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Self-Care: 10 Ways, 10 Minutes or Less, Right Now

Mothers are busy. And we have been known to accidentally end up taking care of everyone but ourselves. To counteract the misconception that it's either a week in Hawaii or nothing, here are ten super simple ways to practice transformative self-care, right this second. 

  • Drink a glass of water. A whole one. Bonus points if you have half a citrus fruit lying around that you can squeeze into it (a great mini-detox). It feels downright impossible to remember or find the will to drink as much water as we need to (especially when we're breastfeeding) and stopping to hydrate will do wonders, inside and out.
  • Take a shower. This is kinda obvious, but once again we forget how radically mood-elevating hot rushing water and some delicious-smelling soap can be. A shower also creates a spacial and temporal boundary between you and the rest of life. The phone, the baby, all of it can wait for you to wash your hair. If you really want to clear out the cobwebs, get in when the water is still freezing cold. 
  • Step outside. Or at the very least open the window and stand with your face in the flow of fresh air. Give yourself at least two full minutes to slow your breath and listen to the sounds of the world. You can be wild and close your eyes, or really reap the benefits and go for a ten-minute walk. The rhythmic motion will stimulate your creativity and problem-solving ability, leaving you refreshed and ready to return to whatever's next. 
  • Set an intention. We hear this at the beginning of a yoga class or on New Year's Eve, but this practice can serve as a trusty compass anywhere, anytime and it doesn't need to involve huge goals. Your intention can be to close down your email while on your upcoming conference call, be present for your kids at dinnertime, say 'thank you' more often, step outside between meetings (see above), etc. etc. BUT, do this: write it down. Make it official and put it somewhere you can see it until that bitch is done. 
  • Put on some music and dance. There are few better ways to move prana (the energetic life force in the body) than by dancing. Pick a song and make it LOUD. Close the door, put in headphones if you must, but don't hold anything back. No one's watching. PS this is a great way to connect with your kids in the morning or re-energize the whole family when you're exhausted or tense. I dare you to not feel better after a ten-minute private dance party. 
  • Write a Gratitude List. An extraordinary practice that has been scientifically shown to improve mood, fight depression and anxiety and just make life better. Pick at least five but ideally ten (or more) things for which you are grateful, they need not be profound. A home, a family, the fact that you can read, that you woke up this morning, that you have the internet, a truly excellent cup of coffee, your favorite lipstick, your child's smile. You get the idea. Make this a daily to-do and your life will blossom before your eyes. 
  • Daydream. This is not a fruitless luxury that makes poor use of your time. Daydreaming is actually a vital part of creating the life you want and devoting a set period of time to re-enchanting your imagination and building vivid pictures of your goals is only going to help you achieve your dreams faster. So go for it. Space out and tune into what it will look, feel, sound, smell, and taste like when all those roses start coming up. 
  • Open a book. An actual printed, bound book and spend ten minutes reading. Doesn't matter if it's good, doesn't matter if it's a book you'll ever finish. Just step away from the electronics and allow your mind to be captivated by the written word on the page. You will be reinvigorated and inspired anew. 
  • Meditate. 'But I don't have time,' you are saying. 'But I can't sit still. I can't stop thinking.' These are the reasons WHY you meditate, not why you don't. You can check the science for yourself. Amazing benefits in terms of mood, focus, patience, creativity, sense of connectedness and peace. All the things we want most can actually be cultivated by sitting in silence every day. Start with the basics. FInd a comfortable upright seat, and bring your attention first to the sounds that surround you. Spend several minutes listening and then shift that same curious awareness to your own breath, without DOING anything to the breath. Let it come and go naturally and as thoughts arise, gently guide your attention back. If you spend nine minutes and thirty-five seconds 'thinking' and twenty-five seconds observing your breath, you did it, you win. Keep it up daily and it will be the gift that keeps on giving. 
  • Delegate. Pick one thing on your to-do list right now that you can ask someone else to do instead of you. Go ahead, your list will still be plenty long, I promise.