5 Minute Self Care: Try These 30 Ideas for Wellness

Taking time for yourself is so important for your mental and physical health, even if it’s just for a few minutes. So, here are a couple 5 minute self care ideas you can do in between meetings or on your mini breaks.

If you enjoy all things self care, I’ve got a lot of content for you including this one for a self care basket and a great self care menu to choose from.

30 self care ideas in 5 mins text overlay on a photo of a woman with hands clasped on her chest breathing

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5 minute wellness activities

1. Mindfulness

Take a moment and look around you. Notice the things you wouldn’t normally – the paint color of a wall, the texture of your clothes, and the distant sounds. Being mindful brings you back to the present moment and allows your mind to think about something different, to take a break from the racing thoughts.

You can try doing the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 grounding exercise where you look for 5 things around you, feel 4 textures on your skin, listen to 3 sounds, notice 2 scents and 1 taste.

2. Meditation

So many studies (like this 2021 one) show meditation can reduce anxiety and improve happiness. And there are many different ways to meditate, even in just 5 minutes!

Vipassana involves noticing your thoughts and feelings without judgement or reaction; Pranayama involves focusing on the breath, and mantra meditation involves repeating a powerful word or prayer.

Personally, I love doing a hybrid of visualization and loving-kindness meditation where, after taking a few deep breaths, I think of a loved one smiling, being happy and joyful. Then, I mentally send them positive, happy thoughts. Visualizing them smiling, always makes me smile and helps me to relax.

3. Gratitude

Studies like this one from 2010 show improved happiness, sleep, wellbeing and immunity when participants do letters of gratitude, gratitude journaling and counting their blessings.

So, for a 5 minute self care exercise, write down 5 things you are grateful for that happened today. What were the day’s glimmers or the moments that really made you smile? Think about them and smile some more!

4. Savasana (yoga pose)

Savasana is a yoga pose that’s sometimes called the corpse or death pose. It involves lying flat on your back in a relaxed state, breathing deeply and focusing your mind on different parts of your body as a body scan.

The pose can be done in 5 minutes or less. I have fallen asleep many times after doing this pose so, if you are on a schedule, be sure to set a timer on your phone.

5. Deep breathing

Deep breathing activates your parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for your rest and digest state. And this 2023 study found doing 5 minute breath exercises once per day for a month had positive benefits for mood, anxiety and stress.

There are many types of breathing exercises you can do – some are even built into fitness apps. You can try breathing in for 4 counts, holding for 6 counts and exhaling for 8 counts. Any breath work with longer exhalations will make you feel more relaxed.

5 minute self care

6. Bilateral stimulation

Bilateral stimulation involves activating alternating sides of the brain in quick succession using the senses. Examples include moving your eyes from left to right then left again and right again; or gently rubbing your left arm then your right arm and repeating.

Doing these actions slowly can help you relax, force your brain to focus on the alternating stimuli and stop your racing thoughts. You know it’s working when you start yawning. This is one of my favorite self care exercise to calm a stress response.

7. Neuroplasticity exercises

This wouldn’t be a typical self care activity, but doing what you can to have a healthy brain is always a good thing in my book. Performing neuroplasticity exercises helps your brain rewire itself, adapt and change and has positive effects on anxiety, depression, and memory.

You can try a couple of these exercises in just 5 minutes.

8. Hand massages

There are countless studies that show hand massages are great for reducing anxiety and stress, especially for patients before surgery. This 2023 study also found reiki and hand massages could reduce pain and fatigue.

You can massage your hands without anything or feel free to use creams or body oils like coconut oil. Here’s a wonderful massage demo:

9. Face washing

Washing my face or even splashing water on my face always helps me to feel calmer and more relaxed. Massaging a cleanser onto your face can also have wonderful soothing benefits for your skin.

10. Showering

Who doesn’t feel rejuvenated after a quick shower? Allow the warm water to massage your back while you lather up for a refreshing, soothing shower.

11. Pleasant scents

There’s a 2014 study that proves smelling roses is comforting and can activate your rest-digest state. There are also lots of studies that show how soothing and calming inhaling lavender oil can be.

I love adding about 2 drops of lavender oil to about a teaspoon of a carrier oil like almond oil and massaging it all over my arms and legs. The smell alone is so calming and my skin loves the oil.

12. Vitamins

This could even be a 1 minute self care idea. Give your body all the required vitamins and minerals it needs to thrive by taking your daily supplement. Be sure to talk to your doctor to find the right vitamins for you.

13. Supplements

While you’re talking to your doctor about vitamins, ask about other supplements that could help you too. Collagen is great for joint care, turmeric is a wonderful anti-inflammatory agent, ashwagandha could help with anxiety and sleep, and probiotics may be useful for gut health.

14. Water

It takes less than 5 minutes to enjoy a simple glass of water and you get all the benefits of staying hydrated, preventing headaches, and keeping your body in balance.

15. Tea

Drinking tea has wonderful health benefits and the type of tea is important. Chamomile tea, for instance, can boost mood, reduce depression and improve sleep quality according to this 2016 study). And butterfly pea tea is sedating, relaxing and anti-anxiety, based on this 2008 study.

Teas like lemongrass and bay leaf have other benefits like boosting immunity.

16. Chocolate

Yes, sugar isn’t great for you, but there’s something about chocolate that makes me feel happy and comforted. It’s not just me that feels that way! This 2022 Korean study found 85% dark chocolate can improve mood and boost gut health. That should count as double self care, right?

17. Funny videos

Watching a couple funny videos in 5 minutes can be such a great distraction and will likely give you a dopamine boost. Funny enough (pun intended), there’s a 2017 study out of Turkey that found watching both funny and unfunny videos reduced pain levels in patients post-surgery.

So, watching videos is helpful, but let’s not go doom scrolling and get addicted to dopamine.

5 minute self care ideas infographic

18. Asmr videos

Asmr videos are really relaxing to me and, in just 5 minutes, they can get me to fall asleep. I’m not sure exactly how they work but they do.

For those who don’t know, Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is a tingling sensation that occurs in the body when a person watches and listens to whispering, hand movements and other calming visuals and sounds. Not everyone experiences ASMR but the ones that do can see their anxiety and stress reduced (based on this 2022 study).

19. Music

Listening to your favorite song is a great 5 minute self care activity. Music has been linked to better mood, increased dopamine, reduced anxiety, depression, fatigue, pain and more.

20. No screen time

Too much screen time has been linked to disrupted sleep, excessive dopamine in the body, stress, depression, poor attention, and more. If you have been glued to your phone, a quick 5 minute break is a great start to slowly disconnect from the virtual world and reconnect with the present moment.

21. Dance

A 2024 Australian study compared the effects of exercise and medication for treating depression. Interestingly, dancing was found to be one of the most effective treatments for depression! So, turn on the music and dance, even if it’s just for one song.

22. Exercise (walking, etc)

The study mentioned above also found walking, yoga, tai chi and strength training all had positive benefits for the body. Plus exercise releases wonderful hormones in the blood like endorphins (relieves pain), serotonin (sedating), and dopamine (helps with pleasure).

Five minutes might not be much but going for a short stroll can certainly help reset your mind while getting your steps in.

23. Give yourself permission to feel

Sometimes, we are too hard on ourselves and can get stuck in blaming and shaming ourselves for our actions. We are human. We are allowed to feel negative emotions, to make mistakes, and to repeat bad habits.

Take just 5 minutes and give your emotions permission to wash all over you. They may make you cry or feel hurt or angry, but they are an important part in your growth and healing. And, if you release those emotions without judgement, you certainly will feel better after.

24. Give yourself grace

Much like the point above, try gifting yourself with your own kindness and compassion. We treat our family and friends with such empathy and warmth, why not give that energy to ourselves?

Gentle parent your inner child, reward her/him with play time and fun nostalgia, validate your own feelings, recognize your progress, stop comparing your journey to others, and allow yourself to stop and rest.

While you can be kind to yourself for 5 minutes, I hope you continue long after reading this.

25. Change something in your space

Create a bit of newness in the space you are in by changing a couple things. That could be moving the sofa to a different spot, decluttering, changing the wall art and curtains or removing somethings from the room.

Doing something different, in just 5 minutes, can certainly inspire you to invite newness into other areas of your life.

26. Affirmations

Hype yourself up with some wonderful, inspiring affirmations. Believe in the words you are repeating and they’ll help you achieve what you want. Yes, you are worthy and deserve the happiness, love and success you want. Say it again and again!

I’ve got a whole bunch of affirmations posts that can help you find the right words to repeat.

27. To do lists

Clear the mental load that’s weighing you down and do a 5-minute brain dump. Write a to do list of all the things you need to get done and their priority. Seeing everything laid out can help you plan and organize your time and energy better. Delegate where you can and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

28. Reminders

To reduce the mental load, especially for remembering important dates and times, why not use technology to help? You can set reminders on your phone or on Alexa or any other device. Set it, forget it and reduce the stress and anxiety you’ll feel if you have to constantly remind yourself of something.

29. Text a friend

You don’t need much to contact a friend, send them a funny meme, say hi, or just check in. You’ll certainly make them smile and continue building a beautiful relationship. Make plans to meet up too!

30. Play with a pet

How do you feel playing with puppies and kittens? They are so sweet and adorable and can always make you feel excited and happy. Research also shows interacting with pets can reduce stress, blood pressure, loneliness and boost your mood!

That’s my list of 5 minute self care ideas. If you enjoy self care content, take a look at these articles:

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