I had the same conversation with 3 different clients last week about finding some kind of time for themselves amidst a lot of stress and crazy schedules. They all felt like time for them would have to wait a month or two, or until another season of life… but that mindset and way of living are exactly what brought each them into my office.
It has become the American way of life: take on too much… hit the ground running every morning to try to keep up with life… get tired… push yourself harder… hit the wall… your body breaks down in some way… go get help… get back to functional (not healthy)… and repeat. And repeat. And repeat again and again until you have a chronic illness, an ambulance ride or some other kind of diagnosis that forces you to stop and evaluate your life.
I speak from experience. I did the ambulance ride, so I really do understand how easy it is to fall into this mode of living. And I also understand how challenging it can be to turn things around.
We aren’t machines. We need rest and relaxation daily. Yes, daily.
So how do we do it? How do we stop the speeding freight train of our lifestyle or at least slow it down enough to jump off? It will be different for everyone, but the constant for everyone is that it’s usually a matter of making one small change at a time. And hopefully you’re doing it before an ambulance or some other significant event forces you to do so.
Hit the “Pause” button.
We do it every day on our phones, laptops or TVs. If you feel like you can’t carve any time out for yourself, simply try pausing the other activities in your life for a few minutes every day.
What to do with those few minutes? Put your phone down and do something that lets you rest and relax back into your body for a few moments. Try some of these ideas…
- Step outside for some fresh air. Breathe deeply for a full minute, paying attention to your breath. Inhale and exhale slowly, deeply and comfortably.
- Drink extra water.
- Take a quick walk.
- Do some jumping jacks. If you’ve been sitting at a desk and don’t have time for a walk, this is a great way to get your blood pumping and clear your head.
- Have a 30-second dance party.
- Find a quiet spot to sit down and write down (pen and paper – not digitally) 3 things you are grateful for.
- Write down whatever is on your mind. If you are concerned about anyone reading what you’ve written, write it on a loose sheet of paper and then burn it later. (Safely! – in a metal waste can outside)
- Treat yourself to a chocolate break.
- Drink a fresh juice.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. Once this becomes a daily habit, increase to 10 minutes… 20 minutes… 30 minutes. And take that 30 minutes or more to:
- Phone a friend or meet for lunch or a juice.
- Take a restorative yoga class.
- Read a book.
- Try out a meditation app like “Headspace”.
- Paint, draw or write.
- Play or write music.
- Make a collage.
- Try a new hobby you’ve always wanted to explore.
- Take a walk in nature.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. The point is that health is about much more than diets and workouts. We are made to connect with ourselves, with nature and with each other… to be creative and to enjoy life.
When we lose sight of that, our lives and physical health will suffer. So, begin where you are, make a plan and commit to yourself to take better care of YOU! The people who love and depend on you will only benefit from you being healthier and happier.