Wednesday, October 11, 2017

27 Ways to Fit Radical Self-Care Into Your Crazy Busy Life

Life is crazy-busy.  So busy lately that I find myself forgetting what day it is.  (Of course, I don’t know how much of that is busy-ness or middle age.)  It’s not easy fitting self-care into my already cram-packed days.  But I do it.  Here’s how.

I put it on my calendar.  Yup.  I make an appointment with myself.  At first it seemed absurd.  Surely I could just grab five minutes here, 30 minutes there.  But guess what, life gets in the way, and before I know it I’m putting on my pj’s and getting ready to hit the sack.

So, the calendar.

And now I find that I look forward to those 5 minutes, 30 minutes, a splurge of an entire afternoon.  By putting at least one thing on my calendar that I enjoy doing for myself every day, just like goal-setting, I’m much more likely to actively participate in my self-care plan.  Funny how that works.

I started with baby steps - 5-10 minutes each day.  Rather than embarking my new self-care plan all at once, I focused instead on just one new self-care activity that I wanted to incorporate long term in my life.  I know myself well enough to know that starting small would give me the best chance for success.
At the beginning, I found it a little tricky getting those things on my calendar.  I was over-committed.  I determined what commitments I wanted to let go of or say no to, commitments or events that weren’t really serving me or that I didn’t necessarily enjoy and that didn’t require my participation or attendance.  It freed up quite a lot of time.  In fact, it freed up a surprising amount of time.

Next, I broke my list down into tiny little bites.  What could I do if I found myself with a minute or two, 5 minutes, a half an hour?  Here’s what I came up with.

If you have one minute:
  • Light a candle.  Unbelievable what a little candlelight will do for a stress level.
  • State a positive affirmation that really resonates in this moment.  Allow yourself to feel it with your whole being.  Here are a few of my go-to affirmations:
    • The beautiful plan for my life is unfolding right now.
    • I am bodacious and awesome. 
    • I trust my journey.
  • Rub your temples.
  • Sit back in your chair, close your laptop.  Now breathe.  Notice how your breath feels going into and out of your body.   Breathe in.  Breathe out.  Take a minute to be grateful for all the wonderful things your body does for you.
  • Hydrate.
  • Diffuse some essential oils.
  • Stand up wherever you are.  Stretch, jog in place, do a few neck rolls.
  • Write down the highlight of your day so far.

If you have five minutes:
  • Start a gratitude list.
  • Next time you’re out running errands, before you jump out of your car, stay seated and meditate.  If meditation isn’t your jam, throw on your sunglasses (to avoid awkward eye contact) and just zone out.  Seriously.  Do nothing.  Take a little, well-deserved break.  If you’re eating ice cream, even better.
  • Call someone close to you who inspires you, or who just digs you for who you are, quirkiness and all. Crank up the volume on your favorite feel-good song.
  • Cut up an apple and dip it into peanut butter or eat it with a slice of cheddar.  Good food is good stuff.
  • Talk to your dog.
  • Get your face in the sun.
  • Grab your journal (or a napkin from your glove compartment if you’re still in the car).  Do five minutes of “purging on the page” to get all of that stuff on your mind OUT so it doesn’t take up any more of your bandwidth.
  • Hey, here’s an idea: write out a radical self-care plan for tomorrow.

If you have 30 minutes:
  • Do yoga.
  • Take a bubble bath.  Or a hot shower.  Throw some lavender into the mix.
  • Run to the grocery store and pick up an inexpensive bouquet of flowers.  Take them back to your office or home and put them in a pretty vase.
  • Clean out a drawer or organize a pile that is out of control.
  • Start a jigsaw puzzle.
  • Curl up in your favorite chair and look at a magazine or read a chapter out of your book.
  • Take a nap.
  • Plan a trip for an upcoming weekend.  Make hotel reservations or call a friend and let her know you’d like to come visit for a weekend, even if she only lives across town.

If you have an entire day
  • Take a Sunday drive (even if it’s Tuesday).  Roll down the windows.  Crank your road trip tunes.  Or drive in peace and quiet.  Pack a picnic or take yourself out to lunch.
  • Have a task that’s been hanging over your head for awhile?  Take a day to tackle it.  Checking things off the to do list opens up space for more positive energy to come your way.  
  • What does your dream day look like?  Here’s mine: get up early.  Meditate.  Journal.  Get my miles in.  Long hot shower.  Get a mani-pedi.  Maybe a massage.  Take myself out to lunch.  Have a glass of wine in the middle of the day.  Go to a movie.  Eat a tub of popcorn.  Pick up a fresh baguette and salami and cheese for a “picnic” dinner at home with my beloved.  What would you indulge in if you had 24 hours all to yourself?

Organizing my self-care activities by the amount of time I wanted to devote to each one, then putting that little block of time on my calendar, has changed my life.  Truly.  I have a little self-care moment every day.  Most days I have several of them, of varying duration.  I have dates with myself throughout the week, even if that date takes place right at my desk for two minutes.  I’m so much happier (and probably making everyone around me happier in the meantime).  Everybody wins.  

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