If you read my post on 10 ways to take care of yourself this week, and thought something along the lines of, “wow, that sounds really great, but this week is slammed and there’s no way I’ll have time to do those things,” this post is for you. Now we’re going to talk about simple strategies to fit into your day, even if it’s crazy busy.
1. Build cushions of time into your day.
If you spend your entire day going from one scheduled thing directly to another with only enough time to get to the next place, something is inevitably going to go wrong. When you have days like this, how often do you end up late and stressed out? For me, it’s usually traffic. Instead of allowing myself to potentially be early somewhere and do other things, I’m always leaving at the last second and if ANYTHING happens on the road, I’m late. Which is most days. I’m recommending that you try the first option. Get somewhere early and hang out a little bit. Take a short walk, catch up on texts and emails you didn’t get to earlier, sit outside if it’s nice out, just enjoy the fact that you have a few minutes to spare! And then, on the days when the inevitable “something” happens, you’ll have that little cushion of time to work with.
And if you are going straight from one thing to the next, we need to create cushion options. Get up a little earlier if you have to. Do NOT schedule appointments for your lunch hour! You need that time to unwind, not just go to another thing. When you are scheduling appointments, meetings, even time with friends, try to spread those commitments out enough that you have plenty of time to get from one to the other. And for your always-running-late-but-think-you-can-make-it-optimists (me), don’t make false promises to people! You know you can’t be home making dinner by 6, so don’t tell your husband that! Be realistic in your commitments, and then you won’t constantly be feeling like you’re late or disappointing others.
2. Turn your shower into a aromatherapy sauna with essential oils.
I’m no expert on essential oils, but I’m always learning more about their uses. One of the simplest ideas I’ve seen lately is simply taking your favorite oil and putting a few drops on your shower floor. The water and steam will turn your shower into one giant diffuser! Try different oils depending on your mood and the time of day:
Eucalyptus– invigorating, refreshing
Lavender– relaxing, helps with sleep
Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit– energizing, helps your body detox
Peppermint– energizing, will clear you up if you’re suffering from a cold or allergies
Ylang Ylang– energy and confidence booster
Patchouli– can help with depression
Rosemary– great for mental stimulation
Tea Tree– relaxing, helps boost the immune system
3. Redeem your time in the car.
What do you typically do while driving? Listen to the radio, frantically text at stop lights, just sit there? I love music and do often spend drives listening to a favorite playlist, but sometimes it’s good to switch things up and be really intentional with our time, even while driving. I have a few ideas if you need a new routine… (Bonus! They make long drives go much faster too!)
Podcasts: I’ve found a ton of awesome free podcasts through the podcast app that comes with iPhones. A few other FREE apps are Overcast (iOS), Castro (iOS), Podcast Republic (Android), and Player FM (Android). There are literally countless podcasts out there, and you can find just about any topic you’re interested in. Podcasts help me stay awake on late night drives, give me something both informative and entertaining to listen to, and update me on current events. The biggest thing is that podcasts on specific topics help me learn so much more than listening to whatever is on the radio. Take control over what comes into your mind!
Phone calls: First of all, follow the laws in your state regarding phone use! But I often use longer drives to make phone calls to my friends and family. Phone calls are really important to me because I live so far away from many of my favorite people. This practice helps me build in regular times to have “phone dates” and therefore keep in touch more intentionally.
Prayer or meditation: I often pray aloud when I’m alone in the car. Actually speaking the words I want to say to God helps me stay focused. For me, it makes prayer more natural, like any other conversation. You can also meditate in the car. Breathing exercises, speaking through your goals, speaking aloud what you’re thankful for, mindfully acknowledging the emotions of the day… these can all be done in the car! You can de-stress and complete an important practice all while going where you need to.
4. Eat your meals (and ONLY eat)
This is one of the simplest ideas on this list, but can also be the most difficult. When was the last time you ate a meal without checking your phone or watching TV? Or working?? I am SO guilty of this one, as I’m often rushed at work and end up eating at my desk. But it’s really important for us to start eating and focusing on the meal itself. Enjoy your food, savor the taste! Not only will it make food more enjoyable, but it gives us a small break in the middle of a busy day by doing something that you’d need to do anyway.
Mindfully eating also helps you actually eat less. Sometimes we eat faster than our bodies can catch up. When you eat, your body has to sense that you’ve eaten. When your stomach is full, it sends a signal to your brain, and your brain tells you you’re full. But if you stuff your face really quickly, you may not even realize that you were full already, and suddenly you’re overfull and not feeling great. You might realize over time that you chronically eat more than your body needs, and eating just a little less could help you in your journey toward being healthy.
5. Take a few minutes to focus on the people you love.
Do you ever get home and immediately start getting the kids ready for their next activity or cooking dinner, while barely saying hi to your husband? Do you come home and start complaining about the day to your boyfriend before you ever greet him? Do you live alone and never reflect on the day, but rather zone out with distractions until you go to bed? If so…. You need to take a little time to remind people you love them and you care about their day.
This will, of course, be different for everyone. I don’t know who you see when you get home, but how often do you move through your evenings without truly interacting? Do you have a roommate you’ve never bothered to get to know? A husband whose day goes completely unnoticed by you because of your own crazy schedule? A boyfriend who wants to spend time with you this evening, but you’re just consumed by your own stress? It’s okay to vent to your people now and then, but it’s not okay to constantly dump on them without paying attention to what’s going on in their lives. And that constant dumping could put both of you in a worse mood.
Instead, you could greet your husband with joy. You could share with him what you’re thankful for about him or your family. You could tell your boyfriend the good things that happened that day. You could grab coffee with a friend and practice focusing on only the conversation and enjoying time together. You could love being home and having your own space at the end of the day (without having to talk to another soul!), but maybe add in a little time to journal and reflect. You could ask your people about their day or what they’re thankful for. Maybe your change in attitude can even spread to others in your life!
Some of you might have the same problem with this one that I’ve often had…. “I don’t have TIME to work out, that’s the whole point!” Okay, yes I do understand and I’ve been there. But exercise doesn’t have to be 3 hours at the gym. Maybe it’s taking a walk around your neighborhood, or doing 5 minute workouts in the morning (they DO exist and I have several on my Fitness Pinterest board!), or working through a yoga sun salutations in the morning (it usually takes less than 10 minutes). I really believe that the more we start building exercise into our routines, the more we start to actually enjoy it. And we always prioritize the things we truly enjoy.
7. Wake up to something other than your phone
It’s so important that we don’t immediately check our phones when we wake up. Another one I am learning to un-do! How many mornings have been ruined because of a work email that immediately stressed you out? Or junk mail and random texts that suck up your attention and energy before you even climb out of bed? Our time and energy gets taken from us because we don’t take a few minutes to wake up and start the day without distractions and negativity. And the worst part is that this is SO easy to fix and we do this to ourselves! Do yourself a favor and get a real alarm clock, put your phone in another room overnight, and wake up to sunshine, loved ones, and coffee instead 🙂
These are just a few starter ideas… I would love to hear how you de-stress during times of busyness!
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