week you’re coasting along in your routine, you’ve got plenty of time to practice self-care and check everything off your to-do list. Then BAM!

The next week comes and your routine is thrown out the window. You’re now swamped and overwhelmed. You barely have enough time to get through your checklist, let alone do any of your self-care ideas.

Trust me, I’ve been there. I think we all have at one point or another. And whether these periods of chaos are brief and last only days or weeks, or it feels like your whole life is like this, these five quick self-care ideas are just what you need when you just can’t deal.

How to Practice Self-Care

Story time!
This past week, we had a summit at work where everyone on my team came and spent four days in a room together. As an introvert and someone who treasures my alone time, being trapped in a room with 30 people for that long overwhelmed me.

Not only did we spend work hours together, there were also scheduled outings in the evening. So I pretty much knew beforehand that I wasn’t going to have any time that week to run errands or do stuff at home…or practice self-care!

So I found ways to sneak it in throughout the day since I wasn’t going to be able to do my normal self-care routine. Here are five ways I practice self-care when I have no time for myself.

1. Mentally + emotionally prepare yourself

If you know you’re coming up on a physically, mentally or emotionally draining time and you’ll be so busy that you won’t have time for your regular self-care routine, do extra self-care before hand.

While you may not be able to store up a “bank” of self-care to use when needed, doing extra self-care will allow you to go into your busy time in your best possible condition. You’ll be ready to take on the chaos.

Whereas, if you were to neglect your self-care the week leading up to your busy time, you’d already be on E and you’ll just be running on fumes.

I knew ahead of time that this was going to be an emotionally draining week for me so I did a few things to prep myself. I started a one month yoga challenge so I could get myself mentally and physically strong. I also spent the weekend before doing things I enjoyed and spending time by myself and with my husband.

2. Master the art of the minute vacation

So you’ve got no time for a real vacation, or even time to just relax. But I guarantee you are able to sneak in short “vacations” throughout your day.

Maybe you stop for a minute to admire flowers as you’re rushing by. Or you do a couple quick stretches, standing or even in your chair! Or you focus on deep breathing for ten seconds.

All of these self-care tips can be done quickly and can easily be incorporated into your busy schedule. Taking these mini breaks to focus on your mental, emotional and physical health make a huge difference when you don’t have time for your regular self-care routine.

As an introvert, my minute vacations focused on being quiet. Looking out the window in the conference room we sat in helped immensely. It allowed me to feel like I was connected with nature and I could imagine the sun on my skin and the sound of the trees in the wind. Also, it might sound simple but even just going to the bathroom was a vacation for me because it was the only time I could literally shut everyone else out and sit by myself.

3. Keep a positive attitude + make the most of it

Accept that there’s nothing you can do to change the circumstance. So why not put on a happy face and enjoy it?!

Sure, maybe there are a hundred other things you’d rather be doing but grumbling your way through it definitely isn’t the answer. Moaning and complaining will only bring negative energy and potentially affect the outcome.

Consciously start each day with a positive attitude, instead of dreading the day. Put a smile on your face and give it your all.

As I was getting ready for work on day 1 of my chaotic week, I found myself saying things like, “ugh it’s going to be a crazy week,” or, “this is going to be so emotionally draining.” And while it’s fine to acknowledge that a busy week is about to ensue, I noticed it positioned me to have a negative attitude and outlook. So I quickly flipped the script and thought about the great things that would come out of this week.

There was another instance where we went on a wine safari as a team builder. Let me just say that I don’t drink and I am ethically opposed to captive animals being gawked at by humans. Rather than being a Debbie Downer though, I found other parts of the experience to enjoy, like the beautiful setting and the hawks soaring in the sky.

4. Don’t forget to eat

Usually we don’t think about food when we’re busy. We get so focused on our work that by the time we look at the clock, it’s 2:30 and all we’ve eaten is a banana!

But food is crucial to helping our bodies physically succeed during busy times. And when I say “food” I DO NOT mean McDonalds or cookies. Fill your body with nutrient-dense food that will help your body run at its best.

Need something you can take on-the-go? Smoothies, bars, or even a bag of nuts are great portable options.

I was fortunate enough to have this problem pretty much taken care of for me by my company. Breakfast and lunch were catered each day so we didn’t go hungry. There was a caveat though.

Much of the food that was catered was not as clean as I usually eat and I knew I would be doing myself a disservice if I ate everything that was put in front of me. So I brought a smoothie every morning for breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day so I wanted to make sure I started out strong.

5. Don’t commit to more than you need to

Your time is precious. Especially in times like these where you would kill for a moment to yourself. If there is anything you can handoff or put off during this crazy time, do it.

Over-committing yourself (where you don’t need to) during an already chaotic period can only make matters worse. You’ll pretty much be guaranteeing that your self-care will be last on the priority list.

I was lucky enough to find out that one of the two evening activities with my coworkers was optional. Knowing that I was emotionally exhausted, I took that opportunity to care for myself.

Rather than going to the optional happy hour, I went home, took a nap, and did some restorative yoga. This time allowed me to reboot even just a little bit so I could go back to work the next day with more energy and positivity.

Practicing self-care is the best thing you can do for yourself and those around you. Whether you lead a rather simple life and these chaotic instances are few and far between, or you tend to have more chaos than peaceful moments, self-care should be a top priority.

If you’re taking the time to give your body, mind and spirit what it needs, you’ll be stronger, more positive, and better equipped to tackle to chaos with grace.

Share this post on social media to help others find ways to practice self-care in their busy lives.


  1. Great advice to turn negative thinking around! It’s so easy to complain and focus on the things you don’t like. But to mindfully find the positives wherever you can really can change your outlook on life, for the better. I need to remember this…so thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kristen! Yes positive think big is so powerful…but like you said, not always the easiest option. It takes effort. I’m sure if you put in the effort on a regular basis it becomes easier. Still trying to get there, myself.


  2. This is a really good article! I love the idea of a “1 minute vacation”! Visualisation can be so relaxing ❤ The only thing I would please please PLEASE urge you to do is stop referring to foods as "clean" (and its antonym). There is no such thing as "good" and "bad" foods, and you are contributing to a toxic diet culture by using these terms. Talking as someone recovered from an eating disorder, I can assure you that this kind of outlook can be seriously detrimental to the wellbeing of others, and indeed your own.


    1. Thank you for the love! I’m glad the article could help.

      And thank you also for your opinion about good and bad foods. While I respect your opinion, I can’t say I agree. I do feel that there is a difference between clean foods like a salad or a smoothie and junk foods like cookies and pizza. Clean foods will serve your body best, promoting optimal health. Junk foods, while they’re ok to indulge in from time to time, will not help your body thrive and will ultimately do you a disservice if that’s all you’re eating.


  3. Long time listener first time caller. Rachel, do you know what you’ve done? You’ve completely changed the paradigm that I grew up with. “Taking time to smell the flowers” is no longer the go-to thought in my head to relax. Your idea of “mini vacations” has replaced that thought, and my life has never been better, I’m finding so many new fun, fantastic things to focus on to relax besides flowers. First, let me defend myself by saying that I know its just a metaphor. But, I found out that my mind takes things literally. In the past I would catch myself walking by some flowers and consciously stopping to “smell the flowers”. Now, I make a concious effort to change my paradigm whenever I want to relax. My mind now automatically goes “on vacation” to thousands of great destinations and it doesn’t require walking by flowers.

    As an “outsider”, I would like to put in my two cents regarding Rachel’s use of the word “clean” when describing food. Personally, I found the word to be VERY descriptive. When I read the word “clean” I got images in my mind of bananas, nuts, dates and smoothies which, I believe, is exactly what Rachel intended.

    Further, I don’t feel that anything that Rachel wrote is “seriously detrimental to the wellbeing of others, or myself”. Nor do I believe that anything Rachel wrote is “contributing to a toxic diet culture”. Please remember “Fish”, we all have our own opinions, but we have no right to impose them on others. What we do have the right to do is change the channel to something we can relate to.

    “That’s all I have to say about that.” (Forrest Gump).

    Elvis has left the building!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! You know, I hope that the words I type will have an impact on my readers, and to know that I’ve achieved that inspires me to no end. I also have a literal mind so I completely know where you’re coming from. Minute vacations are amazing!

      I also appreciate that you are able to see the message I am trying to convey with regard to healthy vs unhealthy foods.
      I don’t know who said this first but every time you eat, you’re either fighting disease or you’re feeding it. That’s how I look at food.

      So glad to hear you’ve been a long time reader. If you have a specific topic you’d like me to write about, always feel free to suggest it in the comments or send me an email via the Contact page!


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