This is the weirdest, most stressful time in recent memory, huh? We should all be taking like three hours a day for self-care so that we can stay healthy and happy ourselves. Of course, that’s not really an option for most of us, who need to spend most of our time doing things like “continuing to make a living” and “not killing our families while also providing meals for them.” But even if you have the busiest day imaginable, there’s always one minute you can take for yourself. Use that time for one of these acts—they’ll make you feel better than checking Instagram again, promise.
1. Chug a glass of water
It’s cheap, it’s great for your skin, and it’s a kind of oddly centering activity. I know some people don’t love the taste of plain water, so give yourself permission to take thirty seconds to squeeze some lime in there (or, less glamorously, add a splash of leftover Gatorade, like I did this morning).
2. Play with a handful of coffee beans
It sounds weird, I know. “Sensory play,” like this is an important part of childhood development, but the truth is, it can be really calming for adults, too. It’s especially good for those of us who spend far too much time on our screens—doing something physical, calming, and simple like this is great. Close your eyes if you want, and just let the coffee beans sift through your fingers, swirl them around in a bowl… of course, you can use a slinky, some of your kid’s old Play-Dough, or whatever else is around, too.
3. Try this super easy breathing exercise
It’s called 4-7-8, and that’s for good reason: breathe in for four seconds, hold for seven seconds, and then breathe out for eight seconds. Repeat this for a minute. You will feel infinitely better.
4. Do a one-minute tidy-up
It is amazing how much nicer things can look and feel—and how good you can feel about yourself— if you spend literally one minute clearing your space. Is there an old water glass that could go in the sink? A t-shirt on the floor that could easily become a t-shirt tossed into the hamper? Go for it. You’ll be amazed how much better you’ll feel.
5. Eat a handful of chocolate chips
Or whatever your equivalent of chocolate chips is. But at least once a day, it’s healthy to give yourself permission to not think about sugar or calories or fat or whatever other dietary metric you’re concerning yourself with, and just eat a handful of something you really, really like.
6. Host a mini solo dance party
You know when you’re working from home (read: from an unmade bed), and you’re staring at the screen and certain words don’t even really look like words anymore? Yeah, that’s when you need to get up and have a little dance party. If you’re in the room alone, great. If not, the bathroom is a great fit for this. Yes, I’m serious. Yes, I’ve done it: just me and my headphones, taking a minute to shake it out to some 80s dance hit in the bathroom mirror.
7. Moisturize your face
It’s probably dry. And a little extra moisturizer—just the act of touching your face—feels great and soothing. (And yes, it’s still okay to touch your face if you wash your hands before and after).
8. Give yourself a hand massage
And with all that hand-washing, yes, your hands are going to be dry as hell, too. But rather than just slathering on lotion, give yourself a hand massage. Work the moisturizer into your palm, spreading it
9. Try this one yoga move (perfect for the extraordinarily unflexible)
Balasana, or child’s pose, is extremely calming—and can stretch your back and neck out, to boot. Start on your hands and knees, then widen your knees about as far apart as your hips while keeping your toes touching. Exhale, then stretch forward, so your stomach is on your thighs and your forehead is on the floor, with your arms stretched out in front of you. Here’s a picture so you really know what I’m talking about:
10. Say something really nice to a stranger on the internet
I don’t know what to tell you—this one helps me. On Facebook or Reddit, there’s always an opportunity to just offer someone a compliment about a photo of a new haircut they just posted, saying they seem like a good mom when they’re freaking out about their kid, or whatever. It’s easy and quick, and putting out good energy into the world can just be a nice feeling that radiates through you for the rest of the day.
11. Read a poem
Sometimes this takes longer than a minute, but often, poems are short enough to read in under a minute (although you often end up thinking about them for longer). And they’re a lot more accessible than people often think! Poetry Foundation offers a Poem of the Day, which is really helpful. It’s nice to just end up thinking about something unconnected to the rest of your life (and not in the news) sometimes.