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When You’re Too Busy and Too Tired for a Self-Care Practice

Recently, I shared a list of 10 tiny self-care practices we can try when we’re feeling overwhelmed, our schedules are packed, and we have zero energy. And I hope you do incorporate those ideas into your day–or find other practices that feel nourishing, soothing, and helpful.

But here’s the thing: Sometimes, even tiny practices can feel like too much. Maybe you’ve got a newborn or three kids under 5 who love to wake up early, and between working from home and caring for them, at 7 p.m., you’re spent, and can’t do a single thing.

So on the days or weeks that self-care feels inaccessible, forget the activities. Instead, focus on being gentle, patient, and understanding with yourself throughout the day.

I believe that self-care is both action and attitude. In other words, when we can’t do a concrete practice, such as listen to a guided meditation or take a walk, we can focus on how we treat and talk to ourselves. We can focus on shifting unsupportive thoughts that pop up inside our minds, especially during difficult times. We can be accepting and loving.

For instance, instead of tearing yourself apart for being “lazy” and “unproductive,” you can tell yourself: “I am disappointed I didn’t get more done, and I forgive myself. This is a tough time.”

You can also create a mantra that is empowering, compassionate, and meaningful to you (and super simple), which you repeat throughout the day. Recite it first thing in the morning, and again before bed. Recite it as you’re working at your desk, or as you’re dealing with a particularly difficult moment. You can even jot it down on a Post-It note, which you put on your laptop, or somewhere else that’s visible.

Here are 10 examples of supportive mantras you can try:

  • I am doing the best I can.
  • I’ve got this.
  • I can do hard things.
  • I am resilient.
  • I’m struggling right now, and that’s OK.
  • I am breathing in kindness, and breathing out cruelty.
  • Everyone copes differently.
  • What I am doing right now is enough.
  • I am struggling, and I am hopeful.
  • I am learning.

How we talk to ourselves is critical. Our self-talk influences how we feel and what we do. So, focus on how you approach and relate to yourself.

Say something kind to yourself when you make a mistake and call yourself “a colossal idiot.” Say something kind when your to-do list goes unchecked. Say something kind after you yelled at your kids or spouse because you’re so depleted. Say something kind to yourself when you can’t remember the last time you’ve washed your floors. Say something kind when you can.

It is a challenging time, and you will move through it. Kindness can light the way.

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash.

When You’re Too Busy and Too Tired for a Self-Care Practice

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Margarita is an associate editor at She writes about everything from taking compassionate care of yourself at any weight, shape, and size, to coping healthfully with difficult emotions. Her goal is to give readers practical, empowering tips to better their lives, and to remind you that whatever you're struggling with, you're never, ever alone.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2020). When You’re Too Busy and Too Tired for a Self-Care Practice. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 19 Apr 2020
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