Busyness is a top contributor when it comes to the health issues that burden most Americans. With all the new technology and new ways of communicating with people and sharing information, it seems we should have more time to relax and care for ourselves, and yet as a culture people across the board are describing themselves as busier than ever.
When you take a step back and look at your life are you busier than you would like to be? Do you find you have less time to eat right, exercise, curl up with a good book, make time for a relaxing massage, or drink an afternoon cup of tea? I can remember times where I felt too busy to get my kids to the pediatrician for their well check, much less schedule my annual exam, or that desperately needed haircut. Sound familiar?
It seems most of us are good at finding the time to schedule and do everything but take care of ourselves. I’m no stranger to the disease of busyness, but incorporating the following strategies into my life has been of incredible service to my psyche and will hopefully benefit yours too.
· Schedule a few minutes of quiet time every day– This is probably the biggest saving grace I have for creating space between me and the busyness that is. My mornings always begin with a steamy cup of green leaf tea and a daily devotional. I do not even attempt communication or tackling the monstrous to-do list that is required to get my family out the door and running, until I can see the bottom of my tea cup, and I’ve spent a few minutes in prayerful devotion. Sometimes that means setting the alarm a little earlier. I also pre-plan to soak in the hot tub a few nights a week. I’d probably take a hot Epsom salt bath with lavender oil if I had a good bath tub, but we don’t, so I soak. No complaints here though!
· Schedule nonnegotiable time for exercise that you enjoy– I used to constantly find myself saying yes to clients, friends and family members, only to find myself at the end of the day and too depleted to exercise. Now it has become a nonnegotiable. If people ask for that time, the answer is no, and then I let them know when I am available. When I make the time to exercise I generally have more energy throughout the day and a renewed laser focus which increases my productivity. The key here is finding exercise you enjoy and approaching it not as punishment but as a time to care for and invest in yourself
· Take time on the weekend to meal plan-My husband and I have done this since the dawning of our time together. It takes the guessing game out of what’s for dinner, and eliminates the risk of contemplating fast food or other unhealthy choices, or an unexpected time consuming trip to the store. Plus, it saves money. You don’t end up having stuff that goes bad because you need and use all the ingredients you buy. Come Friday our fridge is EMPTY. I am also a self-proclaimed expert at cooking whole food meals that take 30 minutes or less from start to finish. I never meal plan complicated meals that use strange ingredients. Simple is key to sanity, buying you more time, and again saving some bucks. Don’t forget to prep your meals ahead of time too, especially lunches. My husband makes a few days’ worth of salads and some hard-boiled eggs on Sundays to bring to work. I also try to compensate buy planning for leftovers to send and have for lunches later in the week.
· Take time to intentionally breathe deep: breathing is how we connect our mind to our body. When we are incredibly busy we become disconnected, stressed, and sometimes anxious or depressed. Taking a few seconds each day to intentionally breathe a little deeper can relax us almost instantly and keep us in tune with ourselves and our body. I like to incorporate a breathing ritual before eating or drinking. Before I eat I ensure I am sitting, not working, or otherwise stimulated by electronics and then I take 3 deep breaths to support this connection. It also helps with conscious eating, and supports better digestion, so you can’t go wrong. Interestingly enough, I’ve noticed when I am stressed I tend to unconsciously let out deep sighs, and I’m certain that this is my body’s way of trying to connect with my very busy and overwhelmed mind. I now follow a good sigh with a few intentional deep breaths to get back on track. Another thing I like to do is incorporate aromatic use of essential oils into my daily rituals. A good diffuser with some strategically picked oils can really accentuate the connection between mind and body.
· Say no more often-don’t let other people’s schedules become yours. Create a list of the things that keep you busy and see if there are things that you could potentially omit to create more down time. And remember, it takes practice saying no. Often, we feel guilt when saying no, or setting boundaries for ourselves that aren’t pleasing to others. We need to remember that when we take care of ourselves and honor our inner voice we increase our energy, our self-confidence, and create more balance in our lives. So, breathe away the guilt and embrace the assets that come with being true to your inner self.
In conclusion, the disease of busyness is, without a doubt, here to stay, so go take some deep breaths, sip on an afternoon cup of tea, and plan some meals and some “me” time! All without guilt, but instead with a confidence that you’ll be better at what you desire to do in the first place, and all the while knowing that your calming energy and presence will positively affect the people and the world around you as well.
Furthermore, I’d love to here what strategies you are incorporating to ease the dis-ease of busyness in your life. Leave a comment below and share with others the tools and strategies that serve you!
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