This topic is heavy on my mind right now. So many people see self-care time as non-essential - the icing on the cake, the last thing on the to-do list, the thing we get to for 5 minutes at the end of the day before passing out from exhaustion. It's little wonder that there are record numbers of people dealing with mental and physical health issues, many of which are related to, exacerbated by or directly caused by stress.
In truth, we have it all backward. The better we care for ourselves, the better we are for everything else in our lives. The more productive we are at work. The kinder we are to our families. The more energy we have to do things throughout the day. The better our physical health. And it's an upward spiral - the better we feel...the better we feel. When we are physically healthy, accomplishing tasks and meeting goals, energized and in connected, fulfilling relationships with friends and family, our lives feel pretty amazing!
On the contrary, when we skip lunch again, miss too many nights of family time to get one more thing done at work, toss and turn in bed because our minds won't shut off and put on a few extra pounds because we just can't seem to step away from the computer, we start to feel like we're crawling up a muddy hill in a rain storm. We are short with our kids, miss events with our friends and just don't ever seem to feel rested. This is not real living!
You are the hub from which all the parts of your life extend, and it's vital that you stay balanced. Like any piece of equipment, you have to maintain yourself to perform your best. It doesn't have to be a huge, week long vacation to Australia, though that type of grand gesture definitely has its place too. You can do little things for yourself every day to make a huge difference in your overall well-being. I'm going to explore some of those with you over these next few months.
Start here: breathe. Take a deep breath in through your nose, filling yourself with air all the way from the bottom of your belly to your head and blow out slowly through your mouth. Do it again. Know that you are changing your physical body with this breathing. Your heart rate will slow, your blood pressure will drop, your muscles will relax.
Notice throughout the day when you feel tension begin to rise. When someone cuts you off in traffic, when your kid is screaming, when your coworker frustrates you. Notice it happening and take one or two or 27 of these breaths. Will breathing make the problem go away? No. But it might just change how you see it. It might give you just enough time to stop yourself from having an unconscious, regrettable reaction. And it will definitely, definitely make you feel calmer, even if just for a moment.