Self-Care in 30 Seconds or Less

March 31, 2021 George Abitante

30-second self-care? Can you do that? Does it work? You can, and it does. Learn about 30-second self-care at HealthyPlace.

I've learned how to self-care in 30 seconds or less because the last few months have been really hectic for me. I've been getting up to speed on several projects in my Ph.D. program, learning new statistical techniques, keeping up with coursework, and it's been really tough to build in time to focus on my own wellbeing. For me, it's been difficult having most of my work time at home because I really like working in a designated workspace and just using my home as a place to relax, so having my work and relaxation spaces completely overlap has made it even more difficult to create a space for self-care for 30 seconds or any other length of time.

This combination of work responsibilities and little delineation between work and relaxation has left me feeling like I don't get to relax much, even though I'm able to do activities I enjoy. My solution so far has been to build moments of relaxation into my workday so that I can rejuvenate myself regularly instead of trying to do it all at once at the end of the day.

I've found it really helpful to find activities that I consider calming and rejuvenating that can also be completed within 30 seconds or so. This allows me to stay engaged in my workday while also creating moments to build myself up, even on the busiest days. So today, I'd like to share with you what that process has been like and give a few tips about how you can incorporate 30 seconds or less of self-care into your day. 

30 Second Self-Care at Work

My journey towards 30-second-or-less self-care sessions began when I noticed that I wasn't regularly getting to the big things I wanted to be doing to take care of myself. I was struggling to incorporate some structured self-care activities into my days that I could do on a regular basis on a standard schedule. Unfortunately, my schedule varies a fair bit from week to week, so having a regular time to exercise or do other time-intensive activities was really hard for me to find.

I kept trying to commit to more than I could realistically do, and this felt like a perpetual wheel of setting a schedule and then not sticking to it. What I realized eventually was that I needed to find something more manageable that I could do at a regular time even when my schedule changed, and this prompted me to commit to something simple but enjoyable: five deep breaths.

This may sound a bit silly, but for me, taking just a few deep breaths does so much to help me reset and recharge, even when I'm having a tough day. So I set a daily reminder for myself at noon to take five deep breaths, and I noticed pretty quickly that this was an activity I could actually do on a regular basis and was simple enough that I could do it regardless of what else was going on. Whether I was in class, talking in a meeting, or working on a project, I could always take those five deep breaths without it interrupting what I was doing.

For me, taking those five deep breaths was more about giving myself a structured, intentional couple of moments of my day that I knew were focused on cultivating my health and wellness. Even though it wasn't a lot of time, it gave me a sense of calm and accomplishment and also made it easier for me to use deep breathing at other times when something stressful came up.

I am now starting to add to this schedule, incorporating more planned deep breathing into the morning and afternoon, and I'm excited to see how building on this practice will benefit me. Below, I share a few ideas that can help you get started with your own 30-second-or-less self-care routine.

Creating your 30-Second Self-Care Routine

  1. Identify your needs. The process I described above came about because I realized I wanted more structure in my day and needed an activity that I could do easily even when my schedule switched up on me. What you want out of your self-care routine may be completely different from mine, so the type of activity you do may vary. So, to start, think about what you actually want to achieve with your self-care activity, and this will shape how you actually implement it. 
  2. Commit. Realistically assessing how reliably you can do your self-care activity is a really important part of the process. My earlier attempts left me feeling inept and tired because I wasn't able to do them as regularly as I wanted, and that ended up draining me more than it contributed to my wellbeing. Make sure the activity you choose is sustainable, and if it turns out to be too much, find a different one or adapt it so that it can be. 
  3. Build. Once you're comfortable with the regular practice you're doing, you can add to it as wanted/needed. In my case, I still want to have more instances of deep breathing during the day, so I'm adding a morning and afternoon reminder to my practice. You might increase how long you engage in your activity, increase how many days a week you do it, or augment it in some other way to improve the benefits you get out of it. 

I hope these tips can help you get started with your own 30-second-or-less self-care routine. It can be really difficult to start something new, but when done correctly, the benefits can be fantastic. What kind of practices are you interested in cultivating? Please share below.

APA Reference
Abitante, G. (2021, March 31). Self-Care in 30 Seconds or Less, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Author: George Abitante

George received his Master's degree in Clinical Psychology from Northwestern University and is pursuing his PhD in Clinical Psychology at Vanderbilt University. Find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @AbitanteGeorge.

Leave a reply