My life has been pretty hectic lately. It would be so easy to just give up on cooking healthy meals at home, or to push my workouts to the bottom of my list or skip them altogether. But the truth is, eating out every night just to save myself an hour or two of prep does a big disservice to both my body and mind. Skipping that workout might save me another hour, but I will spend triple that amount of time feeling guilty, or lose even more time in the future with pain or injury from lack of strength training. I have a lot of work and studying to do and not being at my optimal best is really not an option for me.
Eating well should not be an afterthought. Making it to the gym for a quick 45 minute workout shouldn’t be a crazy concept and going to bed earlier to ensure you are getting enough sleep is crucial to your daily success. Taking care of your self is not selfish, it is only logical.
Don’t daily work tasks seem like mountains when you are tired? And don’t meetings with colleagues seem so much more stressful when you are hungry? Why set yourself up for failure by not taking the steps do a little prep work? Just remember, don’t create more work for yourself, instead think about working smarter.
5 Easy Ways to “Self-Care” and Prepare for a Stressful Day Ahead
1. Breathe – Start your day with a 2 minute regroup. Call it meditation, a breathing exercise or a clearing of the mind, it doesn’t matter, just spend a couple of minutes calming your breath and visualizing yourself smiling and getting through all of the work and activities of the day.
Don’t have two minutes? There is no shame in taking the time to regroup your thoughts at every stop light you hit, take the time where you can.
2. Meal Prep – If you don’t plan for every one of your meals, chances are that you will wait until you are starving and grab whatever is fastest (unfortunately that usually equates to unhealthy fast foods). I work hard on creating meal plans for myself and clients, to make sure I am maximizing on nutrients and making it easy to put simple, healthy meals together. Take the time on Sunday evenings to prepare and package a whole week’s worth of meals in individual Tupperware. That way you can just grab a meal and head out the door.
3. Multi-Task – Don’t feel guilty about doubling up on activities. There are some things I can do at once, other things (like studying) I can only do one activity at a time. If I am really pressed to catch up on the latest Gossip Girl story line, I just make sure to turn it on at the same time that I am cooking on Sunday nights. Want to check facebook? Be sure to set a timer for 20 minutes and allow yourself the freedom to unwind on Facebook only in that time. When the timer is up, so is your FB time. Don’t dilly dally. Take a one hour strength class so that you are done in exactly one hour, most instructors are really good about keeping to their alloted time. You can also go for a 5 minute walk if that’s the only time you have, and combine that time with your 2 minute meditation. Just don’t sit on the couch and watch a TV show, then complain you don’t have time to workout for 30 mins in a day. Remember, it is all about priorities.
4. Sleep – Increasing your sleep by just 30 minutes a night can add up to an extra 3.5 hours of sleep a week! Turn off the lights and shut off all the personal devices, you can catch up with Instagram in the morning while you are waiting for your coffee to brew.
5. It’s okay to say no – This can apply to a whole range of things and situations. Don’t feel bad about saying no to drinks after work, or even to requests for more of your time on certain projects. If it is not detrimental to your success, it can wait for a time that you have less on your plate.
The Three Goals of Self-Care: Health, Happiness and Personal Growth
Dave Richo, Ph.D. has written a series of excellent books on “How to Be an Adult.” His latest book, “How to Be an Adult in Love” (Richo, D. (2013). Shambala Press) suggests that self-care is one of the basic tasks of adulthood and that there are three goals of self care (health, happiness and personal growth) which can only be protected by loving ourselves through organizing our relationships, our diet, our lifestyle, our work, our leisure time, and our whole selves.
I couldn’t agree more. So take the time to self-care, because when push comes to shove, we have to be at our best to be able to give more. You can take better care of all the people you love if you take little bits of your day to first love yourself.
To Taking Positively Strong Care,