7 Minimalist Self-Care Ideas for the Weekend
Use these tips to have a restful end of the week.
“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” – Bertrand Russell
Raise a hand if you dream about your ideal weekend at the beginning of the week. What does it include?
Let me guess — something involving quiet, calm, peace and serenity. Something where every member of the family ends up doing he or she would enjoy. A bit of family time and some compulsory and self-indulgent me-time. Am I right?
Now raise your hand if your weekend plans never go to plan. My hand is definitely up! Because life has its own plans, right?
And what is the first thing that goes out of the metaphorical window if the weekend does not pan out the way you planned?
My bet is on self-care or ‘me time’.
And why is that? Because we think we don’t have time for it. Self-care is self-indulgent, which in turn equals ample of time needed. Well imagine this scenario: run a bath, lit a candle, get into the bath, lie in the bath, use face masque, apply body cream. The list goes on forever.
But what if I tell you that you should not need more than 15 minutes to have a quality ‘me-time’? And mind you, this includes recharging your batteries, resting and relaxing and getting ready for the challenges of the new week.
Sounds too good to be true? Perhaps. But perhaps all we need is to eliminate multitasking and background thinking process and see what happens.
You might argue that 5–10 minutes is nothing; it’s not long enough to unwind. But think about it and be honest with yourself: how often do you ponder other thoughts while trying to enjoy your ‘me time’?
For example, the chances are that you are having a nice bath and deciding what to have for tea.
You are walking your dog and thinking about the presentation that is due.
You are playing with your child and scrolling your phone at the same time.
And you know that I am right. I know because I am the same. I have to remember pause and ask myself a question: am I truly committed to the task at hand? Or am I multitasking as per usual? My list of quick and simple weekend self-care ideas that do not take more than 10 minutes are:
Paint something nice
Read a poem
Be present when playing with my kid.
Treat myself to something indulgent
Find something simple to admire
And you don’t have to use up all your minutes all at once. You could batch them into two minutes blocks. You could have a five-minute ‘me time’ every hour or so. It’s all up to you.
But even if you only take 15 minutes out of the entire weekend — the benefits to your mental health and general well-being are immense. Because even 15 minutes of ‘me time’ can work miracles for your self-awareness, self-esteem and perseverance.
So what are my secret ingredients to a calm and restful weekend?
1. But first coffee
I love my morning coffee. But quite often I cannot enjoy it as my child wakes up with me or more accurately, I wake up whenever she’s up. And a toddler in the morning is like an unscheduled tornado — it makes you run for your life, whether you feel like it or not.
You need to cater to the child’s needs. Sometimes, when those needs are met, and she’s fed, and nappy’s changed, and she’s happy to watch cartoons for a few minutes — you could enjoy your guilty pleasure. But the chances are your coffee will go cold before you manage to savour a single drop of it.
So what do I do? I have my first-morning coffee — hot or cold. Mostly cold. But that coffee is just a teaser. My true pleasure coffee is waiting for me when my husband is up! Then I take 5 or 10 or so minutes and go and enjoy my proper morning coffee. And I cherish every sip. I make sure that nothing stands between me and my golden bitter friend.
I would highly recommend this trick. It makes such a difference. Those 5 minutes help you survive those other 23 hours and 55 minutes of true chaos that are still to come.
2. Meditate with your eyes open
There are so many schools, books, apps, techniques and ways to meditate. I have studied them all because, at one point, I wanted to teach meditation.
But yet again, those techniques could be rather intimidating if you were to do them as per the book. And what if you don’t have enough time to go deep enough into a meditation? Or if you haven’t slept for days or months. It adds more stress than relaxation, doesn’t it?
So what I started doing for the last 9 months or so is this: I meditate whenever I have a spare 30 seconds. I will not even close my eyes. I express my intention to quieten my mind, breathe in and out a few times, and try to clear my head of any unwanted thoughts.
And as I mentioned above— even 30 seconds work wonders. And there is a reason. Instead of allowing my thoughts to wander, I consciously slow them down. I rest and relax and ground myself. And if I do it for 30 seconds every few minutes — you do the maths. I feel calm and focused because I do not allow my thoughts to run around like squirrels collecting nuts before the winter frost.
3. Allow yourself to be creative
I cannot paint.
Or draw. Or doddle, for that matter.
I can compare my drawings to my toddler’s drawings. I am not joking. My husband cannot tell who’s done some painting — my 18 months old or me. Ouch. So you get the idea.
But I love it. I love picking up pencils or even crayons and moving them, so they leave a bright and colourful trail behind them. I love holding the paintbrush in between my fingers. Its slender body promises fun, joy and mystery. One stroke of my brush has the power to create an entire universe, albeit a slightly childish one. A single touch of a brush turns a pristine white paper into a colourful rainbow. It transports me to a world where anything is possible, if only in my head, if only for a few minutes.
I use the brightest and lightest colours that I can find. Quite often it’s my child’s hand paint colours — they are pretty vivid. I splash a few drops on paper. I pretend it’s a flower. I splash another bulb and wish it into a river.
At the end of the session, I feel like I’ve travelled the world. The lockdown does not allow us to go very far. But with the help of your imagination and whatever self-expression method your soul chooses, you can go anywhere you want.
4. Lose yourself in a poem
Poems. We forget and underestimate their power. And we undervalue the exuberant joy they bring.
When was the last time you read a poem? How about reading one out loud?
I am guilty of neglecting this simple self-care idea. But how easy is it to have a few minutes of pure indulgent escapist rest. All you need is a book of poems. And noise-cancelling headphones.
Suppose you don’t have a book — then open a YouTube channel and listen to someone read a poem out loud. Follow their voice, get carried away on the wings of the rhythm and rhyme. Because how often do we pause to enjoy the beauty of simple words intertwined to create out of this world atmosphere.
5. Treat yourself
Cook something indulgent. Treat yourself to something nice. And just like with your hot drink of choice — put the cartoons on, ask someone to watch your child — but make sure you can actually enjoy eating your treat.
It’s not about the idea of something nice. It’s about enjoying this something nice. Taste it as if it’s your last meal on earth. Savour every crumb or spoonful. Pause ever so often to remind yourself to enjoy it. Slow down every time your thoughts take you somewhere else.
If you choose to treat yourself to a pleasant lie in — make sure you relax every part of your body. You’d be surprised to realise how much tension your body is holding even when you are trying to relax. Ask yourself if you are fully relaxed. And pay attention to see if there are parts of your body that are tense.
During my first yoga session after the initial lockdown, I realised, to my surprise, that the right side of my body would remain tense. I thought I was fully relaxed during savasana. But the teacher had to correct my posture by asking me to release the tension on my right side. From then on, I double-check it with my body because I do not trust the initial reply: ‘yes, yes, we are relaxed.’
6. Be present
Take part in whatever your family member is doing and decide to be fully present. Pretend it’s the most important task of the day.
Don’t fake it that you are there. Don’t be half there and half in your thoughts. Give in to whatever it is. Is your child having a tea party with his or her bears? Join in, but for real. Watch your child. Watch what she says to her toys. Observe the language she uses. Watch her face — watch the lovely expressions she’s pulling. Those moments will not last forever. But they are truly priceless.
If your husband watches football — join in. Ask questions and see what exactly excites him about the game. Be there with him and not on your phone or in your thoughts.
By being present with our loved ones, we can have the best rest and self-care routine ever. Because this time is not about us — it’s also not about prioritising someone else. It’s about taking a genuine interest in someone that is not you. You will notice how refreshed you feel afterwards unless yet again, you try to multitask and do something else in your head. If you genuinely preoccupy yourself with another person’s world — it will be the best form of restful meditation you can find.
7. Find something to admire
Look around you. No matter where you live, there will be pleasant things about your surroundings. Do you live in the city and your world is a version of paved paradise? Try to find what flourishes amongst those concrete blocks. What insects, plants, or birds can you identify as are your tiny intrepid neighbours. This exercise will help you to get out of your head and do something different. And the change in the established routine is what makes our life more rich and enjoyable.
Find out what other people enjoy about your neighbourhood. Watch and observe. This activity is not about changing something or making something better. It’s about finding positives and magic, even in the most mundane things.
Enjoy what you find. Be grateful, even for small undervalued things. Breathe in and out.
Those are my simple weekend self-care tips. Simple, isn’t it?
But the beauty of these tips is that you do not need hours. And you do not need to stress out about where to steal those hours from.
Take a few minutes here, and a few there. It’s all about your good intention and about not having high or rigid expectations. Give in and enjoy.
What are your weekend self-care tricks?