We hear it every time we are about to take off on a flight: in case of emergency, place your oxygen mask on first before assisting others. Thank goodness near no one has to make that decision in their lives in an actual emergency, but how many of us, day by day, put on our proverbial oxygen mask before helping others? If our tanks are running on empty, or even at only half-full, we aren’t able to be of good to those who need us.
Filling up our tanks can take on many forms. For some of us, sometimes the simplest of human needs – food, water, and sleep – go without being tended until we completely, literally, burn out. I have seen this with myself when I was a new parent and entrepreneur as well as many of my acupuncture patients. We skip meals and then binge on the wrong foods, forget to drink water, and our sleep hygiene is terrible as we burn the candle at both ends. It’s a vicious cycle that can lead to mental and physical exhaustion including adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalances, and can end up as the tipping point for modern-day diseases.
Beyond the basics, self-care should include time to exercise the body and rest the mind. Our daily minutes and hours are precious and how we fit it all in is a challenge for everyone. Here are some tips to fitting in time to tend to your most precious asset, you!
The average American looks at his or her smartphone 52 times a day, adding up to over 4 hours. How much time can you recover by putting down your screen? After you identify how digital influences impact your day, you can choose what level of detox seems reasonable. Here are a few questions you can answer to see where to start.
It’s fabulous that you can do it all! But do you really want to? Instead of being an exhausted superhero, consider getting some allies to help you tackle your to-do list. If you empower others to help out with meals, run errands, or do the household chores, you will have more time to develop self-care habits that stick. The key is to make “long-term delegate” with your family and friends. Don’t ask your teen to make one meal. Train them to make a few meals and then put them in charge of dinner every Tuesday and Thursday. Work out a balanced division of power with your spouse: they do laundry and trash/recycling, you clean bathrooms and floors. Maybe you hire help or offer a work exchange. Delegating tasks requires a quick assessment of what you have to do on a regular basis and a clear understanding of who you know who can help. Be creative and be brave; the people in your life would love to see you happy and peaceful!
Better Eating Habits
Better eating habits means eating the right foods when your body needs them. Eating better may mean you keep healthy snacks on hand throughout the day to help you avoid binge eating or craving convenience foods. Eating habits are things you always do. If you always order out, eat dessert after dinner, or have a glass of wine at 7:30pm, consider mixing up your routine. Make calorie-rich foods and drinks special by only having them on the weekend or every other day. You can swap your usual take-out with a new recipe you can whip up on the fly. Try fresh fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth instead of a sugary dessert. Instead of alcohol, experiment with flavored waters or decadent teas. Don’t tell yourself you’re denying yourself; remind yourself that you’re enjoying new treats that are equally satisfying.
Stillness and or Meditation
Clearing your mind and focusing your breathing doesn’t have to wait until you’re on a finishing a yoga class or secluded in a quiet room of the house. Meditation can benefit your health and ability to focus, so you should include mini-moments of mindfulness throughout your day. Right now: close your eyes, take a cleansing breath, and count to 40. Notice how your body feels after the influx of oxygen, feel your weight sinking into your chair, and allow any tension you feel to melt. Focus only on your breathing 1…2…3…4…40. If distracting thoughts or physical discomfort arise, gently release them from your awareness. Sometimes it helps to imagine them in a bubble that floats away. Without frustration or self-judgement, return your focus to counting and breathing. Once you get to 40, gently open your eyes and notice any shifts in mood or stress you may feel.
Instead of focusing on exercise, give yourself for increased movement. Get up from your desk, walk in place while on the phone or when reading. Make extra trips up and down stairs, and incorporate short bursts of basic yoga and stretching into your day.
On some level we all know that how we start our day will influence everything else we do. Instead of reaching for your phone to check social media or your email account, grab your journal and a glass of water so you can begin your waking hours with hydration and gratitude. As you drink, write down 10 things you’re grateful for right now. Allow any other thoughts that come to you to fill the page until you feel content.
Committed “Me” Time
Beyond the routines of daily life, it’s essential to get support for deeper physical and emotional wellness. Scheduling services at The Still Point will give you dedicated time to nourish yourself. When you join the Promise Program you receive select treatments each month and add on additional supports at a discounted rate. When you know you have a massage, acupuncture, or skin care treatment “on the books” each month, you are more likely to incorporate uncompromised time for yourself.
Making a new self-care habit may take focus and dedication at first, but after the first month of working towards balance and contentment you will notice a shift in how you use the hours in the day. You have the potential to be happier and more efficient when develop an intentional lifestyle. Everyone at The Still Point is cheering you on!