Whenever I am with a group of women, the conversation inevitably turns to busyness. It seems we have forgotten how to relax and have fun unless we schedule it on our calendars, and we reach the end of most days totally drained. We know what we should be doing, but life gets in the way, and we put our own self-care at the bottom of our to-do lists instead of the top. Sound familiar?
Better self-care should be non-negotiable! One of my mandates to clients is to “fill your own cup first, then give to others what flows over to the saucer.” Here are a few ways to keep your cup from getting cracked and drained.
Fuel your body.
- Know your body. Ask your doctor or holistic practitioner to do a comprehensive blood panel, and take those results to another physician for a second opinion. You may be surprised at their different recommendations. Test for hormone imbalance and vitamin deficiency. A while back, I discovered I was highly estrogen-dominant and Vitamin D3 deficient. Within two weeks of addressing those problems, I felt like a new person.
- Eat whole, nourishing foods: I have cut out sugar, gluten, nutrient-poor starches and caffeine, and I feel so much better. I know it sounds impossible, but I promise you’ll thank me later. Keep a food journal to determine where you are eating those “empty calories” and where you need to re-balance your diet. Check out this article from Redbook.com for the best apps to make food journaling easy.
- Get plenty of rest. Gone are the days when we could stay up all night and function during the day. Adequate rest is absolutely critical for your productivity, memory, and emotional health. It affects your blood pressure, heart and ability to fend off illness.
- Exercise. Ugh, I know, I know… It’s hard to develop the discipline for a regular workout, but 20 minutes of activity every day dramatically reduces your risk of cancer, heart disease and dementia. It keeps your muscles young, and it actually regenerates twice as many brain cells during your lifetime, which translates to better memory. A daily walk cuts your risk of premature death by almost a third, while keeping your weight in check. If you don’t do it for you, do it for the ones you love. Find an exercise buddy, and set up a Fit Bit challenge for more fun.
Fuel your mind.
- Exercise your brain. One term for this is “neurobics,” engaging different parts of the brain to do familiar tasks. Try writing with your non-dominant hand, switching the hand you use for your computer mouse, doing crossword puzzles, painting and reading. Write the question “If I were an animal, what would I be?” Record the answer with your non-dominant hand. Then ask a series of “Why?” and explore the creative answers written with your non-dominant hand.
- Unplug from electronics. We have become so addicted to our technology that now there is an official term for it! NOMOPHOBIA is the fear of being without your phone. The distractions of smart phones, tablets, and social media are having profound effects in the workplace and in our personal relationships, plus they keep us from thinking clearly. Put away the phone; enjoy some silence, and be present with those you are with.
Fuel your spirit.
- Start your morning with an “unhurried” time for prayer and meditation. For many women this seems like an impossible task at first, but just try five minutes in the beginning, setting a timer if necessary. I promise it will become one of your favorite parts of your day.
- Practice gratitude, which is vital to having a nourished spirit. Keep a gratitude journal or a joy jar, and add something new every day. Take a gratitude walk, breathe in your surroundings, and note the goodness all around. When you are feeling down, reflect on the things you have recorded to boost your spirits. Remember to be grateful for YOU!
Think of it this way… If you saw a friend withering away from stress and lack of self-care, wouldn’t you try to get her to slow down and take better care of herself? Treat yourself like you would your best friend. Loving yourself through radical self-care honors God as you nurture one of His greatest miracles.
When you are 90-years-old and look back on your life, what will you be most proud of? Will you have any regrets?
Few people wish they had worked longer hours to achieve more. Most wish they had taken more time to deepen relationships, explore new things and love life.
Today, make a commitment to better self-care. You owe it to yourself, and to those you love. Make life count!