Do you ever feel like you’re always on the go, running, doing, being pulled in multiple directions or constantly wearing multiple hats? Is your mind always ON? Feeling low energy, stressed or guilty or that there’s never enough time in the day? Do you seem to find time for everything and everyone but yourself? Whether it’s work, class, kids, family, finances, relationships, projects…it’s easy to lose ourselves in the thick of everyday life. Spoiler Alert – we don’t have all the answers or remedies, nor are we suggesting that all of these driving forces will change but we DO have some self-care tips to help you stay FAB along the way that don’t totally interrupt your schedule or flow.
1. Prioritize Getting Some ZZZZs – We know…easier said than done when we’ve become a society that burns the candle at both ends. People stay up all night to study, work, or have fun. We think we can all agree that you feel better after getting a good night’s sleep but it’s deeper than that. Harvard studies indicate that going without adequate sleep (7 – 9 hours) can have short-term results such as affects on judgment, mood, ability to learn and retain information, and may increase the risk of serious accidents and injury. In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to a host of health problems including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early mortality. Additional benefits of sleep are improved memory, reduced inflammation which is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and premature aging, more creativity, sharpened attention, and LESS STRESS. Need we say more? Set expectations about when your day will end for yourself and others and then shut things down. Try to go to bed around the same time nightly to create a habit for your mind and body.
2. UNPLUG – Don’t be mad at the messenger…we get it. How many of us really work from 9-5 these days, and sometimes it seems as if our lives hinge on the information we’re receiving, watching, storing, communicating with our cell phones, television, and devices. And yes, when it comes to FOMO (fear of missing out), the struggle is real! But research shows that the advantages of powering down and having time and space to create, to rest our minds, be present, and have real (not virtual) connections with family, friends, and other people are REALLY important to enhancing the quality of life and in some instances our health. That means we have to be deliberate in creating new habits. Here are a few suggestions we found:
- Have Designated Check Out Times – Schedule your unplug time during the day and if you need to set an alarm to remind yourself to take 15 minutes to close your laptop, shut off your phone, etc., then do so. Do this for longer periods on the weekends and get the whole family involved!
- Power Down at Night – Disconnect from technology before bed. Research shows that we need to give our brains a chance to unwind for a more restful sleep.
- Have a Phone-Free Meal Policy – Instead of looking at phones or the TV, take this time to talk about (or reflect on) your day, share stories, laugh, and problem solve about whatever is going on. Be present, enjoy the meal and connect.
- Set Boundaries and Share Them – Communicate your new behaviors to friends, co-workers, and family to manage expectations and have more control of your time and what you give energy to.
- Have Other Options for Enjoyment – Create outlets other than technology. Instead of watching Netflix for an hour, read a book. Instead of playing a game on an app, do yoga, meditate, go for a walk or take a bubble bath.
3. Schedule a Date With Yourself – We have a saying here…Always be FLY (First Loving Yourself). The same way we schedule activities, say yes to signup sheets at school, volunteer, make plans for Bae, friends and family, we can pencil in some time for ourselves to do whatever we enjoy or absolutely nothing. The actual definition of Me Time is time spent relaxing on one’s own as opposed to working or doing things for others, seen as an opportunity to reduce stress or restore energy. Well, if you’re waiting for your schedule to clear, things to slow down, less work, the perfect opportunity, more time in the day before you enjoy a little Me Time, it may never happen. Put it on your calendar and treat it as an appointment that you have to keep. Make the necessary arrangements for the kids and/or spouse and avoid any guilt for taking some Me Time. You NEED it and DESERVE it.
4. Say NO – It sounds simple and it can be but it’s difficult to find the time to refresh and recharge when you’re overbooked, over-committed, and stressed out about doing things that you don’t really want to do. So saying “no” is about setting limits and releasing yourself from guilt. Lisa Dunbar, author of The Upside of Saying No says that this practice starts with (1) accepting your right to say no and (2) uncovering organizational beliefs around values and work/life balance. Remember, we ARE super women but we don’t have to be Superwomen to all people and all things all the time. It’s okay to take our capes off in exchange for some extra time for ourselves and the things we enjoy.
5. Plan Ahead FOR REAL – Do you know someone who is ALWAYS late? Or maybe that someone is you. Don’t worry, we’re not judging but it’s the perfect example of creating unnecessary stress on yourself or on others by not keeping it all the way 100 when scheduling your time. If you have a meeting at 5:00, can you really meet your girlfriend for happy hour at 6:30 across town? Let’s think about it…even if the meeting wraps at 5:30 (unlikely), you still have to consider the lingering good-bye/small talk that may occur afterwards, walking to your car or catching an Uber/taxi, rush-hour traffic, parking, walking from your car to the venue, etc. We’re stressed out just thinking about the added pressure of trying to be only a little late versus a lot late which is more likely because the plan wasn’t realistic. See where we’re going with this? Time management isn’t just a skill to include on a resume. Practicing good, realistic time management will increase your productivity and timeliness while reducing situations that cause you to sleep less, eat poorly, fail to meet expectations, and have added stress, anxiety or pressure.
6. Pay Attention to What You Eat/Drink – Let’s face it, everyone isn’t meant to be a size 2 or 10 or 14 but we can’t ignore the facts that what we put into our bodies affects us beyond our weight. When you’re 21 you may be able to live on pizza and cocktails and still fit into your favorite jeans and also function at optimal levels throughout the day but for everyone else…probably not so much. Our motto at the studio is to enjoy everything in moderation so we’re not going to be super preachy when it comes to diet. BUT it’s been proven that eating more lean meats, vegetables, fruit, and whole grains and less foods that are processed or high in added sugar, saturated fat and sodium leads to more energy, increased productivity, enhanced moods, weight regulation, longer lifespan, and better health.
7. Gratitude Journaling – Take a few minutes at the end of each day (or week if daily seems impossible) to focus on what’s good in your life and write them down. This simple task forces you to shift your thoughts in a way that’s positive which has an amazing effect on your overall mood.