4 Mini Self-Care Breaks to Replenish Your Energy

Portrait of beautiful middle eastern girl meditating, doing yoga, and practicing self-care at sunset on the grass in a park.

Article At A Glance

Too many of us move through life running on empty as we face demanding personal, professional, and societal challenges. If we want to fix or manage what we face—or, as a last resort, accept it—we’ll need to find ways to bring more rest and self-care into our daily lives. Here are four quick practices that can rejuvenate you.

Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel. Eleanor Brown

Too many of us move through life running on empty as we face demanding personal, professional, and societal challenges. If we want to fix or manage what we face—or, as a last resort, accept it—we’ll need to find ways to bring more rest and self-care into our daily lives. 

Of course, we’ve all seen articles with suggestions on how to do this. For example, one how-to article I read last year included a list of ways to keep healthy and build stress hardiness. It listed the usual: limiting sugar, drinking more water, getting enough rest, and, of course, exercising. We know these things, but sometimes we find ourselves so drained and exhausted that rest and self-care fall to the bottom of our endless to-do lists.

4 Reasons You Might Need Self-Care

To do lists are grest but should also include time for self- care and rest.

Before we jump on the self-care bandwagon, it helps to take a moment to understand what drains our energy and keeps us from taking better care of ourselves. Here are a few ideas to consider.

  1. Impatience

    Feeling impatient much? Impatience is usually triggered when we want or need to accomplish something and suddenly realize that it will require more energy, time, and work than we thought. Impatience can leave us feeling annoyed, anxious, agitated, and frustrated. 

  2. Long To-Do Lists

    Super busy? When managing a busy schedule and a long to-do list, it can be difficult to find time to fit in your yoga practice, take a walk, or go to the gym.

  3. Stress Piling Up

    Stressed out? Is work piling up? Are you suffering from an overdose of OPE (other people’s energy)? Are you feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders? If so, you have a heaping helping of unhelpful stress knocking at your mind/body door.

  4. Otherization

    Have you been otherized? If you regularly find yourself on the receiving end of statements or actions that make you feel less than, disrespected, betrayed, lied to, or made to feel like an outcast, you’ve been otherized. Being otherized is incredibly draining.

Mini Self-Care Breaks

We all experience impatience, stress, and times when we are super busy. Many of us have to add otherization to that soul-draining list. However, with a little awareness, it’s always possible to address the draining with mini self-care breaks. Carving out two to five minutes during busy times is a practical way to do this. It will take a bit of self-awareness and discipline, but it can have a positive effect on our physical and mental well-being. 

It’s important to point out that self-care for you might not mean the same thing for your best friend, and it might even change for you over time. In an article at Everyday Health, Marni Amsellem, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist based in the greater New York metropolitan area, says, “What is self-care for one person will likely differ from someone else, and what’s self-care for you one day might not feel like self-care another day.” In addition, the benefits of self-care have been rigorously researched. If in doubt, do an online search. Remember, Google is your friend (most of the time!).

Here are a few accessible yoga-based suggestions to add to your daily life. And yes, I do one or more of these on a regular basis.

4 Yogic Mini Self-Care Breaks

1. Quick Mind-Body Tune-Up 

Lazy morning, good sleep and stretching perfect components of self-care.

Stretch in bed when you wake up in the morning or from a nap if you’re fortunate enough to find time to take one!  

  1. Roll your wrists and ankles in little circles in one direction and then in the other.
  2. Inhale and contract all the muscles of the lower body. Exhale. 
  3. Inhale and make fists of the hands, tightening all the muscles of the upper body and face, head, and neck. Exhale.  
  4. Inhale as you roll your head toward your left shoulder.  Exhale.  
  5. Inhale and roll your head toward your right shoulder.  Exhale.
  6. Repeat three times or more if you are comfortable.

2. 4:4 Breathing

Fitness, people and healthy lifestyle concept - group of women meditating and practing 4:4 breathing in Lotus Pose at yoga studio.

If you find yourself stuck in traffic, standing in line at the grocery store, or waiting in a doctor’s office, try 4:4 Breathing to help you calm your nervous system. 

  1. Inhale to your own personal four-count, saying silently to yourself, “Inhale, two, three, four.”
  2. Exhale saying silently to yourself, “Exhale, two, three, four.” 
  3. Repeat and continue for 2 to 3 minutes or longer if you are comfortable.  

3. Shake It Off 

If you find yourself in a mid-afternoon 3:00 p.m. energy slump, skip the coffee or the soda and try “Shake It Off” to energize your body, increase oxygen levels in the bloodstream, stimulate your nervous system, and help with mental focus. 

  1. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. 
  2. Bend your knees slightly and begin to shake your legs. 
  3. Next, shake your wrists, and move the shaking up your arms to your shoulders. 
  4. Invite your head to join the party if that feels comfortable.
  5. Feel free to raise your arms or bend forward or backward.
  6. Shake your body for 2 to 5 minutes.
  7. When done, stand or sit quietly and feel the effects of this self-care break.

4. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Group of diverse people in a yoga class, practicing self-care in Child's Pose.

This calms your nervous system and reduces the effects of anxiety and stress.

  1. Put a blanket or exercise mat on the floor to cushion your knees.
  2. Start on your hands and knees.
  3. Sit back on your heels.  
  4. Drop your forehead to the floor.
  5. Stretch your arms straight out before you or rest them back by your legs. If your forehead doesn’t feel comfortable on the floor, rest it on your folded arms or a pillow.  
  6. Stay in the position for two minutes or longer if you are comfortable.

Child’s Pose Modifications

  • Do the pose in bed so you don’t have to get up and down from the floor. This is easier on the knees.
  • Do the pose at work. If you need to take a quick break, you can do this modification in a chair (or in a bathroom stall if you need privacy). Place your elbows on your lap and rest your head in your hands. Let your shoulders shrug up to your ears. Close your eyes and focus your attention on your breath. 
  • You can combine this with the 4:4 Breathing if you like.
Reprinted with permission from bethgibbs.com
Beth Gibbs, MA, C-IAYT, Writer and Yoga Therapist

Beth Gibbs, MA, is a faculty member at the Kripalu School of Integrative Yoga Therapy. She holds a master’s degree in Yoga Therapy and Mind/Body Health from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. She is the author of Soul Food, Life-Affirming Stories Served with Side Dishes and Just Desserts, Enlighten Up! Finding Clarity, Contentment, and Resilience in a Complicated World and Ogi Bogi, The Elephant Yogi, a therapeutic yoga book for children. Beth is an experienced workshop leader and public speaker. She blogs at bethgibbs.com

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