This Self-Care for Caregivers series encourages PANDAS/PANS Caregivers to TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES while they are taking care of others. It’s a lot like how when you fly on an airplane that you are told that in the event of an emergency to put on your own oxygen mask before assisting those sitting beside you. When you are frazzled and stressed, it affects everything you do and has real physical and emotional effects. Taking time each day for yourself, even if it’s just a few minutes, can go a long way in boosting your energy, settling your mind, and reducing your stress levels.
Now you may be thinking, “Yes, I know Self-Care IS important, but I don’t have any TIME for that”. Can you find 10 extra minutes in your day? You could get up 10 minutes early. Go to bed 10 minutes early. Drive the long way home that takes 10 more minutes. Hide in a closet for 10 minutes and don’t answer if anybody starts looking for you. (Just kidding about that last one…kinda. Ha Ha.) The point is that if you can find at least 10 minutes, you can practice some Self-Care. And if you can find more than 10 minutes in your day, that’s even MORE Self-Care. Most ideas don’t take any money either.
25 Self-Care Ideas That Take 10 Minutes Or Less
- Take 10 deep breaths. Have more time? Take 10 more deep breaths.
- Make a cup of tea or coffee and drink it in total silence and without multi-tasking. Just sip and savor. Sip and savor.
- Go outside for some fresh air and sit in the sunshine for the Vitamin D.
- Walk around the block once or twice or forever. LOL!
- Pet your dog or cat or any pettable pet you own or borrow a pet or go to a pet store. (Even watching fish swim can be relaxing if that’s all you’ve got.)
- Read a book purely for pleasure. Maybe choose poetry or the latest bestseller or something out of the humor section.
- Meditate. You can either sit comfortably in silence or search for a guided meditation online.
- Put down your cell phone and walk away from it for 10 minutes (or longer, if you can!).
- Find a quick craft to make. If you’re stumped, try this site with 10-minute crafts or this site with 5-minute crafts and make TWO things. if you’re stumped.
- Sit right down and write yourself a letter. Have paper or a card? Have stamps? Send a note to friend or relative.
- Do some yoga stretches. There are easy 10-minute routines online if you do a search.
- Eat a healthy snack like a piece of fruit or dark chocolate. (Or eat a piece of chocolate cake! It’s YOUR Self-Care!)
- Phone a friend and don’t talk about PANDAS/PANS at all during the call.
- Sip a glass of wine or other favorite adult beverage while listening to music you love.
- Go to bed 10 minutes earlier or sleep in for 10 minutes extra. REALLY sleep in too…hitting snooze doesn’t count, and besides, snooze is usually only nine minutes.
- Take a relaxing shower or soak in a hot bath. Use fancy bath soaps/gels/lotions if you’ve got them. This one’s all about pampering and nourishing yourself. (Might wanna double the time to 20 minutes for this one!)
- Look through a magazine or tabloid at the supermarket or bookstore…don’t buy it (unless you decide you really want it).
- Visit your favorite coffee shop and actually go inside instead of using the drive-thru. Sit there for at least 10 minutes.
- Make a list of 10 things you’ve always wanted to learn about.
- Go to the library and pick out a book about one of the 10 things you listed in #19.
- Bake some ooey-gooey, delicious cookies, and then eat some ooey-gooey, delicious cookies. (Idea: make a double batch and treat yourself multiple times here.)
- You know those massaging seats at the mall you usually just walk by? Sit in one for 10 minutes.
- Download a game app on your phone like Solitaire or Tetris and play it at least once a day.
- Make phone calls to schedule yourself a physical exam, a dentist appointment, an eye exam, and a massage. So often we make all the appointments for everyone else and our own get put on the back burner. Make YOUR appointments.
- Watch 10 minutes of the beach complete with waves or find another relaxing video online that you enjoy.
Here are 10 BONUS Self-Care Activities if you have about 30 minutes:
- Get a manicure or pedicure (or both if you can find a salon that can do them at the same time).
- Take yourself out to lunch at a new restaurant you’ve been wanting to try.
- Get your hair washed, cut, and styled. (If you need a color but don’t have time to do it all, just make a follow up appointment. OR figure out a way to get it ALL done at once. I’ll be blonde…foreverrrrrr! 😀 )
- Stay off the Internet for an entire day. No emails. No social media. No incessant Googling about PANDAS/PANS. Nothing! (Or stay offline for at least 30 minutes if that’s all you can endure. 😉 )
- Watch a classic sitcom you enjoy on Netflix or other subscription service or DVD. You might even be able to squeeze in two episodes! (I’ve watched every season of the Mary Tyler Moore earlier this year. “You’re gonna make it after all!”)
- Go to the gym and get in a good workout. Or if you’re like me and HATE the gym, just do a 20-30 minute workout at home.
- Pop into a resale shop and look through their clearance section and buy yourself something new.
- Go the park or a nature preserve or somewhere else that’s pretty and take a half hour walk or hike.
- You know that 10 minute cup of coffee at your favorite coffee shop from #18? Get a fancy coffee AND a muffin or scone and sit there for 30 minutes reading your book from #6 or #20.
- Remember that band you absolutely LOVED in junior high? Download one of their albums and listen to it in one sitting. You very likely still know all the words to all the songs. 🙂 (P.S. Roger Taylor is MINE!!!)
Hey now…woo…look at that…I’ve given you 35 ideas for some easy, quick Self-Care for all you PANDAS/PANS Caregivers. Most things don’t cost you any money either or not that much. Most ideas can be for a female or male too because while most duties typically fall to the women, ALL Caregivers need to take care of themselves! And while it might be difficult to find 10 minutes to yourself in a day, it’s NOT impossible. You NEED to make time for yourself even if it’s doing 25 things that aren’t on this list. You can always look at Self-Care for Caregivers (#1) for more tips/tricks. And if you have other ideas for Self-Care tips, please send me a note here. I’d love to follow up this list with more of all of y’all’s ideas.
Remember, take care of yourself! You are worth the effort! And it will help you recharge you for all of your roles as a Caregiver.
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Sarah Jane Alleman is a PANDAS Mom to her awesome son, Jesse. She spends much of her time on Facebook, making to-do lists, and listening to music, especially Depeche Mode. She drinks a lot of coffee, likes a good red wine, and has been known to hide chocolate in her pantry. Sarah really thinks PANDAS Sucks (the autoimmune disorder, NOT the bears!). PANDAS Sucks exists to tell the collective story about PANDAS/PANS. Sarah wants to empower other PANDAS Parents and let them know they’re not alone. She is also the Director of Kentucky PANDAS/PANS Support, which strives for more awareness, support, and understanding of PANDAS/PANS. Sarah was a Parent Contributor to the book “PANDAS and PANS in School Settings” and a volunteer and technical adviser for the PANDAS/PANS documentary “My Kid Is Not Crazy.” Find PANDAS Sucks on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Note: Please do not ask for doctor referrals or specific medical advice. This blog/web site is for info and support purposes only. I’m not a doctor.