“People always say:
‘I’m too busy to exercise,’
‘I have to be there for the kids,’
‘I’ve got too much work.’
You know what? These are little lies you’re telling yourself, and the go against the laws of self-preservation, because the more WHOLE and HEALTHY you are, the more fully you can give to other people.”
One of the biggest challenges we face is learning how to take care of ourselves. Physical health is one of the most important things we can prioritize, yet it often remains one of the most neglected parts of our busy lives. We all want to eat well, exercise, and take downtime every day. But when everything is moving fast, the world is screaming for your attention and you just don’t have time – the last thing you feel you can do is take time for YOU. But here’s the TRUTH: the only way you can operate at full speed without crashing is by making your health your #1.
Everyone benefits from a person who knows how to care for themselves; self-care sustains and enhances the health of all those around you. I believe it is possible to make time for healthy, self-care habits even with the busiest of schedules. Here are a few suggestions for enhancing your health through a solid self care program:
Physical Self Care Savers. How to take care of yourself when you don’t have time to take care of yourself:
- Put YOURSELF on the Calendar. Block out time for self-care on your calendar. Include your exercise time, pamper yourself time, date night, or other self-care time. Make this time “nonnegotiable”. When a potential conflict arises say “I’m so sorry but I am not available” This time must take precedence over all but real emergencies. If you must make a change, reschedule your ME-time for another day that week. Treat your self care appointments like any other important appointments you can’t miss.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep is usually the first thing to go when our schedules are full, but we ALL know the quality of our performance and life goes out the window when we are trying to be more productive on less sleep (epic backfire!). The best way to get to bed earlier is to define a sleep bedtime and honor it. Turn off all mail, phone, and electronics an hour before bed and do something soothing like read, foam roll, or chill with your loved ones. When Im tempted to work later than I should on a project, I kindly remind myself that my “beauty sleep” is the secret to successful work performance.
- DRINK WATER. This advice alone can change your life. We are in a constant state of dehydration and our thirst centers are so dulled that we don’t even know it. Not only does dehydration mess with your energy levels, often brains can misinterpret thirst as hunger so instead of hydrating we eat more food. Learning to drink more water is a habit you can cultivate (and its not too hard to do it!). I start my day with a large glass of water and then aim to drink at least 3 more large glasses before the day is over (one at each meal and with my workout!) Keeping a large water bottle nearby can be your best investment and you will start feeling the added energy of hydration immediately.
- Eat healthy, REAL food. I know it’s tempting to order pizza or reach for candy when you are busy, but processed foods and sugar will only make you crash. If you want energy to fuel your days, it will pay off to take your time to eat nutritious and healthy food. Not only will it help you achieve more, it will also boost your mood and give your skin a healthy glow! If you are too busy to cook or shop, order HEALTHY fast food. Apps like Zesty App or Instacart make it easy to bring healthy choices to your doorstep without having to leave your busy life. If you feed your body well, it serves you well. When your body is properly nourished, you have more energy and are able to achieve more. This heightens not only your productivity, but your self-esteem as well. Nourish your body with intention, as opposed to indulging your appetite or feeding your emotions. Your diet should fuel you with energy and power to take on each busy day.
- Take 5 minutes in the morning to stretch, breathe, and move your body. If you start your day in a stressful way, you’ll probably feel stressed for the rest of the day as well. Wake up 5 minutes earlier to make sure your morning starts with something to ground you and give you the energy. Do 5 minutes of movements – side bends, squats, downward dog – whatever FEELS good to you. Starting the day in a way like this will make you more relaxed and get your day off to a strong start.
- Walk as much as possible. You might be busy and think that every minute is valuable time to put into your work, but some extra minutes of walking might be a better way to spend some time. If you live close to where you’re going, it’s better to walk than to use public transport (or your car). Not only will the exercise be good for you, you also get some important fresh air and daylight. If you have to commute, get off public transport one or two stops too early, or park your car further away than usual. The extra minutes of fresh air will save you lots of time when you start working and feel more focused.
- Take 5-minute mini-breaks every hour. You can’t stay focused all the time. No matter how efficient you work, you’ll always get distracted, let your mind wander or end up spending time reading e-mail (and Facebook) instead. A better way to spend this time is to get up from your chair, walk outside and take a 5-minute break. The change of place, the change of physical posture and the movement will make it easier to start again when your break is over. You’ll also give your brain a chance to relax and process information, which is essential for your well-being. The human body isn’t built to sit in one position for endless hours, gripping a mouse or typing on the keyboard. Use computer apps like Time Out or your phone alarm to gently remind you to take a break on a regular basis.
- Make room for rest. This one’s important. Make sure that whenever you plan to rest – really rest. That means that you will have to make a conscious effort to push all work-related thoughts and worries away. It’s also important that you rest your mind as well as your body. For me this means putting ALL of the electronics AWAY. This is a challenge but unplugging allows for so much peace of mind. 5 minutes of stillness is better than 30 minutes in front of the TV!
- Spend your lunchtime as sacred you-time. Practice having lunch away from your desk, tv, smart phone, or other distractions. Eating is an act of nourishing your body, separating yourself from work and allows you time to regroup and replenish. Enjoy your healthy food with a little journaling, reading, people-watching, or chatting with a friend. Multi-tasking work with eating is never productive anyway. Break the habit and give yourself a lunch break thats good for your mind and body.
- Take a run or a long walk. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Any sort of exercise will release endorphins + it clears your head so you can focus on all the important work that lies ahead.
- Mix socializing with exercising. Do you normally spend time with your family or friends by going to dinner, watching sports on TV or going to movies? Make your social time more active by planning events that get all of you moving. Go for a family hike on a beautiful Saturday morning, play a game of tag football with your buddies during halftime, or make a date with your significant other or best friend on the treadmill. There are so many options for squeezing more activity into your social calendar.
- Drink tea. Coffee will only get you that far, before it sends you down into tiredness again. While still being hot and comforting, tea (and especially the herbal kind) won’t make you dehydrated and shaky. If you’re feeling tired and think you need a caffeine boost, go for cold water (or iced tea) instead. Cold water will help wake you up!
- Deal With Stress with DEEP breaths – not alcohol. It can be tempting to have a drink to take the edge from a busy, stressful schedule. While a glass of wine or cocktail is nice in moderation, using it to cope or numb your stress will eventually sabotage your health long term. Develop a non-drinking means of relaxation. Think about other activities that are relaxing and enjoyable to you – working out, taking a walk outside, listening to music, reading, etc – and schedule those into your life as a means of unwinding.
- Go to a yoga class. Or do some yoga at home. Even ten minutes of savasana is better than nothing, and will recharge your batteries (and your mind). Cant make it to a class? Try this quick end of day stretching flow when your body needs some love:
- Take a hot epsom salt bath. Nothing helps me relax more than a hot bath. Use your favourite bubbles, turn off the light, light some candles and you’re good to go. One hour in the bath in the evening may be the best way to relax because of this simple fact – you can’t take your work and your computer with you.
- Create some healthy routines and plans. When work, family, or studies take all your focus, it can be useful to create some new habits or routines to take some of the burden off your back. Make it a habit to cook a larger batch of dinner on day 1, and eat leftovers for the next two days. Use Sundays to prepare what to wear for the next couple of days. Plan ahead for your workouts and pre-pack clothes in yourwork bag (don’t forget extra socks!). Being organized and establishing healthy routines will allow you more time and space to breathe.
- Keep Healthy Foods Stocked. Think fresh fruit, vegetables, and quality nutrients. Going too long without eating will cause you to crash and overeat on the at the next opportunity of food. Keep your energy levels stable and take the edge off your hunger by having healthy options on hand to snack when you’re hungry. Fresh fruits, small portions of nuts, beef jerky, and fresh vegetables (cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and carrots) are great snacks! You can read all of my favorite healthy snack suggestions HERE.
- Make 5 minutes count and get moving no matter what. When you are too busy for a workout, find 5 minutes to move somewhere in your day. Do it at the office, right when you get home, or even while waiting for the bus. ANY TIME is better than NO time when it comes to moving for energy. Here is a 5 minute total body routine to get you moving when 5 minutes is all you have time for:
- Get more sunlight and FRESH air. Make sure you get your daily dose of sunlight if you’re spending a lot of time in gloomy libraries and workplaces. Fresh air can be a life-changer.
- JUST SAY NO. If you’ve gone through this entire list of tips and don’t think a single one will work in your life, then it’s time to look at your priorities and responsibilities. Do you really have to bake cookies for that fundraiser? Babysit for your sister? Take on that extra project at work? Attend that wedding shower of your second cousin? Remember that there’s nothing wrong in saying no. Yes, we all have obligations to others, but don’t forget about the obligation you have to yourself to take care of your body and your health! When you say no to something you can say YES to yourself.
Taking care of yourself regularly takes courage, consistency, and work, but the pay off is in the QUALITY of your life. Small changes net big results and any time you take towards investing in feeling your best WILL pay you back in health. Give a gift to yourself, your family, and your work by opening up to a happier, healthier, more effective self. Take time to take care of you and enjoy the life you have been given.
How do you take care of your body when you are busy? Do any of the suggestions above speak to you? Leave me a comment below and let me know how you are actively working on self care 🙂
Did you like this post? Share it with your friends on Facebook, twitter, or email. Join me in the theme of #selfcare for the month of April. More great content is headed your way this month on the topic of taking care of your very best interest: YOU.
With lots of love,
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