The idea that we need to schedule time out of our day to take care of our own basic needs may seem counterintuitive, however it is one of the realities of the society we live in. Whether you are a parent, a student, frequently on the go, or currently stuck at home, odds are you have experienced overwhelming stress and anxiety at some point in your life. This is frequently known as burnout. Repeated or prolonged exposure to stress can lead to a state of physical and emotional exhaustion when not effectively managed. Particularly when coping with crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic or widespread injustice against people of color, it is crucial to spend time with yourself to recognize and validate your own feelings.
If you struggle with this, you are not alone. Because we live in an environment that typically rewards hard work and dedication, many high achievers feel that being busy is a badge of honor. However, when you start to find yourself losing sleep, feeling constantly distracted, or otherwise unmotivated, you are likely in the early phases of burnout.
Self care is what happens when we decide to start investing in ourselves. When we change our mindset to believe we can achieve our goals without sacrificing our well being, we keep ourselves as a priority in our own lives. Self care comes in many different forms, and each person’s methods will be unique. You may have to try several different activities before you find something that resonates with you, and it may take several trials before you can make the activity a habit. Although relaxation is helpful once you are already experiencing stress or burnout, in order to be truly effective and preventative, self care must be stable and consistent. However, this doesn’t mean you have to completely upturn your schedule. Spending anywhere from five to thirty minutes daily can help you to relax and reset. Although the most skeptical among us may see it as a waste of time, taking good care of yourself will make you a stronger boss, parent, or problem solver.
At Rafi Nova, we are committed to empowering our communities to create joy, health and happiness for our children. Part of doing this is empowering ourselves to feel our best. We have broken down these tips and tricks for designing your own self care routine based on different lifestyles, however, you may find that something completely unexpected will change your life.
- Meditate or Journal: Affirm that your emotions and stresses are valid. Taking time to rest your mind or describe your day on paper may cause you to become more self aware through recognizing patterns and realizing emotions. Meditation lowers your blood pressure and can improve your sleep.
- Exercise: Get moving! Even if you are exhausted after a long day, movement will get your endorphins flowing for a much needed, healthy boost of energy (skip the caffeine!). Even a short, daily walk around the neighborhood with your kids is enough to significantly improve your health in the long term.
- Sleeping and Eating Healthy: This may seem obvious, however when we are busy, we tend to slack off on meeting the needs of our body. Stress changes our eating habits by changing our portions and food choices. Stress also changes our sleep patterns and the quality of our rest. If you struggle with this, consider preparing your meals ahead of time. Plan out what you want to eat each week, buy the ingredients, and do any prep work ahead of time, like chopping vegetables or marinating meat. Therefore when you are hungry, but busy, you can skip the takeout and get your meal straight from the oven. This will save you time during periods of high stress, and likely save you money as well. With more free time and healthier meals, you will likely see your sleep quality improve as well.
- Hobby: Before you ask- working and parenting do not count as hobbies. Take some time each day to do something that you enjoy doing. It can be something as elaborate as drawing or painting, or something as effortless as watching a movie. If it brings you joy, it is worth doing.
- Treat Yourself: Indulge a little! Enjoy a spa day, a pedicure, a haircut, you name it! Even grabbing a beer on the weekend or a treat from your favorite cafe is a reward to yourself for how hard you are working.
If you are a parent:
Being selfless is something that most parents strive for. However, self care does not have to be selfish. Parents, particularly those with young ones, tend to turn what little spare attention they have onto their children. Many even report feeling a loss of self once the children are older, and have a difficult time returning to their original hobbies and enjoyments. But this becomes frustrating and overwhelming, which can lead to a downward spiral of guilt and self doubt. Even when you feel you don’t have a single second to devote to your own needs, setting aside a small amount of time for yourself daily will help you unwind and be the best parent you can be. You will also be setting a great example for your children of what healthy stress management looks like!
- Wake up Before your Children: If you wake up when your children do, you will immediately be focused on getting them ready for their day. Wake up early to start the day right by taking care of yourself. Make your coffee and sit down with a book! This way, your kids will wake up to see a relaxed and refreshed you!
- Hire a Babysitter: If this is something that is possible for you, it's definitely worth it. Parents deserve a break as well. Schedule time to spend with your friends or your partner.
- Say No to Things: It is okay to say no to added responsibilities. No, sorry, I can’t pick up another carpool that day. No, we can’t go to Six Flags this weekend. Although parents strive for perfection and want to balance everything, it is impossible! No one is capable of handling everything alone. Learning to say no to things is fundamental to putting yourself first and taking care of your own needs.
If you are a working:
Work related stress is one of the most frequent causes of burnout. Perfect work life balance is frequently sought after, but rarely achieved. That is why it is necessary for the success of you and your business that you maintain your own physical, mental and emotional health. Especially if you run your own company, productivity is often fuelled by adrenaline.
- Make a Daily Appointment with Yourself: If your schedule is jam packed with meetings, how hard is it to have one more! Schedule a time with yourself daily and do not cancel. Spend this time unwinding, reflecting, or otherwise taking care of personal needs.
- Build a Network: Share the load! Many of the most successful entrepreneurs attribute their success to those who supported them. Delegate tasks to people you trust. Invest time into building your team and befriending colleagues.
- Take a Vacation: When is the last time you actually took a day off? If you have to think about it longer than a few seconds, it is probably time for another one. Since the notion of a vacation right now is still limited, take some time for a fun low-stress day trip!