One of the most common concerns and worries that affects my clients is the lack of time for themselves. Between work, families, kids, friends, and life stresses there seems as if there’s not enough time for small tasks such as meal prepping or planning out their workouts for the week. These small tasks set us up for success in the week to come and without them we can feel misdirected or lost in our efforts to reach our goals.
Eleanor Brownn is an author, public speaker, workshop leader, and health lifestyle consultant. She elegantly summarizes a saying I use often:
You can’t pour from an empty cup.
Think of the cup as full of your resources, knowledge, and energy. Without incorporating activities to fill each of those, you won’t have any to give to others. Not only will you feel empty and unfulfilled, but the help and knowledge that you’re giving to others won’t be as abundant as it could be. It’s a lose-lose situation.
That being said, sometimes you have to prioritize yourself. Choose you. Add activities and practices into your day that fill up your cup. Not only will you feel better, but you’ll be more fulfilled to add to other’s cups as well. These don’t have to be for hours at a time; they can be broken up throughout the day. Start with five minutes here, maybe ten minutes there. Over time, as you begin to incorporate them, you’ll build the habits to fit longer self-care sessions into your hectic schedule. So what can you start with?
Calm Your Mind
Taking time to relax is important. I’ve talked about meditation and mindfulness before, but I know they’re not for everyone. Calming your mind doesn’t have to be a structured practice. It can be as simple as taking 5 minutes to enjoy the first sips of coffee or spending 10 minutes of your lunch break listening to music. If you have a chance, taking a yoga class can be a great way to blend exercise with a mindfulness practice.
Don’t Skip the Cardio
“Runner’s high” is a real thing! Researchers have found that the parts of the brain activated post-cardiovascular workout are similar to those after using stimulants or other psychoactive drugs. Endorphins flood the body and you feel better. I’ve found that starting my morning with even just a brisk walk helps jump-start my day and I feel better throughout.
Kids play outside all the time (or at least I did as a kid)! I’ve been loving taking my workout outside to a park lately. Not only do I get to enjoy the nice Wisconsin weather while it lasts and soak in some vitamin D, but it doesn’t feel like a workout. Spending time in the outdoors can be a form of relaxation as well. Research has shown exposure to nature is associated with decreased stress levels and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Make it a goal this week to spend just five minutes each work day taking time for yourself. Take a walk first thing in the morning or on a lunch break, enjoy the first few sips of coffee, or try out a yoga class at the local studio!