30 Self-Care Ideas that take 30 Minutes or Less

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Welp, we've done it. Nate and I have taken all our self-care ideas and put them into actual action. We sold our big, fancy California house in favor of a quieter life in Idaho. We spend numerous days camping, lounging in the sun and alternately hitting the slopes – depending on the season. We're living proof that big changes can come from clear goals and small, repeated actions.

Woman standing by doorway

This post was sponsored by Cascade at Sam's Club. All opinions are my own.

Part of how we're able to enjoy so much freedom is that we've continued implementing all the household hints and hacks that we learned when our lives were frantically busy. We've stayed vigilant about creating a schedule. Meal planning? Still happening. Smart gadgets? Check. Helpful shortcuts no longer feel necessary because we're absolutely drowning, but rather because we never want to be in that stressful position again. It's an oddly-regimented sort of relaxation, but it's working SO well for us.

Self-Care Ideas for a Better Life

Get outdoors more

Get Outdoors

When my family starts to spin out, we go outside! There doesn't need to be any sort of organized plan, just get out there – even for a short stint – and see what comes of it. I snapped this pic last weekend as the kids picked up an impromptu game of tic-tac-toe with sticks and some rocks and pinecones. I've found that the less guidance you provide children in terms of entertainment options, the more creative they get and the more they explore.

Gleefully adventuring kids means that parents have more time to themselves, for things like reading or writing or just staring off into space in amazing, uninterrupted peace. Win, win, win.

Woman reading

Read, Every Single Day

Speaking of reading, this is a habit I got out of when life was hectic as we were making our transition into…uh…semi-retirement? Working whenever we feel like it in conjunction with homeschooling? Living a chill, slow life unencumbered by societal pressures? Hmm. I'm gonna have to come up with a better term for this time period in which we are putting self-care ideas into action and paying attention to our own needs.

Intentional living, perhaps.

In any case, I love to read. It's quite possibly my favorite pastime in the entire universe. I've found that half an hour with a good book can completely turn my whole mood around. The easiest way to incorporate reading into your routine is to keep a book on your bedside table and make sure to do it every morning (before you touch your phone!) or every night before you go to sleep.

Write Positive Affirmations

I keep a gratitude journal by my bedside and jot down three things I'm thankful for each night. Sounds cheesy, but I swear it helps you gain tons of perspective, even on – or especially on – the bad days.

Spend time with pets

Spend Time with Furry Friends

I can't think of a better way to spend half an hour than hanging out with my dogs, cat, goats, sheep or chickens! This is one of the smarter self-care ideas I've seen advocated in lots of books. Pets have actually been proven in studies time and time again to drastically improve mood, overall wellness, self-esteem and physical health.

Take a Bath

There's just something about warm water and solitude that soothes the soul.

Cascade dishes

Look for the Little Time-Savers

Okay, I know some of you are like, “That's great, Chelsea, but how do you even carve out 30 minutes to DO these things?” Simple: I look at every single task at-hand and contemplate how I can optimize it.

Take, for example, dishwashing. Some people think that washing dishes by hand saves time and water, but it doesn't. You use four gallons of water every two minutes when washing dishes by hand at a running sink vs using LESS than four gallons of water for an ENTIRE dishwashing cycle. That's 6,000 gallons wasted a year when you handwash! By using Cascade Platinum ActionPacs from Sam’s Club, you can save water AND save 30 minutes a day to put into self-care ideas that can further improve your life.

Change your Sheets

While we're on the subject of cleaning up, I find that climbing into a clean set of sheets can be one of the most refreshing things. And it's so easy! Toss them in the wash on your way to work, then toss them in the dryer when you get home. A few quick tucks and BOOM. Rest time, reset.

Call Someone You Love

Of all the self-care ideas on the planet, I think this one might be my fave. I try to carve out at least half an hour several times a week to phone an old friend or relative. I state up-front that I have limited time to talk but that I want to catch up. Maintaining relationships is important because it's soothing to know that there is always someone to talk to, and knowing that others trust you as well can only contribute positively to your sense of self-worth.

Family game night

Play Games

Grab a set of cards and play a quick round of Crazy Eights. This is a great way to get some laughter going and reconnect with your loved ones.

Do Some Self-Pampering

Face mask, nail polish, hair curlers or makeup. Pick a thing that makes you feel beautiful and indulgent, and DO THAT. You deserve it.


Put on your favorite Justin Bieber tune (okay, okay, we all know you prefer Taylor Swift) and rock out in the kitchen!

Eat Something Good for You

Not like…chicken liver. Unless that's your jam. Pick a food that you really love, that's also nourishing to your body. I personally pick roasted cashews, goat cheese, spinach and balsamic. That's my health nut JAM. Nate likes chicken breast and hard-boiled eggs.

Cancel Plans

Not anything too important, mind you, but if you have stuff looming on the schedule that you're not really THAT into, cancel it! Nothing feels better than freeing up some time to just be with yourself for awhile.


This might sound illogical if you're looking to for self-care ideas, but sometimes you just need to let it out. If something has been frustrating you and you're having a hard time releasing the tension, listen to a song that reminds you of a sad time in your life. Lean into the lyrics, and let it all go.

Look at Yourself in the Mirror

Good, now come up with some compliments. Imagine what your best friends might say to you. That's how you should treat yourself, always.

Breathe Deeply

Sounds basic, but this is one of the self-care ideas I always return to when I'm feeling overwhelmed. It's easy, it's free, and it's absolutely effective. Take a deep, long breath in through your nose and down into your belly for four seconds, hold there for seven seconds, then exhale forcefully through the mouth for eight seconds. Repeat up to four times.

Man, that one took less than a minute. With the time leftover… uhhhh… sit still and chill? Maybe drink a big glass of water and find someone to hug or kiss. Unless you happen to be at work. That might be inappropriate.

Okay, WOW, this is getting long. Here are my final self-care ideas:

  • Browse through Old Photos
  • Diffuse Essential Oils
  • Garden
  • Watch the Sunset or Sunrise
  • Do a Crossword
  • Drink a Cup of Tea
  • Take a Nap
  • Light a Candle
  • Write a Letter
  • Organize A Drawer
  • Draw
  • Practice a Hobby
  • Do Yoga, or Simply Stretch
  • Brush or Braid your Hair

If you could carve out 30 minutes a day, what self-care ideas would you implement?


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