If you’re like me, you’ve heard a lot of less-than-helpful self-care tips.

“Take a weekend for yourself.”

“Say ‘no’ sometimes.”

“Spending an evening in a luxurious bath will melt away your stress.”

The problem?

For me, if I have time to just “take an evening off and take a bath,” I usually don’t need encouragement to do so.

It’s the weeks when everything needs to get done at once that I desperately need self-care.

It’s the weeks when I stock up on lettuce and then it’s recalled (time for another grocery run – thanks e. coli), my oven breaks (did anyone call the repairman yet?), I adopt two cats (THERE IS LITTER EVERYWHERE), and work speeds up (say it with me: overtime!) that I need self-care.

Unfortunately, those are the weeks that don’t have space for traditional self-care techniques like five-hour essential oil baths.

I need self-care for days I have no time.

Below, I’m spilling my three favorite self-care techniques for busy weeks. These don’t require long, unoccupied evenings or half your savings account. They’re possible even on the busiest, most sleep-deprived weeks.

Because – let’s be real – those are the weeks we need self-care the most.

Old CDs

You know the feeling that wells up inside you when the radio plays your song?

You put your hands up, and the butterflies fly away, and you’re moving your hips like yeah, and it’s a party in the USA?

I love that nostalgic feeling.

For me, this feeling happens whenever I hear “Tonight” by FUN. You know: “Tonight, we are young/So let’s set the world on fire, we can glow brighter than the sun.”

Back when I worked at Joe’s Crab Shack in college, “Tonight” played dozens of times every night. It was painfully relatable in its young-adult angst…as a result, it was the staff’s favorite song. We’d sing every word every time it was played. In fact, when it came on the restaurant radio, anyone who was available would duck into the kitchen – and we’d belt out the lyrics like we were on our last round of American Idol. Our feet hurt, and we were exhausted, but we had “Tonight” and we had each other. I miss those days. Also, half-price employee-discount crab.

Maybe it’s the familiarity, or maybe it’s the brief mental escape to a simpler time in my life, but there’s nothing like turning on my music and hearing a familiar melody. I’ve realized in recent months that I don’t have to wait for the radio to pick my song for their “afternoon flashback” segment – I can break out my old dusty box of high school CDs and bring one with for my commute.

The next time you’re dreading a week of overtime, bring a nostalgic CD for your commute. It’s not a “day at the spa,” but it’s still a refreshing escape for your soul.


This is my favorite form of self-care. Many self-care guides recommend massages or spa days as a way to “retreat from stress.”

I don’t have the time (or money, let’s be honest: I spent it all on avocado toast) for a massage, but something as small as a hug can lift my whole day.

When I lived in Denver, hugs were normal. They were our western version of a handshake. You hugged your friends, you hugged your family, you hugged coworkers if they were having a rough day, you hugged strangers. I don’t think it’s the same in New York city (although I haven’t lived there, so I can’t be sure).

If I’m feeling down, I’ll go out of my way to hug-hello and hug-goodbye people I see in a day. Sometimes I’ll confide in a close friend or family member, “I’m having a rough day, can I just get a hug?” Hugs are free, simple ways to care for yourself.

Hugs’ benefits are also backed by science. They can reduce stress and fear, strengthen relationships, and even improve heart health and immunity!

New body wash

One frequently-recommended personal care “hack” is to use an expensive, scented body wash. Not  the rose-scented $5 stuff you can pick up at the grocery store – the “real” stuff, the kind that comes from specialty shops and snobish brands.

Pampering yourself like this, proponents claim, will “make up for” all the moments you can’t pamper yourself during the day.

I think that’s a lot of wasted coffee money.

I’d rather buy myself a venti latte or frappuccino every day, honestly. (Up next: Managing sudden onset diabetes.)

However, I admit, there’s definitely something magical about using time in the shower as “pamper time.” It’s one of the few parts of everyone’s day where technology isn’t beeping, kids aren’t demanding attention, bosses don’t need reports, and chicken doesn’t need to be saved from burning in the oven.

It’s already a self-care ritual. Why not buy some sweet-smelling body wash to help savor it?

You don’t need to spend forever shopping for the best luxury body wash, or shell out tons of cash every week. Instead, just pick out a different scent than your current go-to. You can even stick with your usual brand.

True, for some, the luxury is in using an expensive product (not just a different product). But for me, just selecting a new smell provides all the aromatherapy I need.

Science supports this concept: Novelty, expensive or affordable, creates a dopamine rush that energizes and lifts mood. A change in body wash might not seem significant, but your body will notice.

If you have a rough week ahead, pick up some new sweet-smelling body wash on your way home tonight. It won’t disappoint.

Final thoughts

Self-care is crucial for preserving your sanity during a crazy week. If you’re so busy you can’t catch up with yourself, don’t give up your self-care. Instead, try one of these time-saving techniques.

True, they’re not the same as a long afternoon of meditation by a Koi pond or an all-day spa treatment. But they’re something for the rest of us.


  • Alice Hoekstra

    Copywriting Addict

    If you run into Alice before 9 AM, you'll likely find her with two addictive substances: blonde roast coffee, and her latest writing project. Alice majored in Communications. Today, she writes witty web content for businesses and publications around the world. She's also watched all episodes of Friends 1,284 times (don't judge) and bakes a loooot of cupcakes. Get in touch with Alice for your next writing project at https://www.linkedin.com/in/alicehoekstra.