When life tends to consist of going and doing in a hurry, it’s important to sprinkle in some self care. Juggling deadlines, appointments, children’s school projects, meetings and everyday life responsibilities can be hard- and hearing “just take day off” isn’t an option. Taking little bits of time for yourself throughout the day and week for you can give you the energy needed to get you through your day. Here’s 9 gentle ways to take care of You when you feel like you’re on fast-forward and replay.
1- Take 5 minutes in the morning to stretch and breathe.
Set your day up with a practice of taking care of yourself before your feet hit the floor in the morning. When your alarm goes off or before your kids start asking for breakfast, allow yourself to stretch your body and take some deep breathes. This gentle way of waking will give your body just a little more energy to get you through the morning (or at least until your first cup of coffee kicks in). Our body needs deep breaths of oxygen and body movements to become activated and get our brain to start performing. So go ahead, stay in bed those extra 5 minutes and stretch!
I know, I know recommending to someone to slow down and accomplish one task at a time is crazy talk right? Studies have shown that multi-tasking actually isn’t a more productive way of checking off your to-do list. So slow down and take 1 task at a time, focusing your efforts on it until complete or until a stopping point. No more making dinner while emailing work and helping your child finish up their homework while taking a phone call. In the end, you’ll have more checked off of your to-do list with better accuracy on each task (because you were focusing on just it) and those around you will notice that they’re getting direct attention (bonus!)
3- Accept a little Clutter/Mess
Focusing on accomplishing one task at a time can be daunting enough, just let the dust be! Dust bunnies and a stack of mail will still be there once you’ve caught your breathe from a week of business. Tell yourself that you’ll take care of those little bunnies soon & don’t let the clutter make you feel guilty for not attending to something that doesn’t need to be a top priority.
Drawing a quick little sketch or doodling designs can relieve any bottled-up stress that you have floating around in your head. I keep a small notebook with me that I can quickly make a zentangle, mindful doodling and I instantly feel happier. (https://www.zentangle.com/)
5- Get some sunlight & go for a walk
Getting your daily dose of sun (and Vitamin D) while taking a brisk walk around your office/neighborhood can increase your mood & give you more energy. Sunlight and walking causes our body to increase its level of serotonin production allowing us to feel happier. The next time you feel stuck on a task or ready to throw in the towel on a project go take a walk outside, breathe in some fresh air and feel the warm sun on your face.
6- Respect your limits
It’s important to recognize your limits and know when you’re maxed out. Say “no” to the extra tasks asked of you during your busier times. Set a timer and say to yourself “when the time is up, I’m DONE.” Nothing is worth stressing out, going past your limits and then feeling bad when you feel too taxed to enjoy down time or if you take out your frustration on someone else. If you respect your limits, others will begin to see them and respect them as well.
7- Enjoy something delicious to eat
Whether you choose a juicy pear, a piece of chocolate or a biscotti and coffee enjoy it. Be mindful when you’re noshing on your choice, set aside your work for a moment and truly let your taste buds be happy. Taking a mental break and nourishing your body will grant you the ability to come back to your task feeling loved and more ready to focus.
8- Self care in small doses that you can achieve
Spread your love and do something for yourself in smaller, more reasonable amounts of time. Paint your nails one day, play your favorite app game the next, give yourself a foot rub (or get one from a loved one!) the day after, etc. Make a list of quick things that fill you up & keep it up on the fridge or saved as a note on your phone. Then choose one item when you need a pick me up and bring on the self care!
Life gets busy, I hope these 8 ways help you to take care of yourself when you’re inundated!
I am a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist practicing in the Lake Norman area of North Carolina. I enjoy working with people on improving their lives, relationships and feeling all around more mentally healthy.
Michelle A Coomes MA, LMFT