Building on what we looked at in my previous post regarding rest and recovery, I thought it would be a good idea to explore the importance of setting aside time for you every day. Most of us spend the bulk of our days going from one task to another, rushing around and never really getting in much needed downtime, which can ultimately lead to added stress, anxiety and overall exhaustion. So let’s focus on ways that you can incorporate a little bit of “you time” into each day, no matter how busy you may be.
A good starting point is to think about what your typical day looks like from the moment you get out of bed in the morning to the moment you lay down to sleep. If you are anything like me, you’ll see that as soon as you stand up in the morning you are in a constant state of rushing through the day right up until about 5 minutes before you hit the hay. I didn’t really realize this until a recent week off from work when I finally got some time to take it easy; it became very clear that I wasn’t giving myself time to unwind which ended up affecting my mood, stress level and ability to get a good night’s sleep. It could be that you’ve taken on too much and as a result you’re always thinking ahead to what’s coming up next and what you have to get done. Truthfully, sometimes we start out with the best intentions where we are super inspired by something or someone, but end up with too much on our plates and too much our minds. If you’re always thinking of what you have to do and what you haven’t gotten done yet, you may never really feel at ease leading to this perpetual sense of anxiety and frustration without you really even noticing it.
There are many simple strategies that you can adopt to counteract this. In yoga practices for example, there is always a mention of “being present”, meaning that you quiet your mind by focusing on this moment without thinking ahead. This type of meditation is great for helping you relax and letting go of whatever stress you may be holding on to. You don’t necessarily have to sit down in the usual mediation pose or attend a yoga class to do this and it doesn’t have to be something that lasts for very long either. Try to pay attention to those quieter moments as they appear during your day. It could be as simple as stepping outside (weather permitting) on your balcony or in your yard, taking a few deep breaths and looking out into the distance or walking outside on your way to work in the morning and noticing the quiet that actually exists even in the busiest of cities. It could be more intense such sitting in a sauna or going for a massage.
If you are having a hard time getting started, then consider scheduling in your “you time” into your already planned out day. A good option is to start journaling by taking 10-20 minutes first thing in the morning to sit and write your thoughts; it may seem challenging at first and unnatural, but you’ll get into it with time. Try not to over think it by writing what you think you should write about and instead just let the words come out of you onto the pages. Make yourself comfortable; stay in your pajamas, brew yourself a nice cup of coffee or tea and sit in an area where there is natural light and silence so that you won’t get distracted. Otherwise try starting your day off with some light stretching or going for a jog/walk outside (this really can wonders for your mood). Another good option for us office workers is to step outside for a walk during your break or lunch hour even if it is for just a few minutes and when you are out there keep your head up and look around; I’ve recently noticed that when most people walk they stare at the ground and look as though they are in deep thought (probably thinking about all of the stuff that they have to do by the end of the workday). So it’s really important to look around and take notice of your surroundings and the environment that’s all around you; before you know it, even the grayest of days will seem beautiful in their own way. If mornings aren’t your thing, then try a night time ritual before you go to sleep. Maybe take a warm shower or bath, do gentle yoga poses in a quiet area or curl up in bed with a good book or flip through a magazine before getting some shut eye. Whatever you do please try to avoid checking your emails, going on social media or doing some work on your computer or tablet as this will affect your ability to sleep restfully.
Try also adding some extra special activities once and a while to help you relax such as a spa day, a yoga retreat or attending a wellness seminar. If you prefer to keep it simple, then maybe go for a hike outside on your own or head out to a bookstore or library and just browse the collections, or go to your local museum to view some amazing works of art.
It’s also a good idea to start seeing all of the things that you do in a positive way, meaning that instead of dreading your workout keep in mind that you are building yourself, you are making yourself stronger each time and that you are giving yourself the gift of good health. When it comes to cooking, instead of thinking of it as slaving over the stove consider it as a means to nourish yourself and your loved ones, let yourself enjoy the process and put love into the meals that you are preparing. When you do sit down to eat, really taste the food and its ingredients, savor each bite and take a moment to appreciate what you have created.
All of this may sound a bit hokey and as though this was written by a complete hippie, but trust me when I say that this is far from the truth. Getting in some quiet time is so essential for your mood, health and overall wellbeing. It may be difficult at first or feel awkward when you start to hear the silence and let yourself “be present” but it’s so good for you. Don’t go through life always thinking about what’s coming up, take some time out to do what’s good for you now so that you can finally start appreciating all that life has to offer and savor each achievement that you make along the way.
Start It, Finish It