Beginners Guide to Self Care

I wear many hats. I’m a single mom, a business owner and a volunteer. I know that even on my busiest of days, there are people who are way busier than me. There are single moms with more than one kid who juggle school and extra curricular activities. There are CEO’s with not just one employee, but dozens. I’m not making any world changing decisions on a day to day basis- but there are certain decisions that HAVE to be made in order to change my world and my immediate circumference.

It seems I’m always trying to maximize my time in order to fit in more stuff. How many plates can I spin at the same time? How long can they go before I drop one? I’ve always enjoyed multi tasking, but there comes a point, when I have too much going on and I have to let something go. It’s not a bad thing. Saying no is a healthy discipline- it helps me stay on track and perform better. But I’m like everyone else. I get tired. I get worn down. Sometimes I feel burned out.

That’s exactly why it’s so important to take time for yourself.I saw a picture on Instagram, I forget how I stumbled across it, though it read, “self care is not selfish”. It’s not!! It’s really, really not. In fact, self care is necessary. I think self care becomes unrealistic when we over romanticize the idea; think images of a lady, soaking in the tub with candles and flowers floating all around, bubbles up to her chin. Sounds nice, right? Maybe one day I’ll have worked so much that I’ll be able to build my dream bathroom, no matter the cost.

On a more practical note, There are a few realistic ways to promote self care that are more of lifestyle changes versus squeezing in time here and there and feeling like there’s never enough time for you! Here goes:

Drink More Water

It should go without saying, but we all need reminders. I try to drink 60 oz of water a day. I set the bar low because it’s a fairly achievable goal. Some days I reach it, some days I fall short. To help my do better, I’ve implemented a rule that I need to drink 16 ounces before having my morning coffee. No water, no coffee. I realllyyyy like coffee, but I also like the idea of giving my body what it needs before giving it what it wants!

Exercising

I love to hate exercising. Or maybe I hate that I love it. Either way, I do it and I feel better when I do. The gym I attend offers 45 minute classes and I try to make it 3 times a week. Exercising makes me feel stronger. It also makes my job a lot easier. The real reason I work out is because being physical helps my back and joints feel so much better. Studies show that doing weight bearing exercises helps combat osteoporosis, which is the decrease in bone mass. Having strong muscles equates to having strong bones.

Go to Bed Early

Early to bed, early to rise. A client of mine were talking about our schedules. She has 3 daughters, is the head of the financial department at her Bostonian Law firm, and she was proud to be working with a trainer twice a week. I was thoroughly impressed. How do you find time in the day? One thing falls to the wayside, it’s either sleep or working out. Usually, it’s sleep. Sometimes, she gets 5 hours of sleep. Wow! I cannot sustain anything less than 6 hours of rest on a daily basis. We laughed as she told me I do in fact look well rested. I beamed because it’s truly the nicest compliment I’ve ever got!

How many of us can proclaim that we sleep well? It’s so important we get the sleep our bodies really need. Improved brain function and the promotion of muscular restoration are two solid examples of why sleep should be a priority and not a luxury. Sleep is when the body repairs itself, making it more resilient to injury. Believe me, I’ve seen too many people reach under the bed and hurt their shoulder. Which leads me to my next tip,

Stretch

Have you ever watched a travel show where they highlight a Buddhist temple or Monastery it China? I’m always amazed. They seem to have some of the most gracious elderly folks I have ever seen. When those monks speak, their calm inards are outwardly displayed. They’re all beautiful and they spend time stretching. It’s important to understand the lengthening of the muscles that happens when we stretch. We’re actively maintaining the elasticity in our ligaments. Keeping out joints functioning well is an essential part of every day life. You’ll feel better doing the small things, like turning your head while driving or bending down to pick up shoes.

Eat Better

You get in what you put out. Now, I don’t have MD at the enFid of my name, but I think it’s safe to say that you get out what you put in; physically, mentally, digestively (which I don’t believe is a real word, but in this case, it works).

Up until recently, I would have considered myself to be a very healthy eater. I cook more than I order out, I’m not constantly eating greasy or frozen foods and I love fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, I also love sugar. Or at least I always thought I loved sugar. Besides the past few weeks, I’ve spent a lot of my time baking for holidays or birthdays, bake sales etc. Of course I would taste test things. and though I’d give a lot of stuff a way, I was still in denial about how much I actually was consuming.

I’ve heard people talk about having a gluten or dairy or egg allergy. While I’ve never considered myself allergic to anything, I did want to know how I would feel when I eliminated some of those foods from my diet. It’s been only a few days, but I imagine it’s what scientologists feel when they say their “going clear”.

It can be difficult to get home and cook a meal, especially when you have a whole fridge full of prepared stuff that’s easy and tasty, though you’ll never have to guess the ingredients in a self cooked meal. One last thing before I get off my soap box- Healthy food will never have to compete with junk food if you don’t buy it. (Believe me, there was once a day when I would have told you I could live off of junk. I’ve since learned differently).

These Five Things

are all very basic. These five things all take a lot of practice. And they’re all huge lifestyle changes. A few small changes can add up to a big difference. It’s okay to fall off sometimes. When you notice, just get yourself back on track. Think of these things as preventative or preliminary. Every other form of self care is secondary. These are your foundation. Make it a goal to try and master these things and see how quickly your world changes.