It’s easy to neglect self-care.
We get caught up in work, the issues of our friends and families, economics, politics, and lots of other bullshit that doesn’t serve us.
This leads to stress; fear and uncertainty; depression; anxiety; and mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical discomfort. Unchecked and ignored, this can make you physically ill — or outright kill you.
To add insult to injury, we see selfishness too easily and readily. Thus, even the tiniest iota of self-care gets neglected, ignored, denied, and put off for other things.
Self-care is not necessarily a major, costly thing. It doesn’t have to be a massage, a shopping trip, a vacation, or anything else requiring time and money.
Many people don’t realize this. And if they do, they think self-care involves affirmations, mantras, lengthy meditations, and other hooky-spooky measures.
While all of the above can be applications of self-care — they aren’t the only options. Self-care can be ludicrously simple, free of cost, and minimal use of time.
Thus — I give you two minutes of self-care you can apply regularly.
Two minutes of self-care
I am going to break this down for you, step by step, before a deeper explanation.
1. Seat yourself comfortably.
2. Set a timer for two minutes.
3. Start the timer.
4. Close your eyes.
5. Take a deep, cleansing breath in (via the diaphragm).
6. Release the breath just as thoroughly.
7. Breathe in deep again.
8. Breathe out deep again.
9. Continue breathing deeply, in and out, until the timer goes off.
10. Stop. Turn off the timer.
Two minutes, ten steps. There is no need for any equipment (save a timer — and if you have the means to read this you have a functional timer).
There is no need to have a special chair, sit lotus-position, play music, or anything else. Two minutes, deep breathing. That is all.
Why is this self-care?
How often are you on the go? Running an errand, fixing a problem, working against a deadline, helping kids with homework, and going going going? There is a near-constant demand during most people’s working hours to be giving time and energy to various necessities and matters.
And it all builds up when there is no release. Self-care is a matter of release. I practice meditation for 20 minutes every day. However — that’s not practical for everyone, and I know it.
The thing is, through it all, we tend to forget to breathe. No, I don’t mean the unconscious breathing you are always doing so long as you are alive. I mean intentionally, deeply breathing to oxygenate the blood, fill the lings more fully, slow the heart, calm the nerves, and so on.
I believe that this simple, two-minute act of self-care creates balance, comfort, and a necessary reset. That, in turn, opens you to more control over your day. And that is why this two-minute exercise is an act of self-care.
The best part is everyone can find two minutes in a given day to do this. No matter how busy your schedule, the demands of others, and everything else — you can choose to find or create these 2 minutes to just breathe.
You know this works
You’ve done this unconsciously, FYI. When you found yourself about to do something nerve-wracking, unfamiliar, and risky, you paused to catch your breath. Or, before a heated discussion turned truly ugly you paused, took a deep breath, and figuratively took a step aside before you said something regrettable or threw a punch.
Deep breathing is proven to calm us. That’s because it draws more oxygen into our lungs, which then enters our bloodstream. More oxygen in our blood helps it flow to the vital organs and the brain more easily.
For most people — when they start to panic — their heart races, and their breathing shallows. One way to alleviate and prevent a full-blown panic attack is deep breathing for calm.
I would bet that you’ve done this subconsciously before to get a better sense of balance or calm.
These two minutes of breathing will create calm, balance, and centering.
Of course, if you feel like it — you can take longer. In many respects, my meditation practice involves 20 minutes of deep breathing as much as anything else. But it’s not required or necessary. Two minutes will suffice.
Why two minutes?
A lot of people I know express how meditation doesn’t work. Usually, that’s because it’s not long before their thoughts run away. They can’t get ahold of them, and they don’t gain the calm that meditation should produce. Instead, it makes them more anxious and less calm.
I believe that two minutes of deep breathing is enough time to create balance, peace, and calm — before your mind starts chewing on other things. Two minutes is long enough to slow the heart and invoke calm before your head can run away with other thoughts and feelings.
The other value is that you can do this multiple times during your day. Once a day is good — but why not several times a day? Rather than take a single, 20 minutes break to meditate — throughout the day you can take 5 two-minute breaks and expend only 10 minutes of your time, total.
For example, before even getting out of bed, take your two minutes to breathe. Do it again mid-morning. Then at lunch. Then mid-afternoon. And then right before bed.
What’s more, setting the goal to do this just once a day gives you an easy achievement to reach. The satisfaction that comes from that also produces calm and balance.
Just give it a try for yourself. Two minutes, that’s all you need to give yourself some necessary self-care. The benefits are immeasurable — and the risks non-existent (unless you do this driving or somewhere else unsafe. I am going to presume you’re smarter than that).
Everyone needs to take care of themselves. This two-minute exercise is easy, effective, and empowering.
You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Please do this for yourself.
Know this: You deserve this simple act of self-care.