The importance of stress relief and self-care for mental and physical health is becoming clearer all the time. For the busy and overwhelmed, finding the time to focus on yourself can feel stressful in and of itself.
These tips will make it easier to sneak self-care into your already busy routine:
1. Take Advantage of Your Commute
On average, Americans spend about 25 minutes each day, or about four hours each week, traveling to and from work. Your time is valuable, and the time you spend commuting could be an opportunity to practice self-care.
Pursue your interests by listening to a podcast, or download an audiobook and get lost in a story. Do you have a goal like learning a new language or taking a certification exam? Listening to audio lectures on your commute is a great way to make daily progress toward a long-term goal.
2. Eat Your Lunch Mindfully
If you have a busy day, eating lunch may just feel like a necessity – another thing to check off your list. Maybe you eat at your desk while you continue to work, or maybe there are days you skip lunch altogether. If possible, try making a practice of using your lunch break to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness simply means awareness of the present moment, and practicing it can help to reduce stress, improve attention and productivity, and boost mood.
Try eating outside or somewhere free from computer or TV screens, and put your phone away. As you eat, pay attention to the taste and texture of the food. Think about what it took for the food you are eating to make it to your plate and practice gratitude. When your to-do list is long, it might be difficult to give up that time; however, you are likely to be more productive for the rest of the day after taking this much-needed break.
3. Schedule Time for Yourself
When your schedule is packed with meetings and appointments, often the things you want or need to do for yourself are the first to get pushed aside to make room for “more important” things. High amounts of stress can wear on you, both physically and psychologically. Left unmanaged, it can be dangerous for your health. It is important to find the time, even if it is just a few minutes here and there, to practice self-care regularly.
A calendar can help you organize while also making it easier to visually identify an over-booked schedule. If you use a calendar, consider scheduling time for yourself on your calendar, and protect that time as if it were a mandatory meeting. Maybe this means blocking out ten-minute breaks throughout the day to meditate, planning your workouts, or scheduling a weekly therapy session.
Whatever self-care means to you, be sure to make it a priority.