Being busy if fashionable nowadays. If we don’t have activities and meetings scheduled as far as the next month, we feel something is missing and we are missing out on life.
We feel guilty about taking time out for ourselves. It might feel as we are lacking the strength and power to keep going regardless of the circumstances while everyone else around us do it. We keep going and going until we run out of steam and have nothing left to give to ourselves and people around us. That’s how the anxiety and depression set it.
Taking time to care for ourselves on a regular basis helps to create balance, increases well-being and encourages us to be more engaged at home and at work research shows. Little every day.
Eight is a magical number. If you look at it from a different perspective, it is an infinity sign. Taking care of ourselves is never-ending and not something to pay attention to only when we are stressed, overwhelmed and unhappy. It’s like brushing teeth in the morning – happens automatically and is a priority.
1. wake up slowly
The morning routine sets the tone for the day. Take time to wake up slowly and have breakfast without rushing even if that means waking up earlier. Starting off your day rushing, most likely will continue on the same note making you feel stressed and overwhelmed throughout the day. I used to leave for work 30 minutes after waking up. Now I’m learning that I am much happier when I take longer and make time for breakfast.
2. eat in peace
Strive for being in a peaceful place (mentally and physically) while having your meals. It’s tempting to have a sandwich on the go (sometimes literally) or to take the lunch break at your desk catching up on emails. Eating by yourself in the park gives you opportunity to unwind and spend some time in nature. You will feel refreshed and ready for the next task to come. There is a whole book written on Mindful Eating and appreciating food. I highly recommend it but avoid reading it while eating!
3. do things for pleasure
Not everything you do has to create value or tick items off your to-do list. Going for a walk, reading a book for pleasure, staying in bed longer over the weekend or enjoying a cup of coffee outside while people-watching helps us to unwind, reset and create space in our busy minds.
4. put yourself on your schedule
Make time to treat yourself – schedule a quality time just for you. It could be a long overdue visit to a museum, a massage or a class you wanted to take but could never find time. Put it in your dairy and stick to it. Keeping commitments to yourself is as important as keeping commitments to your friends and family. Taking care of our needs benefits us and those around us. We are more likely to give selflessly and without expectations once our needs are met.
We all know about the benefits of regular exercise. A little every day makes me feel more balanced and happier than 2h workout twice a week. It takes 30 days to create a new habit and getting your body used to a new pattern. After that it will become a pleasure and something to look forward to rather than a must. So commit yourself to half an hour a day of gentle exercise like fast-paced walking or stretching.
Unplug each day by disconnecting yourself from the technology and constant updates. Put your phone away and spend this time catching up with your friends or family in real life. Striving for time off helps me feel balanced and reconnect with what is truly important to me.
Giving yourself a bedtime allows your body to create a regular rhythm and a healthy sleep pattern. After a while your body will let you know when it’s time to rest and if you respect that, you will feel rested and ready to tackle whatever comes your way. For me it is the single most important thing on this list. When I don’t get enough sleep, I’m less likely to take care of myself during the day.
Rather than falling into a routine, taking the same seat on the tube each morning and going about your day on an autopilot mode, be curious. Be a tourist in your own town. Walk to work, take a different route, leave earlier than usual, meditate on the tube and see how it feels having your eyes closed throughout the whole journey. There is a whole big world out there waiting to be discovered. You don’t have to wait until you are on holidays to do that! Having a sense of structure is healthy but having a groundhog day everyday makes us indifferent to life and people. Doing things out of ordinary occasionally will keep you alive, open-minded and give you new experiences.
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