This series explores simple but effective self-care strategies for the time-strapped.
For when we currently find ourselves over worked, over scheduled, and over extended.
We'll focus on the many little things we CAN do as exhausted parents, weekend warriors, and stressed caregivers - even though we're out of time, out of patience, and out of luck when it comes to fitting in self-care.
DAILY LIFE: an ever-changing barrage of unknowns and surprises, good and bad, big and small.
There's always another to-do on our to-do list. There's always the next deadline. The projects that never get finished, the projects that never get started, the projects that get sidelined because all of a sudden life happens.
Those things won't change. But something that can change is a commitment to wedge in a few moments just for ourselves. A little oasis, a deep breath of relief amidst the chaos.
□ SOOTHE THE BODY Pain is a useful signal. It normally stops us from causing further harm. It's when we don't listen that we tend to create problems.
We don't do ourselves any favors when we "grin and bear it" through pain.
When you're time-strapped, it's not often you can take care of an achy or pain right away. You have 100 things to get done today. But once thing you can do is take note of it, and treat your pain later. Don't just forget about it and push on through. Look at your calendar and schedule it if you have to.
Make time for wellness (when it's on your terms), so you don't have to deal with illness (which is never on your terms).
Use whatever tools work best for you and are appropriate to the situation. But the basic rule is: if you have pain during the day, don't go to bed that night without doing something for it.
□ MOVE THE BODY When we overdo it, sometimes it seems counter-intuitive to encourage movement. We want to just sit, rest - and most definitely avoid anything that hurts.
But motion is lotion for the body. It encourages blood flow to impacted areas, muscles provide contraction and compression for the lymphatic system, and it provides novel stimulus to the nervous system often resulting in less tension or pain.
When we're feeling pain, move as often as you can, as much as you can, without causing more pain in the process.
□ ENGAGE THE MIND
We want to pay attention to our pain - not ignore it. But we also don't want to dwell on it. Catastrophic thought patterns - when you think the worst of a situation - may serve to only heighten the pain experience. This is one of the perks of being someone who's already active. You likely won't have a problem finding plenty of things you occupy your mind.
But, once you do finally sit or lay down, your nervous system has much less distraction and you may suddenly be much more aware of all the aches. So prepare for that. Have tools on hand that will ease the transition from green light to yellow light.
□ SOOTHE THE BODY Stress and emotional burdens can affect how our bodies feel throughout the day just as much if not more than our physical activity.
When we're angry, frustrated, or anxious, we may end up clenching certain muscle groups, which can lead to muscle fatigue and soreness.
When we're sad, defeated, or depressed, we may slump our posture inward, which may lead to certain muscle groups being overly stretched and strained.
□ MOVE THE BODY
Often when we're feeling down, we move less. We tune out and shut down.
But recent studies show moving more may actually help us more siting how "regular aerobic exercise can reduce anxiety by making your brain’s 'fight or flight' system less reactive."
Having a workout buddy, an accountability partner can been really important in conjuring up the motivation when we feel none. Set this up ahead of time. Next time you see your bestie, ask them if you can be that person to each other. So when the time comes, it's automatic, not just another thing on your to do list that prevents you from taking care and feeling your best.
□ ENGAGE THE MIND
Take your mind off the past and future and for a few fleeting moments, be fully in the right here and right now.
Often kids really add to the chaos of daily life, but they also can really pull us into the moment. Because that's where they live. They're not thinking about what the recent downturn is doing to their 401(k). They're not worried about next week's deadline, or if that dent in the car door is doing to buff out, or how they'll ever get to use their pile of vacation days. They're right here. Right now. Go there with them, even if it's for a short while as you're jugging ten other plates. Be a visitor in their world and notice how time does strange things when you're deep into their little adventures.
Or, find something that's just for you. Something that brings you inescapable joy. You can't help but feel drawn to it and reap the benefit of your cup being topped off. Get lost in a book, a good show, a friend's stories, creating art, writing, singing, dancing.
Some of the best moments are when we get lost in them.
Time-Strapped Article Series
Self-Care for the Time-Strapped: Daily Life
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