Between family obligations, work obligations and caring for your parents, taking care of yourself can sometimes fall off the “to do” list. While we know how important it is to take care of ourselves and we certainly work hard to make sure everyone else is eating healthy and getting enough sleep, we sometimes don’t listen to our own advice.
While I am not caring for an aging parent, I do have two young children, run a full-time business and struggle with a chronic illness, so I know what busy feels like and I know how frustrating it can be when people say, you need to take better care of yourself. We all know this, but doing it isn’t always realistic.
After a brutal last few months that have begun to affect my health, I have begun making small tweaks to my lifestyle. Just a few small changes can make a big impact! Here are just a few ways to take better care of yourself:
- Eat better: I can’t guarantee that I’m going to get all of my servings of fruits and vegetables in everyday, but I can take healthy snacks with me when I’m on the run. I have started packing my own lunchbox when I pack my kids’ lunches. I don’t always have time to pack a full lunch, but I can throw a banana, little cuties, granola bar and string cheese in the bag. Every little bit helps!
- Move more: With a 2 year old and 6 year old, I am literally at someone’s beck and call from 6:30 a.m. until school drop off time, then at work until 5 p.m., then picking up my kids and doing my parenting duties until they are in bed at 8 p.m., followed by prepping for the next day…and rinse and repeat. This doesn’t leave much time for a walk around the block, much less a trip to the gym. Instead, I’ve started parking my car a block away at school drop off – one block to school and one block back is more than I was doing before. I also try to park as far away from the door at all of my errands and stops throughout the day. I’m hoping the steps are adding up.
- Sleep more: While I could get up at 5 or 5:30 a.m. to get a little workout in, I choose to sleep for that extra 30 or 60 minutes. I have been told by my doctor and have read enough articles about autoimmune diseases to know that sleep is critical – particularly if you have a stressful lifestyle. I struggle with insomnia and have a difficult time falling asleep, so I have made the decision to not rob myself of any sleep that I am able to get. I always feel better when I get a decent amount of sleep, so it is an area I don’t sacrifice.
- Breathe: Of course, my preference would be to go on vacation to get away from it all, but well, that isn’t always possible. Since I can’t get away, I’ve been attempting meditation. I haven’t quite gotten to the point where I do it frequently enough to show a significant impact on my health, but I can say that thanks to the meditation app I downloaded, when I do take a 15 minute meditation break, I always feel better afterwards. Studies have shown that meditation can help reduce blood pressure and improve physical and emotional responses to stress. It’s worth a shot, isn’t it?
What little tweaks do you do to help manage the daily stress and improve your self care?