“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”
Do you ever forget to take care of yourself? If I’m honest about it, I think it’s really easy to forget about taking care of yourself. Life is busy right? I mean who doesn’t have a million things on their plates. Between work, relationships, children, working out, school, and any other number of obligations, it easy to feel like we are constantly rushing from one place to the next.
Self-care is easily pushed to the back burner. There just isn’t time. However, neglecting to take the time to rejuvenate doesn’t normally work in the long run.
I’ll share a personal story about this. Over the course of the past 6 months or so, I developed this bad habit of only sleeping 4 to 5 hours a night in the name of being “productive.” I actually didn’t even start it on purpose. It started with a simple to do list. A list of things that I absolutely had to complete each day; an accountability tracker for myself. However, this quickly spawned into a list of items that was too much for one day considering my work schedule. However, I would do as much as possible on this list every day even if it meant going to bed at midnight and waking at 4 am (my normal wake up time and God forbid I sleep an extra 30 minutes and cut my workout short…no way, Jose!). “Productive” people make it happen by any means necessary. Geez, my thinking was totally off on this one!
The weird thing is that I convinced myself that I was doing great, and I was one of those people who could survive just fine on 4 hours a night. No problem. I mean, sure, I was consuming more caffeine in a day than a small country combined and yes, I felt groggy in the afternoons and would sneak off to the bathroom at work for a five-minute nap. But I mean, that’s totally normal right?
As time went on, I found it harder to concentrate during the day, harder to get things accomplished because I was totally drained all the time, my 5 am workouts suffered because I lacked energy, and my 15 minute “pick me up naps” would turn into hours because I would sleep through the alarm.
So it turns out I’m not one of those people. I was so focused on meeting the expectations I had set for myself, I wasn’t ensuring that I properly took care of myself. That being said, I’ve changed a few things over the last month. I’m still not where I need to be but I’m taking baby steps. In my opinion, baby steps are better than no steps.
Here are 5 simple ways I utilized to begin investing in my own self-care, and I think you might find them helpful as well.
1. Sleep more.
If you are like me and starving your body of sleep, it may be difficult to go from sleeping 4 hours a night to jumping right into 8 hours a night. Start with the goal of just increasing your sleep by one hour. Once you get in the habit of that, increase it again. I’m currently sleeping 6 hours a night and am working towards eventually getting to 7 or 8.
2. Take a restorative walk.
Stepping away from working for a mental break is one of the best things you can do for your mental health. You don’t necessarily need a ton of time to accomplish this. I work in an office during the day. In the past, I routinely skipped taking breaks. Now, I make it a point to a 15 minute break during the morning and/or afternoon to get in a brisk walk. It gives me a mental health break and refreshes my mind.
After a long stressful day, there is little that I find more refreshing than a nice 30 minute restorative walk.
3. Read a book.
Again this may seem like something you don’t have time for. But reading for leisure can be very relaxing. This is another thing I have implemented into my work days. I try (and I say try because sometimes sh!t gets busy, and it doesn’t always happen) to take my lunch break, get outside (as long as the weather is nice) and indulge in a good book. I get my mind off of work for a little bit, and I go back into the office refocused.
Another great time to enjoy some leisure reading is before bed. It’s a great way to unwind.
Lately I have discovered that there is something soothing and cathartic about thinking; just reflecting with no background noise. It may seem strange but so few people take the time to just stop and reflect. You can think about all the things you are grateful for and gain a better perspective on life in general.
Your mind may be tempted to use the time to scurry back to your “to do” lists and all that you need to accomplish today or tomorrow but fight the urge and refocus your mind. Meditation has the potential to be extremely calming. Spending even 5 or 10 minutes a day in meditation can have positive effects.
5. Schedule an hour of “me time.”
Seriously, you deserve an hour to yourself and you can make the time to schedule one hour of “me time” a week. You could meet a friend for coffee, get a message, visit a museum, enjoy a glass of wine (or two) on your patio, catch on something on Netflix (#netflixandchill); whatever it is that you enjoy. Give yourself an hour a week of uninterrupted time for something you truly enjoy with no regrets.
All of these suggestions are super easy, and you can start implementing them right away. Taking time for yourself doesn’t equate to being lazy or mismanaging your time. Self-care isn’t selfish or self-indulgent. It’s completely and totally necessary for your health and fitness. Once I started investing in my self-care, I found that I was actually more productive with the time I had, was able to accomplish more because I was rested and able to think more clearly, and performed better in all of my endeavors. Prioritizing time for self-care and relaxation actually increased my productivity. If you find yourself struggling to invest in yourself, give these tips a try.
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