No Time for Self-Care? Try These 31 Snack-Size Habits

Doing something small every day has a cumulative effect on your resilience.

Posted Oct 28, 2020

By Deborah Grayson Riegel MSW

“The new normal.”

“Tremendous uncertainty.”

“Unprecedented times.”

These are three phrases most of us rarely heard (or said) before March 2020, but now we are flooded with them. And every time we hear them on the news or at work, we are reminded that our lives as we knew them have changed. Many days bring feelings of stressanxiety, and overwhelm – with no end in sight.

What are we supposed to do to get through?

The answer that I share with my coaching clients is: Do a little bit each day. (One of my clients calls this “emotional snacking” – taking small “bites” on a regular basis to help build up your reserves to handle hard times.)

Engaging in something daily that brings you a moment or two of peace, relaxation, gratitude, connection, or joy can make a big difference in your health (both mental and physical), in your relationships (work and at home), and in your ability to be resilient, now and down the road.

Here are 31 “snack size” habits to try:

1. Step into the fresh air in the middle of the day.

2. Savor a cup of tea or coffee (or wine) and just do that for 5 minutes.

3. Listen to a playlist of your favorite songs.

4. Take a walk, stretch, or do some form of exercise that doesn’t require you to change your clothes or take a shower after.

5. Discover a new podcast for entertainment, learning, or both.

6. Treat yourself to a wonderful dessert.

7. Take an extra bath or shower for the sensory pleasure — and the privacy.

8. Make a charitable gift in any amount, to a cause that lights you up.

9. Try to find a new favorite spot in your house – one that you’ve underestimated in the past.

10. Call a friend or family member who always knows just how to pick you up, and who understands that you probably can only chat for 3 minutes, and that’s totally fine.

11. Turn off the news

12. Wear something that makes you feel great about yourself.

13. Re-watch a favorite TV show or movie, or re-read a favorite book.

14. Volunteer virtually – visiting with homebound seniors, tutoring teens, etc.

15. Send someone a small gift to boost both of you.

16. Bake or cook something with ingredients you already have – something that smells amazing, and tastes even better.

17. Pet an animal (but make sure it’s one that wants to be petted).

18. Thank someone who made a positive impact on you in a big or small way – and be detailed in your thanks.

19. Kiss or hug someone who wants to kiss or hug you back, and who is in your “pod.”

20. Watch or listen to stand-up comedy.

21. Burn a candle that smells divine to you.

22. Clean out a closet or drawer, and give something away that no longer serves you but that someone else would cherish.

23. Take a nap.

24. Sing a song that reminds you of happy times.

25. Look through old photo albums or watch old videos.

26. Breathe slowly.

27. Watch the sunrise, the sunset, or both.

28. Write in a journal, on a blog, on Facebook or LinkedIn, etc.

29. Make something with your hands – painting, drawing, woodworking, clay, knitting, crochet, needlepoint, or even a pipe-cleaners sculpture.

30. Go through your stack of magazines, and read the ones you love, tossing the rest.

31. Share this list with someone else who could use a boost.

You don’t have to do everything, but doing something small each day can and will have a cumulative effect on your capacity to deal with “the new normal,” “tremendous uncertainty,” and “unprecedented times.”

About the Author

Deborah Grayson Riegel, MSW, is a presentation and communication skills coach and a lecturer of Management Communications at Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania.Online:Deborah Grayson RiegelTwitterFacebookLinkedIn

Scroll to Top