Remember when you were young and a bit more carefree? Maybe you had time to just lie in the grass and gaze up at the sky? One of the corporate leaders I coach calls his adult cloud-gazing time “soul-time.” I love that term.

Since no one has an abundance of soul-time these days, it’s important to create it in snippets you can savor on a regular basis. It’ll keep you sane, make your brain function better and it contributes to better over-all well-being and physical-mental-emotional-spiritual health. Even snippets can do that…amazing!

This week’s post, 50  Ways To Create Snippets of Soul-Time For Yourself includes ideas you can incorporate during those times when you don’t have a long stretch of time to take a vacation, go on a retreat, relax, play or go inside.


Karin just told me this morning when I saw her over coffee:

“In former summers I would be bored by now and looking for things to keep me and the kids occupied til school started—even when I was working! That’s certainly not true this year! We’re busier than ever and trying hard to fit everything in before the two oldest go back to school. I have no idea how we are staying on top of both our work demands.”

Like Karin, most of my clients say:

“I have no time to think, to set goals, to look ahead, to dream. All I can do is keep my head down and handle whatever crises or needs are right in front of me.”

It’s a fact, life is super busy. People comment on that fact daily. It used to be “competitive busy-ness,” as though the busier you were the better, or the cooler you were somehow. Now many clients start out by saying they are just super tired. The lack or loss of peacefulness is noted with a sense of nostalgia, sadness and even, bewilderment.

Over a business lunch, team leader Tammy voiced her predicament:

“I used to set personal goals and feel great when I achieved them. I was so much more focused and organized. Now I’m lucky if I accomplish even a partial ‘to-do list’ at the office each day.” 

The truth of it is, before you can vision or set goals, you need a wee bit of time to touch down inside.

If you have no time for yourself, it’s easy to feel like you are living half-a-life. It’s easy to lose touch with your passions—passions that help you reach for your big picture dreams.

Time That’s Good for Mind, Body and Soul

Richard, a corporate leader and long-time coaching client calls this touching down inside, his “soul-time.” He needs it to keep his demanding work life and committed family life in perspective. He knows he has not taken time for his “soul” when he starts to become cranky and resentful. He’s figured out that he does best if he has just a few hours of time to touch down deep inside each week.

His wife gets her own time and is fully supportive of Richard taking his time on the weekends, because she knows:

“Richard’s a better, nicer, happier person to be around when he takes time for himself! At work he’s always giving and leading and mentoring others. Then at home he’s a devoted dad to our two little ones. And then there’s we-time to keep our marriage strong.” 

It’s a balancing act, isn’t it? And it’s so easy to feel reactive or helpless and hopeless unless you take charge.

Back to that business lunch: As Tammy and I spoke we searched for a few tips that were actually doable in providing snippets of “soul-time” in a busy life. Here’s a few of our suggestions, and more.

Don’t Wait For Someone to Offer You Soul-Time

Don’t wait for a big block of time because you probably won’t get it. You must be proactive to create these opportunities for yourself.

Two Kinds of Soul-Time

There are two types of soul-time activities that can refresh and reboot your system.

  •  Novel or Spontaneous: The first are activities that are novel, spontaneous, slightly thrilling and different than your normal routines. The human brain loves something new. It doesn’t have to be amazingly different, just something slightly unique to grab our attention and reboot our system.
  • Relaxing and Refreshing: The second type of soul-time activity is down-time—allowing your brain and body to slip into a zone of non-linear thinking, slowing down and recuperating. A cat-nap, a massage or watching a sunset would be some examples.

Snippets of Soul-Time Throughout Your Day

So the idea is to find a variety of simple activities—some novel and some relaxing—that can easily be interspersed throughout your day.

Here are 50 do-able ideas. You might find some of them suit you.

  1. Sit quietly with your coffee in the morning and listen to the birds.
  2. Make your to-do list the night before so you can listen to the birds.
  3. Take your lunch out of doors in the sunshine.
  4. Chew slowly.
  5. Use your senses to smell, look, listen; even notice the bubbles while washing your hands.
  6. Let your body be still for a minute and take 4 deep breaths throughout the day.
  7. Slow down. Commit to walking a little more slowly once a week.
  8. Feel your feet. Wiggle your toes.Take off your shoes and go barefoot. At least stocking foot (and at the office.)
  9. Drive a different route to work or a frequent destination each day.
  10. Choose silence if you always listen to music or talk radio, or podcasts. (You may already be smart enough.)
  11. Stop and really listen to a piece of music all the way through.
  12. If you are driving home to your family after work, stop a few blocks away and decompress. Shift gears. Let go of the day and set an intention to bring your best, most present self home to them.
  13. Get up from your desk every 40 minutes, yawn, feel your body, breathe and walk around. Have a drink of water to hydrate and calm.
  14. If you always go out on a weekend night, stay home and read a novel.
  15. Meander through a bookstore. Many have comfy chairs. Sit and read.
  16.  Stretch like a cat in the sun. Pet your cat.
  17. Write Three Morning Pages (a la Julia Cameron) a few times each week.
  18. Lie on the floor with those you love, heads on bellies. Giggle. It’s contagious!
  19. Give “Hugs Up To Here!” to your kids. Don’t stop til everyone feels “all filled up.”
  20. Close you office door for 10 minutes. Do NOTHING. (Okay, start with 5minutes!)
  21. Lay on the couch.
  22. Take a nap.
  23. Play solitaire. With real playing cards.
  24. Read the NYTimes book section. Skip the world news.
  25. Get a massage.
  26. Get a foot rub. Give foots rubs to one another. Massage your own feet.
  27. Massage your earlobes and the curly part of your ear til it almost hurts. It stimulates and refreshes the brain.
  28. Rub your hands together briskly til they are warm and place them gently over your closed eyes for a few moments. Feel the warmth penetrating and relaxing your eyes.
  29. Gently pull on your hair. This also bring oxygen to the brain and you’ll think more clearly. While you’re at it, massage your temples, neck and head.
  30. Get a pedicure from someone non-talkative. Close your eyes.
  31. Soak your feet in a warm bath or on the side of a pool or lake.
  32. Gaze up at the stars. Lie down while doing so or relax in a lounge chair.
  33. Sit outside with all the lights out. Close your eyes and listen to the noises, or the silence or the cicadas or the night birds.
  34. Just breathe for a few minutes. Breathe out the negative. Breathe in the positive.
  35. Drive outside the city.
  36. Walk between some corn rows.
  37. Eat quietly by yourself in a peaceful restaurant.
  38. Put roses by your bed and smell them before you go to sleep.
  39. Spend 10 minutes fantasizing about a trip you’d like to take.
  40. Cook something you’d love to eat. Enjoy shopping for the foods, shopping, mixing and savoring the flavors.
  41. Chop veggies for the week and bag them. Observe, listen, smell, feel while you do so.
  42. Go to a museum and meander.
  43. Sit by a waterfall.
  44. Buy yourself a small fountain to put on your desk or by your bed. Listen to the gurgle and splash.
  45. Buy yourself a kiddie pool and soak your feet in it.
  46. Walk your dog and throw a ball or Frisbee.
  47. Practice smiling throughout the day, even when you are alone. It raises the mood.
  48. Say hello and smile at an old person.
  49. Have a good laugh.
  50. Take a kid somewhere they choose and be present to what delights them.

What are you doing to take time for yourself?


Dr. Jan Hoistad