It seems everyone is busy these days. Between work, family and social obligations, the hours are squeezed in and many people find themselves rushing, only to feel completely exhausted at the end of each day. This overload takes its toll on the mental and physical states of our body and eventually we are trying to pour from that empty proverbial cup. When this happens, we become less productive, chronically fatigued and unhappy.
So how do we make it all work? It's no secret that putting oneself on the back burner works the opposite way it is intended. We know we SHOULD be making time for self care, but it is often a struggle to find not only the time but also knowing WHAT to do. Like anything, with a little bit of planning and strategy, you can make self care part of your weekly and even daily routine. Here are five ways you can use to make it all work:
Schedule It In
Just as you would schedule a meeting, a cleaning at the dentist or your child's hockey game, scheduling in self care is the first step. Literally putting it in your calendar allows you to ensure you get the time. How do you do this if you already feel like you have no time? You MAKE the time. This is the myth we tell ourselves, that there is no time, when in fact we are just not prioritizing our self care. Ten minutes of meditation in the morning, switching to airplane mode after 8pm so you can read or an entire afternoon of play, whatever it is, if you schedule it in and commit to it, you can find the time.
Plan Ahead What You Will Do
Knowing what you are doing ahead of time will allow you to use that time more efficiently. If you plan to go for a trail walk for 30 minutes Sunday morning, you can prepare your attire ahead of time and map out the route. Many people who do not plan ahead spend their time trying to figure out what to do and in the end waste time and achieve less. Knowing what, how and where will allow you to get the most out of your time and ensure a sense of accomplishment, no matter how much time you set aside.
This is usually the hardest part of self care time. With much of our lives driven by the art of multi-tasking, thinking about the past or planning for the next thing, being in the present moment is difficult for most. The practice of staying present in itself is an act of self care and is incredibly useful for productivity, self-awareness and stress management. By eliminating distractions, such as turning off or leaving your phone behind, letting people know you will be unavailable or even making sure you aren't tackling more than one thing at a time will allow your time to be used more efficiently.
We are not typically aware of our breath. It is a remarkable thing that we can go about our day rarely aware of our breathing, yet it is most commonplace. We might think this is efficient, but often it turns against us and we ignite inefficient stressful breathing patterns that affect our posture and movement and very often lead to pain. Our breath is the bridge that we have that connects our intention and voluntary control to our physical self, particularly the nervous system, which directly influences our response to stress. When we slow and focus our breath we can reduce the symptoms of stress and invite calm and recovery to our physical self and state of mind.
Studies show that being thankful opens the door to improved mental and even physical wellbeing. Gratitude is a positive state of mind and when we focus on the things we appreciate it can offset negative feelings and even pain. Grateful people take better care of their health, which in turn improves their physical health overall. Being grateful also reduces negative emotions and feelings such as anger, resentment and regret, so psychological health and even relationships improve. As we elevate being thankful, we sleep better, breathe better and feel better.
Starting a self care routine can be like sitting at the base of a mountain, but with these tools you can be sure you are setting yourself up for success. Self care is not selfish, instead it is a necessary act that will improve your life by allowing you to fill up that cup and pour so that everyone, including you, gets their share!